Q: I only have two 20 pound weights and nothing else. I was wondering
what exercise routines you would suggest without weights. Thank you
for your time.
My Answer: Well if you’re going to do calisthenics, then you should be doing variations of pull-ups, push-ups, dips, ab exercises and body weight squats. This requires that you have access to a pull-up/dip station. So you should either buy one, or you can workout at a playground or a workout station in a park.
You may be able to build your chest and triceps with push-ups, and you may be able to build up your thighs with body weight squats. But you won’t be able to build up your back without free weights, machines or a pull-up station.
I have a chapter in Neo-Classical Bodybuilding which goes over body weight only training. The general rule with body weight training is that you choose exercises in which you can perform anywhere from 3-20 reps. If you can do more than 20 reps, then you need to perform a more difficult variation to bring the reps down to the hypertrophy zone of 3-20. If you can’t do at least 3 reps, then you need to find an easier exercise for that muscle group.
So if you can’t do pull-ups, then try inverted rows instead:
Keep in mind there is a BIG difference between the size and strength you build between inverted rows and pull-ups. So I strongly urge you to do pull-ups.
With regards to push-ups, most men who are fit can do over 20, so consider making it more difficult. Side to side push-ups (aka Typewriter push-ups) create a lot of tension in the pectoral muscles, so it’s a good intermediate level exercise to add to your program:
Dips are also excellent chest and triceps builder. You can perform them on 2 chairs. Just make sure the chairs are stabilized with some weight.
Now for legs, you can do body weight squats, but I find that you can easily do well over 20 reps, even if you squatted ass to the grass. So try to work on one-legged squats:
If you cannot do full-range one legged squats, then go halfway down on to a bench or chair instead. Work your way deeper and deeper over time by squatting on to shorter chair or box. Eventually you’ll be able to perform full-range one-legged squats.
Q: I just read an article you wrote on a workout routine for police. I’m a deputy sheriff and k9 handler. I live and work in a very rural county. We have tons of meth users who like to fight. I would like to add more strength to my workouts. I’m 6’2 220lbs. I started working out again a few months ago. What else could I add or change to make me stronger. Also I bench 215 for 3 reps. I feel like my core is not as strong as it should be. Any help would be great
My Answer: Police work involves explosive strength (i.e. baton strikes), slow strength (i.e. wrestling) and strength endurance (i.e. chasing a suspect). So you need to work all three factors in addition to joint mobility and stability.
My own workouts are a combination of the power lifts (bench press, deadlift and squat variations), explosive lifts (kettlebell clean and press, snatches), calisthenics (pull-up variations, dips, hanging leg raise and one arm pushups) and joint mobility exercises (Turkish get-ups, kettlebell windmills).
If you have a weak core, then do some anti-rotational exercises like Russian twists on a Landmine: