When you start training from home, one of the biggest challenges is making up for a lack of truly heavy weights.
As you get better and you build up your home gym, there’s a chance you might eventually be able to stock it with a bench press and load a good 100kg onto that. But this costs a lot of money and involves committing a lot of space to your new home gym. Most of us won’t have that luxury to begin with then and that means we’re going to be training with far fewer resources and much less weight.
With that in mind, the question then becomes how you can challenge your body significantly, even without having that much weight to pile onto the bar. Let’s take a look…
The good news is that as far as your muscle is concerned, there is no difference between acceleration and weight. What that means, is that in both cases the muscle fibers are required to exert force and that means they’re going to be working at maximum capacity. While the ability to create microtears might be slightly diminished, plyometric training can still create muscle damage and encourage the development of your sheer strength and explosive power. Try incorporating exercises such as box jumps, clapping push-ups etc. into your routine.
Another thing to consider is that there are lots of ways you can make an exercise more difficult simply by changing the way it is performed and changing the angle that you’re performing it at. One of the simplest examples of this is just to take a bilateral movement (meaning that both arms are used at the same time) and turn it into a unilateral one. That means a press up becomes a one-armed press up and a squat becomes a one legged squat.
In other cases, it can mean extending the ‘lever arm’, which usually means that you’re moving the weight further away in order to make it harder. Isolating the muscle more can also make it more difficult – for example, if you use a preacher bench to perform isolation curls instead of regular curls.
Drop Sets and Pre-Exhaust
Another option is to pre-exhaust the muscles and/or to use drop sets. This means that you’re going to progress from the hardest version of the movement and gradually make it easier, thereby ensuring that your muscle is exhausted before it even starts. A pre-exhaust is similar except it uses just one exercise prior to the main exercise to make sure that the muscle you’re targeting is going to be working the very hardest.
The key thing throughout all of this is to listen to your body and to learn to recognize the signs that you are stimulating growth. This might mean being a little more creative in order to make a workout challenging with lighter weights – but it is possible if you know how! Don’t settle for ‘going through the motions’.