Spartacus, Eat Your Heart Out – Home Strength Workout!

by Marianne  - March 6, 2011

Hi all,

I am officially on a mission to get everyone doing some sort of strength training from home. Even though I supplement my own training with barbell lifts and dips in the gym, it IS possible to build considerable strength without stepping foot in a gym. If you do have a membership already, then I would highly recommend you use it for the heavier lifts you cannot do at home. This way of training, is like adding strings to your bow, the more ya got the further you will go.

The best thing about this type of training is that it yields results quicker than anything else. Just from changing my style over the last week or so I am noticing a big difference in both performance and how I feel – it’s great πŸ™‚ Yesterday I rejoined Queen’s University Gym (as a graduate, I get a better rate), because they are the only place near by that have proper squat racks, and lifting platforms, and hyper-extension apparatus. There are great places to train in Northern Ireland – it’s finding them that’s a pain i the butt!!

Anyway, I’ll get on with the task in hand here, before I waffle myself into a stupor and post this without including the workout LOL!!

When I filmed this workout I was too short of time/lazy :/ to include the demos of modifications for beginners and intermediates, but there is kinda a good reason for it too. For this workout, the exercise technique does NOT change, what will change is whether you are using body weight or lighter weights, the reps you do (depending on the weight) and the time intervals. For this reason, the Beginner and Intermediate Workout Breakdowns will be merged in to one “Modifications” section below. It is the most effective way I can explain this workout. As I know there will be people who are at an intermediate level, but don’t have heavy enough weights available to make this a strength workout, the option is there to do a higher rep range, making it a muscular endurance workout. That unfortunately, is one disadvantage to home strength workouts πŸ™

If strength training is something you are interested in, then either join a gym or invest in heavier weights. You won’t progress by using the same weights forever. Ensuring you have mastered the technique, your goal should be to increase the load and thus, your strength. Ever since I saw this table on Bret Contreras’s blog about Female Strength Levels, I have wanted to push beyond what I am currently doing, because I know I have more in the tank. Another point to all those ladies (and men) out there – let yourself be competitive, it can unleash a whole other level of strength.Β  The moment you tell yourself “I will never be able to do that” is the moment you will never know. Self doubt, and even letting others’ doubt affect you, will extinguish that fire and drive to come out on top.Β  When I say competitive I don’t mean the nasty kind, when you stare across the room at other girls with evil eyes trying to intimidate them out of a lift, or give you a chance to show off (although the thought of other people watching has an amazing effect), just have a goal and let that doubt turn into determination, and you will surpass even your own expectations.

For me, I am guilty of setting goals at the top and I am very/too competitive.Β  In life, I told myself I wanted to come home with a First Class Honors Degree, and I did. I told myself I wanted to do a Masters, which I have applied for this year (at 28 years old, I need to choose a subject of expertise), so it WILL happen. Who knows maybe a few years down the line, I will start my PhD?? Fitness and strength-wise, about 2-3 years ago, I was in the beginner column for all of the exercises below. Now I am hitting into Advanced and even a few in Elite!!! The girl who, 18 months ago, couldn’t even clench her butt because of severe pain – can now Sumo and Romanian Deadlift over 200lbs!!Β  This is not me boasting or trying to fish for compliments – I am illustrating how important determination, being “a little” competitive and setting goals are. Don’t settle for less especially if YOU feel you can do better. If I can do it….

Does this count as a rant??

Right, seriously Marianne what about the workout!

Workout Breakdown

The set-up is similar to the last workout, as in there are 3 sets of 4 main exercises and in between each exercise there is a “Bridging Combo” of 2 upper body strength exercises.Β  After Set 3 of each exercise, you complete the Bridging Combo. After the 4th and final Bridging Combo, you then have 18 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training πŸ˜€ Do you hate me yet??

Within the Tables below, you will see, in brackets, the weights I used and the reps I managed with in a recommended range.Β  The Bridging Combo Table is only included once in the breakdown, but remember to add it in after EVERY section mentioned in the table (after set 3 of that exercise):

[table id=12 /]

[table id=13 /]

Now, the interval training section. Set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 18 cycles of 15 seconds rest and 45 seconds effort and complete 6 rounds of the following 3 exercises. My reps per exercise are below:

[table id=14 /]

What a workout!! Loved this. Doing the double Kettlebell single leg deadlifts allowed me to get the benefit of heavier weights without going to the gym. However, it is important to remember that single-leg exercises are not enough on their own. You need to work your body bilaterally as well. Both sides of the body need to become strong at working together. Unilateral movements are good for correcting strength/stability imbalances etc but, it is in combination with bilateral exercises, that will yield the best result.

