Work Hard With the Tools You’ve Got

These days it has become very hip and cool to strength train and do conditioning work with low tech and old school implements. Hitting old tires with sledge hammers, hauling wheelbarrows full of rocks up a hill, lifting and dragging heavy sand bags around. These are just some of the “new” training ideas that are currently in fashion. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the low tech stuff as much as the next person. There are definitely some advantages to being able to get in some awesome training with potentially little to no out of pocket expense, using stuff that you may have just lying around. The truth is for most of us the important thing is to work hard enough at what ever we choose to do, the tools are almost always secondary.

The problem I see with this low tech trend is that some folks start to think that they need the tires and sand bags etc in order to have a tough effective workout. This is just not true. For many of us doing all these cool, low tech exercises is not as easy as it sounds. Perhaps you live in a big city in a small apartment and slamming an old tire with a sledge hammer just isn’t feasible. Maybe you don’t have a garage or a basement that you can turn into the perfect training dungeon and have not taken the time to make home made sand bags.

Many of you may already belong to commercial gyms and wether it is a 24 hour fitness or the poshest club in town I guarantee it comes pre-loaded with more then enough gear to get you in super shape regardless of your goal. Remember what I said above about working hard with what you’ve got, you can and should use the tools you have readily available to create workouts that suit your needs. If you are already paying those monthly dues, don’t cry about not having a wheelbarrow handy, just get into the gym and get to work.

Below I am going to outline one of my favorite “High-Tech” workouts. This plan is designed to improve metabolic conditioning while maintaining strength. The truth is there is nothing High Tech about this workout, I am just using that term to denote that this is an in the gym workout using all the latest tools that may be at your disposal. Like most of the workouts I design, this one is brief and intense. Keep in mind that if you don’t have any of the tools I mention then just replace them with one you do have. If you have read some of my other articles then you know that the ultimate success or failure of a training plan is not found in the order or selection of the exercises or the tools you have available.

Finally, the other side of this story should start to become clear. If you don’t have access to a commercial gym and you are ready willing and able to build yourself a few basic toys you can still get an awesome workout using some very simple stuff. The bottom line is high tech or low tech just work hard with the tools you’ve got.




The Plan

MONDAY – FRIDAY: H.I.I.T. Rest 1-2 minutes between machines and have a drink. (Water of course)

1.) Warm-up 3-5 minutes with med-ball chops, swings, and reaches
2.) 10 minutes of Elliptical Trainer: 30 seconds sprint / 30 seconds recover
3.) 5 minutes U.B.E.: 15 seconds sprint / 45 seconds recover
4.) 5 minutes Step Mill: 20 seconds sprint / 20 seconds recover
5.) 5 minutes concept 2 rowing machine 20 seconds sprint / 10 seconds recover
6.) Cool-down 3-5 minutes walking on treadmill
7.) AB Work
8.) Stretch

WEDNESDAY: Strength Maintenance. Rest 90 seconds between sets and 2 minutes between exercises.

1.) Warm-up 3-5 minutes with med-ball chops, swings, and reaches
2.) FM Alt Pulldowns 2 X 4-6
3.) FM Alt Shoulder Press 2 X 4-6
4.) FM Alt Row 2 X 4-6
5.) FM Alt Chest Press 2 X 4-6
6.) FM Squat 2 X 4-6
7.) FM CDL+S 2 X 4-6
8.) FM Crunch


  • FM = Free Motion Cable based resistance equipment
  • Alt = Alternate sides
  • 2 X 4-6 = 2 sets of 4-6 repetitions
  • CDL + S = Clean Deadlift + Shrug. This is my favorite version of the deadlift and is done as follows. Using the Free Motion “Lift” station place the arms in the bottom position. Now grasp both handles and slowly stand as in a regular style Deadlift. As you reach the fully erect position continue by raising up on your toes as high as possible while simultaneously shrugging your shoulders. Lower to the bottom position and repeat for the desired number of reps.