T Nation

Regimen with Lack of Free Weights


Hello everyone,

I dont exactly have the time to read through article after article after article. So I was hoping to get some assistance. Im not looking for a lengthy workout, and i dont have free weights at the moment to use. With the strain of "Bill" at my door every other week, the extra cash required to put out for dumb bells, curl bar, flat bench, etc.. is just out of the picture right now.

I also know, that without the free weights im not going to gain much size. Although i do need to build some stamina/tone in my muscles, so i think it should be a bit easier to accomplish.

What im looking for, is what i can do without the free weights to tone and build endurance. On a daily, or every couple day basis.

My shoulders are kinda on the week side, so i've never been able to do alot of pushups in one set. And as you'll be able to see in the pic i'll post, is i've never had much muscle towards the center of my chest. I used to workout quite often, about 3 years ago and could never seem to get that to change much. Im not a big guy, about 6', 160 lbs. I want to flatten my abs, and bring back the 6 pack i had when i left high school. Quickly and efficiently.

Also, if anyone has any advice on what my wife can do to build some back strength since she's always complaining of back pain. She doesnt have any currently diagnosed bone issues, but is always complaining of spasms and pain (she's been to the doctor many times for it, with nothing but a "pain" diagnosis). Which im guessing is due to weak muscle's in the back. She doesnt do alot of lifting in anything she does, so im guessing that could be why she's always complaining.

So after all the blabbing i've done, im hoping you guys get the jist of what im trying to accomplish. Once i get the opportunity to buy weights, i'd like to build some more mass and stop being the bean-pole i've been most of my life. But i need the endurance to do so, also. Here's a pic of skinny ol me, with the gut. What can i do to get out of this worthless state of physical inaptitude.


Also, as a real quick response. I have been registered here for a few years. I looked back at the threads i typed and realized that some, if not most, of you are kind of opposed to us newer-comers asking for quick answers instead of taking the time to read read read.

Here's a quick explanation.

With working 10 hours a day, 30 minutes to work, 30 minutes home(11 hours taken by work/commute), Shower/Shave,etc.= 1 hr, Dinner = 30-45 mins, after dinner clean up = 15-20 mins, hopefully 1 hour of workout or so, this all adds up to just about 14 hours of my day taken up. I'd like to spend the other 2 or 3 hours that im awake with my wife and child. Instead of sitting at the PC like a bump on a log reading oodles of articles. With trying to get an 8 hour sleep schedule a day, thats 22 hours taken up doing something already. The day just needs to be longer!


Hi, i'm a beginner like you. This is my first post. One or tow months ago i had a physique like you and i have improved that now.

It doesn't work with you not reading anything. You schedule one hour workout. Make that 30 minutes workout and 30 minutes research. Make it a habit to read just one article a day. The top three threads in the beginner forum will give you a good start.

If you don't have weights: Improvise! You don't need heavy weights to start, so lift water bottles or a box or something. My toolbox is a good weight to curl for example.

Additionally you should use "bodyweight exercises". Google that!

Basic exercises:

Push-ups (triceps, chest or shoulder depending on hand positions)
Chin-ups (biceps and back, use your doors)
(One-leg) bodyweight squats
Supermans (lower back)

You say, you can't do many push-ups? Then it's a good starting point. Do them on your knees at first! Do at least three sets!


You sound like a winner! But I understand. No one else here has a job or a family or school or bills or other things in their life demanding attention, so you are in a difficult situation.


Good post.

You have a horrible attitude. If you're serious about this then you should go and read. You've found one of, if not, the best sites there is on the internet about weightlifting, training and nutrition. How hard can it be to acquire knowledge?


But no, I wouldn't try that with family and a regular job. Basement-dwelling programmers like me are free to try.

That's what you are trying to fix, eh? Three sets of maximum-2 will get you started.


Without any tools, it is hard to train efficiently. You might want to have a look at the famous "prison workout" (n burpees, sprint, n-1 burpees, sprint, n-2 burpees, sprint...) or streetworkout.com or something like that. Will be a bit harder to find information here, I guess.

A chin up bar and a dip bar will get you pretty far (1), as well as a cheap set of barbells (2) or dumbells (3) from ebay. Or just get yourself a PVC pipe (4)

(1) My favorite combo would be chin-ups, dips and one-legged bodyweight squats. Then get some kind of weighted vest. As basic training, this can get you pretty far.
(2) Complexes for fat loss:
(3) The one dumbell workout:
(4) Work out with anything:


Blast straps from Elite have a lot of applications and can add to a bodyweight routine. They cost around $60, a little less if you order them during free shipping. Better yet, look for city or municipal site that has free or next to free access to weights. We have 3 rec centers in my city that have small weight rooms that can be used free. DB's up to 50 lbs, benches, lat machines, etc. Not the best, but better than nothing.


I'm very much a beginner, so you might want to take this with a grain of salt. But, if you really can't afford any equipment at all, you might want to take a look at this article:


I imagine your shoulders (not to mention your midsection) will be quite a lot stronger if you can work up to doing planche pushups. You might also consider making a pair of paralettes- you ought to be able to do it very cheaply. If you can find something to do pullups on you'll have a fairly good upper body and midsection workout. A slightly more expensive option would be to get some portable rings: www.ringtraining.com/store/eliterings.html. Not to diss free weights at all, but you should be able to work everything above the waist adequately with those for a long time to come, and amortized over even a year they are very inexpensive.