In total, I did 20 pull ups and 40 close push ups πŸ˜€ Not too shabby eh?


Section 1 – Exercise Modifications

  • Start with Body Weight only, to build up a good level of mobility and range of movement.
  • Progress to Kettlebell Goblet Squat, maintaining good form.
  • Now try KB Single Front Squat and get used to having the KB in the rack position.
  • Also begin to practice the Kettlebell Dead Clean (single then double), as you will need this skill when you perform the Double KB Front Squat.

Section 2 – Exercise Modifications

  • Body Weight Single-Leg Deadlift – will build range of movement, activate and develop stabiliser muscles, and core stability.
  • Progress to one weight and then a gradual progression with the load.

Section 3 – Exercise Modifications

  • Beginners, do Military Press only with a light Kettlebell. Feel free to practice your Clean.
  • Progress to the Clean and Press Combo, then increase the weight.
  • See tutorials on The Clean and The Military Press.

Section 4 – Exercise Modifications

  • Double Leg Hip Thrusts from the floor, progress to Single-leg Hip Thrust from the floor.
  • Then add in the benches/ see here for home variation @ 2 mins 46 seconds.

Rep Range Modifications

  • Body Weight – 12 – 15 reps each set
  • Lighter Weights – 12 – 15 reps each set
  • As the weight progresses and you cannot manage 12 – 15 reps, then take a note of where you stop eg 10 reps, and aim for 8 – 10 each set (if the weight remains the same)
  • If you are able to progress the weight each set, then you should not be able to manage as many reps. It may be 6 – 8 reps the next set, or as low as 3 – 5 reps. This is fine.
  • If you are still able to do more reps, then do them.
  • Try performing the exercise slower, to make it seem heavier – having the muscle under tension for longer will activate more muscle fibres.

Bridging Combo Modifications:

  • Push ups from your knees or toes
  • Assisted pull Ups or, Horizontal Pull Ups, using 2 chairs and a broom stick (see Steve Cotter demonstrate it here at 1 min 28 seconds)
  • Alternatively substitute the Pull Ups with Kettlebell Rows, following the rep range advice above

Interval Training Section

  • Choose your Burpee “Stage” as shown in the Tutorial for Burpees
  • Two-Handed KB Swing for everyone
  • Side to Side Step Ups – use alternative exercise like High Knees, Mountain Climbers, Forward Facing Step Ups, Skipping – something non-technically-challenging that can be done quickly to elevate the heart rate.

Time Modifications


  • Reduce the rounds to 4 for example
  • Increase the intervals to 30/30, rest/effort
  • Separate the rounds, so set the timer for 3 cycles of 30/30 then rest for longer between rounds, before starting the timer again.


  • Reduce number of rounds.
  • Increase interval times to 20/40, rest/effort.
  • Separate the rounds, so set the timer for 3 0r even 6 cycles of 20/40 then rest for longer between rounds, before starting the timer again.

I hope I have covered everything. Leg me know if there is anything that needs clarified.Β  Have fun with this workout and don’t get mad with me for the double front squats, deadlifts and HIIT at the end πŸ˜€




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  1. Hi!

    Just to make sure I get the female strength chart; 45 X 10 means 10 reps with a 45lbs weight?

    I will try this new workout this week for sure!

    Thanks πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Marianne

    Sorry im leaving you messages all over the place, lol.

    Can i ask is it ok to use two different weights when doing this workout as i do not have two the same weight?

    (went for a cliff run with my dog today and the sun was out and we both loved it, im finding my fitness getting better as i can run further now and manage to run up a few more chanllenging steps!!!)

    Thank you once again for your time.


    1. Using two different weights is probably best for exercises were you have the KBs racked or are holding them like a suitcase. For the likes of the rows (especially the renegade rows were you need to balance your body weight on them) I would not recommend using 2 differing weights. If they are pro-grade bells, it might be possible (as they are all the same size no matter the weight), but standard bells will fall over easily. This is why I suggested splitting the double exercises in two.

      You can do double front squats, deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, reverse lunges etc with 2 different weights, remember to swap them over to evenly work the core and each side πŸ™‚ Hope this helps.

