Unconventional Training

Living in Boston has a lot of positives. But it also means a lot less living space. While I love being able to walk or bike to nearly everything I need, the one part of my life I don’t outsource is my gym. It seems crazy, even to me. There are probably half a dozen options within three miles of my place. I’ve even been a member of four different gyms at different points since graduating from college. However, I always come back to the home gym.

I love being able to train when I want to train, listen to what I want to listen to, and most importantly, to avoid the distractions of a commercial gym. I can sweat, grunt, and sometimes collapse on the floor. After a particularly draining day of squats I laid down on the floor thinking I was going to die. Thirty minutes later I woke up in a pool of my own sweat. Try doing that at Planet Fitness.

There’s also something about the inherent challenge of limited space and equipment that motivates me even more. It has forced me to make very deliberate and well-thought out purchases. I literally don’t have the room for mistake purchases. My current workout room, which I also share with my wife’s dresser and clothes, is about the size of a large bathroom. It also has a sloped roof. Did I mention that it doubles as my wife’s walk-in closet?

All of this means that I haven’t been able to equip myself with things such as a squat rack or olympic weights. Instead, I have 300+ pounds of sand, two 90 pound power blocks, a pull-up/dip station, a TRX system, a 40lb vest, and an adjustable bench. Other than foam rollers and some bands, that’s all I have. Over the years I have tried a lot of different movements, most of which didn’t stick, but many have become a staple.

For the last few months I’ve been keeping things very simple. No complicated rep schemes, no super-setting, no metcon. I was inspired by Dan John to break it down to the most fundamental movements. Four to five days a week I perform 30 minutes of warm-ups and soft-tissue work, followed by a single lift. I start out light and work through 4-6 sets before I “start” the lift. I then attempt to do five sets of 10. Once I reach that point, I up the weight and start all over again. The movements I perform are:

  1. Floor Press
  2. Squats
  3. Pull-ups
  4. Deadlifts
  5. Overhead Press
  6. Rows

Over the next few weeks I’ll walk through each of these movements. My focus will not be on the value of each (hopefully that goes without saying) or the technique. I’ll focus on the equipment I have found most useful, limitations, and how you can build a very efficient home gym that will blow away any Bowflex, Nordicflex, P90X, or any other infomericalX system.



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