Spartacus, Eat Your Heart Out – Home Strength Workout!

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 🙂 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 🙁

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.  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.  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.  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!!  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.  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 😀 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.  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 😀 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.  Have fun with this workout and don’t get mad with me for the double front squats, deadlifts and HIIT at the end 😀



  • March 6, 2011

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