      Your run sounds lovely πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Mickela. Those girls are amazing!!! Very impressive. Need to work on my range of movement for my arm tucking LOL πŸ˜€ Will practice at tonights class – there are always loads of push presses – thanks Andrew!!! πŸ˜›

      1. OMG, these women are amazing! Thank you for the links Mickela! Now I have to work on form as per the exceptional tutorial. Can you imagine what these women are doing? I was looking at their youtube page — 5 minutes of Jerks with 2 16 Kg bells for 63 reps! Truly amazing!

        ~ Gillian

        1. Glad you guys liked the vids. I really learned a lot from watching these ladies. They rock for sure. It has helped me a lot alongside my trainer.

  3. I was so dreading doing this workout! I have been doing wall squats for 8 months and I now can get bottomed out all the time, so I thought I would finally try it with weights, but my numbers weren’t the greatest:

    1. Double Front Squat (10+12Kg) x 10 low and slow, (10 + 12Kg) x 8 low and slow, (12 + 14Kg) x 6 low

    CG Pushups x 10 Pullups x 4+1 ( I put a toe on the ground so that was sort of cheating)

    2. SLDL (10+12 Kg) x 12, (12 +14 Kg) x 10, (14 +16 Kg) x 10 — that’s all the weights I have, but could have gone up!

    CG pushups x 10 Pullups x 6

    3. Hanging C&P 10Kg x 12 each side, 12 Kg R x 8, L x 2 +6 negatives, 14 Kg R x 3, L 3 negatives

    CG pushups x 10, Pullups x 5

    4. Single leg Hip Thrusts x 15 x 3 each side

    CG Pushups x 10 Pullups x 5

    18 x 15/45
    1. Burpees 10, 10, 11, 11, 13, 12
    2. Swing 14 Kg 28, 27, 27 ,28, 28, 27
    3. Side to side step ups 40, 40, 40, 39, 40, 41

    I did not want to do the interval portion at all, but 6 rounds? Urgh… somehow I got through it! I hated it so much, you can see I actually speeded up a little! That is the end of weights for me for a few days, as I ripped open the new skin on my blister that I got from my massive snatch day on thursday! Rats.

    As always, this was a fantastic way to start the day! All the stiffness and aches and klunks seemed to have been worked out and I can get on with the day in a good mood! Pity about my blister though.

    Thanks for another great one Marianne!

    ~ Gillian

    1. Had a wee chuckle when you added “I put a toe on the ground so that was sort of cheating” πŸ˜€ You’re so honest.

      The cardio was a really evil twist, and 6 rounds was a nightmare, but I guess I ran out of creativity after putting the other section together. Builds mental endurance if nothing else πŸ˜›

      Sorry about your blister. Don’t know how you managed all those pull ups with it being so sore, my hands hurt in sympathy πŸ™

      Enjoy your recovery – let it heal!


  4. Hey Marianne,
    Loved this workout. My second 45lb Kb arrived this week so good timing.
    As for my own performance,
    Front squats, 45lbs, 12, 12 and 10.
    Single leg dead lifts, 45lbs 12,12,11 (R)10,10 and 7 (L)
    Military press 45lbs 12,12,10 (R)12,11,9 (L)
    Hip Thrust (on the floor, both feet down)45lbs 20,20,20
    Pushups (close,off the KB) 10,10,10,10
    Pullups 8.8,6,8
    The interval, i did mountain climbers instead of burpees..
    I lost count on the tend to zone out and work by the bell. Great workout!
    Problems I had..on the single leg, my left leg is definitely not as strong as my right.I also had to touch down a few times to regain balance on the left leg. The squats, first set not as deep as I’d like,but very pleased with the next 2.Maybe the extra weight helps me get way, I’ll take it.
    Like Marty said in his post, about “being competitive” seeing you do battle with “Nemesis” was an added incentive. When struggling with my left side dead lifts, I thought ” geez, if she can tough it out, I can tough it out” (of course my inner dialogue is more colorful and would violate some forum rules I’m sure).
    Thanks for sharing that. It helped me get it done.

    1. I had to edit out my actual words when I was pacing LOL, but the body language said it all πŸ˜€

      What might improve your single-leg deadlifts is to really stretch out the hammies in between sets. Also from time to time, add in bodyweight ones to work on the stabilising muscles. It may help. But glad you are seeing an improvement in your squats.

