top of page

Turning Minimal into Maximal

When approached by a banged up rugby player in his 40’s, I was asked how he can train in home with minimal kit and get strong for the upcoming season.The gym he uses is a commercial affair and has very little free weight and no free bars, dumbbells only. Which was handy or when it came to recommending a program, here it is:

Hi Alan, Here’s how to make the most of a ladder specialisation program. Doing this will result in very fast gains in strength and power, and as the volume increases through the program your work capacity (muscle endurance/recovery) will also get a kick. I first came across ladders courtesy of Pavel Tsatsouline in his excellent book Enter The Kettlebell (more on that here:

I got great results with this type of program to get back into training from my back injury (I used one arm push ups (great core workout) and weighted Pull ups)and also to move up to pressing the larger kettlebells.

For you we chose the Clean & Press, Pull up and Split Squat as our exercise selection. For a ladder program, that’s more than enough. Now here’s how it works: -Train no more than 3 days per week on non consecutive days (eg mon/wed/fri). -Pick a weight you can lift for 5 reps. -Assign One Hard, one med and one easy day. Eg Mon-Hard, Wed-Easy, Fri-Med -Start with 3 ladders of up to 3 reps (1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3) as follows: On Hard day go all out (1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3) On Med Day stop one short (1,2/1,2/1,2) On easy day Stop 2 short (1/1/1)

Aim for 5 ladders of 5 reps (1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4,5/etc), when you reach this point increase the weight and go back to 3 of 3.

Each week add a set until your doing 3 ladders of 5, then start adding reps Week 4 Hard (1,2,3,4/1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3) Week 5 Hard (1,2,3,4/1,2,3,4/1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3)

When all sets are up to 4, start working on 5’s: Hard (1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4,5) Med (1,2,3,4/1,2,3,4/1,2,3,4/1,2,3,4/1,2,3,4) Easy (1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3)

Only complete perfect reps, always quit a set before failure. We don’t train to fail, we train to succeed.

If your schedule forces you to take a break, take it and start back with the hard day. Enjoy, and don’t blame me if your friends and colleagues start asking you what steroids you’re taking.

All the best Dave / +353 087 672 6090 subscribe to our newsletter simply send a blank email to:

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page