Minimal Equipment Workouts

You don’t need to spend money on a gym membership or any fancy fitness gear to get in shape. You can actually get great workouts with no equipment at all. The only thing you need to get fit is the desire to better yourself and the ability to take action. If you are looking to get some equipment, however, the best thing you could buy (or build) is a standard pull-up bar.

Nothin’ but Bar
You could seriously train every muscle in your upper-body just by doing pull-ups, muscle-ups and dips on a straight bar – no other equipment is needed. As for your legs, you don’t even need a bar! Just doing lots of squats and lunges will make them strong and toned. If you decide to up the ante, pistol squats hit every part of your lower body as well as your core muscles. And if those get too easy for you, try doing pistol squats standing on a pull-up bar.

I don’t typically share specific workout routines here on the blog, but today is an exception! Here are three simple workouts that you can do with nothing but a pull-up bar:

The Trifecta
This workout is based on a pyramid training scheme and it will work every single muscle in your body – including your heart! Start by performing one squat, then immediately grab an overhead bar and do one pull-up, then drop down and do a push-up. Next do two squats, two pull-ups and two push-ups. Continue to add one rep to each exercise until you fail to get through the circuit. Then start taking one rep away and work your way back down. Try to keep your rest time to a minimum. If you’re not strong enough to do push-ups or pull-ups, feel free to substitute knee push-ups and Australian pull-ups in their place.

Core Crusher
Don’t be fooled by the name – though the emphasis of this workout is on the abs, obliques and lower back, it hits every muscle in your body!

First warm up by holding a plank for one minute. The rest of the workout consists of ten hanging leg raises (or hanging knee raises), ten back bridges (perform the back bridges with a two second hold at the top), then a 30 second side plank hold on each side. Try to get through this workout without any breaks (though you may stop to rest as needed). Feel free to repeat the sequence two or three times.

Area 51
This is an advanced workout that’s not for the faint of heart! It doesn’t take very long, but you’ll need to be strong to even try this one. Area 51 starts with one muscle-up on a straight bar. Once you’re over the bar, stay up top and do 30 dips. The next objective is to perform 20 pull-ups – all without coming off the bar. If you can get through the whole set, you will have performed 51 total reps. If you can’t do it all in one set, you may take a break in between the dips and the pull-ups and/or spread out the pull-ups into multiple sets. For the advanced trainee, area 51 can be used as a warm-up.

Watch the video below to see me performing the “Area 51” workout:

For more information, check out my book, Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment.

44 thoughts on “Minimal Equipment Workouts

  • Pingback: Three Simple Workouts You Can Do With Just A Pull-up Bar | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

  • By mariachimike -

    Love your blog, Al! Just a heads up – the video says “Embedding disabled by request, Watch on YouTube”

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the comment! Youtube has been acting wacky lately but the video seems to be functioning properly now.

  • By Beth -

    Holy Cow! I’m not sure I could do any of this stuff. After two kids, my belly muscles and ligaments are still too tender and loose for this. Give me a couple years of rebuilding my foundational strength and allowing my connective tissue in my linea alba to thicken up again, and then maybe … LOL … in the meantime I’ll stick with filming simpler stuff for my home workout studio. But I’ll send my muscley clients your way … deal?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Beth – thanks for stopping by! Feel free to refer anyone who you think would be interested in my workouts.

      I gotta tell you though, I think you’re underestimating yourself – you should try the trifecta workout with knee push-ups and Australian pull-ups. You can do it!

  • By Stiliyan -

    Hmm, when I’m doing the plank my hands get tired before my core, is this normal ?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Your hands or your arms?  It’s not totally uncommon for the arms to fatigue first.  The plank is great at exposing people’s weaknesses.

      • By Stiliyan -

         Yes the arms :). Thanks for the answer i thought there was something wrong with me 😀

  • By Matt Swider -

    Good stuff, your trifecta workout reminded me of tri burpees – that is a burpee with a pull up in each rep.  I realize your version is going to reach failure sooner, at least for me, as doing more than 10 pull ups in a row is quite a challenge.  Thanks for the workout ideas, keep up the good work.  Glad I found your site!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Matt!  Yeah it’s kinda like a burpee with a pull-up…or at least the first rep is!

      • By Matt Swider -

         I did the core crusher today, I was crushed by the end.  It actually worked my shoulders as much as my core.  As you said, it is a full body workout. 

