To say we are currently in less than ideal circumstances would be an understatement. However, that doesn't mean we cannot adapt and grow in new ways.
That's what we humans do.
For an athlete who had been working hard to improve in their sport, gone right now are the team practices, the workout sessions at the gym, the games, and everything else you were traveling to. That's the bad news.
The good news is all of your competition is in the same boat, and to get a step up on them all you have to do is get more done than they are.
There are levels to what you can do at home that range from doing nothing up to having everything you need to stay right on track. We've organized those levels here which increase based on what you need to have on hand to execute it.
The point being you can still get a lot done with nothing but yourself!
Remember that an elite athlete needs to be:
- Fast and agile
- Elite in their sport skill execution.
Your at-home approach will best serve you if you work all five areas.
Level 0 - Doing Nothing (sleep, video games, Netflix, poor diet, etc)
This approach will leave you so unprepared to return it doesn't even deserve a real number! You've worked too hard to make yourself better, you just can't be this kid!
Level 1 - Get Outside
For our younger kids this is great because it likely will re-awaken their desire to be active & have fun doing it. Both actual sport stuff (shooting pucks, playing catch, dribbling a soccer ball) and unstructured play are recommended. Going for hikes, riding bikes, skateboarding...there's a lot to do here that is useful!
There are degrees of effectiveness, though. Just getting outside in and of itself won't lead to the same benefit for everyone. The more focused you are while practicing your sport skills, the harder you push the cardio and speed aspects, the more you'll get out of it.
Level 2 - Challenging Speed & Conditioning Training
In this level we're getting up to structured workouts, but you still won't need anything other than open space. This is best for athletes age 13 and up, younger kids would be better served skipping this and instead spending extra time in levels 1 and 3.
To maintain and build speed, you need to train fast. After a sound warm up, performing a series of sprints at varying distances, with full effort, will help immensely. For agility you can create some shuttle runs at varying distances using cones, stones, sticks or lines in the ground as markers. If you have a parent who grew up in the 80's or earlier, they most likely can help with this!
For any agility drills, make sure you are cutting off both legs equally to work out any asymmetries you may have that are limiting you.
Conditioning can be the exact same two drills - sprints and shuttles. The difference here is you are going somewhat less than 100% speed, more like 80-90% effort over longer periods. Just like your sport, you want to train to a point where you are challenging your upper limits of fitness.
Now we're starting to get somewhere!
Level 3 - Bodyweight Strength
These last two levels are not more important than the previous two, they are just a little harder to execute well at home. Remember that athletes need to develop sport skills, speed, fitness AND strength to play at their best. They all work together to create elite athletic performance.
So you'll likely need to get creative here, unless you are the one who can do Level 4 workouts at home.
Flexibility, plyometric, core strength and hip strength drills can easily be performed without equipment. Back-to-basics strength drills like pushups, pull-ups, squats and lunges can, as well.
For quickness and coordination I'd also recommend jump roping every day or almost every day.
In regards to overall strength development, though, the problem is that it can be hard to reach a challenging level in some exercises with regular bodyweight training. For a trained athlete you'll need to work up to your strength limits to optimally maintain your current strength.
One simple way you can create an at-home 'dumbbell' is to fill your school backpack with books or other items that won't break if you drop it. You can add or remove items as needed to get the proper resistance for each exercise.
Eccentrics are another way to load up better with bodyweight drills. This simply means slowing down the lowering phase of each drill. Take 8 seconds to descend on a squat, take 5 seconds for each pushup, etc.
Creativity doesn't make things perfect here, but it'll help you preserve more of what you built.
Level 4 - Using Training Equipment At Home
This is the level where you'll either need to already have equipment, or will need to purchase some. Perform Better should still have a 15% off and free shipping offer for you at https://www.performbetter.com/ but let me know if it doesn't work and we can contact our PB rep to help. A jump rope, one dumbbell or kettlebell and one band would make for a very useful starter kit that would cost around $100 total.
Strength and power development require you to push to your limits to see progress. There just isn't any way around that.
Bodyweight strength is useful, no doubt, but working against actual resistance provides superior results and will also enhance the speed and explosiveness you'll display upon your return. If you can get access to a little bit of resistance equipment you'll have a much easier time building total-body strength and explosiveness at home.
Following a sound program may take some help from a coach, and the environment may not be 100% ideal, but if you can train at this level as well you're way ahead of most of your peers.
Athletes who are adapting to the stay-home world we find ourselves in are anything but stuck when it comes to bettering themselves.
The only real things you need to improve are motivation and a little open space.
We at Power Source are providing structure for our athletes to get the most out of Level 2, 3 and 4 training while hopefully a sport coach is helping with Level 1 (and maybe Level 2 as well?). The bottom line is, most of you have access to professionals who are capable of and want to guide your athletic development, if you're willing to put in the time and effort.
It is worth repeating, all your competition is in the same crappy situation as you right now! Your training might not be ideal under these circumstances, but if it is better than 99% of your peers you are doing yourself a wonderful service by getting off your butt and moving forward.