For the lower body one-legged squats off something with even milk jugs filled with sand will probably stay challenging for a while, particularly if you go well below parallel. You can also get dumbbell handles for not all that much, and buy plates incrementally as you need them.

No offense, but looking at your pictures I think that if you start doing just about anything you'll make progress for a while, as long as you eat well. If you can't do many pushups, that probably means you could benefit from doing pushups. You'd be surprised at how quickly you'll get better at them, particularly if you do a few sets throughout the day. You'll actually need to find a way to mechanically disadvantage the movement within a week or two if you want to keep the reps low enough to increase strength. The pullups should go up pretty quickly too, as long as you are strong enough to do a single to start with.


I can do up to 5-10 pullups in one set, but usually its cut by 3rds on my next set. I can do 10-15 pushups MAX usually, and yes i KNOW im way way way way way out of shape and a bean pole to boot.

I appreciate those of you who have taken the time to post without indirectly saying im a loser, or that i have a bad attitude in regards to this.

It's not that im opposed to learning and helping myself. Its that i refuse to compromise my family time to do a ton of research, when i can get little hints here and there from kind, generous people. Such as those of you who've responded respectfully.

Im off today, so i'll read read read some. For those of you who think im just lazy, please try (Keyword TRY) to understand my time restraints.

BTW, is it safe to do push ups and sit ups on a daily basis? or crunches?


It doesn't take a lot of time to research. You look fairly young. (30s ?) How much time will you have for your fa,ily when you have a heart attack at 40, or when you're 60 and you can't walk up the stairs on your own? If you don't take steps now to look after your body, your family won't be thanking you for not spending time on your health when they bury you. Sorry for the rant. My father died at 58 of emphasyma that probably could have been avoided if he had exercised.

Now that's that's off my chest,

Do bodyweight exercises every day. Do pushups, chinups, situps, body weight squats. 1st time, do them as many times as you can in a row. That establishes your max. Starting the next day use 50% of your max reps for 5 sets in the morning, 5 at night. Do them in a circuit, example, 3 chinups, 5 pushups, 7 situps, 15 squats, then repeat. Do them as fast as you can with good form. You should be sweaty when you're done. This serves asd your cardio workout as well. Once a week test your max again. Take 1 day off and start over with 50% of your new max.

There are ways of making these harder. Once you are up to a reasonable number, say over 20 (max = 40) then you need to make them harder.

A barbell is a good investment.

You probably need to look at your diet too.



Thanks for the well informed response Stu, greatly appreciated!


I don't believe he wants to look like an 8 year old boy. [end sarcasm]


If you found this site, then you really should make time.

If you can't do push-ups now, do push-ups now. Crunches/sit-ups for your abs, chair dips, pull-ups, chin-ups, and varied width push-ups (close to wide).

Is this before you ask for sex? he he :stuck_out_tongue: She could do the same workout.

Wanting to change is a big step. Using your bodyweight is the poor man's gym. At this point, anything would help you.


That is a very good point you're making.

Yet this discussion made think about a complete bodyweight workout. I think I can find:

A hip-dominant exercise: The good morning.
A quad-dominant exercise: The bodyweight squat
A horizontal push exercise: The pushup
A frontal push exercise: The handstand pushup
(I hope I got the directions right).

If I want to do a core exercise, I can add te plank.

But I cannot find a good pull movement. I figure that by definition you need something to pull on, so without tools this is hard.

I can imagine doing inverted rows under a four-legged table (some direction as the pushup, good). I can imagine doing chin-ups on a door frame. But that is using tools.

I currently have not found a good solution for that. This pissed me off a bit, so I went and wrote an article (in German) tobias-prinz.de/index.php/Minimal-Ger%C3%A4te-Training on the several approaches to solve it. But I am not happy with that.

So I said "what the hell" and checked what a single adjustable 30kg (66lbs, I guess) dumbell would cost (about 40 euro, 57 dollars) and to me, that seems to be the cheapest solution for a well-rounded workout, plus it is reusable.

What is your opinion, guys?


Ross Training:


Chris, you can find a good gym for $30 or less a month. I suggest you go that route if you can't afford to buy free weights for your home gym.

To the I'm-too-busy posters, just search for and pick one eating and one lifting plan and get to work. Change your lifting plan every 6 weeks. It should take no more than 15 minutes each time. If you care enough to want to do really well in this, then give yourself more time to find a good lifting program that is also appropriate for you goals.


Last time i went to a gym, "Golds Gym", they wanted like 200+ from us up front and 80 something a month for me and my wife. Which i thought to be a bit on the rediculous side. Especially since i wasnt trying to body build or anything, if it was a part of my life like that then i'd understand. Being there every day and what not. I'll have to check around again and see what gyms offer what prices.

BTW, is there a way to do incline push ups? I dont see putting my feet on a chair being the proper angle, if thats the best way, then by all means i'll do so. But once i start getting some more stamina with the push ups i want to start doing the whole incline thing to bring my chest up and out more.


Skip the gym if you don't have money. Quick question: Do you have cable or Internet access? Yes: What is more important? No: See advice above. [Did I just make a choose-your-own-adventure?]

I wouldn't worry about incline push-ups and your upper chest at this point. Just do something. Supposedly Herschel Walker only did push-ups and sit-ups.

     "Walker stated in a phone interview on The Jim Rome         Show on November 20, 2006 that he still performs 2500 situps and 1500 pushups every morning. He has been going through this same routine every morning since high school."


Another of Herschel Walker.


Well, at least you have your priorities in the right place and honestly want to improve yourself.

Best of luck.