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Coronavirus Quarantine Workout Ideas

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

coronavirus quarantine workout ideas

Story at-a-glance -

  • Many gyms and fitness centers are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • There are ways to maintain fitness levels at home, even if gyms are closed indefinitely
  • A cornerstone of home workouts is the exercise called the burpee, of which there are many variations
  • Exercising can improve your mood and lessen the extra tension of working from home
  • Working out at home can strengthen your lymphatic and immune systems and help ward off illness

Countless disruptions have come from the coronavirus outbreak. Many office workers are now restricted to electronic communications, and children are home all day. A less noticed disruption is happening to those who are used to regularly working out at gyms that may now be closed.

Even though gym equipment can be disinfected, many trainers and gym operators are closing fitness centers out of the same "abundance of caution" cited by many officials and businesses during this pandemic. The risks of spreading the virus at this time may just not be worth it, they say.1

A few days of not working out may not be cause for alarm. But no one knows how long the coronavirus quarantines, which are often called "sheltering in place," could last. They could persist for weeks or even months. Those who have worked for years to acquire their top fitness don't want their hard work lost.

While we have reached the golden age of fitness where quality gym machines are available for the home, many do not have such equipment or even the extra space such equipment requires.

Luckily you don't need anything more than a mat or soft surface to maintain an effective exercise routine. Here are some ideas top trainers suggest if the gym or fitness center you have been going to has closed its doors for the time being.

Start Your Home Workout With Burpees

At the top of your home workout list should be burpees, says personal trainer Bryan Goldberg.2 "No matter where you are in the fitness spectrum, there aren't many things [that] are so simple but have such a profound effect as a burpee," he says.

What is a burpee? Also called an — "up-down," "front lean," "jumping pushup" or "squat thrust" — a burpee is essentially a squat, a kick of the feet backward into a pushup plank, and jump-back into the squat position followed by a stand.3 Burpees are named after Royal Burpee, who perfected the maneuver in 1939 while working on his Ph.D. in physiology. Mel magazine writes:4

"According to an interview with Burpee’s granddaughter Sheryl Dluginski that appeared in The Huffington Post, the physiologist had intended the burpee to serve as an exercise that could be used to quickly elevate a trainee’s heart rate after baseline resting measurements had been taken, providing a good picture of general cardiovascular fitness.

It became a part of a general U.S. military fitness test in 1942, during which trainees attempted to complete as many burpees as possible in under a minute. Forty-one was considered excellent."

Burpees work most of the major muscle groups while simultaneously boosting cardiovascular fitness, balance and coordination, according to Coach magazine.5 Moreover, it’s an exercise you can do without going to the gym or having gym equipment. Coach magazine adds:6

"All that’s needed is the steely determination required to get you through them … and perhaps an understanding neighbor who won’t complain about the frequent jumping up and down."

Craig Peters, who performed an astounding 67,000 burpees in one year, says, "I do feel fitter — I’m much leaner, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time." Peters said he used to have back problems but not since doing burpees for a year. "It’s made my body stronger and more flexible. It’s little things like running for a bus or going upstairs — you certainly feel a difference. It’s a hell of a lot easier."7

You don't have to do 100 burpees to receive their benefit, says Goldberg. He suggests starting at your fitness level, perhaps doing only 10 burpees, and following them with a similar amount of pushups and squats for a total body workout.8

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Burpees Can Be Made More Difficult or Easier

If your gym workout is tough and you want to maintain an equally intense home workout, here are ways to "turbo charge" your burpees according to fitness magazines.

Chest-to-floor burpee — This burpee is the same as a standard burpee except that you lower your chest to the floor during the plank position for the press-up before you jump back up.9

Burpee tuck jump — This burpee is the same as the standard burpee except that you raise your knees to your chest when you leap into the air afterward. This will ensure your jump is as full as possible and it increases cardio benefits.10

Dumbbell burpee — For this burpee, hold a hexagonal (not circular) dumbbell in each hand and perform the burpee the same way.11

Burpee to box jump — This starts out as a standard burpee but you jump onto a box when you rise, landing in a squat position, then standing up straight.12

One-legged burpee — This differs from a standard burpee in that you only use one leg to assume your plank position and to get up from it and jump. You then do the same thing with your other leg.13

One-legged burpee with skater — This differs from the one-legged burpee since as soon as you stand up on one leg you do a "skater's jump" to your other leg and then execute another one-legged burpee.

All these burpees enhance the muscular strengthening and cardio benefits of the exercise. But there are also ways to make your burpees less difficult when you practice them — at least at first.

Walk back squat thrust — This is a standard burpee without the end jump.14

Half burpee — This is a standard burpee but you do not rise to a standing position; you stay in a squat before doing the next half burpee.15

Squat thrust with support — This is a standard burpee but your arms are on a box for elevation, not on the floor.16

A Home Quarantine Workout That Will Work Up a Sweat

Frederick Joseph is a New Yorker whose building has closed its gym during the coronavirus outbreak.17 Working out is especially important to his health and fitness, he says, because he has multiple sclerosis. Here is a tremendous workout he suggests with a warmup and four modules — none of which requires home gym equipment.18

Warmup (Five sets separated by one-minute rest)

Jumping Jacks — 15 reps — Bend your knees slightly and jump into the air with legs spread to shoulder-width and arms overhead.

High knees — 15 reps — Run in place, bringing knees up as high as possible toward your chest while pumping your arms.

Module 1 (Three sets separated by one-minute rest)

Side lunges — 10 reps — With your feet apart, take a big step to your right. Bend your knee and push your buttocks back to do a side lunge. Repeat on the other side.

Jump Squats — 10 reps — Stand with your feet slightly apart. Bend your knees to drop into a squat, then jump as high as you can and straighten your legs.

Burpees with pushups added if able — 10 reps — (See burpee instructions above)

Module 2 (Three sets separated by one-minute rest)

Lateral plank walks — 10 reps — Start in a high plank, shoulders above wrists and abs tight. Step your right foot and hand to the right and do the same with the left. Take a few "steps" in one direction, then in the other direction.

Plank taps — 10 reps — Start in a high plank with your feet hip-width apart. Tap each hand to the opposite shoulder while engaging your core to keep the hips as still as possible.

Mountain climbers — 10 reps — Start in a high plank. Drive right knee out and up toward your right tricep while turning your head to watch your knee meet your arm. Alternate sides.

Module 3 (Three sets separated by one-minute rest)

Flutter kicks — 30 reps — Lie on your back with legs extended at a 45-degree angle. With legs straight and together and your toes pointed, start lowering one leg. Raise your lowered leg while lowering the other. Alternate between legs.

Situp to twist — 20 reps (10 each side) — Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat to floor. Place hands behind your head and do a situp. At the top of the situp, bring your right elbow to your left knee and twist your torso toward the left. Lower down and repeat alternating sides.

Double crunches — 10 reps — Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and lift your shoulders and upper back off the ground, simultaneously bringing your knees to your chest. At the top of the movement, contract your core.

Module 4 (Two sets after five-minute rest)

Pushups — 10 reps — Get down on all fours with straight arms and legs. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, then push up.

Lunges — 20 reps — Stand with your feet together. Take a step forward with your right foot and bend your leg until your front thigh is parallel to the floor and your back knee barely touches the floor. Push up through the heel of your rear foot to the start position. Repeat on the other side.

Some Final Home Workout Tips

Getting motivated to work out at home is not easy, says Equinox trainer Colleen Conlon, but it is important. "Working from home can create extra tension and stress, and even short bursts of exercise can help release energy, relieve stress and improve your mood."19

According to Conlon, there are psychological tricks that can help you to stay motivated to perform an at-home workout. First, make your workout space attractive. Clear away distracting clutter. Second, open your windows to get some fresh air.20

Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel like working out, Fithouse instructor Tiffani Robbins told the New York Post.21 "If you don’t feel like working out, encourage yourself to start with five minutes, and, if you’re still not in the mood, give yourself permission to stop. Most likely, though, you’ll want to continue. Endorphins are magic." She also suggests “peppering” your day with squats or pushups.

The coronavirus shutdowns are not the time to stop working out, D’Juan Woods, a North Texas certified trainer, tells 5NBC, "but a great time to do some workouts at home." Many workouts don’t require any equipment and the whole family can join in.22

“Exercise helps strengthen the lymphatic system," says Woods. "That’s where our immune cells circulate and [it] lowers levels of stress hormones. Effectively managing stress levels keeps our immune system running strong."

Other alternatives aside from the workouts detailed above include getting outside for a run, biking or walking, while maintaining a 6-foot social distance.

That will provide you with fresh air and sunshine at the same time. Many fitness centers are also starting to offer livestreamed workouts during this trying time.23 So, don't let gym closings keep you from your daily workout.