Building Muscle and Getting Ripped…In a month.. With limited equipment

Hi everyone,

I got this message from a good friend of mine who is going away on holiday in a month. After speaking with him further he said he could train 4x a week. As this isn’t a traditional type of question I thought I’d write a full response for the website, as it is possible to build muscle without any access to ‘real’ weights or minimal resistance.

“Schoffs, I’ve got a month till I hit a beach holiday. I have limited equipment in my flat (i.e. none) and just want to build muscle doing exercises at home. Any ideas?
I do have access to this outdoor gym:

Firstly, let’s consider the equipment at the outdoor gym… There’s a leg press, lat pulldown, bench, pull up / dip station and chest press. All the machines (As far as I can tell, I’ve never been) involve using your bodyweight as the resistance of the machine, for example the chest press said you’d use about 30% of your bodyweight as resistance.

Because of this, I’m not sure it’s going to be too useful for my friend’s needs, but I suggest going along and trying it out and seeing how the resistance stacks up.

Pushups - James Schofield

With just 4 weeks to go, the most important thing to focus on will be consistent resistance training, coupled with hard HIIT circuits. (Build muscle / burn fat).

I would prescribe training Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. You want to focus on workouts that develop the maximum amount of muscle in the quickest time possible, but with a preference to certain motions to allow optimum performance the following days. Research has shown in trained individuals, skeletal protein synthesis is elevated for up to 36 hours after a session. (48 hours in those untrained.) In simple terms, giving yourself the whole weekend off is too long.


  • Day 1 – Push
    Day 2 ? Pull
    Day 3 ? Push & Core
    Day 4 ? Legs

Before you all go crazy, yes there are two push days. His focus is to look good, which all things being equal means chest, shoulders and abs.

3*10 = 3 sets of 10 reps. All rest is 1 minute.
// = superset, perform both exercises immediately before resting

Monday -

Explosive Push Up: 3* to failure.
Slow eccentric Chest Press: 3*12 Explosive concentric (pushing), 5 second negative. (I assume the weight will be too easy but there’s not a lot we can do about that, shoot for 10 second negatives if it’s too easy)
Slow eccentric push up: 3*10 5 second lowering portion on every rep
Tricep dips using the bench: 3* to failure / 1 minute rest

Sprints (Maximum Effort) 10 * 7-9 second sprints / 45 seconds rest per sprint

Tuesday –

Pull Up 3* to failure // Chin Up 3* to failure. 1 min 30 rest.
Slow eccentric Lat Pulldown 3*12 (pull down fast, release the weight up slowly) 5 second release portion on every rep.
Negative Chin up – (only the lowering portion of a chin up, jump and catch the bar to start high.) 3*5 reps 10 second lowering portion on each rep.

HIIT: Maximum effort -

3* 30 seconds of mountain climbers / 30 seconds rest
3* 10 burpees with full pushup. / 1 minute rest

Thursday –

Chest Press 3*10 // Dips 3* to failure
Slow eccentric push up 3*10 5 second lowering portion on every rep
Core Circuit 2 sets total: V Sit 10 // Side Plank L 45 seconds // Side Plank R 45 seconds
Burpees with full push up 3*10 / 1 minute rest

Sprints (Maximum Effort) 10 * 7-9 second sprints / 45 seconds rest per sprint

Saturday -

Leg Press 3*10 // Squat Jumps 3*10 / 1 minute rest
Bodyweight Squats 3*12 with 5 second lowering portion / 1 minute rest
Bulgarian Split Squats using bench 3*20x leg / 1 minute rest
Standing Long Jump 3*10 / 1 minute rest

3* 30 seconds of mountain climbers / 30 seconds rest
3* 10 burpees with full pushup. / 1 minute rest

So there you have it. If you have any questions, give me a shout on the James Schofield Training Facebook Group

Don’t forget to hit up the Twitter @JSchofTraining