Recently I was asked to do a Zoom live with some pretty phenomenal coaches, people that I look up to quite a bit and learn a lot from myself!
When strength coach, Robert Dos Remedios asked for people to submit their questions (hold the jokes about the hair do’s!) one of the first ones was, “how can I train without any equipment?” That caught my eye because the four of us have been talking over texts how problematic this question really is in reality.
The biggest issue any of us as professionals have is the liability in telling people to use equipment that isn’t designed to be used in training to actually be used to well, train. The reality is that if someone gets injured using equipment not designed for working out the liability to the coach is HUGE! So, no one wants to see a lawsuit so from that perspective using stuff around your house for home workouts isn’t probably the best idea.
Our neighbors show their love of home workouts with their really nice home gym set-up.
However, outside of the giant liability issue, there are also just things I don’t really understand. Jessica and I live in a nice neighborhood here in Las Vegas. We aren’t in Beverly Hills or anything exclusive. If we walk down our street though, pretty much every house has a home gym and many of our neighbors did home workouts BEFORE the pandemic hit. Some are rather extensive, others are rather simple. My point? A lot of the same equipment that good training facilities have today are pieces that the average person can easily have for home workouts.
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Coach Cari Satre, helps us show how much can be achieved in good home workouts
In fact, I wrote a whole article inspired by my first reading Pavel Tsatsouline’s 2001 book about kettlebells (the person and brought kettlebells make to the mainstream). In the book Pavel refers to his time in the military and how soldiers when they had time to train usually had a dungy small corner with just a few kettlebells. It was what they did with the kettlebells that allowed them to get amazing fitness with minimal equipment or space.
We have had a lot of similar types of stories with military, police, and fire departments building their courage corners around our Ultimate Sandbag and simple functional fitness tools.
My point is that great training has NEVER been more accessible and more affordable. I remember growing up and getting a 300 pound barbell set with a bench from my parents and loved doing home workouts in my basement. Of course, looking back my training was horrible, but what I COULD do with a minimal investment was HUGE!
Trust me, we get that people are worried about their financial well being, but a $200 investment could get you a pretty extensive home gym. So, the key is what do you do with it? One of the issues I think people have with home workouts is that they only know a few drills to do and they think they will get bored fast. Take my word for it, don’t try to buy more equipment to solve your desire to develop better home workouts. If you have good tools, home workouts are about understanding some simple principles and progressions. Like what? Let’s break down the following…
Use Movement Patterns
I believe a lot of people just don’t know how to put together a good program, whether it is at the gym or home workouts. That is why people fall back on burpees and just doing things that make them breathe hard. However, it can be easy. The first step to building great home workouts is to just focus on movement patterns.
What about your biceps, pecs, quads, glutes, etc.? Yea, if you actually hit movement patterns you will hit ALL these muscles, plus many you never even knew you had. Why don’t more people train this way if it is smarter? Well, for one, most people don’t understand how inefficient it is trying to isolate muscles in the body. The other is simply most people don’t understand the body so their workouts poorly reflect what our body is actually designed to do.
How does this actually look like? If we go through some home workouts we recently posted you will see it very easily come to life!
The first exercise is an off-set sprinter row. So, we have an upper body pulling exercise (check), we have a hip hinge (check), we have resisting rotation (check). That means in one exercise we can actually check off three different patterns, that’s efficient training!
Then we have fist loaded squats from a sprinter stance so we obviously have a squat pattern, but we also have to resist some rotation again in a different manner. Following the squats are some push presses so we have an upper body push, then rear step front loaded good mornings, so we have a hip hinge and having to resist rotation again (I’ll talk about why this isn’t as redundant as you may think). Finally some plank ISO pulls, another pushing drill and the plank has foundations of locomotion. So, in that workouts we have 5 exercises and covered most of the movement patterns and even doubled up a bit which I will address. However, whatever movement patterns we didn’t get this workout would be a focus the next time.
Use Different Body Positions
One of the easiest ways to manipulate a workout when don’t have a lot equipment for home workouts is by changing our body position. This can be really simple (only in concept, but can be VERY challenging in performing) is using our sprinter stance for pretty much of any of the movement patterns (doesn’t really work for lunging that’s it) as Coach Cari shows…
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That can also mean moving different directions. You can see how Coach Cari uses these principles to add challenge to her workouts. Typically two legged are the easiest, stepping back with different lengths of step is the next, then crossing over, going forwards, and crossing over are progressions.
You can see in her workouts how she again hits so many of the movement patterns to make a great example of home workouts.
Change How You Use the Weight
One of the most unique advantages of the Ultimate Sandbag is the different way you can change the exercise just by where you place the weight during an exercise. Check out how Cari uses this concept and changing direction to make lunges a super powerful exercise for better home workouts.
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We can do the same for squats, but focusing on different load positions…
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We can do it for upper body drills like bent rows too!
Be Aware of Redundancy!
Probably the BIGGEST mistake I see in home workouts is that they have very redundant movements. Why did I say some of mine were fine, but others were an issue. Well, let me give you a few examples and explain.
-There was a trainer who posted 8 kettlebell exercises part of her workout. Sounds good right? Except 7 of them had the weight overhead. That is A LOT of the shoulder area bearing load for a workout, very redundant without knowing it!
-Doing 500 of anything. Okay, it doesn’t have to be 500 but sometimes in an effort to make home workouts “simple” people do an over the top volume of one exercise. That can cause a lot of pattern overload and excessively stress an area of the body, especially the low back and often leads to the body not able to perform well for some time. Balance as you see isn’t difficult, just takes a little thought.
-Another good example does involve a kettlebell workout that was clean, push press, squat, and swing. Sounds pretty good right? Well, there were also push-ups involved so if we look we had two hip hinge movements done from the same position and direction, we have two pushes and no pulls. You see how imbalance can come pretty easy?
So, why is my redundancy okay above? If we look at the the hip hinge of the sprinter bent row and rear step front load good morning, the trunk isn’t overloaded because neither is that heavy on the low back. The change in stances and positions does make the stability the limiting factor and doesn’t put as much on the low back. That is how you can have redundancy that doesn’t make your home workouts stink! It takes a bit more thought, but hopefully that makes sense. Same with the pushing issue. Yes, there was a push press and a plank, but the plank was more static and not as heavy in the movement. However, I would want to be aware of the two pushes for the next workout and maybe have none or very light.
The above is a bit more thinking about your home workouts, however, hopefully it makes sense. If you follow this DVRT formula you will find your home workouts can be pretty awesome with minimal equipment…
-Start with a balance of movement patterns.
-Think about using different body positions and directions of movement.
-Consider loading the body in different ways.
-Try to minimize redundancy
Doing the above makes not only home workouts awesome, but any workout you create in the future. Check out this great one by Lina Midla and you will see how one Ultimate Sandbag can go REALLY far!
Want to find out how we put all of this into a dynamic program? Cari has put together an exciting new 6 month DVRT workout program that takes you from foundations to advanced functional training. Check it out for 30% off (under $15) with code “metabolic” HERE
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