3 "No Excuses" Hardcore Limited Equipment Workouts

No gym access? No problem? Betancourt Nutrition's Alex Stewart presents 3 intense workout programs that will blast your body using minimal equipment and minimal time.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
5
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female

Workout Description

In my years of training and coaching clients I have heard it ALL when it comes to excuses. I've heard every story about how and why someone fell off the wagon and stopped working out. The one recurring and common excuse is the lack of time… Everyone knows the health benefits of exercise, but because of a busy schedule they can't seem to find the time to fit it in.

I used to struggle with this. I would speak to clients and explain that all they needed was 30-60 minutes at the gym 4-5 times a week. This would give them the results they were looking for. How can this be so difficult? Aren’t your fitness goals important to you? Many would say yes, but then proceed to list the reason they were not able to get to the gym.

I found that for many of these people, their busy schedules, family time, traveling and/or the distance they lived from a gym were the main reasons they didn’t work out. Getting back and forth from the gym cost them time and changing at the gym was a hassle. During the first half of the year, when they were most motivated, gyms were swamped.

I dealt with these issues too, but knew there was no other way. I had to workout at the gym.

As time passed, and my career started to involve a lot more traveling, I found myself improvising my workouts and utilizing new exercises. Having limited equipment was a challenge but I made due.

I decided that it was time to develop an effective way to workout at home. I know what you’re thinking “there is no way to get an effective and complete workout at home.” For years I believed the same thing. It was ingrained into my head: working out hard required going to gym, where you can utilize heavy free weights and the many machines.

This article will go into detail about my workouts. I utilized a very limited amount of equipment that my workouts didn't require much space at all. Many, if not all of these workouts, can be done in a single room, small space in the backyard, garage or even a tiny hotel fitness room.

The best part about each workout and training style is that they can be tailored to your own fitness level. Adding resistance, increasing pace and/or lowering rest periods helps intensify the workouts.

For anyone that thinks this is only for beginner and or intermediate trainers, they are sorely mistaken. Father Time is the one thing you can never escape. Including a timer in your workouts will give you tangible goals to strive for, improving at each and every workout.

Now let’s get down to business and dive into the workouts.

Push ups

As your fitness level improves, you can structure workouts with 2 lower body or upper body exercises. This will increase the intensity.

Workout #1: The 15-1 Method

This method of training is very deceiving. Before your first workout you will say to yourself “that doesn’t sound too bad.” But once you begin, and the reps start to add up, you will soon see that you’re in for a killer workout.

The beauty about the 15-1 training method is that there are an endless amount of workouts you can construct. Though I have found that, depending on fitness level and/or goals, there are guidelines you should look at when constructing a workout to make sure you are getting the most out of your workouts.

I am going to start off by explaining the training style, then I will break down some different approaches that will help you reach your particular goals.

For each 15-1 workout you will need to pick 2 exercises. For example purposes we will refer to these exercises as Exercise A and Exercise B. You can start with either of the exercises, but once you pick a certain exercise to start with, you need to make sure that you alternate back and forth between them and don’t switch up the order. There is supposed to be no rest between sets or exercise.

This is a continuous set of reps. Do not rest until the entire workout is completed. If you fail at any particular time in the workout, and can’t perform any more reps without a rest, please note the time in the workout that this happened and use this as a guide to help you judge your progress into the future.

If you happen to be using weight with that particular exercise in which you failed, lower the weight so you are able to finish when you perform this workout in the future. The goal is to finish the entire workout.

Now here is the layout of the workout.

Workout #1
Set Exercise A Exercise B
Set 1 15 Reps 1 Rep
Set 2 14 Reps 2 Reps
Set 3 13 Reps 3 Reps
Set 4 12 Reps 4 Reps
Set 5 11 Reps 5 Reps
Set 6 10 Reps 6 Reps
Set 7 9 Reps 7 Reps
Set 8 8 Reps 8 Reps
Set 9 7 Reps 9 Reps
Set 10 6 Reps 10 Reps
Set 11 5 Reps 11 Reps
Set 12 4 Reps 12 Reps
Set 13 3 Reps 13 Reps
Set 14 2 Reps 14 Reps
Set 15 1 Rep 15 Reps

As you can see you start with higher reps of one exercise and lower reps of another, and do less of one exercise and more of another. This progression, as I mentioned earlier, is very deceiving. Initially the reps and sets don’t seem overly tough, but as the reps add up from set to set the body fatigues very quickly and you are in for a GREAT workout.

