How to complement your gym training at home

Jayne Lo, Blue Elvin Athlete stretching

During lockdown you may have invested in equipment for at home training. You now have the opportunity to utilise this equipment to complement your gym sessions.

Jayne Lo, Coach and Third Space Fitness Manager, shares her advice on at home exercises that will complement your in-gym barbell training. With a focus on pre-hab, rehab, and weak point training. 

“My coach programmes me four gym based sessions which are all weightlifting focussed. They include technical drills and specific strength work like squats and vertical press variations. However I don’t have time to add on unilateral exercises that compliment my lifting! I add 1-2 at-home sessions per week where I focus only on that as well as any pre-hab work.”

Swimmers / Reverse Flyes

These can be done as a primer before your session (if so, don’t add load) or at the end of your session/separate session as an accessory. 

  • Improve scapular (shoulder blade) stability 
  • Strengthen muscles that support the scapular 
  • Strong shoulder blade control and muscles around the scapular will help with all vertical and horizontal pulling and pressing movements
Reps and Weight
  • Bodyweight (just your arms) up to 2kg, using dumbbell or fractional plates
  • 3 x 6-10 reps
  • 3-5 second control throughout the rep
  • Goal is to move with purpose rather than move quickly
  • You should feel the muscles around your shoulder blades switch on and stay contracted throughout the movement
  • Try to keep your head and neck relaxed and resting on the floor
  • Keep your glutes squeezed

Overhead Carries

  • Build shoulder stability in the overhead position
  • Improve anti-rotation stability and anti-lateral flexion through the torso
Reps and Weight
  • A heavy enough kettlebell/dumbbell that makes the movement challenging without your spine compensating by flexing laterally or rotating
  • 3-4 sets of 20-30m
  • You should feel the muscles in your trunk activate and obliques working to ensure your spine stays neutral and not rotate to one side
  • Your shoulders and lats should be switched on and locked out
  • Move slowly and with control

Half Kneeling Dumbbell/Kettlebell Press

  • Build shoulder stability and strength in the vertical press
  • Improve anti-rotation stability and anti-lateral flexion through the torso
Reps and Weight
  • A heavy enough kettlebell to achieve 6-10 reps that makes the movement challenging without any torso rotation or lateral flexion
  • 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps 
  • Make sure your rib cage is down and spine is neutral by keeping your pelvis tucked under and belly button drawn in
  • Lock your shoulders and arms out on every rep

Check out Jayne performing these exercises here.

Your Questions Answered 

If I just do conditioning at-home what are good movements to support barbell training?

Any explosive/power based movement.

  • Dumbbell snatch
  • Dumbbell clean and push jerk
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Jumps and bounds
These will carry over directly to your olympic lifting. If your training doesn’t involve any olympic lifting then any movement you would do with a barbell can also be done with a dumbbell at home (e.g. squat, lunge, press, pull). The stronger you are unilaterally, the more likely you will be able to increase overall load bilaterally. 

Should I prioritise mobility and rehab work at home instead of a full training session?

Ideally you should do mobility before any training session as it prepares your body to move with load. This doesn’t necessarily have to be loading with a barbell or dumbbell. Even when you’re running you will be loading your hips, knees and ankle joints. 

Rehab work can be done outside of your main sessions, however it depends on what you’re rehabbing for. Sometimes physios/sports therapists may prescribe rehab to be done before your main strength session as it primes your body for those movements.

Should I be selecting CrossFit classes that focus more on gymnastics and olympic lifting?

Depends on what your goal is. If you are new to CrossFit, I would recommend going to the skills class such as gymnastics and olympic lifting to become more competent at the movements before you then take part in a CrossFit class where you have to do those movements under a timed demand.