T Nation

Pandemic Effects On Training For Competition

I had an interesting thought this morning. Since this past Spring, plenty of the serious gym rats I know have fallen into one of two camps:

1- Whine constantly about the condition and requirements of their commercial gyms where they live and breath and train as an integral part of their lives

2- Purchase enough equipment to be able to train at home, and make the best of the situation

Now, while I don’t train anywhere near as crazy as I used to in my competitive days, I’ll admit that being in a large, commercial gym, especially around other serious lifters, and feeding off the atmosphere (in addition to a wide array of equipment) had a positive effect on my mind set, and likely my progress and competitive success. Sure, I acknowledge that I always trained for myself, didn’t have a daily training partner, and would always have my headphones on keeping me in the zone, but I do believe everything played a part.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to get some basic stuff in my garage, and certainly not having to waste time in my car driving to and from a commercial gym has been a big plus. Of course looking decently jacked at 47 is a far cry from if I had to train, leaving nothing to chance, with the mentality of “doing battle” with the best natural pros in the world. I couldn’t recall any successful pros who really trained for competition in home gyms. I’m not saying it’s not possible mind you. My friend Ron has a “home gym” that’s better equipped than most commercial places I’ve seen, so I’m sure it’s possible if you’re in a similar situation.

Huge equipment selection, atmosphere… Are these things necessary?



I’m not a competitive bodybuilder… my body would undoubtedly fall apart if I were to attempt competing.

IMO training equipment selection matters. Certain machines/equipment allow me to adequately target/isolate muscles in a fashion of which I am unable to do with my crude home gym.

As to atmosphere… Not really. As an autistic individual I tend to be hyperaware of my environment/surroundings but at the same time I’m not a always fan of interacting with people, particularly when I’m trying to concentrate/put my everything towards a specific task. If anything I’d prefer to have all required equipment at home, but this isn’t plausible as it’s far too costly.

I like the equipment available in my gym, but aside from the occasional “are you using this machine?” I tend to keep to myself… I hope I don’t come across as callous or rude.

The only plus I see about going to gym as opposed to a home gym (if equipment was equatable) is the prospect of attractive women working out there (and there’s quite a few around my age at times). That being said I try my best not to look as I believe doing so may come across as disrespectful/unnerving. People go to exercise, not to get hit on.

1 Like

I was set before shit went straight to hell… didnt hurt that I hate the current crop of commercial gyms.


If I had this I’d never step foot in a gym again.

1 Like

Necessary is debatable, but it certainly is nice.

A friend of mine has a really top end/fully equipped home gym, and we had a really solid crew in there for a while. It just seemed much easier to turn it up a notch and make some good progress there.

Atmosphere is an interesting thing too. Places that have that tradition of winning or victory really do seem different. It’s like they were haunted by the blood, sweat, and effort that went into winning. There are just some places that when you set foot in, you just know-That place is different.

The more I think about it… I think allot of it boils down to the personality traits of the indvidual. Case in point I prefer training by myself… over the years I have had only 1 or 2 guys I trained with for short burst. Atmosphere is nice but in my area its hard to come by since most of the hardcore gyms have went commercial.

1 Like

Interesting thread timing, as my local gym (which I haven’t been going to anyway) just raised their fees 30% without notification. Hmph. But I digress.

Necessary for trying-to-be-at-least-a-bit-above-average Joes like us? Not really. Smart programming and some fresh D batteries in the boombox can go a long way.

Necessary for competitors? I really think so, yeah. At that level and with such specific goals/requirements, I think a home gym (unless it truly is stocked like a commercial place) is needed, if only for the equipment variety.

Hard to get stage-worthy legs without a leg press, leg curl, leg extension, and calf machine or two. Most home gyms with have only one or two of those, if that. Hard to build great pecs with only an adjustable bench and whatever dumbbells are piled in the corner of the garage.

Way back in the day, the pros made the stuff they needed. Jack LaLanne and Joe Gold, in particular, flat-out invented a bunch of stuff to do the jobs that weren’t/couldn’t be done with a basic free weight setup.
Go to Home Depot

I’m actually kinda curious if there’s been any visible difference in the quality of physiques on stage the last couple of months compared to Pre-Covid. Wasn’t there one particular year where they cracked down hard on testing at the Olympia and a lot of the guys came in visibly worse? I could be misremembering, but I’m wondering if there’s been anything like that, from the altered training.

