Back when I was a gym-rat, I really didn't think it was possible to get fit without going to a gym. Working out at home just gave me images of someone lying on the ground doing side leg lifts with Jane Fonda or jogging on the spot for a few minutes.
But when life no longer allowed me to get to a gym regularly (i.e. I had kids), I had no choice but to keep active by working out at home. I now much prefer doing it that way. No having to look presentable. No waiting for equipment. No wasted time getting to and from somewhere else. I love it!! And I've realized you don't even need much equipment or space to become a lean mean fighting machine right in your own space.
One of my must-have home gym items is a doorframe pull-up bar. I use ours 2x week when I do my back/shoulder/chest strength workouts. There is really nothing better for building upper body strength! So I was more than happy to review a copy of Doorframe Pull-Up Bar Workouts by Ryan George, a U.S. based personal trainer.
George starts with an introduction to this apparatus and the benefits of doing home workouts. He provides a guide of the major muscles you utilize and different types of movement (i.e. Concentric vs eccentric vs isometric muscle contractions). He lists the components of a healthy lifestyle and addresses common fitness and training misconceptions. George also gives some general nutrition tips and addresses myths related to food and diet.
After an explanation of how to use this book, George gives guidance on how to design a workout program, set goals and get baseline measures for yourself. Next, he provides different workouts based on specific goals, for beginner to advanced ability levels.
Part III of the book describes each exercise and provides photos of each, as well as an explanation of the muscles you are trying to target. Most are pretty straightforward, but he does show one (sideways facing, one hand in front of the other) that I'd never thought of before, and have been doing ever since I caught it. Similarly, he suggests using yoga straps on it to function like a TRX suspension system...I hadn't thought of that either!
One thing I will warn is this, if you don't already have some upper body strength, you may not be able to do even 1 pull up. When I train people I otherwise consider super fit (i.e. people who work out regularly and have been doing so for a long time), I am often surprised by their lack of upper body strength and they are usually unable to do a single pull up. This is especially true of women, unfortunately. But don't be discouraged, you have to start somewhere! He does show modifications (using a chair and resistance bands) that may make it easier for folks not ready to do a full pull-up.
The type of pull-up bar you have will affect how many of these you can do, as will the width of your door. The door in our rec room I use for our bar is quite narrow, so I can't do any of the super wide grips, nor can I do some of the others because of the design of our bar, which sits relatively flush to the doorframe, so I would just bonk my head if I tried them. You actually might want to buy the book first to determine which bar to buy.
What might surprise you is just how many body parts you can work with this baby. Not just back and shoulders, but core, chest, legs, biceps and triceps too! George also includes some exercises not using the pull-up bar, and some cardio moves so you can get a total-body workout with his programs, or for those you put together yourself.
If you have nothing but a doorframe in your home and a wee bit of space, you can still get ripped. Seriously if you are consistent and work on your pull-ups its almost impossible not to see results. So no excuses! If you want a great workout you can do anytime, consider getting a pull-up bar and this book as your guide.
Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher but all the opinions on this blog are my own.