How to build up muscles during the lockdown ?

Jean Moritat

It is a difficult period for all of us, it is especially difficult to maintain a good shape. In France for example we are no longer allowed to walk, to go out. I’m lying because we can go outside for an hour, yes…

Our daily routine is cancelled due to the lockdown so we can’t spend as much energy as usual working out. If we are not spending as much energy as usual the surplus of energy has to be stored, so we are building up fat. We were not bulking up like bodybuilders. It is rather belly fat that will destroy our shape. Do you know that French people have on average taken 2.5 kg over the lockdown? If children are no longer in classrooms, they must follow online classes and they spend all their time in front of their screen. They are becoming sedentary, all of us are becoming sedentary. Therefore, will see arising public health issues due to that situation. I think you know that obesity is killing more than hunger today.

It’s easier to gain weight today because our alimentation is very bad, you can check my previous article about wellness and alimentation to learn more about this. It will be very difficult for you to lose the overweight that you have if you don’t change your alimentation. Our will is weak when we are bored at home.

I would like to help you, so I’m going to give you a quick and effective program to do sport at home. You will just need some dumbbells. Therefore, you will be able to build muscle mass over the lockdown and regulate your fat and your muscle gain.

As I said before you are less active in lockdown times than usual so rather than try to do cardio again and again, count your amount of calories, I’m advising you to do musculation/gym. This will allow you to create muscle mass and it is much smarter than to kill yourself doing cardio all the time. Cardio is also an enemy if you want to lose weight, because this activity will raise your hunger as your body is burning much more calories than usual.

1) Quick routine to sustain your muscle mass

I’m adept to split your body in two parts, it is like a push pull legs (PPL) program. But I have slightly adapted it for beginners. Let me explain, you will have to do two training sessions. You can do this program twice a week. If you can do four training sessions. Also remember that your muscles need rest to grow properly. It’s good to rest for around 48h or more between each training session of a muscle group.

For example you can do back and shoulders on Monday and do chest/biceps/triceps on Tuesday. You can resume your training Thursday by back and shoulders and Friday by chest/biceps/triceps.

How can you organize your exercises during your training session?

In order to maximize your muscles growth you do not need to lift heavy your need to put enough mechanical stress on them to break their fibres. The quality of the movement and the time under tension are the most important things. Of course, if you already have a good level you will need to increase the weight that you are lifting because your muscles are accustomed and strong enough.

For this program you will only need dumbbells as I know that it’s difficult and expensive to get gym equipment. In this routine there will be 6 exercises.

I can’t give you a number of reps’ number. the only thing that matters is the time under tension. If you take a heavy weight to challenge you 8 reps is enough but do not go under this number as it will become powerlifting. 10 to 12 reps sound good to me; especially when you are working on small muscle groups. You also can rest from 1 to 2 minutes between each exercise.

A° Back and shoulders

1 : Pull-up - a simple exercise but the most effective to make your back width. You have only to buy a pull up bar (I lied a little bit, it is not a dumbbell only program). Do some series of 6 to 12 reps; and when it becomes too easy you can add weight and do weighted pull-ups. Keep the focus on the feeling in your back and the quality of the movement.

2 : Military press - 4 series of 8-12 reps it depends on your needs and the weight that you have.

3 : Lateral raises - 4 series ; 12 reps with light weight because it is a little group so it is better to favour hypertrophy rather than to lift heavy. You will have better feelings and it will work better.

You can do a biset with frontal raises and do the same amount of reps. Take 1 min to catch your breath between each set.

4 : Back raises - to work the rear delt - 4 series of 12 reps ; it also a little muscle group and it will allow you to stand straight and to no longer lean forward. Developing them will improve your stance.

5 : One-arm dumbbell row - 4 series of 8 to 12 reps it depends if you want to lift heavy or not. It will allow you to develop the latissimus dorsi, the large dorsal muscle and to increase your back width.

6 : Rowing - 3 or 4 series it depends on your amount of energy left. You can do it leaning on the face on a bench or stand up but with a flat back. The form is very important. Squeeze as much as you can your back and destroy it.

B° Chest ; biceps and triceps

When you work the chest try to keep your elbow a little bit toward your body to not engage too much your shoulders. You want to work your chest not your shoulders and the bench press is demanding for your shoulders if you do not make the movement properly.

By the way all people have a weaker upper chest than lower chest. So favour incline bench press. You can do this exercise twice for the upper chest and do push ups to work your middle/lower chest. If push ups are too easy add weight on you. It is up to you.

1 : Bench press with dumbbell - 4 series of 8 - 12 reps it depends on your level and the weight that you take.

2 : Incline bench press with dumbbell 4 series of 8 - 12 reps it depends on your level and the weight that you take.

3 : Triceps extension/Kickback - 4 series of 12-15 reps ; You can do one or two triceps exercises it depends if you need to make them grow or not. You must put volume on them. Moreover, exercises with dumbbells are very demanding because this is very isolating for your triceps. Also, you can cheat less than during a triceps pushdown with your arm shoulders etc.

4 : Hammer curl - 4 series of 10 reps ; try to lift heavy to develop your nervous system. Because this exercise is also good to develop your forearms. Keep the focus on the concentration pic and do not move your elbow. You only have to engage the biceps.

5 : Concentration curl - 4 series of 10- 12 reps ; here you want to kill your muscle. It is a finisher. It is not necessary to lift heavy you should rather favour the volume. You will engage your muscles as much as you can to stir a huge hypertrophy. That will make them grow. Moreover, it is an isolating exercise; do it sited; you will have less strength. All the tension will be on your biceps.

Each session takes almost 45 minutes maybe a little bit more with the warmup!

Good luck with your session and build up muscle mass during lockdown to impress people when life goes back to normal.

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