No Equipment Workouts: Rocky Pull-Ups and Hill Running

Quick Tips

This past weekend proved to be a test of my ability to adapt to my surroundings, get my workouts and also do a decent job eating right.

My fiancé and I travelled down to my parent’s new retirement residence in central Wisconsin, where I quickly realized that any chance of a nice Saturday morning jog was out the window.  

It was all hills.  Nothing but hills encapsulated my parent’s little community.

No matter which direction I went out of the driveway, it was a hill both ways.  I know that sounds impossible, but trust me, I would have paid money to have flat ground.

Regardless, it was a scheduled training day and I am fully accountable to myself to get my workouts in when I schedule them, so I went through with it anyways.

The tough part about running terrain that has such great elevation change is that it leaves little time for the body to warm up.  I felt like I was still half-striding by the time I reached the base of the first incline.  In these situations, I typically dial back my pace and turn it into more a of a long slow climb.  Short, choppy steps work well for warming up on inclines, similar to what you would use when climbing a mountain or something similar.  Enough to keep you moving but nothing to set personal records with.

Saturday’s Workout looked like this…

Goal:  Increase heart rate and maintain for time, open up the lungs, enjoy the new sights and sounds.  Here’s what I did:

  • 20 minute run (slower pace accounting for hills)

I have no idea how far I went.  I would presume that I was running somewhere in the neighborhood of 8:30-9:00min/mile pace, but I cannot confirm this.  I didn’t have a heart rate monitor on either, so it was a fairly primitive run for me.  In situations like this, I try and gauge my effort based on respiration and stride technique.  If I feel like I am suffocating or my technique is compensating in some fashion, I dial back the intensity.  I am a chronic over strider during runs, so having the inclines on the hills really forced me to shorten up my stride and increase the frequency.  For me, this is good reinforcement.  

  • 100+ yard incline sprints x3

There was no shortage of hills.  One particular naturally identified itself as a nice location for some incline sprints (aka: a burnout session).  There was limited motor vehicle traffic, which made me feel comfortable about being out there, especially in the countryside.  You might look at the rep count for the hill sprints and feel that it is low.  That’s fair.  But three reps of all out sprints up a 7% incline for 100+ yards will surprise you.  I suggest that you give it a shot sometime.  Focus was placed purely on running posture, arm swing, knee drive and hip extension.  I’ll never be considered for the Olympics, but it’s fun to continue to work on skills.

Sunday’s workout something like this…

Pure bodyweight circuit:


A couple of thoughts:

  • You can do pull-ups pretty much anywhere, but it doesn’t make them more enjoyable.
  • Pull-ups with a poor grip surface places a greater demand on grip strength/endurance, which can effect your performance.  
  • Grip strength is important.
  • Shuttle runs late in a circuit can be the icing on the cake.
  • There is still no great way to pull horizontally without some kind of equipment (suspension trainer, etc).
  • Burpees are one of the greatest total body, space saving movements of all time, and they also suck each and every time.
  • Understanding basic exercise and how to organize it using what you have, where you are, and your current fitness level will keep you on track for life.  


Were my workouts this past weekend ideal?  Absolutely… not.  

I would have rather have been working with my kettlebells and something more structured.  But, I did not have access to that kind of equipment.  I had access to my body-weight, some hills and a phone timer.  The situation was not ideal, but it worked.

Depending on your body composition and fitness level, you could make some serious gains from workouts like this.  I have been training for quite some time, so the point of these workouts for me was basic maintenance.  Something to get me moving and get a daily sweat in.  

But for a beginner or a novice looking to make some bodyfat change or improve performance-like qualities, these two workouts are fantastic.  


Cheers to adapting unideal situations and leveraging your body!





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