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How To Train During A Quarantine - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

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How To Train During A Quarantine - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

How To Train During A Quarantine

The following is a heavily revised post I wrote almost exactly two years ago. It now appears that it was ahead of its time! In most areas, all gyms have been forced to close in an effort to stop the spread of COVID19. I am not a medical professional, and am committed to ‘staying in my lane’. Therefore, I’ve chosen to not make comments about the virus itself (if you’d like to read more about that, please take a look at literally everything else on the internet right now). What I would like to talk about is how to train at home.

Disclaimer: The following post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase one of the items (or anything else during that website visit), my business receives a small commission. Since our facility is closed, we are not able to generate income through conventional coaching, so these links do a small part in helping us pay bills, and allow staff members to continue to receive a paycheck. Please consider using them for purchases. Every little bit helps to keep our place alive during this shut down. Thank you! 

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder

Today’s post comes from the FAQ file. Questions include:

“What equipment should I buy for the house?”

“What size kettlebells should I have at home?”

“Where should I buy/who has the best deals?”

We will attempt to answer those in today’s post. Enjoy!


“In case civilization is temporary.”

StrongFirst’s statement when describing their bodyweight-only training Certification

Although it appears civilization is still somewhat intact (for now), the ability to train in a conventional gym is temporarily unavailable for most. Exercise does just as much for the mind as it does the body. I urge you, even though stress levels may be higher than normal, to please continue training. Speaking for myself, my training time is about the only escape I have from everything going on, and I’m very glad to have it.  

So, let’s get into it. First question to ask yourself:

“When all of this is over, am I the type of person that will exercise at home, with the frequency and regularity, to justify making an investment in home gym equipment?”

“I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. We all know someone who has had a treadmill in their house for years that serves as nothing more than a very expensive clothesline. If that someone is you, I advise you to start very simple, see how usage goes, then slowly build up.

An important lesson

When we built our first location, budget was very tight and some of the equipment we bought was cheap and of inferior quality. None of that equipment has stood the test of time and has since needed to be replaced. Like a wise business mentor once told me, “A poor man can only afford to buy the best.” Even in a home gym setup, it’s better to have a small amount of high-quality/high-use equipment than a menagerie of cheap gadgets that hardly get used and break easily.

Ninety percent of my gym was outfitted through Rogue Fitness. We are an affiliate, and will recommend their products in this post. They’re good, they’re made here in America, they’re durable, and the pricing is good (especially considering the quality). We don’t endorse them because our business depends on it (less than 1% of revenue), We endorse them because they are a good product. Rogue has always taken good care of us, so I’m returning the favor.

Level 1:

This section is a starting point. You’re not sure how disciplined you’ll be about training regularly at home. I always recommend starting with a foam roller and lacrosse ball (or a Yoga Tune-up ball if you’re serious). They’re inexpensive, and should be used regularly. If soft-tissue/body maintenance is not a regular part of your routine, you are either under the age of 20 or you’re missing a key component to tissue health and mobility. Over the years, I’ve seen people get out of significant amounts of pain by simply doing a little soft tissue work daily. If your gym is closed and you are hesitant to invest in equipment to get by for a short time, maybe this is a good opportunity to work on your crappy mobility and let some nagging pains recover.

Next, I would invest in 3 kettlebells: A light bell for warmup, a moderate bell for single-arm work, and a heavier bell for two-hand/strength work. For a beginner lady, this might be an 8kg, 12kg, and 16kg. For a guy starting out, a 12kg, 16kg, and 24kg would work well. For some exercises, even the smallest bells might be too heavy to start (Turkish getup for example). However, I don’t recommend a beginner buy anything smaller than warmup weight because of how fast they will out-grow it. You can practice a getup with just about anything (shoe, water bottle, small pet, etc) until you can master the technique to work with your lightest bell. Between these bells and bodyweight exercises, you can design some great training sessions.

