MSC Performance
Home to Birmingham Barbell Club
MSC Performance
Home to Birmingham Barbell Club


Home Gyms 101: MSC Gets Prison Strong!

Following the last couple of weeks it wasn’t exactly a hard task choosing the topic for this blog!! Members, clients, and coaches alike we are all now in the same boat training wise so it’s a really good time to give out as much practical advice as possible and help all of us stay strong, healthy, fit, and keep moving forwards with training as best as possible.

To set the scene and let you know why I’m putting certain content together in this blog, it’s worth checking out the table and the research below:


Motor Ability Days To Decay
Maximal Speed ≈5
Strength Endurance ≈15
Glycolytic Endurance ≈18
Maximal strength ≈30
Aerobic endurance ≈30



The screenshots above demonstrate that in simplest terms, it takes 5 days for maximal speed to start decaying, 15 days for strength endurance to drop off, glycolytic (anaerobic) endurance 18 days etc….Alongside that, maximal strength takes a significant time period to deteriorate and even when volume is cut drastically (down to as low as 1/9th usual volume), even as muscle mass is lost, strength is maintained in well-trained young adults.

So what does this tell us? And even when in all likelihood we don’t all have access to the barbells and hundreds of kilos of plates we are all used to at the Mecca that is MSC Performance, what can we do to keep our training effective without succumbing to the pitfalls of a Joe Wicks living room workout doing dips off the sofa and swinging the cat around?


First and foremost, as this lockdown pushes on, you probably won’t lose a huge amount of top end strength. You’re more likely to see some level of muscle mass loss, especially if you are on the older end of the scale, or have very high levels of muscle mass to begin with (guilty!).


Combine the need to maintain muscle mass with the lack of heavy loads to move and both point toward higher than usual training volume as a really useful strategy for maintaining your condition and even pushing it forwardwhilst training from home. If you only have bands or only have 1-2 mid range dumbbells or kettle bells, volume is your friend.


Use the opportunity to get in more single arm or single leg work, utilise patterns that you may not always perform and work on weaknesses, spend more time under tension, use higher rep ranges of 12-20. Your strength will still be there when you get back under the bar and you may even feel better for a period of reduced load, having spent some time building the tolerance and the quality of your connective tissue through highervolumes of training.


As many of you will already know, resistance training causes changes to the body that can be loosely split into 2 categories: neural adaptations, and mechanical adaptations. If we are using higher volume, lower load resistance training at home, then we are primarily working on the mechanical side of things: improving our muscle mass, our tendon health, our connective tissue compliance etc.


In this timeframe we should therefore be looking for some form of neural stimulus to go alongside our tissue work if we are to not only maintain levels, but to actually progress in the long run. This is where we circle back to the first figure detailing decay rates of certain qualities of strength, power, and general fitness.


Maximal speed running and explosive jumping, bounding, and throwing are arguably the biggest neural stimulus we can give to the body, even greater than a 1RM deadlift or squat, and happily they require almost no kit whatsoever. So in your allocated daily outdoor exercise slot get out and SPRINT. For field sports athletes or people who just want to be better and more athletic, max speed is the rising tide that raises all ships. Run fast regularly, work on your top end speed, and see everything from mid range power, running endurance, and even maximal strength develop in turn. You don’t even need to do that much of this: sprint as hard as you can for 30-50m, rest for 3-5 minutes (1 minute rest for every 10m of max effort running is a good rule of thumb), and repeat 3-5 times. It’s all you need to really cement a solid neural stimulus.


If you are someone who’s maybe not so keen on sprinting or haven’t spent a huge amount of time running, then hard isometrics are a great tool for you. Try wrapping a towel underneath your feet and holding one end in each hand, forming something that sort of resembles a deadlift position, and pulling as hard as possible for 5-10 seconds. It’s hard, really, really hard. This position can be replicated in a split squat or even a Bulgarian split squat position too for serious single leg strength gains.


Finally, for another great neural hit and something that is of benefit to all sorts of people, extensive plyometrics like skipping or simply just repeated jumps can keep you firing and the neural system stimulated. Jump squats, pogos, jumping lunges, are all good tools when performed in sets of 10-30 and with lots of intent and ‘pop’.


In a nutshell, as with all good training programmes, a sensible combination of volume and intensity in a format that allows you to be consistent is the way to go. For the foreseeable future whilst we are all in this situation apart but together, it would seem that indoor higher volume work at a lower intensity than usual is the way to go, and when we can we should get outside in the great weather we are currently having and put the hammer down!


Finally, on a slightly more serious note and along some slightly different lines to the previously mentioned studies, research carried out back in 2014 highlights some stark points relating to pneumonia, respiratory disease, and the relationship between mortality and exercise habits. Whilst it cannot be said certainly that this applies directly to the current pandemic, it raises a serious point that in cases similar to this, keeping fit, active, and healthy, gives you the best fighting chance of coming through this illness safely. I’m no doctor but just this snapshot of the research and common sense points clearly to the fact that we all need to STAY ACTIVE. Keep working and we’ll be back soon!


Stay safe out there