      BTW I have been busy here but I haven’t forgotten about your forum question πŸ™‚ Will reply asap.


  5. Loved the workout Marianne! I have always believed in strength training for women…it changes your body like nothing else. I love that you have so many ST workouts with kettlebells since I am now completely addicted (to your blog AND to kettlebells ;~) I’m just nowhere near as strong as I used to be but am determined to get back there. I am expecting 2x18kg KB’s in the mail as well as a 14kg. So before long I should be able to work out with them..HA! thanks to you for all the great information you provide every day. I’m a nurse too and I know how difficult it is to come home from work and exercise. You are an inspiration.

    1. Thanks Star πŸ™‚ Still love the name!

      Thing must be goin well to have ordered your 18kg KBs – Well done you πŸ˜€ I’m lucky to be oof on holiday right now, so I can have a break. It wears you down after a long stretch of crappy nights. Another week and a bit off – yipee!! πŸ˜›

      What area of nursing you in?

      1. I’m in Medical Surgical area. I used to do Cardiac a long time ago but got very burned out. There is just enough excitement in MedSurg and it is a very busy unit (I do 12 hour shifts and they just fly by!) I don’t know how you work nights. I tried that once and got very goofy after awhile, it messed up my whole being in every way…not good.

        Yes, I ordered the 18’s but I mostly work out with the 12’s now. That’s why I got a 14kg as well. I did actually do the single leg dead lifts with my 22 yesterday though! Can’t get it over my head though, not even with 2 arms, LOL. But I can also do swings with it-a few-so I’m progressing πŸ™‚ *

        1. Star, MedSurg would be very busy I would think. At the minute with med/surg targets, our cardiac ward gets filled with outliers more and more, so we see everything now plus our cardiac surgery patients. On top of that we are getting more and more thoracic surgical patients too (as the thoracic ward have had their beds cut). Ah politics!! THAT is why I do nights mainly. I can’t be bothered listening to half the crap the day staff have to, trying to deal with the managers, doctors, physios and visitors – everyone is generally complaining about something. I just want to come in, do my job, and go home. Even though being in charge involves some politics and stress, it’s great experience. The 12hour shifts really do fly past though!

          As long as you still see progression πŸ™‚ Nice job with the 22 πŸ˜€


  6. Interesting that you came up with this today… I saw a reference to a single rep strength test called Rippetoe (after the author, not after what happens to you!)

    This also gives you some idea of where you stand with certain basic exercises, and it is broken down according to weight and sex. It does require that you have access to bar bells and racks, although, if you click around, there is a calculator to determine your one rep max based on multiple reps.

    I haven’t tried lots of pushups in a row for a while (they are so boring), but it is satisfying to think that I am advanced or elite in at least a couple of things. Brett also has an age cutoff of 50, so I guess I get a few extra points there as well!

    I’ll have to get my head in the right place to do this workout — so this will be on the schedule either monday or tuesday. I think I’ll be doing about half of the weight that Marianne uses! She’a an Amazon woman!

    ~ Gillian

    1. Gillian, had a look at these charts, pretty good to compare – cheers. You’re a machine when it comes to pull ups and push ups !!

      Enjoy the workout πŸ˜€

  7. I totally loved this workout but whew! I think I did it wrong, I was doing the bridge combo after each exercise, but I was doing it like this, Double KB Front Squats, 10 Close Pushs, 5 Pullups, Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift, right then left, 10 Close Push ups, 5 pullups, Kettlebell Hang Clean to Miltary Press, right then left, 10 Close push ups,5 pull ups, Single Leg Hip Thrusts right and left, 10 Close push ups, 5 pull ups. Then I did two more rounds of that so by the end I did 120 push ups, and 60 pullups for the bridge combo. I was thinking during it man this is a lot of push ups and then at the end there were burpees(oh crap I did burpee push ups too!) So then I re read how you had it written and thought geez I think I did too much. But maybe not.
    Either way it killed! I could never hate you, you always push to keep it challenging that’s what I love! I’m very competitive too so I know what you mean. I constantly want to challenge myself to just keep getting better and stronger. Now I just wish I could get myself a few heavier bells and I’d be set for a while. Oh well hopefully soon!

      1. Aimee, we always knew you were strong, but 60 pullups and 120 pushups! After ALL the other work too? You are amazing!!!

