Home Workout Suggestions

It’s crazy unprecedented times huh? Hope you and yours stay healthy and safe now, and through whatever comes next for all of us. 

Out here in The San Francisco Bay Area, we’re basically on mandated lockdown. As such, I’ve been sending out some home workouts to my family, friends, and private clients. I know what any rational human being must be thinking in regards to that = WTF? But hey, it’s Maslov’s Hierarchy of needs baby. Once our health and security needs are met, us OCD fitness people got to figure out how we’re going to work out. 

Advanced trainees may doubt the effectiveness of home-based routines (as a former meatball myself, I know because I used to fall under that demographic). But I now truly believe that you can get in some great workouts with nothing more than a mat, your own bodyweight, and a few dumbbells. 

With the people I work with on a regular basis, I’ve been able to customize their home workouts specifically to their situation, limitations (age, injury history, equipment options, etc.), and goals. But I wanted to share a general intermediate routine with you, just to give you some ideas for your own plan — that is if it involves more than cocktail curls, which is an acceptable course of action during these crazy times too! 

This general routine probably hits a decent percentage of the Belle Curve distribution, but you may need to adjust accordingly to your own set up and situation. In less subtle legal terms – these are suggestions not prescriptions, follow at your own discretion/risk, Nate Miyaki LLC ain’t liable for anything, etc…

But I don’t know man, I just wanted to put out something during these challenging times to help somehow. A lot of us are stuck at home, looking for stuff to do, and to settle into some kind of semblance of normalcy. Since I don’t have a lot of other skills or expertise, I figured this was how I could contribute. 

For those used to internet marketing and/or just the times we’re living in now (everyone trying to monetize everything); there’s no hidden paywall, hidden agendas, or back end upsells. I just wanted to give you a little something that may have a tiny chance of easing the stress and anxiety that we’re all feeling right now. I don’t know of anything better than hitting a solid workout to “release the demons/blow off some steam.”

So, without further ado, here is the barebones routine: 

2020 Home Workout

Mobility Sequence

Belt Hamstring/Calf Stretch30 second holdExercise demo
Downward Dog/Child Pose5 reps holding 5s 
in each position
Exercise Demo
Crossbody External Rotation30 second holdExercise Demo
Side Warrior Reach5 reps holding 5s 
in each position
Exercise Demo
Hip Swings10 reps each directionExercise Demo
Scapula Wall Slides/Y-Raise5 reps eachExercise Demo
Trap/SCM Stretch5 reps holding 5s 
in each position
Exercise Demo
Shoulder Circles10 repsExercise Demo

Full Body Strength Training Routine

ExerciseSets & RepsInter-set RestVideo Demonstration
    
Single Glute Bridges3 x 15-20 reps30sExercise demo
Bent Dumbbell Rows3 x 15-2060sExercise demo
Alternate Dumbbell Front Raises3 x 12-15 per side30sExercise demo
Alternate Side Lunges3 x 12-15 per side 60sExercise demo
Single Floor Press 3 x 15-2030sExercise demo
Alternating dumbbell curls3 x 12-15 per side30sExercise demo
Plank Holds3 x 30-60 second holds60sExercise demo

*The mobility sequence can be done daily to offset the seated computer posture, improve structural balance/alignment, and maintain optimal functional range of motion.

*The strength training routine can be done every other day to balance stimulus with sufficient recovery.

*To view the full mobility and strength training routine in sequence (without having to click each individual link), I set up a playlist on my YouTube Channel you can check out here: 2020 Home Workout Playlist

Program Notes

Many are resistant to the fact that relatively lighter loads and higher reps (which naturally fit well with home-based training programs) can effectively build muscle and transform a physique. 

But here’s the truth, the truth that originally convinced me to give this training style a chance. We used to think the most effective load and rep range for muscle growth was 6-12 reps, which equals roughly 70-85% of your 1-rep max. 

But newer research has shown that a much broader range (40-95% 1rm for 3-30 reps) can lead to equal results, if training with a certain amount of total training volume AND intensity. In the research, these results hold true for both untrained AND trained subjects. 

If you don’t want to sift through the science, here is a quick summary of the main points that we believe the total body of research is essentially saying:

1. Total training volume/volume load (sets x reps x weight) is the #1 regulator of muscle growth. When this is equal, a wide variety of set, rep, and load schemes work equally well for muscle growth = from relatively heavy weight and lower reps to lighter weights and high reps. 

2. When total training volume is not equated, the higher rep schemes (up to a certain threshold point = 40% 1rm, 30 or so reps) seem to be superior for muscle growth. This is likely due to the higher total volume load/work performed (sets x reps x weight).

