Home Workout

We are all adapting to our new circumstances of being home a lot more. I like exercising, so I’m very grateful neither the state of Colorado nor the city of Boulder have closed the outdoors. Bike rides, trail running, hiking are all still available. Still, there are indoor days when I prefer an old-fashioned workout with weights. I’m no body-builder; I prefer many reps with lighter weights and getting my heart rate up. For this kind of exercise I historically went to a gym. I have limited equipment at home, so I’ve been adapting with a make-shift solution.

First, a pair of home-made dumbbells that my father and his colleague welded over 25 years ago while I was in college. I think it’s 1/4″ scrap metal welded into hollow box shapes connected with 1″ steel dowel. Back in college, I used those hollow weights for a time, then after a while I filled the hollow boxes with concrete. Yep, concrete and steel (happy materials for a structural engineer). The dumbbells got rusty over the years, so last weekend I cleaned them down with steel wool and repainted them. (Mark McIntyre is a friend of mine who ran for Boulder City Council last year – here I’m recycling his yard sign for painting.)

I also have a pair of 10lb steel hand weights that I inherited long ago. I can use one weight, or grip both at the same time for a 20-lb dumbbell. Those steel+concrete dumbbells weigh in at 31.5-lbs so I have options for 10-lbs, 20-lbs, and 30-lbs. (I do wish I had a 40-lb option, so if anyone can think of a safe way to lash the 10-lb and 30-lb weights together, I’m all ears.)

For a bench, I’ve gone super-high-tech with a 2×10 plank and two 4×4 blocks. I have no idea why I had these scraps of wood sitting in the garage – I didn’t even need to use a saw to cut lengths, the perfect lengths and sizes were sitting there. I can use these in two positions, horizontal bench press and inclined press. A pair of my son’s old pajama pants makes a perfect headrest.


I’ve found I can get a complete upper body workout with this set-up. If you’re interested in my regimen, I’ve written that up below. I’m curious about what creative ways are you adapting at home?

Johnny’s at-home work out. This usually takes me about 30 minutes.

Part I: Warm-up
I do 4 sets of 5 movements (cardio, lunge, chest, abs, and squat). Each movement is 30 seconds for a total 10 minute warm-up.
Set 1 Cardio: Jumping Jacks
Lunge: Moving Ski Hops
Chest: Moving Push-ups
Abs: Bicycle Sit-ups
Squat: Squat with Jabs

Set 2 Cardio: Mountain Climbers
Lunge: Moving Squats
Chest: Plank Abs Jumps
Abs: Pile Drivers Left
Squat: Squat with Uppercuts

Set 3 Cardio: Mummy Kicks
Lunge: Belt Kicks
Chest: Plank Abs Side Jumps Left and Right
Abs: Pile Drivers Right
Squat: Squat with Attack Jabs

Set 4 Cardio: Jumping Jacks
Chest: Low plank hold
Abs: Russian Twists
Squat: Wall squat hold for 1 minute

Part II: Weights
I do three sets of 6 movements.
Set 1 Flat Bench Convention Press
Bicep Curl
Inclined Press
Overhead Tricep Press
Flat Bench Inner Chest Press
Traps and Deltoid Front and Side Shoulder Extensions

Set 2 Flat Bench Convention Press
Hammer Curl
Inclined Press
Tricep Push-ups
Flat Bench Inner Chest Press
Inclined row

Set 3 Flat Bench Convention Press
Seated bicep curl
Inclined Press
Tricep kick-backs
Flat Bench Inner Chest Press
Shoulder lifts

Part III: Walking Lunges
I picked this up from a P-90X video in their workout for building core strength. 24 reps, 12 left and 12 right. I use the 10-lbs weight and they get very heavy by the end. This one really gets my heart pumping!
It’s an 8-part movement, each movement slow and steady and controlled.
1. Lunge – and at the same time curl both biceps bringing the weights near your chest. The next 7 movements, continue holding that deep lunge in the lower body while moving the weights with the upper body.
2. Kick it back – a tricep kickback with both arms.
3. Sit up tall – as you do, the weights naturally come down by your side.
4. Curl – a straight bicep curl.
5. Press – a shoulder press, push the weights to the sky.
6. Put ’em back – bring the weights back down by your shoulders.
7. Release – bring the weights down by your side.
8. Stand up tall.
Repeat those 8 movements! I usually end up walking all around my house.

It’s a surprisingly good workout, with lots of different things going on so I don’t get bored. It also gets my heart rate up without getting exhausted.

The Graduate Student Thesis

(This fable was found on an anonymous door in an engineering hallway at the University of Wisconsin. Captured in a photograph, transcribed, then forgotten for 20+ years. If anyone knows the origin or author, please let me know so I can credit them.)

One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the fine Continue reading “The Graduate Student Thesis”