Training during Isolation – How does it work for me?

How should I train during isolation? 
Cameron Andrews (Physiotherapist at Active Health Canterbury)

There is a lot of information going around on social media about the best home workouts & home workout plans, so I have put together some thoughts about how we can optimise our training during a period of inactivity, injury or otherwise lack of equipment 

For a lot of us, we won’t be able to maintain our usual training loads, which is very disheartening when we have worked months (or years!) to create adaption and gains for our sport or goals. 

The first thing we need to do is ask ourselves why we are training – having some clear-cut goals & direction will be essential to putting together a sustainable routine. For the athletes amongst us we are wanting to maintain (or make) as much progress as possible and set ourselves up in a position that we can make a quick return to normal training. For others (with less defined goals) we may just want the novelty of movement to help break up the monotony of inactivity.    

Regardless, we want to find things to do that will give us long term benefits, below there are a few ways in which we can accomplish this. 

1:Increase our variability – variability is the opposite of specificity (duh) and it is often something that is lost as we become more focused on a single sport or activity. Whenever we train or create a program, we need to consider the link between these two factors and how they interlink. Naturally the body will adapt to the specific activities we do, and as a result we lose “options” for movement. You could call these imbalances, but I prefer to think of it as sport specific adaptation (as these adaptations do make us better & more proficient for our specific task). 

Adding variability needs to be individualised depending on your current training history. A simple example would be changing a sagittal plane movement (front/back) like a squat, to a fontal plane movement (side to side) like a lateral lunge or step up.  

2:Tissue specific exercises for current (or past injuries) – it is well known that a very important risk factor for injury is previous injuries. Now is the perfect time to build some comprehensive capacity to these at-risk areas (no more excuses for pulling your hamstring or calf when you return onto the field!). This is a key area for your physio to come in and help you find ways to comprehensively rehab a troubled area. 

3:Build work capacity– work capacity dictates how much “work” (our training stimulus) we can perform, recover and adapt positively to. A high work capacity will enable a higher training stimulus, which will ultimately lead to more gains (during a taper). Building work capacity is often an essential part of an effective offseason training, to enable a more successful peak. 

We can increase our work capacity by simply adding more total volume (this doesn’t necessarily have to be recoverable volume)- by means of adding reps, sets, frequency or decreasing rest (to name a few). 


Leading from these 3 points, we also need to consider how we can progress our training. If we are doing a different training program every day, then we won’t be able to create progressive overload or monitor and modify our training stimulus. For this reason, I think it is still valuable to have a consistent program & training routine in place.  

In summary I think applying these three concepts to our isolation based training, will mean we can add to our training base and potential, allowing us to hit the ground running when we eventually return to our normal routines.  


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