Getting Fit with Limited Equipment

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The best way to get fit on limited equipment

Whether your budget doesn’t allow for adding a bunch of fitness equipment at home or for getting a gym membership or if the the current state of buying at home fitness equipment has you um unable to get anything within the next month um here’s your here’s your short answer number one is

Get good at… The Basics

You know everybody needs to be good at doing some basic body weight movements before they move on to more advanced programming styles or more advanced movements. Let’s just start with the movements you’ve got to be good at:

  • Air squats
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Lunges

Those are the top five. in terms of building strength, overall conditioning and there’s definitely other ones that are valuable to us. Some of them are just a little bit less valuable when building your fitness base.

Set your standards

You should be able to do (without a shadow of a doubt) a minute straight of any of these exercises. You should be able to feel “free” to move in any of the positions of those movements. For example, in the air squat, you may feel free to move while standing at the top but when you get to the bottom of a squat you feel like you’re stuck there. That is not mastery, that is the beginning. No matter what stage you’re in, it doesn’t really matter… Our goal doesn’t change. We’re trying to move forward, feeling free at any position is a flexibility standard. It’s also a control standard, it just says “Hey, I’m able to control my body” that’s a representation of the function of the joint in your body. You should also be able to test each movement at speed, with load, with volume and still be able to do quality reps! Often times we’re teaching beginners, during conditioning workouts we ask for B+ quality to A- minus quality movement. You know that it’s a little subjective because we’re not sitting there grading every rep but it’s the perceived quality. In order to have the greatest success we need to be able to give up a little bit of perfect technique to move faster or to move with load or to get more reps in but when we’re actually drilling the reps we should be shooting for A+ quality! The difference between the two is super important because there’s times to do each and the the value of training without ever doing less than perfect reps, is likely to be low.

Best practices for mastery

Quality of movement

We get more out of quality movement than we get out of poor quality movement. We should always be striving for quality (not necessarily perfect) movement but we do need to set some sort of benchmark for how how fit are in our current movement quality, so next up…


We need to take objective measures before and after our program in order to know if we’re getting better or not. Example do air squats for two minutes and see how many we can get done. We have to have some minimum depth set so if you need a depth check or something squat to a box or to a ball or to a low chair um but get as many as you can in two minutes. Now, push-ups do as many as you can… without having to stop. You need to again you have to have a standard depth and lockout so like taking your chest all the way to the ground without your knees touching and then all the way backup to the top plank. How many can you do unbroken? How many can you do in two minutes? Those are benchmarks, set them for yourself. This will help you know when you’re moving toward mastery of some of these basic movements!

Expansion of possible

We benchmark to have a starting point. I talk to my Post Physical Therapy Rehab clients all the time about this is… well really, all clients. In the world of progression we just have to figure out where you’re starting. Then we chart the course for progress. We start on the conservative side as opposed to the aggressive side most times. If you’ve never had success with a fitness program before we’re going to imagine your possible as a tiny little ball… representing your current experience and capabilities. Then we start to expand outward so we talk about it as like this little tiny ball you imagine like “I can do one push-up” or maybe it’s “I can’t do one push-up” but what ends up happening is we learn. If I can do one then maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to do two and then after progressing more… maybe i’ll be able to do 10 in a row right!? We’re always dialing up the intensity by: volume (the total amount of reps in a set or workout), by speed (of a set or entire workout) and load (in bodyweight movements it’s the ability to control position at the most difficult positions). To keep it really simple is there’s only three three factors: total number of reps completed in a workout, the speed at which any of the reps are completed and the ability to control the movement. The ability to control and manipulate those variables is.

Why interval training works well

Let’s say I ask you to do 100 push-ups and it takes you 20 minutes. The rate is five push-ups a minute or one every 12 seconds. If you do a set of max push-ups in a minute… you’re likely to be able to do 20+ in the first minute. That one minute of push-ups was more intense than any one of the minutes during the 20 minutes that it took you to do the 100. What’s important about that? It’s more relative intensity and that’s where the results come from! You know in all sorts of training you have to push the envelope somewhere, that can be done on a micro or macro level in a minute, 30 seconds or you can do it across the entire an entire week of training. Tabata is a great way to implement intervals with intensity and is very simple! When just getting started it’s really like let’s just expand this little circle just a little bit today (with relative intensity) and a little bit tomorrow and a little bit the next day. When you’re trying to master basics on limited equipment interval training is very important.

Final Recommendations

If you’re at home and you don’t have any equipment and you’re not already training with a coach… get your benchmarks done!

  • two minutes of squat
  • max push-ups –
  • 2 minutes of sit-ups
  • max pull-ups –
  • 2 minutes of lunges

Write those numbers down and then you’re going to mix and match those movements together over the course of the next month. Then do those benchmarks again and see how you improve it’s just really important and actually most important that you stay consistent! Strive for mastery of those movements and have a start and an end. The best way to get fit on limited equipment: master the basics, do some benchmarking and make sure you’re increasing the intensity each day!



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