By now, you’re hopefully starting to see the need for a “exercise insurance policy” (aka purchasing your own equipment).

Like most people, however, you are wary about taking the first steps:

  • “Will it cost craploads of money?”
  • “Will it take up tons of space?”
  • “Will I even know how to use it?”

No, no, and probably not (hey, it’s not perfect).

Really, though, these answers will depend which route you go: Do you go big and build a Home Gym? Or do you keep it light and Non-Gym it?

Let’s compare…



  • home gym 41 The Non Gym VS. The Home Gym For a home gym, the initial investment is high. Trying to build a set-up like off to the right can cost well into the thousands.
  • Squat racks, benches, treadmills, and other hefty machines/equipment are often mainstays here.
  • You will need a dedicated room (as well as a house) which these days means you are probably in your 30s (or still living at home).
  • Positives: Allows for heavier lifting + More focus



  • The Non Gym VS. The Home Gym For a Non-Gym, the investment could be as low as $40 and as high as $400 (for all the perks).
  • A short EZ bar, Kettlebells, Weighted Vests and other light equipment are mainstays here.
  • Can be used on the road and/or in cramped spaces such as apartments.
  • Positives: Easy to store, travel with, and significantly cheaper.



First off, both do.

In a world where everything else is at our finger tips, we need instant access to keep up. For this reason (and more), gyms like Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness cannot compare to a good home or Non-Gym set up.

That said, most people (beginner to novice level) will want to go the Non-Gym route. This is especially true if you’re young, broke, and plan on moving a couple more times (because ain’t nobody want to transport a squat rack).

When you’re ready for that experience, start here.



“How can I exercise at home without any equipment?”

My first question is why would you want to?

I can understand why one would want to learn body weight workouts for when they’re away for vacation or at the office but if we are doing the majority of our workouts at home (aka our “Non-Gym”), we will want to invest in some equipment. If not for psychological reasons then for physical ones.

The truth is, “body weight only” programs are not for everyone as they tend to be either:

  1. Too hard for most (so they need a easier option)
  2. Too easy for others (so they need a way to bump it up a notch)

Even gymnasts, the ultimate bodyweight warriors, rely on a system of beams and poles and other pieces of equipment.

Below I list the equipment I have used for years. Do you need it? No, but you will need to find a way to make your exercises harder. Whether that’s by using a 40 lb water jug or the equivalent on a bar, that’s up to you.



non gym fitness essential equipmentw The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)


The biggest concern of the Non-Gym used to be, “How are we going to place lots of load/stress on ourselves?” (aka lift heavy ass weight). This is our solution (especially for those that struggle at body weight exercises).

The Olympic EZ bar is smaller and lighter than a traditional bar (by 20 lbs) and can easily fit into a car or closet (as can the weight if positioned correctly). To get started, 100 lbs will work for most women and 200 for men.

Used for:

  • Clean & Press
  • Front SquatThe Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)
  • Deadlift
  • Goblet Squat
  • Floor Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • Curls
  • Extensions and Pullovers
  • Lunges
  • Turkish Get Up (to the right)


Amazon The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) (because of free shipping). Expect to spend $25-70 for the bar and a $1/lb for plates.



Eventually, you’ll get to a point where standard planks, pushups, and pullups is just too easy for you. When that happens, these vests will be waiting for you.

These are especially awesome for exercises that are traditionally unweighted such as isometrics and conditioning (you haven’t lived until you’ve done hill sprints with them).

Women will want to try out the #20 and the men the #40. If you consider yourself slightly more advanced, add 20 more pounds to that.

Used for:

  • Pushups
  • PullupsWEIGHTED HILL SPRINTS The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)
  • Planks and plank walks
  • Wall handstands
  • L sits
  • Back Bridge
  • Adding more weight to front squat
  • Lunges
  • Pistols
  • Jump rope and hill sprints
  • Burpees
  • AB Rollout
  • Adding more weight to farmers walk


Current prices of ZFO weighted vests on Amazon: #20 The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) – $33.96. #40 The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) – $59.95. #60 The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) – $79.99.



A Non-Gym is not complete without a chinup bar. Now aside from the obvious fact that you can now do chinups, you can strap resistance bands onto them for assistance or do mobility exercises.

The balls (softball, lacrosse) are here to help release tight spots. Not everyone will need these but they may offer instant relief for those that do.

