You know sometimes when you decide to take on challenges, only to realize it wasn’t worth it? That was what my workout day was like today. I wanted to stay inside today, screw going outside to drive to the gym. I have limited equipment and workspace here in my room at home to work out, but I was damned to try doing a chest day at home, and be damned if I didn’t accomplish that technically speaking.
It’s somewhat suitable that what I did while working out at home (one advantage to a home workout: I can watch tv) was catch up on old episodes of the “Angry Video Game Nerd” on Youtube. I don’t know why I watch shitty stuff on Youtube all the time, but I actually remember a lot of the games played on his show from my own childhood and it’s amusing… primarily because the games were awful. This was in tune with the workout, because the workout was fucking shit!
I meant to say this workout doesn’t even qualify as shit because it was the equivalent of a shit taking a shit!
First a quick reminder of the minimal gear I had to work with… a tight room with floor space to lay down barely, an ez curl bar with max load of 65lbs of weights, and three non-uniform dumbbells (10lbs, 15lbs & 30lbs), an old furnished space heater I use as a stool and pedestal and any old shit I can find laying around that I need to make up the difference.
While I made a chest workout somehow out of it, going through the whole thing from front to back after planning it was a cavalcade of horribleness. So I figured it’d make a good blog entry.
If you want to work out your chest with shitty gear, first and best route is pushups. Lots of pushups. So I made a fun pushup medley, well presumably it was going to be fun. 4 sets of 10 reps of 4 different styles of pushups. How did it go you ask? Thanks for asking.
First up, standard pushups. Those are alright, after doing so many pushups you can really focus on the chest area, but boring. Second up, wide armed pushups with hands facing outward. This really widens the motion to more of the chest surface area, a bit of a drag but at least it’s something different. Okay next up, alligator crawl pushup. A short video will illustrate what those are here…
Basically you alternate your hands and legs as you push up, creating a sort of crawl… got it.
The first few times you do one of these it’s confusing as all hell, but that’s okay it’s good to learn. But see how the guy in the illustration moves forward and back? I tried to do that and well, I just don’t have the room. I got one step forward and one step back, which isn’t enough space. So instead I settled on doing these in place, just alternating hand placement rather than doing the crawling action. Sort of a pain in my ass. But then came my fourth pushup in the medley, a hopping pushup. Simply use your hands to press your body up off the ground then land it into a pushup. You don’t have to do full contraction, but it’s a hell of a way to end a circuit of pushups because if you’re fatigued you’ll smack your face into the ground, which I nearly did twice.
Next up, I don’t have pairs of any of my dumbbells because I’m cheap and usually do exercises out in the gym. I know I could go on craigslist, and buy someone’s used set for something cheap, but I don’t have a ton of places to stash weights and honestly, that’s a big hassle I don’t have time for. The little bit I had was great for losing weight, but it’s a challenge not to have anything in pairs because if you want to do two armed exercises you gotta improvise.
So next up was dumbbell presses superset with flys… one armed. I did these on the ground for added stability since I don’t have a good bench. Now when you do one armed motions with dumbbells, you notice the first problem is that you don’t get that same level of stability. You gotta use your other arm to really stabilize yourself, which was fine though because to the left and right of me was objects I could grab to make myself sturdy on both sides. Still it was twice the time it’d take to do the normal exercises, and awkward. Sometimes working stabilizers by doing an imbalanced move is good, maybe there is wisdom in doing it sometimes, but it’s definitely a waste of time and kind of shitty, especially since I did 4 sets of 12 reps (that’s 12 flys and 12 presses each set).
You gotta push volume in home workouts with minimal gear, so I was far from done there. I did some dumbbell pullovers next. Now dumbbell pullovers are a legitimately interesting exercise, and I had a good pedestal to lay back on to do it. Here is a quick video so you know what I mean.
An interesting exercise, but you gotta kind of see what it’s all about before doing it
So I grabbed my dumbbell and started, but this exercise works your shoulders and your back on top of your chest, so it’s hard sometimes to see if you’re really doing it right. I had to stop in the middle of it and kind of be extra sure. The part that focuses the chest work is the part where you physically squeeze the dumbbell itself in your hands to provide solid support for it, then as you go up and down you contract the chest to pull up. If you focus real hard on these points it’s helpful. Although admittedly I wanted something to focus on the chest more. I did 4 sets of 12 reps with my 30lb dumbbell here, it was alright.
While I was doing that I thought a real great way to really get that chest activation would be to do a squeezing dumbbell press. That is take a dumbbell with the ends in each palm, and physically squeeze it together like you’re trying to crush it in your hands, then slowly go up and down. This actually provided great chest activation and I did 4 sets of 16 reps each. This was a lot of volume, so it sure did make me sore. My body felt confused by this point in the routine, but I plodded on.
So next I wanted to do some presses, but as mentioned I only have an ez curl bar with a max load of 65lbs. For pressing patterns, that’s not much weight, so extra volume and focus is needed to get the necessary intensity. However for me, the intensity was in finding a comfortable way to actually press from different angles. For one, declined pressing without a declined bench is fucking impossible. I don’t have a work shop to fashion some kind of angled bench. Secondly an inclined bench was a pain in the ass to load because literally to do an inclined press, I had to sit upright against my pedestal using a piece of old laminate board, nestle the bar in my crotch then somewhat awkwardly load it up to my shoulders. After a little practice, it went alright… but a sort of pain in the ass. So 3 sets of 16 reps and I was sick of that.
For the flat bench, being on the floor was a little too limiting so it took me some time to rearrange the pedestal in such a way that I could lay on it, load myself on it without scooting it all around, and also have the actual room required to bench the bar without knocking shit all around. So all said, I finally got it figured out and did 4 sets of 16 reps, which was fine.
I was about sick of the whole process, it probably took over 2 hours, but I still had to do something for shoulders. First I did 4 sets of 6 reps military presses with the max load on my curl bar, 8 reps on the final set actually. This was pretty damn fun honestly compared to the rest of day. Then I did a superset of one armed side raises and one armed dumbbell front raises. Did each of those for 15 reps with a 15lb dumbbell, the side raise works the long top head of the shoulder whereas the front raise works the anterior deltoid. I only managed 3 sets of this, because it was very long to do the focus and volume each set required on top of the fact that I was working at half speed only having the one dumbbell.
So after like 2 1/2 hours of rolling around on the floor, laying uncomfortably different kinds of furniture, fumbling awkwardly with the limited bit of equipment. It doesn’t help that my knees still feel like absolute shit from earlier this week, so every single time I got up to take a breather or change position I was kind of sore just from doing that. Mainly this is all my fault but I thought I’d share a rant while I was at it, and what makes a better blog post than a rant? Angry rants are basically what the internet is founded on.
So in the end, was it a good workout? I guess, I mean I don’t feel like going to the gym now. My chest will probably be sore and I had enough volume I think to work. I don’t know if next week when I go back to the gym for chest day if I’ll be any better off on the real bench press because of it. Well experiments are called experiments for a reason. I skipped cardio today, but if I remember I will try to stretch before bed.