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Intro:

For a few months, I'm not going to have access to my gym. What I do have access to is:

  • A power tower a.k.a chin-up/dip station
  • 2 x 8kg dumbbells
  • An ab roller
  • Some push-up handles

When I say "power tower", this is the kind of equipment I'm talking about. However, the one I have has two handles where the palms face each other in the middle, with no mid-section to the chin-up bar.

A power tower

Program plan

Previously the majority of my workouts have been traditionally strength based with barbells and dumbells. While its not what I'm used to a body-weight only (mostly) workout for a few months seems like an interesting challenge.

I am planning on cycling through a 3 day routine, doing a set of exercises on Mon-Wed, repeating on Thu-Sat and then resting/running on Sunday. For the routine I'm aiming for these kinds of numbers/exercises I'm planning to build up to [reps x sets]:

Back - Mon/Thu:

  • Wide grip pull-ups - 10 x 3
  • Pull-ups - 10 x 3
  • Neutral grip pull-ups - 10 x 3
  • Bent-over lateral raises - 10x2 + 1 set to failure (targeting posterior deltoid) (Perhaps?)

Chest - Tue/Fri:

  • Wall supported hand stand push-ups - 8x5
  • Dips - 10 x 5
  • Wide hand push-ups - 10 x 3
  • Lateral raises - 10x2 + 1 set to failure

Legs/Core - Wed/Sat:

  • Pistol squats - 10 x 3 (per leg)
  • Ab roller - 10 x 3
  • Hanging oblique crunch - 10x2 (per side)
  • Bird-dog - 10 x 3

Limitations:

I don't come close to some of the rep ranges listed (except for dips). I've never done a handstand in my adult life. I don't have any posterior chain work for hamstrings/glute/lower back. I'd like a little more variety on back day just to keep everything balanced.

Goals:

  • Maintain or improve muscle mass (especially in the arms and lats)
  • Hypertrophy for abs/oblique/serratus to improve 6-pack (yes, it's mostly diet but I have that under control)
  • Increase max reps for strict pull-ups
  • Progress to single-armed pull-ups
  • Progress to free-standing handstands and free-standing push-ups

Question:

If I want to maintain or improve my general physique, without degrading my shoulder health or posture, how could I improve this workout plan based on my given limitations?

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1 Answer 1

The exercise selection looks fine, but planning nine sets of 10 pull-ups in one workout--when you're not yet even at that rep range--is unproductive wishful thinking. So is planning on six days of intense work and running on your "rest" day. Base your rep scheme on what you can do, not the workout you'd like to be able to complete.

Your exercise selection looks fine, except that you're jumping right into handstand push-ups instead of using a progression (one, two, three). The shoulders need to be worked carefully and gradually into the full-ROM handstand push-up by doing handstand holds, negatives, pike push-ups, and runs first. Don't just prescribe a desired but arbitrary number of sets and reps for a high-skill exercise that requires soft-tissue prep.

Personally I don't see the need for a split. There's no reason not to do your primary exercises in every workout. In your case, that means the big muscle builders, which in my opinion means pull-ups and dips. You might need to vary the rep ranges or volume. I've heard the same for ab work. Something like this would be reasonable:

  • A) Pull-ups, dips, pistols, handstand work, bent lat raises, ab roller, bird dog
  • B) Handstand work, dips, pull-ups, push-ups, hanging leg raises and oblique crunches, lat raises
  • Rest
  • Repeat 3 day cycle

Scheduling your days as A/B/A/rest/B/A/B/rest would probably work fine too.

If a lack of posterior chain work worries you, see Ross Enamait's homemade hamstring curl equipment, do sprints, leaps, jumps, and seals, and recognize that bodyweight work is inherently weak in this area. Consider buying a single pair of heavy dumbbells for cleans, swings, and snatches to target the posterior chain. Of, ignore the posterior chain if you don't care about athletics.

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