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Designing a Home Workout with Equipment Limitations

I’m struggling with time commitments at the moment and will need to focus on home workouts for the time being. I have the following equipment:

  • Pull up bar
  • Bench
  • Dumbbells (pairs of 12.5kg, 20kg and 27.5kg)

In terms of strength levels, in one set I can do 20 pull ups, 20 bulgarian split squats with both 27.5s, 15 incline presses with the 27.5s, 13-14 shoulder presses with the 20kgs, etc…

My question is what sort of workout can I follow with this equipment and is there anything else worth buying (e.g. Resistance bands or weighted vest). My home gym isn’t that big so I can’t afford to get much else!

How many days a week and what are some goals?
Are you doing anything sports-wise outside of your workouts?

About 3-4 days a week would be good.

I’m looking to continue building some muscle.

Hello Jimmy.

“Convict Conditioning’s” “Good Behavior” routine requires nothing but a pull-up are and is great for a 3-day split.

I threw this together. Use it or use some of it, it’s just suggestion.


DB Squats: 4 sets – Do not lock out at the top, just come up to 90%

Split Squats or Step Ups: 3 sets

SLDL: 4 sets: If it is too easy with the weight use a slow tempo to make it hard.

Wide Chins: 3 sets max weight.

Two-hand DB Row: 4 sets, neutral grip.

One Leg DB Calf Raises: 3 sets superset with Abs.

2 Finisher sets: (Use same DBs and never put them down)

DB Squat 10 reps

(No rest)

Two-hand DB row 10 reps

(No rest)

SLDL 10 reps

Rest 90 seconds


DB Curls: 2 light sets, 2 hard sets

Shoulder Press: 6 sets total, the last three sets use the 27.5s.

High Incline Press: 3 sets

Pushups: Elbows at your side, 4 sets as many reps as possible, slow, strict, and full range

Two-hand Lying Triceps Extension: 3 sets using good form.

Alternating DB Curls: 4 sets, hard this time

2 Finisher sets with 27.5s:

Max reps Shoulder Press

(No rest)

Max reps DB Upright Row

(No rest)

Max reps DB Flat Bench Press

Rest 90 seconds and do it again


Palms-up Chins: 4 sets max reps.

Two-hand DB Row: 4 sets, palms up.

DB Pullover: 3 sets

DB Squats: 4 sets (same as above)

Split Squat or Step ups: 3 sets

One Leg DB Calf Raise superset with Abs: 3 sets.

2 Finisher sets: (Do not put the weight down)

DB Power Clean 10 reps

(No rest)

DB Shrugs 20 reps

(No rest)

DB Squat 10 reps

Rest 90 seconds and do it again


DB Curls: 2 light sets, 2 hard sets

Low Incline DB Press: 5 sets

Flat DB Bench: 4 sets (If it is easy, lower the weight slowly)

Pushups: Elbows at your side, 4 sets as many reps as possible, slow, strict, and full range

Overhead DB Triceps Extension: 3 sets each arm.

Concentration Curls: 3 sets each arm.


Regular Pushups- as many as possible in 90 seconds

Rest 90 seconds

Regular Pushups- as many as possible in 75 seconds

Rest 75 seconds

Regular Pushups- as many as possible in 60 seconds

Rest 60 seconds

Regular Pushups- as many as possible in 45 seconds

Concerning additional equipment to consider I would offer the following thoughts.

Easy / Take Little Space:
-bands (triceps pushdowns, face pulls, good mornings)
-kettlebell (snatches, clean & press, swings)
-gymnastic rings to attach to pull-up bar (dips, push-up)
-Med-ball or Slam ball
-Speed Rope

Slightly More Space & Expense:
-weight vest
-dip belt (can make your own with chain and pool noodle)
-loading pin (can make your own with pipe or chain)
-box(es) for jumps and belt squats (dip belt+boxes+loading pin)
-DIY cable & pulley to attach to pull-up bar and loading pin
-make your own cable attachment(s) with carabiners and a closet dowel rod cut to length and eye bolt, or with chain, or rope, etch…
-used barbell & weights (can do almost anything)
-landmine (T-bar row, Meadows row, press, squat)


Incredible home gym! Hopefully I can get there one day if I convince my wife to move all the laundry stuff put of the spare room.

Oh wow, this looks amazing! Thanks so much for the detailed response.

Nice gym set up by the way. Is there any more pieces you would add? Anything you wish you would of done differently ?

Floor space is always the real premium. I can still get my truck in the garage so that is sort of the constraint. I would like to have a 45 deg. back extension but am not quite sold on the cheaper folding models.

Only thing I would do differently is start building a home gym sooner. It’s not for everyone, but it was the best training decision I ever made. I also think people on the internet make too much of getting a “good” bar the first time. Just get whatever you can find and if you get strong enough to need a better one congratulations.

I have a similar problem in regards to training time availability. I started on Christian Thibaudeau’s Beat the Apocalypse Dumbbell program 2 weeks ago, all I have is bands and a pair of 15kg DBs. After being so focused on strength training for the past 3-4 years, it’s actually putting size on me, with 10 years total training behind me. I can definitely recommend it if you are interested in gaining size.

Another great one is Jim Wendler’s Walrus training, all you really need is a pull up bar which you have, and a weight vest. A kettlebell is preferred but not essential.

Regarding workout advice I think you already have enough equipment for a lot of things and if you are creative you can work in a number of substitutes to exercises in programs you will find on this site.

It has been my personal experience that if I stick to these 9-12 exercises I seem my best progress:

  1. Deadlift (You could do DB RDL or see sandbag idea)
  2. Back Squat (You could do DB Goblet)
  3. Overhead Press (…DB Press)
  4. Bench Press (…DB Bench…prop a leg on 2x6’s and hit incline /decline too)
  5. Front Squat (…hold DB’s in semi-rack position with one end resting on shoulders)
  6. Loaded Carry (buy army surplus duffel bag and fill with sand…bear hug and carry it)
  7. Pull-Ups
  8. Dips (…get those rings …use your bench and a folding chair until then)
  9. Row (…DB Row)
  10. Power Clean (…DB Clean)
  11. Power Snatch (…DB snatch)
  12. Push Press (army surplus sand bag overhead)