How to Weight Train without Weights

This post is dedicated to people who “don’t believe in weights” or don’t have access to a weight room due to economic or geographic reasons.

People are quick  to say Carl Lewis or decathlete Daley Thompson never did weights, but they are quick to add they did “plyometrics”.  Allan Wells used the speed bag instead.

The “problem” with body weight exercises is people think immediately of circuit training for their lactate tolerance days.  Why not?  Circuit Training is demanding and you always finished feeling you did a good hard workout.  You can follow some of my circuit training sample workouts here.

If you want to lose fat, get a 6 pack abs, and just get fit, I recommend checking out workouts by Toronto’s Craig Ballantyne and his Turbulence Training workouts.   (He did a bootcamp workout one recently, which is the “rage” in fitness gyms today, next to CrossFit).

Weight Training without Weights


When it comes to weight training, people brag think about absolute strength.  Like age, absolute strength is just a number.  Sure, I could bench press 315lb (140kg or 3 plates on each side), but so what?.  It’s more than that.  You need dynamic strength.  You need explosive strength.  You need speed strength.

In the weight room, we don’t do 1 RM (one rep max) anymore due to potential injuries.  We do doubles or triples.  (i.e. 2 reps or 3 reps).  If you are a high jumper, you want to jump 7 feet once, not jump 1 foot seven times, right?

Doing 3 sets of 50 pushups is a good workout, but it won’t translate in the 100 meters (400m, maybe, as it is good for lactate tolerance).  You could try spider man pushups (YouTube video here), but then 3 sets of 20 becomes fairly easy afterwards, at least for me.

Thus a good workout is 8 x 3 reps (triples) with 1 min recovery, but focus on speed.  You can use a GymBoss and go 10 seconds on, 60 seconds off, too.

So you want to do 8 x 3 reps (triples) Push Ups with 1 min recovery, while clapping your hands on the upstroke.  Beginners can simply generate enough force and lift your hands off the mat.  If you are really good, you can try the triple clap pushup (YouTube video here).  You need a lot of force and speed to get your hands off the ground.

Another good explosive speed pushup is landing on boxes shoulder width like Jacko Gill.  Jacko is making headlines as a 16 year Kiwi who recently threw over 20 meters in the 16lb Senior shot put (YouTube video here)   He has double two-hour sessions on weight and strength training a day and “only” 30 minutes a day on shot put technique.  My only complaint is he elected not to continue high school after finishing Year 11.  He may grow as an athlete, and the size of his wallet, but he won’t grow as a person.  (YouTube video here)

For legs, you can do the Romanian split squats otherwise known as the Borzov squats in track and field (made famous by Valery Borzov).  This is squatting on one leg with the other leg on a bench behind you.  You can do these alone, with dumbbells or kettlebells, and with a jump up for explosive speed.  (YouTube video here)

If you don’t own weights, you can always use a 1 gallon or 4 liter milk jug and fill it water.  That’s 4 kilos!  Or buy a 20Kg bag of basmati rice.   At least it won’t go to waste.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • i dont understand how dropping out is wrong possibly the reasons may be wrong but there is nothing wrong with the actions