I realize there’s lots of you stuck in an apartment or small house with very minimal space. So, can you burn off some anxiety and stress during this uncertain time? Can you get stronger while you’re locked out of your gym? I think you can.
You don’t need barbells to get a great workout in a small space. In this post I’m going to list a few of my favorite minimalist training tools that have multiple uses and are big bang for the buck items. I’ll also include as many links and references and a wall of ideas and leads for you to help program and progress with these tools that appeal to you.
The Fundamental Human Movement Patterns
Coach Dan John (Danjohnuniversity.com) has written extensively about what he has identified as the 5 fundamental movements. I think that you should cover each of these at least once a week in your programming. They are all important, and the ones you haven’t been doing are the most important for you to do.
- Push (horizontal, vertical)
- Pull (horizontal, vertical)
- Hip Hinge (deadlift or kettlebell swings or bulgarian goat bag swing)
- Loaded Carry
- Kettlebell (30-35lb for men and 20-25lb for women is a good first buy)
- Bands (get the 4 pack so you can find appropriate resistance for various movements)
- Jump Rope (small space cardio or HIIT depending how you use it)
- Door Frame Pull-Up bar
- Ab Wheel – Superior to any crunch you can do
- 1/2″ yoga mat – For comfort
Calisthenics Body weight exercises:
You can do all the staples like push-ups, squats, planks, burpees, sprinting, bounding, bear crawling and have a hell of a workout. Keep in mind the fundamental movement patterns above and try to cover all of them. I recommend Ross Training’s Never Gymless (it’s currently $1)
A Door-Frame Chin-up Bar:
The chin-up (palms facing you) or pull-up (palms away) is must do for strength. If you don’t have a place to do pull-ups, these door-frame ones are serviceable. I have mine in my office and I do a pull-up every time I walk underneath it. It also give you a place to string your bands to do pull down work and triceps work.
DIY Suspension Trainer:
This is a way to make a TRX ($170) clone for about $10 with tow straps, carabiners, pvc pipe, and some cordage. https://scoobysworkshop.com/diy-trx-6-dollars/
This allows you to do a wide range of movements and alter the difficulty based on how much you lean and change the angle. A useful DIY project.
Bands are surprisingly effective at adding resistance to a whole host of movements. You can use them like a body builder and blast specific muscles, or you can use them in more compound movements like push-ups, good mornings, or even squats. You can loop a band around your chin-up bar and have it unload your weight to make chins a little easier. I recommend the 4 pack I listed so you can choose the appropriate band tension. Concentrate in the 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps with a tension that the 12th rep feels like two more reps would be too difficult.
One of the most versatile pieces of cardio equipment you can own. Build you cardio base by jumping at a pace that allows you to carry a conversation for 20-40 minutes. Built your lactic threshold and explosiveness by doing double unders like you see crossfit athletes doing. Make your lower legs strong. The jump-rope is a staple of an effective home gym.
Adding a few sets of a few reps of ab wheel roll-outs made an immediate difference in my ability to stabilize my spine in the barbell squat. It’s like a moving plank. Study up on the technique and make sure you’re doing it right. Start from the knees.
I prefer the Russian style movements, especially for beginners. I look to Dan John and Pavel for my instructions. I stick to using it for carries, goblet squats, swings, clean and press, deadlifting, turkish get-ups. Google around and/or follow along with some of these to get you started. I’ve included some links and programs I’ve tried over the years.
–The king of minimal and home training – Ross Training – his ‘never gymless’ book is only $1 currently.
–Dan John University – Coach Dan John has a cool workout generator that takes into account your equipment and goals and kicks you a workout. The first month is free to try.
–Stuart Mcgill’s big 3 for low pack pain.
Let me know if you have any questions, or you would add anything to the list.