I have the sort of body where I simply look at a candy bar or bag of chips and I put on weight, yet lately I've managed to keep my weight pretty steady, despite being stuck at home. My daily workouts aren't super tough—I'm doing some Pilates classes that my local reformer studio (@plts_studio) is streaming on Instagram and I have a P.Volve kit, so I've signed up to the online workout subscription where I can stream classes, and I'm doing the occasional weightlifting session in the garden. Some days, I do one workout and other days, I'll bookend my day with two sessions. None of the workouts are super tough—I'm doing them more for my mind than to carve killer abs. I'm not getting anywhere near my BC (Before Covid) daily step count and the snack drawer is uncomfortably close at hand. And yet, my new workout approach, a #workoutstreak, if you like, seems to be making all the difference in my body. (That, and quite possibly the fact I haven't had an UberEats in a month). Which got me thinking: what does working out in the time of quarantine look like?
I have a personal training qualification and we were always taught that over-training can be just as detrimental as under training. Too much exercise without adequate rests in between can lead to exhaustion and injury. But in this new less-active way of life we're leading right now, how should we be scheduling our workouts? Are rest days necessary, and is there a "right" amount of time to workout every week? I called on Maeve McEwen, master trainer at P.Volve, to reveal how we should be training in quarantine.
The "Right" Amount of Exercise During Quarantine
"It is fine to workout every day, and sometimes twice a day, but you definitely should be mindful of both the type and length of workouts you are doing," says McEwen. "You do not want to overtrain your muscles, so if you choose to exercise twice a day, I recommend doing two shorter workouts (20 to 30 minutes each). One should be a higher intensity workout and the other a gentler stretch-based workout."
The P.volve method is created around protecting joints and taking strain off the body, notes McEwen. There are two types of workout: P.Sculpt, a high-intensity, but low-impact resistance based class, and P.sweat, which incorporates the same technique, but at a faster pace with more planks and cardio.
Mix It Up
If you're trying to find motivation to keep your body active during quarantine, McEwen suggests planning ahead. "Take a look at your work schedule for the week and think about what type of workout would fit best each day," she says. "If you know you’ll be sitting at your computer all day, I recommend scheduling your most difficult workouts first thing in the morning and then end your long days with a gentler workout." Her top tip? "Find a structured program that excites you and will keep you motivated," she says.
P.volve streaming platform offers hundreds of videos varying in length, intensity, and focus—McEwen suggest starting with the "7-Day No Equipment” or the “Summit 60” series. "These programs are designed to be done on back to back days, so the equipment/focuses are constantly changing and you will not risk overtraining any specific muscle group," she says.
Know Your Body
When it comes to working out during times of uncertainty or high stress, try to pay attention to your body and allow it to guide you. "Now—more than ever—it’s important to know your body and what both energizes and relaxes it," says McEwen. "For instance, I know I like to get in an early morning workout and sweat to start my day and set my day up for success, and then relax in the evening with a flow or stretch to de-stress from the day. However, there are those who are energized with a morning stretch to get into the flow of the day, followed by a more intense workout to end their day. So really, it’s all about what is best for your body and the way you work."
Since we're not getting much as much Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which are the calories burned from commuting to work or climbing the stairs at the office, you might feel like you can workout every day right now without a rest. But, be sure to listen to your body since this is a mentally strenuous time in all our lives. A rest day doesn't have to be spent horizontal on the couch in front of Netflix—factoring in some gentle stretching or a walk around the block counts as 'active recovery'.
Your Workout Timetable
McEwen shares an example workout routine for the week:
- Monday: Schedule in an early morning workout to start your week off strong.
- Tuesday: Go for an evening session—this could be high intensity or something more sculpting, depending on your mood.
- Wednesday: Try a higher intensity workout in the morning and then something lower impact in the evening. Or vice-versa, if you prefer!
- Thursday: Kickstart your day with a morning session—choose something that's fun and motivating.
- Friday: Make this your rest day, or if you want to move, factor in some active recovery.
- Saturday: Treat yourself to a lie-in and then squeeze a workout in before you go on with the rest of your day.
- Sunday: Try a higher intensity workout in the morning, then a gentler evening workout or active recovery to reset your body and mind before another work week.
Don't Do Too Much
McEwen emphasizes that just because you find yourself with more time on your hands these days, does not mean you should be going full throttle with your workout regimen 24/7. "I would say you don't want to spend more than an hour exercising each day," she says. "Your muscles need time to recover and if they’re overly fatigued your form may be compromised. Remember that good form is what sets the groundwork for your fitness journey, keeps your joints protected, and fires up proper muscle activation. A shorter workout with perfect form is ultimately more beneficial than longer workouts with poor form."
Be Kind to Yourself Right Now
The final word on working out during quarantine? Be kind to yourself. "Results won’t happen overnight and, naturally, we are all sitting around (and maybe snacking!) more than usual," McEwen says. "Be kind to yourself, be kind to your body, and take this extra time to focus on properly executing your technique so that you can truly see and feel results.
Need at-home workout inspiration? Check out these free workouts on Instagram now...