Nevermind the effect on diet. When things were at the worst a while back, Costco here temporarily was limiting fresh meat purchases to two packages per trip. I can’t imagine an IFBB pro only buying 10 pounds of beef or 8 pounds of chicken or 8 pounds of fish at a time, unless they’re shopping multiple times a week (which would’ve been dumb, but we’re not talking about that right now).

Lol…that reminds me . When they tried cracking down on the 2nd WBF event… oh poor Mike Quinn.

1 Like

Maybe. it’s certainly going to be easier with the eqipment. A lot of equipment is over-rated though. I can remember vividly my first chance to use an actual Pec deck. I’d read about them, and was salivating to use one and finally get a good Pec workout in like the guys in the magazines. Incredibly huge disappointment. Shattered dreams level. Turns out Flyes with DB’s and a bench do a much better job.

In 1990 the federal government passed the anabolic steroid control act of which designated the drugs as controlled substances (sch III) thus making possession a felony. The IFBB in an attempt to cater towards new enacted legislature decided to drug test competitors.

Out of the 15 competitors in the line-up, 5 failed the test right off the bat (lol), those who passed testing by simply coming off a few weeks prior to contest (mechanisms of testing weren’t as efficacious as they are today) looked like a shell of their former selves.

Don’t get me wrong, the competitors looked good (i.e what bodybuilding probably ought to actually look like as opposed to the mass monsters we have today), but they were considerably “flatter”, less “grainy” and didn’t hold the same level of size as was expected from a Mr Olympia competition.

This was the only year wherein competitors were drug tested for anabolics in the Mr Olympia

I’d think professional bodybuilders in terms of IFBB pro, Mr Olympia level competitors would invest in a home gym/do whatever they can to gain and edge on competitors. Unless there’s a shortage of actual gym equipment one can order and/or border closers result in a crackdown on the availability/quality of drugs I don’t think there will be too much of a difference in the physique quality within competitors.

As to being able to afford a home gym. I think if you can afford to use growth hormone you can afford a lat pull down/cable machine.

Perhaps meal replacement shakes could negate the need for extra solid food? Competitors also have sponsors, it’s plausible not all the shopping would be done by the competitor alone if restrictions enacted impeded ones ability to procure an adequate amount of food.

Me too. I was like 11 years old and we went to the high school for a wrestling invitational/tournament, and a bunch of us found the fully equipped HS weight room.

I think I was like 55 lbs. or something, climbing around trying to make the thing do like in the picture attached to the machine. :joy:

I think I was 18. Maybe 19. My buddy had a gym membership in the city, I went as a guest on the way home from work with him. It was 30 mins minimum to any gym from my parents place and I was too cheap at the time to commit, which is okay because I moved very far away before the contract would have ended. I was doing Straight Arm Flyes, full stretch (Tapped the floor every rep) with 65lb DB’s at the tine at home. The thing went up to ahigh number on the stack, but the whole stack was just a high rep burnout. Sigh.

Although not a body builder, I would someday like to have a physique worthy of contemplating stepping on stage. I have a pretty nice (Atleast I think) home gym, but still go to a commercial gym. I find the atmosphere and many machines far more motivating than at home. I think it boils down to will power, which apparently I lack. So maybe I’ll never have the physique I want until that changes.
Also worth noting I blast music at home, but never have contemplated ear buds at the commercial gym. I like listening to music but find it doesn’t do anything for motivation :man_shrugging:

1 Like

You could probably sell your home gym stuff for profit these days

Sure could, for probably great profit, but it wouldn’t be worth it. It’s not eating anything, and if we go into another lock down I’ll be covered.


I think we might see gyms close down again, but I don’t have a crystal ball. I am planning on a few more items for the gym if it goes the way I think. Probably have a gym buddy over to do some workouts for a bit more motivation.

I’d love a training partner. Unfortunately I’d like it to be someone I like, and willing to do what I want to do currently :joy:. Pretty sure I’ll be training alone for a long time.

Remote training partners could maybe be a thing

I’m sure that’s where we are headed and that’s a good idea, but not my cup of tea lol

I trained alone for a very long time. Every once in a while someone would ask to train with me and I would say, “you’re welcome to join me. I know what works for me, it might not work for you; but I work pretty intensely and would expect you to do the same”. Generally they would do one day with me and then they would never ask to train with me again.

Currently I have had a training partner for several months. He is the only one to do what I do and return for more. He’s 22 (15 years younger than I) and a former marine. He actually will train with more intensity than I sometimes.

1 Like