Training in Times of Social Distancing and Isolation Part 1: Setting up your Home Gym Environment

Hey Paddle Monsters,

I hope everyone is keeping well and taking care of things on the home front. Control what you can control and focus what’s important for you.

Now, let’s assume that if you aren’t in full lockdown that you will be in the near future. Based on the statistics we will all be at some point, and if you are curious why we should at least plan on this being the case, this presentation from a medical professional explains why this will most likely happen:

So assuming the worst-case scenario for training, you will be stuck at home. The first step is doing what you can, while you can to create a sufficient home gym (please take care of essentials first – food, first aid, family). Finding resistance and ways to load the body isn’t as easy as it is in a gym-based environment, especially for pulling exercises which are the meat of our program. This post is about helping you create resistance and finding ways to load for training at home.

First, for home equipment, here is a great post on do-it-yourself ways to make resistance training equipment. Each one has separate links within the paragraph to dig further.

Second, you can use a floor weight scale or luggage or fish scale to measure the load/resistance of whatever you are using or creating for training. It doesn’t need to be exact but having an idea is good to relate to your gym-based load and in order to progress.

Here is a list of ways you can create resistance or purchase equipment that is versatile for any home gym:

  1. Backpack for added bodyweight. Use a backpack to create bodyweight load. Find heavy objects to put in it. If you have the option and resources ordering a good weight vest can suffice. With these you can add load to any “bodweight” exercise to increase the intensity.
  2. Luggage, duffle bag or suitcases. Same as above, fill a piece of luggage with heavy objects for ground-based weight. The term “suitcase deadlift” was inspired for a reason. Duffle bags can also work, and using the cross strap can give you some asymmetrical body loading.
  3. Water jugs and sandbags. Everyone should have access to a water tap. Fill up various jugs, buckets or other containers and measure the load with one of the scale options above. Sand or dirt can also work. You can also order sand bags or aqua bags online. A more purposeful option, yet more expensive, that is if they aren’t all sold out already.
  4. TRX – Not the most affordable piece (~$150 USD) but probably the most versatile out of anything listed here. You can anchor to any closed door, tree, beam, etc. There are hundreds of exercises you can do via TRX youtube channel and many people have 20-60 minute workouts online with this tool. My Olympic and professional athletes all travel with these whenever possible because of the portability and versatility.
  5. Resistance bands – The kit shown here is sold out, but I posted it because it shows both elastic bands that you can attached to handles or limb loops, and it shows what we call mini-bands. Here is another version of minibands that are wider and softer (although more expensive as well). Here is another type of longer elastic bands called superbands which are longer loops that are extremely versatile.Check out this setup where someone built a board for doing deadlifts and squats using these bands. Make sure you fix the pegs down with enough resistant to not pull out! I will be doing a separate post on this setup as it is extremely versatile and easy to build at home.
  6. PVC piping from your local hardware store can work great for building various pieces of equipment:
  7. Kettlebells are an extremely versatile way of loading that is decently portable and doesn’t take up much space. StrongFirst is the number 1 in my opinion resource for anything kettlebell related. I live in a condo in the city and I keep a small set in my living room that I can do full workouts with.

8. Pull-up bar – having the means to do pull-ups is key and will go a long way to improving/maintaining your pulling strength if you are stuck indoors. There are many options from a potable doorway device to fixed bars you can anchor to wall studs or concrete.

This post is a good start but not an exhaustive list. All of the above can be found from hundreds of places online. Amazon is one of the easiest however if they are sold out, look around or go to your local fitness equipment store if they are still open. There should be lots of discounts in brick and mortar stores right now.

Post below other creative ideas you may have on home equipment and resistance in the discussion below. I have no doubt our community has some amazing ideas that aren’t listed here.

Our next post will be on home workouts. Use the next few days to get a home gym sorted for the upcoming week.

Take care of yourselves Monsters!


Chris Chapman
MSc., CSCS, CSEP-CEP Paddle Strength and Power Coach Having spent the last two Olympic cycles as the strength coach for CanoeKayak Canada, I have supported some of the best flatwater paddlers on the planet in reaching the podium at world cups, world championships and Olympic games. I have spent the last 8 years perfecting a model of dryland training for endurance athletes.



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