Used for:The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)

  • pullup assistance
  • shoulder mobility (retraction, protraction, skin the cat, overhead shrugs, internal and external rotation)
  • glute medius activation during squats
  • straight arm pulldowns
  • curls and extensions
  • SMR (neck, back, pecs, feet, calves, butt)


Golds gym pullup bar at Walmart, softball at a sporting store, and resistance bands at EliteFTS (these last guys are constantly having sales so just wait until their bands are 30-50% off and stock up)


As we adapt, our workouts must as well. If you are into this strength thing (as well as physique thing), this means tacking on more weight with time. The above equipment selection works well for this.

For instance, if we want to level up our deadlift we can do so by throwing on 5 lbs, a weighted vest, or strapping on some resistance bands (for Beast Mode do all three).

If our primary weight source is kettlebells or non-adjustable dumbells, however, we are going to find it extremely difficult to progress (i.e. the weight is often too high or too low). Because of this, I’d try to stay away from this equipment (unless someone gives it to you) and instead go for the glory (adjustable weight).

This may mean more money up front, but in the long run it will pay itself off ten-fold.

Good luck.


the best cardio is not running, it's coredio


Before we dive in, let’s clear up one misconception: one does not need to run to work on their cardio, they simply just need to elevate their heart rate. Doing that will lead to more difficult breathing (which is a good sign that you are training your cardiovascular system).

So with that knowledge, almost anything can become cardio (just tack on more reps and less rest). Tabata squats is just as much cardio as sprinting 200 meters is.

Depending on your goals and lifestyle, however, you will want to be picky of what you choose for cardio.


“Core-dio” is my brand of my fitness that contains 3 components:

  1. Ab contraction
  2. Strength
  3. Movement

This is for those that A) Want an awesome workout in way less time and B) Want to train their abs for bad-assery.

When we train outside, “Core-dio” is easy to implement: wheelbarrows, walking with sandbags in our arms, balancing weight over our head as we walk 100 meters, heavy KB walk/runs in the goblet position, etc.

When we train at home, however, our movement (and thus, options) is severely limited.

That is, until now.

How you may set this up:

[A1] Plank walk 1 min
– rest 1 min

[A2] Pike walk 1 min
– rest 1 min

=> Repeat 5 times

So if all you have is 20 minutes and you want to fry your abs while getting that much deserved endorphin fix as well — this will be the best type of cardio for you.

Give it a try.


[Note: I don’t think this needs to be said but you must find a way to make this hard.  Engage the strength component by adding weight or removing a limb if you feel like 1 minute is a breeze]


extremely fast home workouts

“You may delay, but time will not.”
― Benjamin Franklin

I learned long ago that if I could shorten and condense my workouts, results would come that much faster (with a sweet bonus of having more time for other things).  And well, like you, I only have so much time to begin with. Forget spending 20 minutes driving to the gym, this workout needs to happen NOW!

This post is about the 3 insanely fast home workouts that have allowed me to abandon the gym entirely.

Each workout has a different focus and the great thing about them is that when you do have a surplus of time and energy, you can then combine them to create a super workout.

Consume it quickly, let it digest, than use it to fuel your action.

We’re busy, remember?

exhausted athlete How to Workout When You Dont Have Time



Protocol: Tabata

I said it once, I said it twice, and I’ll say it once more: We do not need to run to be in shape. We just need to do things that make breathing tough. Tabata is the most efficient way we can do this.

The basics:

  1. Exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
  2. Do this 8 times.
  3. Try to accomplish between 8 – 14 reps per round.
  4. To achieve this number, pick an exercise and/or weight that allows you to max out around 20 – 30 reps.

In between rounds, write down your reps (at the end, you’ll have a number like “108″. Your goal for next workout is to beat this).

Tabata is best used to target slow twitch muscles like the legs. Squats, lunges, step ups, hip thrusts, and their variations all work equally well here as do many core exercises like planks. Upper body movements such as chinups and pushups, however, will be tough. If you go this route, make sure to pick 2 exercises and alternate them.

Rather then be distracted by a hand timer or even counting the time for this protocol, listen to special tabata music. I am so passionate about this that I made my own track here.

