T Nation

Less Training Options (My Experience)

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:

Horizontal Press
Horizontal Pull
Vert Press
Vert Pull

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 :

  1. LOWER
    Lunge or BSSQ
    KB Swing
    Vertical Jump
    Abs (Flexion/ Anti Flexion)

  2. UPPER
    Sandbag Pendlay Row
    Lateral Raise or Rope KB Upright Row
    Pull Apart or Band Face Pull
    MB Slam
    Abs Lateral Flexion (side bend) / Anti lateral flexion (suitcase hold)

    1-hour weight vest Ruck for distance

  4. LOADED CARRIES (Lowe’s buckets of rocks w/ fat grips taped to the handles and sandbags)

Suitcase Carry (KB)
Front Rack Sandbag Carry
Farmers Carry
Sandbag Side Shoulder Carry

  1. UPPER
    KB Push Press
    Pull up
    Triceps Push-up
    Sandbag Row
    MB Overhead Throw
    Abs Flexion/ Anti Flexion

  2. LOWER
    Front Squat
    Good Morning
    Lunge or BSSQ
    KB Swing
    Box Jump (onto retaining wall)
    Abs Rotation/ Anti Rotation

  3. CARIO
    Hill Sprint Intervals
    Jump Rope Intervals
    Burpees Intervals
    Battle Ropes Intervals

  4. 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 Row
Sandbag Front Squat
Sandbag RDL


KB Press
KB Row
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.



Switched up 5 and 6. You get the point.

Yes and imagine if you concentrated even more down to only one lift a day…done in different intensity/contraction ranges…
[layers gains]

I always appreciate real life experiences .
Thank you for sharing :slight_smile:

Similar experience here. I found that i could do almost everything with just a Trap Bar.

Zercher Squat
Floor Press
Clean and Press
Rows (Drag, Pendlay)
Loaded Carries
Landmine/Corner Squats and Presses

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Zercher trap bar? I need pics from this badassery

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Haha trust me mate you don’t, It’s so ghetto. Basically a loaded trap bar on it’s side lifted Zercher style from a deficit so the bar doesn’t hit the floor. I’m in no way endorsing such things but I also won’t be stopped. :laughing:

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