During the shut down I was forced to economize my training and cut out the nonsense. I noticed immediately that this had a consequence of focusing only on things that really mattered and really dialing it in.
In my garage I have a sandbag, a 70 pound kettlebell, a 55 pound kettlebell, 2x20 pound DBs and a couple weight vests. And it was only through training in my garage but I noticed how fake strong I had become.
The first thing I noticed is that in the absence of a squat rack almost every lift starts out with a hip hinge. Rows, RDL (duh) and even overhead press required a clean. Squatting required both a vest and sandbag to reach an appreciable weight. But how strong can you get with fixed weight implements?
Well, I constructed my workouts around the following essential movement patterns:
And since I had a lot of free time and would often work out twice a day I constructed my workout rotation so even if I was hitting it twice daily I wouldn’t come around to the same exercises to soon. The typical week of workouts looked like this :
Lunge or BSSQ
Abs (Flexion/ Anti Flexion)
Sandbag Pendlay Row
Lateral Raise or Rope KB Upright Row
Pull Apart or Band Face Pull
Abs Lateral Flexion (side bend) / Anti lateral flexion (suitcase hold)
1-hour weight vest Ruck for distance
LOADED CARRIES (Lowe’s buckets of rocks w/ fat grips taped to the handles and sandbags)
Suitcase Carry (KB)
Front Rack Sandbag Carry
Sandbag Side Shoulder Carry
KB Push Press
MB Overhead Throw
Abs Flexion/ Anti Flexion
Lunge or BSSQ
Box Jump (onto retaining wall)
Abs Rotation/ Anti Rotation
Hill Sprint Intervals
Jump Rope Intervals
Battle Ropes Intervals
LOADED CARRIES same as #4
As far as sets and reps go I did most things on timers or Tabata intervals. For lifts like squats and push-ups I usually did 20 seconds on 20 seconds off. For loaded carries I would do 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. For assistance work like face poles I would do 20 seconds on 10 seconds off . And for things super taxing like Hill sprints I would normally do 30 seconds on one minute off. I’d get to the top before 30 seconds so the balance of the “interval” was extra rest.
When I wanted to do straight sets of prescribed reps I would either slow down the tempo completely, pause in the hole, do a very deliberate eccentric with a very explosive concentric phase or I would do a static hold before I started doing my sets. I also used pyramids and ladders.
When push-ups and overhead presses became too easy I began doing kettle bell floor flies before my push-ups and lateral raises before my overhead press. When squats became too easy I would start with Bulgarian split squats or lunges before I did my sets of squats. For sets I usually did five on lifts and 10 intervals on things like loaded carries and sprints. Eventually I got creative and used a rope and a kettle bell to do both overhead tricep extensions and rope curls. I also slung my weight vests over a shovel handle to do curls from time to time.
But I want to emphasize that you could do the entire work out with only a sandbag or only a kettle bell if you’re creative enough.
Sandbag Front Squat
KB Goblet or Single Rack Front Squat
KB Clean or Swing
Will get the job done. It’s all about intensity — which you need to vary instinctively based on how you feel day to day.