Modification: Don’t think you need to confine to the rules in order for this to be effective. If you are just starting out, try a half tabata (2 minutes). If you are more advanced, try a super tabata (30 seconds on / 10 seconds off). If you have flat gone off your rocker, try just doing something for 4 minutes total (flutter kicks from hell).

gymnast body How to Workout When You Dont Have Time


{ 10 – 20 MINUTES }

Protocol: EDT

Resistance training, by itself, doesn’t build muscle. No, we thank Progressive Overload for this. Coming back week-after-week and trying to do more volume (reps x sets x weight) is what sends the signal to our body to continually “tear down and build up“. Escalating Density Training, or EDT for short, is a program designed just for that. Termed “escalating” because each week you attempt to increase the amount of work you can do.

The basics:

  1. Pick 2 exercises (preferably antagonistic).
  2. Do them back-to-back (i.e. a superset).
  3. Do 5 reps per set of both (of your 10 – 15  rep max).
  4. Do as many sets as you can in the designated time (either 10, 15, or 20 minutes).

So I set my time variable (15 minutes) and I have my exercises (chinups and pushups) of which I must do 5 reps each. I go back and forth, resting just enough so that I am able to complete the reps. When I start pooping out (and getting weaker), I’ll drop the reps to 4. Then 3.  Or I’ll modify them to be made a little easier. At the end of 15 minutes, I’ll have a number (like 24 total sets). When I do this workout next week, I must beat this if I want to progress. Pretty simple, right?

The best exercises for this tend to be isolated upper body movements. If you have a kettlebell lieing around or heck, even a milk jug, try using this to do curls, tricep extensions, straight arm pullovers, overhead press, rows, and a whole bunch of different pushes and pulls.

It should be said that this doesn’t have to be used for a muscle building program. In the end, it comes down to calories. If you are not eating enough (or purposely dieting), than there just won’t be enough materials left to build the house back up again.

Modification: No one said the rep numbers had to be uniform. Many times, for my push-pull workout, I’ll do 5 reps for chinup and 15 for pushup. It’s just how it works out (aka I am too lazy to make my pushup harder).

china lifter How to Workout When You Dont Have Time


{ 10 – 20 MINUTES }

Protocol: Singles

Becoming stronger without a gym is tough. Unless you are a bonafide gymnast or have access to some tonnage at home like I do, it can be almost impossible to find enough resistance to get your Milo on.

  • So stop #1: Realize that you need some weight at home (ez bars and weights, kettelbells, and weighted vests all work well here and are easy to store).
  • Stop #2: Realize that strength is a skill. And skills, like juggling or the ability to moonwalk, are largely based on how well our brain neurons talk to each other. The faster they communicate, the faster (or skillful) we will be.

Doing singles (that’s 1 rep), this is the best way we work on this skill of strength. There is a misconception, however, that this 1 rep has to be a “bawlz out” effort. Not only can this be dangerous (at least to your kitchen floor), but it only has to be heavy enough…

The basics:

  1. Pick one big [hard] exercise.
  2. Use anywhere from 70 – 85% of your 1rm for weight.
  3. Complete 1 rep on the minute for 10 – 20 minutes.

So I have 165 lb on the bar for overhead press (max is 190+). I do one rep and I’ll rest about 45 seconds before I approach the bar again. Once I do, I’ll make sure I have the proper set up and I prepare myself to do another press (FYI: The aim here is “perfect practice” ). Boom! I set it back down and I either do a full rest or I choose to do a little mobility work in-between. 10, 15, or 20 reps later and I am done.

This is a deceptively easy way to get strong. Through this method, I can credit most of my strength gains. Overhead pressing, for certain, has benefitted the most (youtube clip).

Best exercises for this include full body movements: Overhead or bench press, front squat, deadlift, ab rollout (srsly), chinups, pushups, and variations.

Women wanting to do a real pushup and pullup for the first time will want to try this out (don’t worry, the volume is so low that “getting bulky” is not an issue) as will men wishing to take these exercises to the next level (muscles ups and handstand pushups).

Modification: I don’t really have one here. Find something that is hard and do it.

super workout3 How to Workout When You Dont Have Time


Putting this all together

First, the principles:

  • Always start with stimulating activities (in our case, the strength workout).
  • Always end with draining activities (conditioning).
  • If you have more time and energy, throw some volume in the middle (the muscle building workout).