When constructing a workout in this style here are some notes you want to consider.

Though this is called the 15-1 training style, I usually advise beginners to start with a 10-1 approach. Progress to the 12-1 before going into the 15-1 approach. As I mentioned, the key to this training style is finishing the workout.

Make sure you are timing your workouts as well. If you start with the 10-1 and you are not fatigued when done, move right into the 12-1 approach. If you find yourself somewhat fatigued from the 10-1, continue to using this method until you can finish it 30-60 seconds quicker than your first go around. At this time you are ready to progress to the 12-1 approach. Keep these same guidelines before progressing to the 15-1 approach as well.

Now that you understand the layout of the rep and set scheme, the fun starts. In the beginning I mentioned that you can chose basically any exercise you want for this approach. I have found that selecting an upper body exercise and lower body is most effective for beginner trainers. This allows for more intensity and overall body muscle stimulation, because of the rest that the upper body gets when performing the lower body exercise and visa versa.

As your fitness level improves, you can structure workouts with 2 lower body or upper body exercises. This will increase the intensity. Please note, only advanced trainees should attempt this training style, especially if the 2 upper body exercises work the same muscle group.

For example: pull-up and dumbbell rows. Both of these exercise work your back. With the considerable amount of reps involved with this exercise program, you will need to be an advanced trainer to be able to finish the workout. With that being said, here are some of my favorite combinations for all levels of training:

Beginner Workout
  • Push-Ups and Crunches
  • Push-Ups and Bodyweight Squats
  • Push-Ups and Bodyweight Lunges
  • DB Rows and Crunches
  • DB Rows and Bodyweight Squats
  • DB Rows and Bodyweight Lunges
  • DB Standing Shoulder Presses and Crunches
  • DB Standing Shoulder Presses and Bodyweight Squats
  • DB Standing Shoulder Presses and Bodyweight Lunges
Intermediate Workout
  • Push-Ups and DB Rows
  • DB Standing Shoulder Presses and DB Rows
  • DB Standing Curls and Standing DB Tricep Kick Backs
  • Push-Ups and DB Squats
  • DB Rows and DB Squats
  • DB Standing Shoulder Presses and DB Squats
Advanced Workout
  • Burpees and DB Snatches
  • Burpees and DB Squats
  • Burpees and DB Squat Presses
  • Burpees and DB Standing Shoulder Presses
  • Burpees and DB Rows

There you have it. This is a complete breakdown of the 15-1 style of training. The 15-1 method is the perfect home exercise program. It's also excellent for trainees on the go trainers who have a limited amount of time to workout. You will be able to get some great workouts and see amazing results.

Push ups

Remember the golden rule about all of my at home training styles. The goal is to complete the routine in its entirety without a break, so please make sure to adjust weight accordingly.

Workout #2: The 21-15-9 Method

I like to use this style of training to completely exhaust my entire body. The 21-15-9 method does this is by utilizing numerous exercises per workout while still keep intensity at its peak. You will also notice, when I go into more detail about the exercise arrangement, that I like to make sure all areas of the body get worked. This is a key factor in making the 21-15-9 training style so effective.

The name 21-15-9 pretty much gives it away. This style of training is done in in repetitive fashion with 21-15-9 being the target rep ranges for each giant set, while having no breaks between exercise and sets. I like to pick 5 exercises that focus on different parts of the body. Lower body exercises should be compound movements. We will use 2 or more exercise that will focus on this area. Here is the breakdown.

You will perform 21 reps of each exercise with no rest between sets. Once you have finished each exercise, you will start over from the beginning performing 15 reps per exercise. Finally, you will move perform each exercise for 9 reps. As mentioned, there is no resting between exercises, or between transitions from the 21 rep scheme to 15, and so on to 9 reps.

The goal is to finish the entire program. As with the 15-1 training style, if you fail during any part of the routine, note where in the workout this happened. When you fail, lower the weight so you are able to finish the workout. Next time around use a lighter weight.

Intensity is key to making the 21-15-9 workout style effective. Being that I am designed this series for home use, speed and time are the best way to increase intensity. That being said, increasing weight also will help increase intensity. I find that moderate weight coupled with a focus on improved workout completion time is the best formula for results.

Below I am going to lay out 5 of my favorite 21-15-9 workouts. Please note there is no difference on the exercise choice from beginner to advanced lifter. The only difference is the amount of weight used and time it takes to complete the routine.

