Exercising in Self-isolation (With Strategies and Equipment Tips)

The most resourceful athletes have learned how to continue to train during the pandemic, learning new ways to train skills that they once thought could only be done inside their local gym. You may be a pro when it comes to bringing your workouts into your own home, or you may just be curious to learn more about training at home. It’s important to have a plan in case you cannot go to the gym.

As we continue to flatten the curve, and protect the people close to us through social distancing, there are many inventive ways to bring the workout into your own home. We’re going to talk about ways to exercise while in self-isolation, looking at different equipment that you can bring into your home to help you keep that same level of training going if you’re forced to work out from home.

How Exercising at Home Could Prevent the Spread

This past year we’ve all learned to try new things in order to protect the people around us and prevent the spread of Covid-19. The people of Ireland have done a brilliant job of combating the disease, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

We need to stay diligent, especially as we enter the winter season, where there may be an increase in the number of cases. Not only that, winter is also cold and flu season, and many of us will feel sick, and exhibit symptoms for the virus.

Common symptoms include a fever, a wet, ‘barking’ cough, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell. The tricky thing about the Covid-19 is that it is an illness that affects your lungs and airways, and symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear. It’s always better to be safe, and your best option is to stay home and follow government guidelines. If you’re feeling sick, you should also consider getting  tested.

Over the next few months, you may have to take some time off from the gym if you pick up a cold or flu from someone at work, or from a family member or friend. Before you enter your training centre, assess yourself and make sure that if you’re feeling ill and exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, stay home.

Alternatively, an outbreak may occur at your gym, which may prevent you from training there. Although it’s uncommon for outbreaks to occur in training centres, there is still a possibility that your training schedule may be interrupted when an outbreak occurs. The only thing that you can do is find an alternative way to work out either in the great outdoors or at home.

But you can’t waste a single week at home, especially if your competitive athlete who has spent years building up your technique and honing your skills. You need to take control of your own training, and you can do that by purchasing equipment at Martial Arts Mats Ireland.

Covid-19 and the Athlete

Even if you’ve done everything right—you have both doses of the vaccine, you follow proper hygiene practices at the gym, you wear personal protective equipment when required to, and you do your best to social distance — you could still contract the Covid-19 virus. Although those who have been vaccinated may experience less severe symptoms, it will dampen your ability to train.

Sport Ireland has a great course1on Covid-19 for coaches, facilitators, and athletes. I suggest checking it out to get more details on how to prevent the spread. Sports Ireland recommends a different approach for return to sport depending on the scenario.

There are three scenarios for athletes who have tested positive for Covid-19:

1. Positive PCR RNA test and asymptomatic athlete:

Regardless of how you’re feeling, all athletes who test positive for the virus should abstain from their sport for at least 10 days. You should quarantine and avoid close contact, whilst also following contact tracing advice by public health.

2. Positive PCR RNA test and mildly symptomatic athlete

If you have tested positive but have mild symptoms, follow the isolation and contact tracing advice from public health. You should rest for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, plus an extra seven days from symptom resolution. If you remain symptom free and progress well, then you can return to normal activity after a further seven days of gradual reintroduction to sport.

3. Positive PCR RNA test and an athlete with significant illnesses (Requiring hospital admissions and last more than 2 weeks)

If you have been hospitalised because of the Covid-19, it is recommended that you meet with your doctor before starting physical activity again, as well as undergoing a comprehensive clinical assessment.

Graduated Return to Sport

Athletes who have tested positive for Covid-19 should wait to start training again. According to an article in the British Medical Journal entitle, “Graduated return to play guidance following COVID-19 infection”, a graduated return to play protocol might be the best way to prepare yourself for intense martial arts training.

It involves six stages with progressively more intense workouts:

  • Stage 1 is a rest period of 10 days where you allow for recovery time and protect your cardiorespiratory system.
  • Stage 2, which lasts for two days, involves workouts that are less than 70% your max heart rate for a duration of 15 minutes, with the goal of increasing your heart rate.
  • Stage 3A involves one day of training, whereby you train at 80% of your max heart rate for 30 minutes, and the goal is to increase the load gradually whilst also watching for fatigue symptoms.
  • Stage 3B is another one-day training time where you progress to more complex training activities. You train for 45 minutes at 80% of your max heart rate, with attention given to coordination and skills and tactics.
  • Stage 4 is two days minimum, and this is where you are allowed normal training activities. Once again, you’re only allowed 80% of your max heart rate, but this time you go for 60 minutes of training.
  • Stage 5 takes place at the earliest by day 17, and this is where you resume normal training either at home or at your gym.
  • Stage 6 is the earliest that you can return to competition.

 During Stage 3B you could get out your training dummy or stand up punching bag and start training combinations, locks, and chokes. Keep an eye out for any symptoms during this time, including watching how long it takes for your heart to recover and reach resting heart rate.

This is probably the most comprehensive, detailed plan for athletes to return to training after experiencing debilitating symptoms of Covid-19. A graduated return is the best way to test the waters, and learn whether your body is still capable of completing the movements and intensity that you were used to before.

The Best Equipment to Train at Home

As you prepare to re-enter your training facility, you don’t want to miss a single training session. This is especially important if you’re a competitive athlete, as each day you take away from training makes it harder to get back into peak physical condition.

Let’s look at the best equipment for you to purchase and set up in your home to train whether you are in a graduated return to activities after contracting the virus or if you’re exhibiting mild symptoms and you want to get in some light training.

  1. Drop Kick Murphy MMA Dummy

Perform all the locks, chokes, and strikes with this dummy in the comfort of your own home. No need to bring a training partner into your house, and, unlike a training partner, the Dropkick Murphy won’t complain when you hit a pressure point. Weighing in at 35 kg, this dummy is made to take abuse, and is perfect for no holds barred training. Pro tip: use permanent markers to map out pressure points, windpipe, arterial placement, and the solar plexus.

As mentioned above, timing and distance are difficult things to perfect, yet so easy to forget. A couple weeks out of the gym, and you’re going to need to re-learn some things that came easy to you. But,with the Freestanding Zone Punching bag, you won’t need as much time to knock the rust off. The high-impact foam takes all the abuse that you throw at it, and with 16 targets you’ll be able to train combinations and movements just like you’re in the gym. The Freestanding Zones Punch Bag is easy to move and place in a corner in your house to tuck it away until your next workout.

Having a specialty punching bag in your house like this can help you train tough moves like uppercuts and knee strikes. Since the bag is affixed to the wall, it comes in handy for training kicks and punches. You won’t have to worry about pushing the bag around your room as it is securely on the wall. With minor set up, you have this bag up and ready to go.


It takes an imaginative mind to be able to develop a training regime at home. But if you’re dedicated and consistent, you can beat the boredom and get back to training in your own home. Soon you’ll be back to your training centre. But, in the meantime, take time to focus on getting better and honing your skills.

Author: David Van Kooten


1.https://www.sportireland.ie/covid19/course. The course is a great resource on a return to sport and it follows the Government of Ireland’s “Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021” plan, and allows you to be informed about cutting-edge scientific studies concerning hygiene and a return to the gym plan.

2.Elliott N, Martin R, Heron N, et alInfographic. Graduated return to play guidance following COVID-19 infectionBritish Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 22 June 2020. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-102637. Accessed on November, 29th, 2021 from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/54/19/1174.full.pdf

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