Lastly, to add some variations (especially pulling exercise), I would recommend a TRX Suspension Trainer or something similar. This is a simple contraption that you can throw over almost any door (or even a tree branch in the backyard), and it will instantly give you a ton of exercises/warmups to add to your regimen, and keep from getting bored. Speaking of getting bored, as Mark Reifkind famously said, “If you’re bored, it’s too light.” Learning how to increase the difficulty of simple exercises is an art. Consider reaching out to a coach for help with this. If you are able to perform pullups/chin-ups, you may also want to invest in a pullup bar. If you choose this option, you can hang your suspension trainer directly onto it.

Depending on bell sizes (maybe finding something used?), you should be able to put this together fairly reasonably. If this equipment is specifically to get through the gym closures, I would stop here and lay low for a while until your place opens back up.

If you notice yourself using this stuff quite a bit (even after your gym reopens), then I would consider upgrading your arsenal.

If this equipment collects dust in a corner for a few weeks/months, put it on Craigslist and come up with another plan. A good ‘next step’ here is to hire a coach to keep you more accountable to your goals, but that topic is for another day.

Level 2

This is for someone who already has some basic equipment, and is regularly using it. If you haven’t done so already, I would definitely invest in a pullup bar. Even if you can’t do pullups (yet), a bar will give you more versatility, and you’ll also be able to work on pullup progressions as well as more advanced ab work.

At this point you may also find that your kettlebells are getting light! It’s now time to add more to your collection, starting most likely with one bell bigger than your current heaviest bell.

I’m not a fan of fitness gadgets, but I would strongly consider an ab wheel. This is a solid piece of equipment for training your abs. Click here for demonstration.

Level 3

Ok, now you’re serious. This section is for those who already have a pretty decent home gym setup and have been training regularly at home prior to the gym closures. At this point, it’s ok to start to invest in more niche-type equipment for the modality you train in. Examples of this would be a squat rack/bars/plate set, maybe even a Concept 2 rowing machine. It’s an absolutely awesome piece of cardio equipment and can serve as a great supplement to outdoor activities when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

The examples above are just that… examples. Honestly, if you’re at this point, you probably aren’t even reading this because you’re busy doing heavy squats in your garage with the tunes cranked up loud. Kudos!

Just because you train at home, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t occasionally benefit from having a pro take a gander at your technique and/or writing some specialized programming to get you out of your comfort zone. Over the past couple years, I’ve started to acquire online students from all over the country who have these types of setups at home. We have weekly (sometimes monthly) check-in sessions to keep them on track. It seems as though I’ve been accidentally preparing for times like these!


Program Design

Let’s face it, Matt and I have got some time on our hands! Please feel free to reach out to us for help.

General Guidelines

Here is how I approach a program. Pick from three (or more) of the following…  





Get down and up from the floor


Work in ranges of 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 10 reps. If this sounds too easy, you need to find harder exercises. I wouldn’t push reps past ten… anything more is just cardio. Even with minimal equipment (or none at all), there are still plenty of ways to make exercises harder. Sets of 20 burpees is not training!

Sample Workouts

Let’s say you’re still waiting for your equipment to arrive (I hear there’s been a problem with that). Or, you’re just training with minimal equipment. Here are three levels of bodyweight-only workouts from beginner to advanced. Enjoy!

Beginner (click here for a video example of this session)

Joint mobility warmup (click here for an example)

5 Rounds of the following:

10 pushups (elevate hands to make them easier, elevate feet to make them harder)

5-10 tempo squats (count five seconds on the way down, hold for 3 seconds at the bottom, then explode up)

Hold plank for 30 seconds

Rest as little as possible between exercises. Rest as much as necessary between sets.

Intermediate (click here for a video example of this session)

Joint mobility warmup (click here for an example)

5 Rounds of the following:

10 tempo pushups (five seconds on the way down, hover just above the ground for three seconds, then explode up)

10 per side tempo Bulgarian Split-squats

Hold pike position for 60 seconds

Advanced (Pullup bar required. Click here for a video example of this session)

Joint mobility warmup (Click here for an example)


One-arm pushup

Pullup (possibly weighted or reps doubled 2,4,6,8,10,8,6,4,2)




Rest as little as possible between exercises. Rest as much as necessary between sets.


Many of us are struggling during this time. From our Protocol family to yours, stay safe, stay healthy, and we’ll see you again when this time passes.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Marie and dog Sadie. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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