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  • Writer's pictureHannah Horlick

Strength Training with no fancy equipment

This morning, I went for a run and I decided to listen to an episode of Fitness Unfiltered on strength training with no equipment with Joslyn Thompson Rule and Luke Worthington. For those of you who do not know Jos and Luke, they are Global Master Trainers for Nike (Jos is my mentor). As you can imagine, they have a lot of knowledge between the two of them. It has inspired me to write a little blog post on why my live classes are structured the way they are.


Warm up & mobility

With the warm ups we will do exactly that, warm the body up - get that blood pumping and get that oxygen to your muscles. The warm up will last around 10 minutes and is absolutely essential.

We will always start with a roll down & some cat/cows. We will focus on a bit of mobility work, firstly those shoulders with shoulder sweeps, thread the needle and downward dog to plank. Then we’ll get into the hips with something like spidermen rotations. We’ll make sure we’ve got into the knees and ankles with squat rotations and hamstring squats. We will also make sure the core is engaged with dead bugs and hollow holds.


Building strength with no fancy equipment

Then we will get into the strength part of the session. This will always be the longest part of the session. These strength exercises will all be based on having no equipment whatsoever. Some people have a dumbbell or kettlebell or even a jerry can full of water that they use and that’s great but in no way essential. Everything is timed and scaleable to make the session accessible to everyone. Above anything we should always focus on performing the exercises correctly but this is the time in the class where you can really focus on form. Getting that mind and body connection when performing the exercises.

The fact that we have no equipment or very minimal equipment to work with doesn’t matter in the slightest.

How can you build strength without weight?

Did you know that the glute bridge is the same movement pattern as a deadlift? So, if you don’t have a barbell you can still train for your deadlifts and you can turn your focus to perfecting that movement. Most of us do not engage our glutes nearly enough in a deadlift so we can use this time to figure out how to engage our glutes whilst performing a hip hinge movement. You can take that up a notch and give prisoner good mornings a go. If you feel like that exercise is doing nothing for you, you quite simply are not doing it correctly.

Likewise, in our squats, most of our squats are not perfect but we will still whack on the weights because it makes us feel good to lift heavier and it feels like we are progressing. However, let's use this time to perfect that movement of a squat - this will allow you to avoid injury and help you lift more.

I can go on. One of the more exciting things we can do when training without weights is to progress the movement. This is a really great time to be working on the imbalances in your body. Lots of single leg movements are a great way to be progressing. Single leg glute bridges, single leg romanian deadlifts, single leg squats, maybe all the way down to a pistol squat, bulgarian split squats.

We can also look at getting into different planes of movement, not just working in the sagittal plane. Lateral lunges, cossack squats, russian twists, opposite mountain climbers, kick throughs etc.

My favourite, and the closest thing to feeling like you are training with weights is using tempo. The longer your body is under tension the harder it is going to be. Give tempo squats or push ups a go. Big breath in at the top, down for 4, hold at the bottom for 2 and explosively drive up and repeat. I promise, you will get tired extremely quickly.

An example of the building strength in the HH Training Live Classes would be:

Working for 60 seconds for each exercise (in a superset) then 30 seconds rest:

2 x rounds for each set before moving onto the next. In the second and third rounds we played with tempo for the squats and the push ups.

A1: Squats

A2: Prisoner Good Mornings

B1: S/Leg Squats

B2: S/Leg Romanian Deadlifts

C1: Scap Push Ups

C2: Hinged Flyes

D1: Push Ups

D2: Hinged I-Ws or Banded Pull Aparts


The Challenge

After we have nailed the strength part of the session we will move onto getting that heart rate up a little bit more. I like to call it a challenge because it is designed to do exactly that, challenge you at the end of the session. Note, this is challenging you - what is easy for one person can be hard for another. It is about pushing yourself to your limits. Yes, we do burpees here but they can be modified to wherever you are in your training experience. Expect to work from between 4 and 12 minutes all out here. My favourite challenge has to be the one we did in the very first live class.

6 minutes on the clock, ascending & descending ladder (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2)


Press Ups


Remaining time: burpees

Sometimes we may focus on a little bit of abs to finish, I know the stir ab focused work can cause in the fitness industry. It is true, you should be engaging your core in every movement you do. However, everyone loves that feeling when you laugh after your workout and your abs hurt - and let’s not lie, most people would like better abs!



Last but definitely not least. We will always finish the session with at least five minutes of stretching. The perfect time to enhance your flexibility and reduce muscle tension.


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