I'm not sure if you want my history here, but here it is, feel free to remove if it's irrelevant

I have between 100 and 110kg (don't have a scale), 185cm, 28y, male.

I was 120kg 3 years ago when I started keto and went down to 80kg. Then I started going to gym, had a personal trainer and got up to 90kg. Then I was in the best shape of my life.

After an untreated broken joint in thumb and about 3 months of solving that, I didn't do anything about my shape, but tried to keep my diet. Lately that failed due to depression, being closed in and forced to make my own food and going the easier way of eating cookies and cereal for most meals.

I've decided to get back in shape, but have no idea where to start. I can't go to a gym due to the pandemic, so I'm stuck with doing home exercises.

I have no equipment at all, but I could probably get some dumbbells eventually, there's no room for anything bigger in my apartment. I do have a pull up bar though, but I can't do a pull up.

There are many different articles and recommendations on how to start, but they have some conflicting directions, so I'd like to get a good recommendation from a trusted site (this one).

What I liked before was the approach from my trainer that cardio isn't necessary to lose weight and be in better shape, as doing strength exercises will get you the same. And my goal is to lose some weight, build muscles, and be able to do few pull ups by the start of the summer.

What programs would get me started on the way? What to learn to be able to make better decisions, and from where?

  • 1
    What I liked before was the approach from my trainer that cardio isn't necessary to lose weight and be in better shape - while that may bear some truth for some people, cardio is beneficial in more ways than just losing weight. With a comment like that, I would look to find a different trainer. One that is certified by a reputable organization.
    – rrirower
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:00
  • 1
    @rrirower Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If it's easier to just strength train instead of both strength training and cardio, and that happens for five years before he adds cardio, it's still a good thing, and has more likelihood of compliance than poo-pooing a suboptimal program. Apr 15, 2020 at 0:05
  • @rrirower This one had a fitness college degree and his own gym. He didn't say cardio is useles, but that for everything I was trying to do, it's better to spend time doing strenght exercises. If I was spending about 1-1.5h hour at a gym about 3 times a week, do you think it would be beneficial to spend part of that time doing cardio?
    – Affaltar
    Apr 16, 2020 at 9:47
  • As a former trainer myself, I would always recommend doing some sort of aerobic work. You don't need to do it on the same day as strength training. But, combining both aerobic work and strength work is far better for overall health than just doing one or the other.
    – rrirower
    Apr 16, 2020 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


Lunging, squatting, push ups, some sort of hip hinge (bodyweight good morning for example - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ2olCTc0-c), bridges, and supermans should be enough to get you started. Toss in some sort of ab routine (side planks, hard style planks, and something to hit your lower abs like kicking your legs out and bringing them back in) and a trip to the pull up bar (start with dead hanging from the bar, progress that to jumping up onto the bar and slowly lowering yourself down before progressing to a full pull up) every time you get up to go to the fridge / bathroom and you have a good routine to get started.

There are progressions to the superman that will help you out with the pull up. At the moment I'm seeing a lot of home-made content around grabbing a towel and using that to create tension in the superman. Grab the towel, pull it apart, and raise off the ground. You'll eventually want to start to pull said towel over your head to engage your back (which is what helps get you strong to do a pull up.)

For the ab routine portion of your program I like 5-ish minute abs - 30 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest between each exercise. You do each twice.

You can play around with the reps / timing for everything. Since we're all currently in quarantine I'd do a little bit throughout the day, you'll get more time under tension and you'll get way more reps done throughout the day without the negatives of lactic acid buildup in your muscles.

Example - wake up and do a few pushups, squats, lunges, etc. An hour or two later do it again. Rinse and repeat throughout the day. Do the dead hang / negative pull up / pull up every time you walk by the bar. The goal here is to not wreck your body or feel truly sore afterwards.

Base the number of repetitions you do throughout the day on how you feel the next day / at the end of the week. If you feel sore you're doing too many. Without knowing your current baseline it's impossible to give you a strict number to adhere to.

[addendum] If you currently aren't able to work from home or you're reading this after the quarantine is over, you most likely can't take breaks every few hours to do some squats and push ups. In that case, pick a time of day to go through the routine of lunges, squats, push ups, etc and do them at least 6 times a week. Could be before work, during a lunch break, after work. Doesn't matter the time just pick a time. There are a ton of apps available to get started on both a squat and push up routine. Download one and figure out where you're currently at physically in relation to what the app is suggesting you do (ie if you can do 20 push ups on your own currently you'd want to start on day something or other where you're starting at 15-ish push ups) Then download the one for squats as well.

The reason you want to be doing 6 days a week with bodyweight is because you're trying to establish a new mental routine. If I suggested 2x or 3x a week there's the possibility Tuesday's workout would turn into "I'll do it Wednesday" then come Wednesday it also doesn't get done. If you're doing something daily you can't put it off to tomorrow because you already have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Regarding No Pain No Gain With bodyweight exercises the likelihood of feeling incredibly sore will be lower than that of using weights. If you're totally decommissioned you'll feel something but the difference between doing say 30 bodyweight squats versus 40 the next day will be minimal. The difference between 5 heavily loaded squats vs 7 heavily loaded squats in the future will be easily felt. My suggestions are to create a program that's maintainable for as long as you enjoy fitness. Starting off overtraining will lead you down the road to overtraining. Overtraining turns into missing days of reps (so less total reps throughout the week because of additional rest days) OR compensating during exercises to avoid the pain caused by muscle fatigue. I personally have actually done this while kettlebell training - I overtrained my abs then taught myself how to disengage my abs during a kettlebell swing to get reps. This was terrible and something I don't want others to do or repeat. You should do an exercise to get the benefits of every muscle involved in said exercise. If you do something just to get the reps in without the benefit of the exercise you're leading yourself down the path of bad form / injury / and muscle imbalances.

Things like split sets exist where you'd do something like upper body 2x a week, lower body 2x a week, then maybe an active recovery day, a cardio only day, then a total rest day. But that too is down the line.

  • Thank you for the answer. Sadly I am not able to work at home, even though my job could allow it. I was under impression of "no pain, no gain", meaning if I don't feel the consequences of exercise I didn't do enough. How would I get a baseline with premise I do many exercises a day? When I did it before I would just do a single exercise to exhaustion and see my limit, but even 15-20mins later I could do few more
    – Affaltar
    Apr 16, 2020 at 9:40
  • @affaltar - I've added to my answer to hopefully give some structure around a program while also still having to go to work. There's a principle from (I believe a SEAL) where what we think is our max is actually only 40%. If you went to failure then tried again 15 minutes later and hit the same number of reps to failure you most likely still had something left in the tank from the first round. For baseline go hard-ish one day and see how you feel the next. If you're too sore to do more then you know that's past your max. It requires some trial and error unfortunately. Some soreness is fine Apr 16, 2020 at 18:51

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