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Conditioning Under COVID

Tennis, chest day


...to the first edition of Conditioning Under COVID! If you're receiving this email, you were amazing enough to agree to receive my weekly newsletter. Maybe you cared about my life and wanted to know what I was up to. Maybe you wanted to know more about exercising without a gym. Maybe you wanted some motivation to get off the couch. Maybe even all of the above! But, that begs the question: what exactly did you sign up for?

I hope the next six editions of this newsletter will function as a little bit of everything. I hope to use this as a journal to document my fitness journey for the next month while simultaneously giving you workout ideas and diet tips. I am a firm believer in the backing of science, so I also plan to provide you with the scientific explanations behind the exercises when applicable. Every edition, I plan to update my average weekly weight change. When I learn how to do it, I plan to implement a feedback box where you can send me updates about what you did during the week, how many pounds you gained/lost, how you felt during the week, whatever floats your boat. Let's keep each other accountable!

Alright that's enough talking...let's get on with the week!

Workout: Tennis
Weight tracker: 158.51lbs
Mood: Slightly tired, feeling good

What is it?

Today was a wonderful day to play tennis; bright and sunny but not too hot that it becomes unbearable. Earlier in quarantine, they used to literally lock the tennis courts shut. This late into the game however, your local tennis courts should be open. In fact, they should be pretty busy! You can always count on the middle aged dads playing together in their weekly rec league matches.

Why this is great:

When you really think about it, you could not have chosen a better sport for a pandemic. Forget 6 feet. When you're playing, try 60 feet in this beautiful socially distant activity. Tennis can indeed qualify as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Defined as periods of short bursts of intense activity, HIIT it has been shown to burn more calories, faster. In essence, tennis is essentially HIIT! When you're chasing balls around, running from the back line to the net after your opponent dinks it barely past the net or running from the rightmost side to the leftmost side back and forth, you're doing a lot of sprinting. Plus, the competitive side within you will actually want to sprint. After all, you wouldn't want to lose the point, would you?

Workout: Chest Day
Mood: Slightly tired, feeling good

What is it?

Today's chest day involved a local park, bleachers in the middle of the soccer field, and a heavy weight. My first set of exercises was 5 sets of 15 progressive decline pushups on the bleachers. To do this exercise, place your feet on the end of the bleacher seat. You should be facing away from the bleacher so that your hands are in pushup-position on the ground and your feet are resting on top of the bleacher seat. It should look something like this:

Push-up demonstration

My second exercise was 3x1 minute holds of plate presses. Since I didn't have barbell plates, I just used a heavy water bottle instead. These days, you have to be resourceful! When doing these holds, focus on squeezing your pecs together by pressing your palms together as hard as you can. It's all about pushing your palms together instead of squeezing the weight. It'll look something like this.

Don't worry, you'll look like the person in the video in no time ;)

Why this is great:

Regional exercises focus on similar working muscle groups that work together when doing the same type of movement. The act of pushing primarily involves your chest and triceps, and secondarily involves your shoulders, abs, and lower back. Naturally, pushups and plate presses are great ways of activating this muscle group.

Changing the decline does a few things for you. First of all, it changes the difficulty of the exercise. The higher seats are more difficult, as more of your weight will be supported by your arms. Conversely, the lower seats are easier as more weight will be supported by your feet. Additionally, the change in decline targets different muscle groups. The higher the decline, the more that your shoulders will be activated, while the lower inclines places more focus on the chest.

Doing the plate press allows you to isolate the chest muscles extremely well. Isolation exercises, which isolate one specific muscle, compared to compound exercises such as pushups, are great ways to work on a specific muscle group that you feel may be lagging behind the other ones.


I'd love to hear from you!

Until next week,

Andy Zhao