Next, putting them into practice for a home workout:

  1. A) Ab Rollout 15 x 1 reps
    >> rest 2 -3 minutes
    B1) Pushup x 10 (EDT)
    B2) Chinup x 5
    >> rest 2 – 3 minutes
    C) Squats ( Tabata)

Note: Based off the protocols I listed above, this workout should not take longer than 50 minutes (including warmup and coffee consumption).

Now, this is when I often hear: “Hey, I can’t do that stuff!”.  Sure you can. If you do not have a ab roller, do hand walk-outs like this. If the regular pushup is too hard, try this. And if you do not have a chinup bar, go to the park and do them like this.

When there is a will, there is a WAG.


So you want to know how often you should be hitting the gym if you want to reach your fat loss goal?

The answer is way less than you think.

We live in a society, however, that thinks that more is better. We think if we can just get to the gym 6 times a week, then we will automatically win. If we can just log more miles or cut more calories, the prize will be ours.

This type of thinking will only take us down a road of frustration.

The reality (and slighty less revelatory) is that only better is better. Quality is of the highest quality so to speak. This is true for our 3 big goals: fat loss, mass gain, and performance enhancement.

Can we talk about this?


If you read me for a while now, you know I don’t like putting people in boxes and I certainly don’t like stating what we can and can’t do (because there are just too many crazy, talented people out there who will be the exceptions to my advice).

So I am not going tell you how often you should workout.

Instead, I am going to give you 2 rules.


This is the quality I was speaking of. We are not just showing up to show up, but showing up to perform BETTER. Now better can mean many things so we first have to figure out the signal that we are trying to send and then work on making that signal better.

In general –

  • If our goal is fat loss, we want to mix low intensity exercise (like walking) with high metabolic work (like lifting weights).
  • If it is muscle growth, we need to do more volume consistently.
  • If it is performance, we need to get better at what we want to get better (sometimes not so obvious for people).

When our body adapts (ie when we see progress), so does the signal. So that means we have to constantly keep going back to the drawing board to make that signal stronger and clearer. The people you see coming back to the gym year after year who seemingly don’t progress? They failed to change their signals.

If we are unable to send the signal, than our recovery is probably lacking.


You can train all you want, but if you are not allowing the time and the materials for the proper adaption (discussed here and here), then you will not see squat for an adaptation.

The thing is, most exercise is stressful. If you  are already living a stressful live (from lack of sleep, bad food, allergies, emotional bullshit, etc.) than adding MORE STRESS will not be in your favor. Stress on top of stress without a means to recover and become stronger equals becoming fat(ter). For real. We can thank cortisol for that.

In my experience, people add way too much unnecessary stress through the way they exercise.

They don’t go hard but they don’t do light exercise either (which can be restorative). Instead, they dance right in the middle in a place I call “No Man’s Land”.

Most of the exercise people do requires only moderate (mediocre?) intensity. This is things like distance running, spin class, and other aerobics. When they do lift, they tend to leave a lot of effort on the table.

Now this is great for beginners and people just getting into this, but after a while the signal will just not be strong enough.
At the far left of the graph will be a load of low-intensity exercises. This includes walking, skating, yoga, mobility, hiking, and other things that we can do while keeping a conversation.

We skip the middle (because the signal sucks) and go straight for the goodies at the far right. The goodies is lifting weight (either external or body) and doing things in a faster, heavier, tensor manner.

The far right? This is hard. This is stuff that invites our mind to tell us why we shouldn’t or can’t do it (AND this is exactly why we must). This is the signal we need.



“How often should I workout?!”

Start with twice a week and go from there. Most people will only be able to handle two hard workouts a week. Very few will be able to do 3. Even fewer 4.

Now the light stuff you can do everyday. In fact, I urge you to do this everyday. Walk to work or to the grocery store. As far as keeping fat off or improving wellness, this habit will make the biggest difference.

Now to tie up some loose ends:

  • Everyone should exercise at least once a week. There are no exceptions to this. If you are in pain and/or think you’re too old, give machines a try
  • Dudes should work out more than dudettes. Testosterone exists for a reason. If you do not use it, you’ll lose it.
  • Runners will think they need to spend a lot of time in “No Mans land ”. While this may be true of professionals, it is not so for amateurs. You can get better by doing light and intense sessions only (will speak on this soon).
  • If your goal is strictly health and longevity, the max you probably want to train will be twice a week. The reasoning being, the less training, the less “wear and tear“ we accrue.


I feel good about this.

Thanks for reading.