What’s the point in all this bodyweight stuff anyway?
Something we’re hearing a lot at the moment — especially from members who typically like to lift the really heavy stuff! — is that it’s frustrating only having smaller weight options or bodyweight for their strength work during home isolation. And giiiiiirl, we feel you! But here’s the thing: just because you feel like you’re losing your top-range strength, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost all you’ve worked for. Here are two reasons why.
1. Muscle has memory. This means that even though you will have lost some top-range strength and power, all the hard work you did pre-COVID will have left an impression on your muscles. So when you can get back into heavier lifting (slowly, and with the appropriate caution to rebuild your tendon strength), you won’t take nearly as long to get to the same level as you did the first time around. All that hard work? NOT for nothing.
2. Doing higher reps than you’re used to, at a lighter weight than you’re used to, is simply a different style of training. While you may be used to lifting 5 reps of a really heavy weight (called max strength training) or to lifting 12 reps of a medium-heavy weight (called hypertrophy training), you’re now lifting 15-20 reps of a lighter weight or bodyweight – this is called muscular endurance training. And guess what – it’s the base upon which all heavier training relies. Endurance training means you are teaching your muscles to perform the movement for longer. It also means you can focus more on the fundamental base movements that should be mastered perfectly before you load them up – such as the bodyweight squat and the hip hinge. Too often in normal gym life we skip these basics and rush into the heavy stuff. Being forced to go back and focus on the fundamentals is really a blessing in disguise, and may even be setting us up for a more injury-free future as a result.
So try not to be bummed out about missing your heavy weights. Before too long you’ll be throwing them around again – only with more stamina, AND a stronger base to support you.