        I don’t think even Marianne would have been so evil as to have done that to us! πŸ˜‰

        ~ Gillian

        1. I know!! I really thought she was nuts! But it was me not reading the table right duh!! Needless to say my back hates me today lol. My own fault. I wanted help getting better at the pull ups I guess this was my push! That, and like Marianne was talking about the competitive thing, something inside me just makes me go I have to finish regardless even if it kills me!

  8. Um, this one kind of scares me… but in a good way!

    Your close push ups and pull ups are a thing of beauty – you make it look so easy!! Can I ask, how long did it take you after you started training seriously to be able to do unassisted pull-ups? I know everyone has their different abilities and all, but just out of curiosity? I’m working on it, but can still only manage one before the chair comes out to help me. πŸ™

    Also, I love how the beautiful multi-coloured collection of kettlebells is like a wee audience cheering you on during your crazy metabolic circuit – even Nemesis! Bless you!

    Thank you for being an inspiration. I look forward to checking your site for new workouts, and going through the back catalogue of great posts in the meantime. Forget that other site that shall remain nameless — I am officially a myomytv convert.


    1. Thank you Lauren, that means a lot. Think myomytv is in a different league now to the site that will remain nameless πŸ˜€

      Right, for the pull ups: When I first tried my first pull up (about 2 and a half years a go), I could just about do 1. Andrew would then help assist the rest by supporting some of my weight with my feet pressing into his hands. Now, I can do (on a good day) 6 full pull ups in a row (parallel and under-hand grip). You may think, that’s not much progress in 2 years, and you’re probably right. The thing about pull ups, is you have to keep practicing them. I have never been consistent with my pull up training and so, very quickly I was back to square 1 or 2 LOL. Now I have the bar, I want to reach 10 in a row. If you have the bar at home, then keep practicing everyday. When you walk past, do your 1 pull up and, before you know it, you’ll do 2 without a chair, then 3 and so on. I see you found the forum post on pull ups – that will help! πŸ™‚

      Keep up the good work.


  9. Hi there,

    I have been following you for a little while now and I have to say that you are producing amazing workouts I especially love this one. I too love working out with my kettlebells. I only wish that I had as much variety as you do, they are quite expensive! But I have a birthday coming up so I might get myself so more.

    I must also compliment you on not being afraid of lifting heavy weights, so many woman are so afraid of bulking up that they don’t realize how incredible difficult is to do that. I have recently incorporated heavier weights into my workouts and boy is it doing the trick! Anyways I wanted to say keep up the good work and thanks for proving that there are strong beautiful women out there.

    All the best,


  10. Hi Marianne,

    just one word – K.I.L.L.E.R πŸ™‚ that was a great workout, burpees and side to sides in the end .. uhhhhhhhhh.. that hurt!

    You are a great ambassador for female strength training, I totally love your workouts.


    PS: Well, in the end I wrote more than one word, I’ve added a couple of more to make myself clear

  11. Hi Marianne, this looks like an awesome workout. Go you for beating that 20kg!!! That must have taken a lot! I’m a bit behind on your workouts, can’t wait to try the last couple of new ones.


    1. Ya know, I can’t remember who has all the great names for their Kettlebells here. My 20kg is defo called NEMESIS!!!! Or maybe it’s my left arm ??? Either way, something was trying to trip me up LOL! This was a great workout. Cheers Sarajane

  12. On the chart you list in the beginners column BW what does that mean if you don’t mind?
    Today is crazy cardio day in the rain yeah bridge run. I already did my turkish get ups.

  13. Looking forward to giving this a try! Loved the paragraph about “letting yourself be competitive”. It’s amazing how often I find myself settling into a comfort zone, doing the same weights, expecting new results – I’ll have to refer back to this whenever I need a wake-up call!

    1. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to “fit in” or whatever, but breaking out of comfort zones IS the only way to get changes. Being competitive helps drive the change. Even if it’s a competition with yourself – you will strive for more πŸ™‚

  14. Hi, I’m MichaΕ‚ from Poland. I found your workouts on youtube a few days ago. I tried two of them and it was hell – so I like it very much πŸ˜‰ but I have question: do you take breaks between sets and if how long?

    1. Hi, the breaks are an individual thing, but sometimes it can take a couple of minutes to recover. Depends how heavy you go. Listen to your body πŸ™‚ Have fun!

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