3 sets of 5 reps with 100lbs = 1500lbs lifted

3 sets of 20 reps with 50lbs = 3000lbs lifted

3. Training intensity is another key regulator of muscle growth. When training to (or very near) muscular failure, full motor unit activation (Type I and Type II muscle fiber recruitment) and muscle growth are equal across a broad spectrum of load and rep ranges. 

4. While mechanical tension is the primary stimulus for muscle growth, metabolic stress (the burn and the pump) may play a significant role. This is where the higher rep, shorter rest training style (again, that naturally fits well with home workouts) proves superior.

In terms of practical application, this opens up flexibility in programming when muscle growth/physique transformation is the primary goal. Body type, injury history, equipment access, and personal preferences should all be factored into the program design process. 

And for those advanced athletes who believe in the benefits of program periodization, maybe the limitations we’re currently living in make for some good timing to lighten things up, give your joints a break, and to focus on volume accumulation (on a side note, if you even understand what this paragraph means, you need to get a freaking life).

Personally, this is why I trained exclusively with higher reps and shorter rests during all of 2019. In fact, even before the COVID-19 crisis and self-quarantine mandates, I’ve been alternating between gym workouts and home-based workouts (all with higher reps and shorter rests) for convenience and a varied stimulus. 

Maybe, given the results I achieved during that time (placed 2nd in the Master’s Division of the Natural Mr. Universe contest), me pushing this approach is really just confirmation bias? But some of my friends’ and private clients’ results have further strengthened that stance. 

I’ve actually been piecing together my ideas on this topic for a longer post, or perhaps book at some point, going deeper into the research and reasoning behind why I think it can work well for multiple demographics.

For now, however, this was really meant to be just a down ‘n’ dirty post to get you some workout ideas for what you can do at home. If you trust what I’m saying, you can just get after it. 

For the nerds that need more convincing and are interested beyond just the nuts and bolts of what I’m recommending, I’ve compiled some relevant research to wet your weird intellectual appetite…

Research

Burd, N.A., et al., Bigger weights may not beget bigger muscles: evidence from acute muscle protein synthetic responses after resistance exercise.Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 2012. 37(3): p. 551-4.It is often recommended that heavier training intensities (∼70%–80% of maximal strength) be lifted to maximize muscle growth. However, we have reported that intensities as low as 30% of maximum strength, when lifted to volitional fatigue, are equally effective at stimulating muscle protein synthesis rates during resistance exercise recovery.

Schoenfeld, et al. Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations Between Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Dec;31(12):3508-3523.The purpose of this article was to conduct a systematic review of the current body of literature and a meta-analysis to compare changes in strength and hypertrophy between low- vs. high-load resistance training protocols. Searches of PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and Scopus were conducted for studies that met the following criteria: (a) an experimental trial involving both low-load training [≤60% 1 repetition maximum (1RM)] and high-load training (>60% 1RM); (b) with all sets in the training protocols being performed to momentary muscular failure; (c) at least one method of estimating changes in muscle mass or dynamic, isometric, or isokinetic strength was used; (d) the training protocol lasted for a minimum of 6 weeks; (e) the study involved participants with no known medical conditions or injuries impairing training capacity. A total of 21 studies were ultimately included for analysis. Gains in 1RM strength were significantly greater in favor of high- vs. low-load training, whereas no significant differences were found for isometric strength between conditions. Changes in measures of muscle hypertrophy were similar between conditions. The findings indicate that maximal strength benefits are obtained from the use of heavy loads while muscle hypertrophy can be equally achieved across a spectrum of loading ranges.

Lasevicius, et al. Effects of different intensities of resistance training with equated volume load on muscle strength and hypertrophy. Eur J Sport Sci. 2018 Mar 22:1-9.Resistance training with intensity ranging 20–80% 1RM are effective to increase strength and muscle hypertrophy. However, low intensity (20% 1RM) was suboptimal for maximizing muscle hypertrophy. A wide spectrum of intensities, from 40–80% 1RM, are viable options to increase muscle mass. It is feasible that employing combinations of these intensities may enhance hypertrophic results, as well as allow for better recovery by alleviating joint-related stresses from continuous heavy-load training…

With respect to intensity, training with loads equating to 65–85% of maximum dynamic strength (1RM) has been recommended to increase strength and muscle mass (American College of Sports Medicine, 2009). Alternatively, several studies have shown that low to moderate intensities (30–50% 1RM) promote similar gains in muscle mass compared to training with higher intensities (Lamon, Wallace, Leger, & Russell, 2009;