Remember the golden rule about all of my at home training styles. The goal is to complete the routine in its entirety without a break, so please make sure to adjust weight accordingly.

Workout #1
Exercise
Dumbbell Pendley Row
Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Squats
Burpees
Crunches
Workout #2
Exercise
Dumbbell Squat Presses
TRX Close Grip Rows (If you don’t have TRX do a standard DB Row)
Lunges
High Knee Jumps
Push-Ups
Workout #3
Exercise
One Arm Dumbbell Snatches
Squats
TRX Chest Press (If you don’t have a TRX do Push-ups)
Dumbbell Side Laterals
V-Up Crunches
Workout #4
Exercise
Squats
Jump Lunges (Have to complete both side for 1 Rep)
Burpees
Standing Dumbbell Curls
Standing Triceps Kick Backs
Workout #5
Exercise
Squat Presses
Dumbbell Pendley Rows
Burpees
Dumbbell Snatches
High Knee Jumps

Each of these are great workouts though I find Workout #5 to be the most challenging. It features exercises that recruit many different muscle groups.

That about does it for the 21-15-9 training style. if you are looking for an intense full body workout try any of these 5 workouts, but and be careful with #5. It's a tough one. 

Remember this is a Blitz; go all out until the time is up. Keep track of how many rounds you complete, this will be critical to figure out your progress.

Workout #3 - The 10-12-15-18-20 Blitz

The 10-12-15-18-20 BLITZ training style is designed to be a 5 week progressive program. Though as you will see, when you read on, that this program can be used for single workouts as well.

As with my other 2 workouts, the name of this training style will give you a hint of what is to come. Though the other workouts were based on a rep scheme, the 10-12-15-18-20 BLITZ training style is based upon TIME. Each workout will finished in a certain amount of time.

The key to the success is focused intensity throughout the duration of your workout. When your time is up you are done and can rest. There is absolutely NO RESTING during the workout.

Here is the layout of 10-12-15-18-20 BLITZ.

Each week you will work out 5 days a week with 2 rest days. Your 2 rest days can not be 2 successive days in a row.

  • During week 1 your workouts will last 10 minutes in total while using 3 different exercises
  • During week 2 your workouts will last 12 minutes in total while using 3 different exercises
  • During week 3 your workouts will last 15 minutes in total while using 4 different exercises
  • During week 4 your workouts will last 18 minutes in total while using 4 different exercises
  • During week 5 your workouts will last 20 minutes in total while using 5 different exercises

Before each workout you will have a predetermined number of reps that need to be completed for each exercise before moving on to the next exercise. Once you have finished all the exercises in the circuit, this is considered one round. You immediately start the exercise circuit over, and no rest is taken.

Remember this is a Blitz; go all out until the time is up. Keep track of how many rounds you complete, this will be critical to figure out your progress. Also, when the timer goes off and workout is over, keep track of where in the circuit you finished. Try to improve during your next workout.

With 10-12-15-18-20 BLITZ I like to give you some freedom when it comes to picking exercises and rep scheme.

Though I would like to give some pointers, I have found that trail and error works best.

In regard to rep scheme, stick with 12-20 on most of your exercises. Something like bodyweight squats or jump rope might require you to use a higher rep range, but most other exercises are best kept at the 12-20 rep range. When picking exercises strive to pick compound movements and always include at least 1 upper body dominate (ex. Standing DB Shoulder Presses) and 1 lower dominate (DB Squats).

Here is an example of the 5 week program. Workout days will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Days off will be Thursday and Sunday.

Week 1: 10 Minute Workouts
  • Monday: 20 Jumping High Knees 20 Pushups 20 Crunches
  • Tuesday: 50 Jumping Jacks 15 DB Squats 12 Standing DB Presses
  • Wednesday: 20 Burpees, 40 Jump Lunges, 15 DB Rows
  • Friday: 12 Thrusters, 15 Pushups, 50 Jump Rope
  • Saturday: 50 Mountain climbers, 15 Pendley Rows, 14 one arm DB or Kettlebell snatches
Week 2: 12 Minute Workouts

Repeat workout Week 1 exercises and rep scheme.

