For the last several years, I went to the gym twice a week to power through cardio and weight sessions. I would couple a spin class with Body Pump or a weight routine. What started out as a great way to keep in shape devolved into an overall annoyance with my fellow humans. I ranted about it in a New Year’s Anti-Resolution post. In summary, I decided to quit the gym and work out at home. However, I never described what that entailed.

In a nutshell, I decided to refocus on body weight exercises and outdoor activities. I found a great body weight routine over at Nerd Fitness (my favorite site for health and well-being). I also came across a great article outlining a workout based on the six upper body movements. Using both as templates, I devised an at-home workout routine that maintains proper strength without investing in bulky equipment.

Minimal equipment was a driving force. In the past, I invested in heavy equipment which always ended up on Craigslist because I either outgrew the units or lost interest in specific exercises. This time around, I asked myself, “What is the bare minimum I can use without sacrificing quality?” That’s how I discovered the wonderful world of calisthenics and body weight routines. Screw machines, all I needed was a few cheap pieces of basic equipment (chair, weighted bar, resistance bands, and a door frame pull-up bar).

Using the weighted bar (15 lbs) and resistance bands, I can do most of what I did in the gym on various machines (rows, curls, overhead press, etc.). From there, I use the pull-up bar for pull-ups (shocking) and the chair for dips. The rest are just simple body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges. Easy breezy. Here’s the full routine, doing 3 sets of 10 reps each:


  • Horizontal Push (push-ups)
  • Horizontal Pull (bent rows with bar/bands)
  • Vertical Push (overhead press with bar/bands)
  • Vertical Pull (pull-ups/negatives)
  • Elbow Flex (bicep curls with bar/bands)
  • Elbow Extension (chair dips)


  • Squats and Lunges

I like to superset each round (all 8 exercises back-to-back with no breaks), which significantly cuts the time. I do this routine three times a week, usually M-W-F, and can knock it out in less than 30 minutes. And then for cardio, I engage in some sort of outdoor activity a few times a week, like a long walk or casual bike ride. So far so good, I’m actually enjoying my workout again instead of cringing at gym rat fuckery.

Follow up: A Year of Calisthenics: The Verdict