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Starting & Pull-up subs

Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:11 pm
by amz
Hey guys! I saw a few threads which halfway addressed my questions, but not entirely. So here goes:

I've been weight lifting on and off for several years, am in okay shape (managed to finish P90X a couple months ago), and I'm about to go out of the country for ~6 months. I won't have gym access and will have very little room for equipment. I also won't have a place where I can install a pull-up bar - either stone walls which I can't drill into or old, very wide, slightly crooked doors that your typical door pull-up bar won't fit into. (And in any case it's a temporary apartment where I can't make modifications, so no installing anything semi-permanent.)

First off, will Simplefit work for me as someone who's not new to strength training? Mind you, I can't do that many pullups (only 4 at max, despite being a not-that-heavy girl), but can do 25 pushups in a good set and, uh, lots of squats. More than 25, definitely. I'm still not up to one-arm pushups, though, so I thought close-grips might be a good compromise. Likewise, squats are easy for me, but pistol squats are hard. I can only do 4 per leg right now. Is it wise of me to modify the program and start out at L1 doing close-grip push-ups and pistol squats? Or should I just start at L1 with an aim to beat L8 with unmodified moves first?

Second, since I won't have a place for a pull-up bar but do have a sturdy place to loop a set of resistance bands, I was thinking of doing lat pulldowns with the bands. I know they're nowhere near as effective as pullups, but I'm not really sure what else to do. I was looking into gymnastics rings, but I don't really have a place to hang them so that they're the right distance apart, and in any case if I'm bad at normal pullups I'm not sure if doing them on rings is a good idea. I'd kind of thought of finding a metal bar and laying it across two chairs to do bodyweight rows, too, but I've never done them and have no idea how challenging they'd be. Good idea? Bad idea? Any other alternatives?


Re: Starting & Pull-up subs

Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:43 am
by Bri3626
There are a bunch of ideas you can do. Varied and regular multiple types of bodyweight exercises. pushups (wide grip, close grip, elevated, handstand pushups, etc), Squats (pistols, tuck jump squats, dumbell squats, lunges etc), not to mention so many different varied exercises that are out there, planks, dips, jumping jacks, burpees (multiple variations of these such as bends and thrusts, pullup burpees, burpee tuck jumps, burpee squats, barbell burpees, etc). The realms of possibilities are almost limitless. Ultimately since you are in a temporary situation and unable to change much as far as physical environment the question is what do you want out of it? If your goal is to maintain your current level of fitness I would do regular sets of X number of reps daily with a varied amount of exercises. If your goal is to get better at something or improve something (it appears you like the idea of one-arm pushup and pistols) I would work specifically in that arena while you're in that situation. For example you could start a level one day one of 1 one-arm pushups (or progressions) and 2 pistols (or progressions). A L1D2 of 5 rnds 2 one-arm pushups, 6 pistols etc. For fun you mix another exercise into it.

You could do tabatas in any way you wanted e.g 1 tabata 3 cycles of 1 min work 10 sec rest of:

mountain climbers
jumping jacks or box jumps or tuck jumps or jump rope

Personally I would mix it up and be varied as to reps, rounds and exercises done or I would do a strict regimen of a specific type of workout with a goal of beating the previous workout. I guess it depends on what you want really. Hope this helps.

Re: Starting & Pull-up subs

Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:46 am
by amz
Hmm. Welp, as far as my goals, they're a little mixed. I'd like to at least maintain and hopefully increase my overall strength and endurance while I'm away, as well as lose the extra ten pounds I seem to have picked up somewhere. I'd like to make sure that I don't neglect any major muscle groups, so I need to hit chest, back, lower body, and do some core work. In addition, on my fitness bucket list there are (among other things): be able to do at least eight pullups, eight one-armed pushups, and eight pistol squats in a set. Right now I can do 4, 0, and 4.

Given that, I think the strict regimen idea you mentioned might be best. (Especially because I tend to fall off the wagon if I don't have really specific goals.) I like the idea of starting at L1D1 with 1 one-arm or close-grip pushup, 2 pistols, and 1 bodyweight row as a sub for the pullup (with a bar or a sturdy broomstick placed over two chairs if I have to). Then I'll work on going through the levels and hopefully bringing up my reps. (I'll still need core work, but I figure I can do that after cardio on non-training days.)

I'm not thrilled about the row instead of pullups, but it's the best idea I've come up with. Alternatively, I will have a loft area with some really sturdy steel railings, and I was kind of thinking about looping some rope around one of the beams and doing rope pullups. I'm wary of those for two reasons. One is that I understand my forearms are likely to fail well before my back does, which seems kind of silly for my main back exercise. The other is that I know they're generally harder than normal pullups, and I'm struggling enough with those as it is.


Re: Starting & Pull-up subs

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:03 am
by Bri3626
Well one of the best exercises for back is certainly pullups. If you can do rope climbs you are definitely in an ideal environment for functional fitness. You will probably burn out finger strength at first but just like rock climbers that gets better with time. Plus there are all kinds of rope exercises you can do to improve your pullups. You could google it and also look at the Crossfit website which has a lot of instruction for rope climbing. Personally if I had access to a rope climb I would be all over that because of its real life applications.

Re: Starting & Pull-up subs

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:38 pm
by amz
Thread resurrection!

I finished up my last routine and started on Simplefit this week. Today I did L1D2.

Some thoughts:

Because normal push-ups seemed kinda easy (I can do ~30 in one set) and I want to make it to one-arm pushups, I figured I'd do diamonds. Those are fine. Pull-ups are also fine. D left my back a little tired, but the reps were well within doable range.

The problem is the squats. I didn't want to do normal squats because I want to develop better leg strength and they're not very challenging for me at my level of fitness. (I'm not in outstanding shape, mind, but I've been working out long enough that I can pump out 40-50 body weight squats okay.) So I decided to do pistol squats instead, since my 1SM on those is around 6.

End result: L1D2 took 15 minutes. I got the pull-ups and push-ups done in under 30s, then spent the rest of the time struggling through the pistols. (Doesn't help my time that I have to do one leg at a time, so I'm spending twice as long on squats even without the struggling.) I was taking several mid-set pauses by the last three sets, just because I started reaching failure after a couple of reps.

So, I was wondering. Should I try something else? I don't like how one out of three of the exercises is so much harder than the others. It feels imbalanced, when what I really wanted was to challenge chest/back/legs more or less equally. Maybe jump squats would be a good challenge without being quite so hard? I can do about 20 of those as a 1SM. Or should I back off to plain vanilla and make my way up to L8, then come back to try a more intermediate version again?

Thanks for any advice!

Re: Starting & Pull-up subs

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:49 am
by KTG
I also thought the squats were laughable in the beginning. But my experience was that when you start moving up through the levels and are pushing the time, they do start to grind on you. I vote to try going through a few levels and see how they are feeling.

When you're breezing through level 8, you can start over again on level one with pistols and a weight vest while standing on a basketball and balancing a glass of water on your head.