Week 3: 15 Minute Workouts
  • Monday: 20 Jumping High Knees 20 Pushups 20 Crunches 20 Pushups
  • Tuesday: 50 Jumping Jacks 15 DB Squats 12 Standing DB Presses 20 Alt DB Lunges
  • Wednesday: 20 Burpees, 40 Jump Lunges, 15 DB Rows 20 Lying Leg Raises
  • Friday: 12 Thrusters, 15 Pushups, 50 Jump Rope 20 Crunches
  • Saturday: 50 Mountain climbers, 15 Pendley Rows, 14 one arm DB or Kettlebell snatches 15 V-up Crunches
Week 4: 18 Minute Workouts

Repeat workout Week 3 exercises and rep scheme.

Week 5: 20 Minute Workout
  • Monday: 20 Jumping High Knees 20 Pushups 20 Crunches 20 Pushups 15 DB Front Squats
  • Tuesday: 50 Jumping Jacks 15 DB Squats 12 Standing DB Presses 20 Alt DB Lunges 20 DB Snatches
  • Wednesday: 20 Burpees, 40 Jump Lunges, 15 DB Rows 20 Lying Leg Raises 15 Thrusters
  • Friday: 12 Thrusters, 15 Pushups, 50 Jump Rope 20 Crunches 50 Mountain Climbers
  • Saturday: 50 Mountain climbers, 15 Pendley Rows, 14 one arm DB or Kettlebell snatches 15 V-up Crunches 8 (each arm) Alt DB Press

There you have it. A very intense 5 weeks of progressive training that can really help you bring your fitness to the next level. After week 5 you can do one of two things.

  1. Re-start the cycle.
  2. Rotate in the first 2 workouts from this article.

If you opt to re-start the cycle you will need to restructure the exercises to find which were the most demanding. Use more of these in the program. This way you continue to progress. Make sure if you pick the same exercises that you beat your rep count from the last time.

I hope you enjoyed all the workouts I put together in this series. As always if you have any questions about this article and/or anything else related to diet, exercise or supplementation, please post your questions below.

12 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 01/17/2015 - 12:54
Ravi

Love the 15-1, did barbell bi curls/tri kivkback, bench press/flys, shoulder press/front shoulder raises, barbell row/press ups...absolutely wiped me, smashed me to pieces, but I absolutely loved it!! Kept hydrated after each pair of sets and a gulp of protien shake.. Great work out!

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Posted Sat, 10/18/2014 - 11:21
toothpaste

Can you please answer because I would like to get started as soon as possible

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Posted Sat, 10/18/2014 - 00:27
toothpaste

Can you please answer because I would like to get started as soon as possible

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Posted Thu, 10/09/2014 - 18:28
toothpaste

I was wondering for the 21-15-9 method do you change weights for each amount of reps or do you stay with the same one?

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Posted Mon, 09/01/2014 - 10:23
Deborah

Hi Alex, i think your 15-1 Exercise System is great, this layout is exactly what i have always wanted, well
put together, thanks.

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Posted Sun, 09/14/2014 - 04:29
Alex Stewart

Thanks...Glad your enjoying the program

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Posted Sat, 08/23/2014 - 03:01
Orwell

the 15-1 workout how often do you do it in a weeks time.

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Posted Tue, 08/26/2014 - 04:37
Alex Stewart

You can do the 15-1 for each workout if you would like...It is a intensity technique for your training so if done for each workout I would look to change it up affter 2-3 weeks on constantly doing it for every workout
Workouts a week can be around 4-5

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Posted Fri, 08/22/2014 - 11:08
prakash pandey

Hii Alex ! I am training from past few month's but my body is not growing‚ will you please suggest me what should I do and which protein should I take .as you are doing a fantastic job to train people online .

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Posted Sat, 08/23/2014 - 13:24
Alex Stewart

Hey Prakash,

Nutrition is going to be key for putting on size. Here is an article that will help you with the food to eat
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/muscle-building-shopping-list...
Regarding Protein try this one out: NutriWhey
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/store/nutriwhey.html

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Posted Fri, 08/22/2014 - 03:04
Constantinos Co...

Hi Alex! These looks to be GREAT workout methods, but i am a bit confused. In the 15-1 method, i pick up a set of two exercises and then that's it for the day or after i have completed them i can do a set of two other exercises, that target different muscle groups?

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Posted Fri, 08/22/2014 - 10:05
Alex Stewart

That is how it is designed though for advanced lifters they can try another set of exercise once they are through the first round though if you do the first round with minimal to no rest like it is designed you might find you are done after the one round like most experience.....Good Luc