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Over the past several weeks, I have been gaining muscle mass and getting close to PRs across the 5 lifts specified in the Strong Lift Program. Now, many gyms are closed across the United States (and the world) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What exercises do you recommend that I could do at home and most closely simulates the Strong Lifts 5 x 5 program? For, when the quarantine is over, I don't want to lose my progress in StrongLifts.

Thanks!

  • I do have arthritis in my wrists, so any exercise that puts body weight on the wrist causes issues. (So, no pushups :( , but any exercises where my wrists are straight are fine!). I own a pair of 20 lb dumbells, but not much else. – Paul Hargarten Mar 17 at 18:30
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    You've been training for a couple of weeks now in total? If that's the case, you simply won't lose much because you don't have much and you'll get back there in no time. Getting stronger is a long term commitment, you have to think in time periods in the order of years. Take a break or do body weight stuff to the best of your ability. 2-3 weeks is nothing. But please edit your post, if you've only been training say 8 weeks, you are a complete beginner. That means you might not know some basic things and exercises that people can put in their answer. But first, relax and don't worry – Raditz_35 Mar 17 at 19:37
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    You can do pushups with straight wrists, either fist pushups or pushups holding onto the dumbbells. – JohnP Mar 19 at 18:35
  • @Raditz_35, Thank you for answering the question. Here is more about myself: have been lifting weights off and on for the past 16 years. Last year, I started the Strong Lifts Program. Over the past several months, I have been gaining muscle mass and getting close to PRs across the 5 lifts specified in the Strong Lift Program. (There have been times that I had to take a break from Strong Lifts during this interval.). (Tried to edit the original post but it was rejected.) – phargart Mar 20 at 23:26
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Unfortunately, unless you have a good home gym set up, you aren't going to be able to carry on with the StrongLifts program.

Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Now, focusing on the positive, there are a large number of home training options available, depending on what you're willing to invest in and what space you have available.

I like kettlebells, so I own a few of them and can get a good training session in with swings, Turkish get-ups, presses, goblet squats and loaded carries.

Likewise, bodyweight, you can get a good session in with press ups (since you mentioned you've got bad wrists, you can invest in some push up handles, or can you do push ups on your dumbbells?), pull ups, single leg squat variations, planks and Romanian deadlifts using a box full of books (ok, it's not bodyweight, but you get the idea).

Being outside in nature is always a good thing, so load up a backpack with some weight and go for a walk (technically called "rucking"). While you're at it, occasionally press the bag overhead, or carry it one side or the other, bear hug it to your chest, just play with the position to stress your muscles.

If you've only been training for a few weeks, chances are that you'll still gain strength from any sort of training, provided you don't slack off. No, it won't be StrongLifts style training, but stronger is stronger, having a solid core is always a good thing and helps with the powerlifts. Basically, improvise!

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After the first week, you won't lose any strength. In fact, if you were to go back straight to lifting the following week, you'll probably be able to just pick up where you lift off.

After two weeks, you may get some strength loss because your body is no longer "primed" (for the lack of a better word). You will probably feel very stiff your first week back, but after a couple workouts you'll be right back to where you're at.

Unfortunately, as of writing this answer, it looks like the shutdowns are probably going to be longer than that. At least in a lot of places (some may be luckier than others). If they do then you'll inevitably lose some strength. Though there's some things to your advantage.

For one, you have muscle memory. You'll pretty much never lose this. So since you have some experience, you'll build back up to where you were at much quicker pace than you did originally.

Second you've only been training for several weeks. You're probably still in an easy-ish strength gain phase so anything you lose will come back pretty quickly (may even push through a plateau).

In the meantime, there are still things you can do to keep progressing.

  1. Do mobility routines. We all have to keep our joints limber, and you don't need a gym for these. You can go online and find a mobility workout (I like Joe Defranco's Limber 11). There's also a guide called "Becoming the Supple Leopard" which seems to be the bible for movement exercises. It doesn't have to be much, but just doing something will help not feel like a stiff board when you're finally back in the gym.

  2. Cardio. We all need it. Even strength athletes. The heart is a muscle which needs work too. If you've been neglecting your cardio (Lord knows I have), then now is the time to do it. Walking/running/biking outside is still safe provided you don't do it in a group or touch every lamppost. Hiking is really good if you're close enough to a hiking trail. Dark Hippo's suggestion of rucking is also really helpful provided you have a backpack. Keeping your cardio up will help maintain strength for a long 5x5 session when you're finally back in the gym. Simply just running up and walking down stairs works too (while very boring is also very effective).

  3. Bodyweight workouts can be used to keep strength and fitness. You don't need to lift and near maximal weight to keep fitness. Pushups (with some sort of bar for your wrists), box jumps, lunges, work great. If you have a bucket or something that can hold a lot of weight, you can load it up and do unilateral farmer carries which helps with grip strength and core. I've been using my duffel bag which is small enough to use but strong enough to not break.

Keep your diet consistent. You may need to lower daily calories by about a hundred or so if you're tracking calories/macros.

When you get back to the gym, take one day to experiment to find out where you're at. Just ramp up the weight and do a couple reps to gauge where you're at. Then start the program at that weight the next time you go. You may be surprised to find that you didn't lose anything.

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