New Habits Created During Shelter-in-Place Orders: Personal, Professional and Physical

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Soldiers work the muscular endurance and power of their quadriceps with the TRX sprinter's start exercise during a train-the-trainer clinic at Fort Bragg, N.C. (Photo Credit: Tim Hipps,)

I have developed new habits under the shelter-in-place order that I am taking with me into my post-quarantine life.

They can save you lots of time and effort when it comes to training, help you be more productive at work, and may even help prevent you not from catching COVID-19 and other illnesses, especially if you want to focus on home gym training.

First, check out these home gym recommendations if you are not comfortable going out just yet.

Killer Workouts in Your Own Home

Do you need a quick fix or starter plan for your home gym? Quick Answer: Go with TRX.

You may learn something that will change your life. Seriously, I use TRX (or suspension training) with just about every workout. I can make pull-ups easier or push-ups harder, add variety to core movements, and stretch even more thoroughly.

People who like to exercise can't neglect training, as it is as much of their life as eating and sleeping. I have written about TRX before in many Military.com Fitness articles.

In fact, any calisthenics exercise can be made tougher by TRX. Just about any weight training exercise can be simulated with the device, as well. You can also scale back the intensity using TRX and replace harder exercises like the pull-up with another effective pulling exercise.

TRX is a tool that people at all levels of fitness can use. That makes it No. 1 on my list of home gym equipment to create new and effective habits of training.

If you are not familiar with TRX or suspension training, go to YouTube and search "TRX exercises." There, you will find countless ideas of how to use TRX for beginning to advanced level exercises. This is seriously a "gym in a bag."

Dumbbells or Kettlebells

There are countless movements you can do with these devices that you cannot do with a barbell, but you can also use these pieces of equipment to replace some of the movements done with the barbell. The key to training well is to diversify your resistance training. Maybe you will have to add repetitions to get the same amount of work with the lighter loads, but you can do just about everything with these tools.

You can get creative with dumbbells and/or kettlebells. Don't have a bench? Do bench presses on the floor, or on an aerobics step or on a balance ball for an even greater challenge. Try goblet squats or deficit squats to get deep into the squat position. Learn how to use these effectively to get stronger and increase your range of motion and balance. You may not go back to barbells for a while because you enjoy these so much.

For more exercises and movements using handheld weights, check out books like "Tactical Strength" or programs by StrongFirst.com, which include Pavel Tsatouline's kettlebell training programs.

In a short period of time, you will be amazed. By mixing in calisthenics with these weight routines, you will build strength where you have never had it before and be more mobile too.

Get a Weight Vest to Make Calisthenics and Walking Harder

A weight vest is a great tool for adding more strength training to calisthenics. Your repetitions will be reduced, but your effort level will be increased by adding weight, especially to the "heavyweights of calisthenics" -- pull-ups and dips! You can even simulate bench presses by doing weight vest push-ups.

You cannot go wrong with the classic calisthenics, either, and you can even make them harder by adding a weight vest while reducing your reps per set. Get a weight vest with sturdy D-rings, and you have a great towing harness too.

So the next logical step here is to check out the Weight Vest Workout. The Weight Vest Workout mixes calisthenics, weights and cardio with a weighted vest to add more challenge to a home PT program.

Adding a weight vest to your training plan can enhance basic calisthenics, simulate protective gear carry, and replace a ruck for some of your distance training.

Another option: The sandbag can also be a quick and versatile piece of equipment for the home gym.

Now for the Personal and Professional Habits Created During COVID-19

Washing hands: Washing hands before eating and after a bathroom visit was a habit before all this started, but now washing upon entering my house after being outside is a new habit. Getting in my car also requires a squirt of hand sanitizer now, especially if I'm running errands around people.

These are good habits to keep as we move forward, and you will likely help yourself fight off more of the common colds, viruses and other illnesses. Face it: We are all germaphobes now. But this is healthy as long as it does not prevent you from living your life. Just do it cleaner.

Touching my face: I used to have a habit of touching my face with my hands or, even worse, licking my fingers the moment before I touched a piece of paper so it would move better. Well, not anymore: Those habits are gone. Now, an itch is handled by my forearm or bicep area or a paper towel or tissue.

Boot camp advice: I have been giving the advice above to young men and women who are about to attend boot camp and basic training, where they will be exposed to germs from all over the nation while living in tight barracks conditions, sharing bathrooms and living space.

Now, I have started listening to my own advice at home and work. The two bits of advice can help you keep from getting sick while at basic training, something that's helpful in maintaining your physical abilities, especially if you have a spec ops prep program immediately after boot camp.

Scheduling at work: I have found that several hours in a row with no interruptions makes for increased productivity. I've decided to have no more lunch meetings; no more running quick errands that take 15-20 minutes; no more picking up kids from school; or doing other things in life that had a way of slowing down productivity.

Figuring out the schedule so I can continue to have those quiet hours in my day will definitely be moved forward once this is over. I do hope those of you who are furloughed or lost your job are able to take this time, gather your thoughts and figure out a side business. There are many ways to increase your revenue without getting a "real job."

Because of my high productivity and having kids at home, there is more time to be a family. Though my older kids are missing their social scene, as a parent, I am loving having them home. Figuring out how to do this more often is easier said than done, but we have at least learned that slowing down is a lot more healthy for us all.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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