PC Engines Home
Jailhouse Quarantine strong
About me Renaissance geek, have lifted weights more or less consistently since the age of 16 or so.
Introduction With the current COVID-19 pandemic, working out in a public gym is not a good idea. Here in Switzerland the government finally closed them, I stopped going a little before that. Keep in mind that the virus seems to survive quite well on stainless steel surfaces.
Iron deficiency ? Don't despair. Besides body weight workouts, you can get good workouts with limited equipment:
  • an adjustable bench (in a pinch, a sturdy crate will do)
  • adjustable dumbbells handles (extra long handles recommended, the standard ones will not have enough space for a decent amount of weight)
  • plates (5 kg / 2.5 kg)
  • recommended: small plates (1.25 kg / 0.5 kg) are useful to allow for progression with smaller weight steps.
  • recommended: digital watch or stopwatch
  • recommended: ez curl bar
  • optional: quick lock collars for easier weight changes
  • optional: some kind of pull-up bar
  • optional: rubber mat for floor protection
Exercise descriptions Youtube is your friend... Some exercises I can recommend (my favorites in bold):
  • db (dumbbell) flat bench
  • db incline bench
  • db flye (watch the movement plane, for me it needs to be a bit forward like on a slight decline)
  • db squeeze press (slightly squeezing dumbbells together, works best with gym style dumbbells), directly followed by db flyes
  • push-ups (many variations possible)
  • db row / kroc row off a flat bench - go as heavy as your back, grip and dumbbell handle allow
  • pull-up / chin-up (many variations possible, use bands for assistance if not strong enough)
  • pull-over (this can be done with dumbbells or the ez-curl bar, my wrists prefer the ez-curl bar)
  • inverted row (lie down under a sturdy table, pull yourself up)
  • seal row (lie face down on a flat bench, pull the weight up)
  • alternating curl (asymmetric grip, thumb close to the plate)
  • preacher curl (standing behind the bench, seat set to near vertical)
  • ez curl (more wrist friendly than a straight bar)
  • standing hammer curl
  • spider curl or hammer curl (on incline bench)
  • standing calf raise from a block or step, do one leg at a time, holding a heavy db in one hand
  • db press (sitting on the bench or standing)
  • single side db press (standing)
  • overhead press using ez curl bar, sitting on the bench or standing
  • lateral raise
  • rear delt flye (bent over 90 degrees)
  • db front raise
  • rear delt flye (bench at 45 degree angle - unfortunately my home bench likes to slide in this position)
  • db kickbacks
  • lying triceps extension with ez curl bar
  • dips from a low table, chairs, dip bar
  • narrow push-ups
Quads / hips
  • db deadlift (this is more like a trap bar deadlift, will also hit the glutes a bit - increase the rest time or reduce number of sets if technique goes bad)
  • lunges
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • air squats
  • goblet squats (holding heavy db in front)
  • farmer's walk
  • bicycle riding outside, with occasional sprints
  • db romanian deadlift (start light and don't round your back, 5 sets are plenty for this exercise)
  • Hanging leg raise (knee raise, leg raise, or foot to bar depending on your strength)
  • the usual floor exercises
Trained indirectly
  • Traps (hit e.g. by rows, deadlifts, farmer's walk)
  • forearms / grip (just do kroc rows with 50+% of your bodyweight)
  • finger strength (no need to do extensive training on your smartphone ;-)
Possible splits Don't even think of doing all of these exercises in one workout. Pick maybe 7 exercises per day. With dumbbells it is hard to go as heavy and intense as at the gym, so a higher training frequency is possible and desirable. I like to hit opposing muscle groups on the same day (e.g. chest and back), and group exercises such that sensitive muscle groups like the shoulders get some time to recover.

2 days on, 1 day off:

  • Leg day - start with db deadlifts, then calves, triceps, delts and abs.
  • Chest day - alternate chest and back exercises, biceps.
  • Rest day - as needed. Ride the bike, take a walk, do applied farmer's walk from the grocery store...

3 days on / 1 day off (a bit more rest for the shoulders):

  • Chest day - alternate chest and back exercises
  • Leg day - start with db deadlifts, then calves and abs
  • Arms / shoulder day - alternate biceps and triceps exercises, shoulders
  • Rest day

3 days on / 0 days off (get more frequency, by doing the last workout in the morning, the shoulders and biceps get a bit more time to recover before they get nailed again):

  • Chest day - alternate chest and back exercises (evening)
  • Leg day - start with db deadlifts, then calves and abs (evening)
  • Arms / shoulder day - alternate biceps and triceps exercises, shoulders (morning)
Example for 3 day split Chest day:
  • a few sets of pushups to warm up
  • db bench press
  • db row / kroc row
  • db incline press
  • chin-ups / pull-ups
  • db flye
  • db pull-over

Leg day:

  • a few sets of air squats to warm up
  • db deadlift
  • farmer's walk
  • db romanian deadlift
  • goblet squats
  • standing calf raise
  • abs

Arm / shoulder day:

  • a few sets of pushups to warm up
  • db alternating curl
  • triceps kickbacks
  • db preacher curl
  • lying triceps extensions (ez bar)
  • rear delt flye
  • db shoulder press
  • db lateral raise
  • db front raise
Sets and reps With typical adjustable dumbbells, changing the weight takes too much time. Easier if you use moderate weights, along the lines of the Vince Gironda 8x8 workout.

Use the same weight for all sets (maybe less for the first warm-up set). Keep rest periods short ! I use a stop watch and try to start a new set every 45 to 60 seconds, maybe 75 seconds for heavy exercises. If you can handle the weight on all sets, and keep to the rest periods, increase the load for the next workout.

This is a very intense, time efficient workout. Keep some water ready, you will need it. Start on the light side, you may get wicked sore if you are not used to this style of training. Beginners will need to reduce the volume.

Training log As usual, this is essential to keep yourself honest. If you didn't write it down, you didn't lift it.
© 2002-2020 PC Engines GmbH. All rights reserved .