Leger et al., 2006;Mitchelletal.,2012; Ogasawara, Loenneke, Thiebaud, & Abe, 2013;Schoenfeld, Peterson, Ogborn, Contreras, & Sonmez, 2015). Mitchell et al. (2012) found that leg extension exercise performed at 30% 1RM until failure similarly increased quadriceps muscle volume compared to high-intensity exercise (80% 1RM) and was superior to a 30% 1RM non-failure condition. The authors speculated that this finding was due to complete recruitment of the motor unit pool when low-intensity exercise is performed to volitional failure and with a large volume of training (VT)…

Many studies have sought to compare muscular adaptations with low- versus high-intensity RT. Some have found greater increases in muscle hypertrophy with heavier intensity (Campos et al., 2002; Holm et al., 2008; Schuenke et al., 2012), while others showed no significant differences between low and high intensity (Lamon et al., 2009; Leger et al., 2006; Mitchell et al., 2012; Ogasawara et al., 2013; Popov et al., 2006; Schoenfeld et al., 2015; Tanimoto et al., 2008; Tanimoto & Ishii, 2006). A confounding issue in the majority of these studies is that VT was not equated between groups, and the few studies that endeavoured to do so all used the VT of the high-intensity group as the standard for the low-intensity group, which resulted in lower volumes for both groups and thus potentially limited muscular adaptations. It is well established that the VT plays an important role in muscular adaptations, with evidence of a dose–response relationship between volume and hypertrophy (Schoenfeld, Ogborn, & Krieger, 2017). Thus, when different intensities of RT are performed, VT must be matched at sufficiently high levels to help ensure maximal responses for each training condition….

The findings of this study call into question the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines stating that the use of loads ≥65% 1RM are required to promote hypertrophic adaptations (American College of Sports Medicine, 2009). Alternatively, our findings corroborate the results from other studies that demonstrated low-intensity RT performed until volitional failure can increase muscle mass to a similar extent as high-intensity RT at least with loads ≥40% 1RM, even when volume is equated between conditions (Mitchell et al., 2012; Ogasawara et al., 2013; Schoenfeld et al., 2015)…

Schoenfeld, et al. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training.  J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2857-72.It has been shown that many factors mediate the hypertrophic process and that mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress all can play a role in exercise-induced muscle growth…Mechanically induced tension produced both by force generation and stretch is considered essential to muscle growth, and the combination of these stimuli appears to have a pronounced additive effect…Although mechanical tension alone can produce muscle hypertrophy, it is unlikely to be solely responsible for hypertrophic gains associated with exercise. In fact, certain resistance training routines employing high degrees of muscle tension have been shown to largely induce neural adaptations without resultant hypertrophy…Numerous studies support an anabolic role of exercise-induced metabolic stress and some have speculated that metabolite accumulation may be more important than high force development in optimizing the hypertrophic response to training. Although metabolic stress does not seem to be an essential component of muscular growth, a large body of evidence shows that it can have a significant hypertrophic effect, either in a primary or secondary manner. This can be noted empirically by examining the moderate intensity training regimes adopted by many bodybuilders, which are intended to heighten metabolic stress while maintaining significant muscular tension. 

Fink, et al. Effects of rest intervals and training loads on metabolic stress and muscle hypertrophy. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2018 Mar;38(2):261-268. We investigated the effects of volume-matched resistance training (RT) with different training loads and rest intervals on acute responses and long-term muscle and strength gains. Ten subjects trained with short rest (30 s) combined with low load (20 RM) (SL) and ten subjects performed the same protocol with long rest (3 min) and high load (8 RM) (LH). Cross-sectional area (CSA) of the upper arm was measured by magnetic resonance imaging before and after 8 weeks of training. Acute stress markers such as growth hormone (GH) and muscle thickness (MT) changes have been assessed pre and post a single RT session. Only the SL group demonstrated significant increases in GH (7704·20 ± 11833·49%, P<0·05) and MT (35·2 ± 16·9%, P<0·05) immediately after training. After 8 weeks, the arm CSA s in both groups significantly increased [SL: 9·93 ± 4·86% (P<0·001), LH: 4·73 ± 3·01% (P<0·05)]. No significant correlation between acute GH elevations and CSA increases could be observed. We conclude that short rest combined with low-load training might induce a high amount of metabolic stress ultimately leading to improved muscle hypertrophy while long rest with high-load training might lead to superior strength increases. Acute GH increases seem not to be directly correlated with muscle hypertrophy.