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Glad you liked that workout, Matt – those back bridges can be tough on the shoulders!

          A one-arm knee push-up is a great precursor to the real deal.  I also find practicing the OAP on an angle to be a good learning tool.  There are many paths to the same destination!

  • By Matt Swider -

    Good stuff, your trifecta workout reminded me of tri burpees – that is a burpee with a pull up in each rep.  I realize your version is going to reach failure sooner, at least for me, as doing more than 10 pull ups in a row is quite a challenge.  Thanks for the workout ideas, keep up the good work.  Glad I found your site!

  • By Rkimble -

    I am going to start the trifecta workout today, im really excited!!  Thanks Al!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

       Sounds good, Rob!  Let us know how it goes!

  • By Anonymous -

    Just watched Area 51…ouch!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      No ouch – it feels great to do Area 51!  🙂

  • By Anonymous -

    Just watched Area 51…ouch!

  • By Losing Stomach Fat -

    Nice, thats ALOT of chin-ups! I’m lucky if I can do 5!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!  My advice to you is to stop obsessing about stomach fat and start practicing chin-ups.  They’re actually one of the best ab exercises out there.

  • Pingback: Need Fitness Plan Help To Break Plateau - What To Do Other Than Rock Climb? | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

  • By Ebyun84 -

    StumbleUpon brought me here. You are a BEAST. That is all.

    • By Al Kavadlo -


  • By Team_chump -

    Al, did you get your physical appearance purely by body weight, or did you also do a weights program??

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I used to do weight training but have been doing mostly bodyweight for the last several years.  However, I believe a body like mine is completely attainable without ever lifting external weights.

  • By Jake19 -

    This is another great post Al. I am pretty new here after coming across some of your videos on youtube while looking for pull-up variations. I clicked the link to your blog and found this treasure trove of great advice and positive attitude when it comes to working out and taking care of your body. Years ago I used to think that doing heavy weighted exercises were the only way that a person could get bigger and defined muscles. Within the last year I have really gotten into crossfit and a lot of bodyweight only workouts. It is funny that doing bench press never made me sore but doing a full workout of different pushup variations is much tougher. You are truly an inspiration of how a lifestyle of health eating and using your imagination and body as your workout tools can be a great decision. Keep up the great work. Now I just need to go order your book!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Jake!  Keep training hard and taking care of your body.

  • By Jason Spicer -

    Sounds great! going to start “The Trifecta” tomorrow…should this be added to other workouts or would it be helpful to do it every other day and add the core crusher on the off days? and cardio. 

    • By Jason Spicer -

      just ordered the book so im sure i can just figure out a good weekly plan that way

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        Right on, Jason!  Thanks for your order!  Did you do the trifecta workout yet?

        • By Jason Spicer -

          not yet, i am currently at a police academy so my schedule is a little hinky…going for a run to the chow hall and going to try and get it in after a little studying tonight.

  • By Richard. -

    Al, I am 55 years old and you have inspired me beyond belief. I would like to know your number one item of advice to improve my chin up strength. I am doing them on rings and just get stuck after 7 to 9 reps. I cannot achieve ten reps. I have tried everything.
    I have ordered your book.
    Thank you for your web site it is a treasure. 
    When I watch your videos I think of the JFK speech at Rice University – “we will do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard.” 
    Every best wish!

  • By Margarita athletic wear -

    In this video, it showed how that guy used things that are available everywhere as his workout equipment. That’s fantastic.

  • By JTX Treadmills -

    Can you recommend a particular workout that enhances butt area?

  • By full body workout -

    Its true when we are on the road it can be difficult to find a workout facility that allows yus to maintain your fitness routine.? This blog is really useful this is great share with us…

  • By Personal training course -

    Nice article! Losing weight is never easy but if you have the right workout and diet plan or program it might helps.. I’m glad to have inspired you!

  • By Sosaheriberto2001 -

    you are human!
    you get tired like us


    I doubted

    I will try to do this

  • By Michelvandenhoek -

     Dipping on a straight bar isn’t optimal though. A better alternative is to do them on parallel bars as they do not restrict your movement

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      It’s not always so cut and dry.  You sound like someone who hasn’t done too many straight bar dips.

  • By John Hanley -

    How often is recommended for these workouts? For example, I am digging the Pyramid, but how many days a week? 2? 3?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Three times a week sounds good to me!

  • By -

    dud you are good  i wish to be like you someday,keep it up

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!  Will do!

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