From what I hear, a “Courage Corner” is a corner of a home, garage or any structure that has equipment casually stored. No elegance or organization to it. It’s simply a stack of tools to get the job done if you are so motivated.

Many home trainees have such an area. Easy to buy and collect, often collecting dust in favor of the sight seeing at LA Fitness or YouFit. Most often used for curls prior to having a beer.

The solution is a workout or template that doesn’t smash you, but allows you to improve. It can’t be just chest or arms or butt. It has to be a total body workout. You have minimal gear and you have to exploit it maximally. The answer is in ladders and simple, multiple joint, exercise. When planned and sequenced properly they can produce great results. Let us first define Ladders.

 “The Ladder is a set/rep progression volume and fatigue management scheme that a friend and I came up with some time ago after reading some other literature on strength training.  We wanted to work on the “skill” aspect of strength training, while remaining as fresh as possible.” — Steve Shafley

This definition is pulled from an article written by Steve for Beyond Strong newsletter. The full article is here –

The good news is.. Steve is writing a book on it and the material will be ground breaking. Take note of the following meme if you believe that.

The next understanding is the exercises themselves. The will be the Clean & Press with a single kettlebell, the pull up and the airborne lunge. Let’s first address the C & P and the modifications I suggest.

The clean and press methodology I recommend is more of the traditional style. It’s designed for efficiency and work capacity. There is no need to discuss, “styles”. I’m simply choosing this one. Your mileage may vary. This form of clean and press is demonstrated by Mitch Blackburn and instructor by his Dad, Ken Blackburn. It makes use of hips, legs, thoracic flexion/extension and both pulling/pushing. Here is the video.

The second exercise is the pull up. There is nothing exotic about this. Most apartments have doorways for a chinning bar. An overhand, parallel or supinated grip is fine. You can alternate through these approaches as well.

The third drill is the airborne lunge or shrimp squat. This drill is in many ways, superior to the single leg, pistol squat in mechanics. There are three variations, from easiest to hardest. If they become too easy you can load them with external weight as well.

Shawn Mozen doing version #1

Shawn Mozen doing version #2

Shawn Mozen doing version #3

The variations make it quite challenging. However if you have ample leg power, you might need a bit more stimulus. Here is a link to Max Shank’s explanation and selling points on the airborne lunge. There is a Youtube clip of him doing a weighted version. It might be suitable for you too.

Now the organizational process. This workout is a circuit but an UNTIMED ONE. Running exercise to exercise is not recommended. It’s about being able to do the work and not training against the clock. In reality it is about sequence and not circuit. REST AS MUCH AS YOU NEED BETWEEN AND AFTER THE SEQUENCE. These exercises follow the old “Enter The Kettlebell” programming with the variation in Clean & Press form and the addition of the airborne lunge.

1. Set up the gear and some padding for your knee during the lunges. You can time the whole workout to get an idea of how long it takes. Don’t dwell on this however.

2. The sequence is one C & P, R+L, One pull up, one airborne lunge, L+R. Then Two, and so on. You need only take the pull ups up to 3 reps if you like. The pressing and lunges should be done for all five sets. At some point when your work capacity is higher, the pull ups can be done, 1-2-3-4-5 or whatever your workout is for the day. The idea is to allow your body to adapt, don’t force it. Do as much work without going to muscular or cardiovascular failure that you can that day, spreading the workload over as many muscles as possible.

3. You should do this three times per week. By all means break in with shorter workouts of 1-2 or 1-2-3 for 2, then 3, then 4, then 5, sequences. Your workout will be, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 eventually. Then it will be 1-2-3-4 for all five rungs. Then 1-2-3-4-5 for five rungs. That will be your peak workout. Remember, like I said, you can skip the chins for 4-5, unless you like the pain. The workouts will be listed in your journal as “hard”, “medium” and “light”. This is subjective. You may choose 5 rungs of 1-2 for your easy workout. The key is finding the sweet spot that is developmental but not detrimental.

4. Off days should be light activity for recovery. I’d highly recommend hiking or biking, then some general stretching or more athletically oriented yoga. Take at least one day off per week from all activities.

5. If the pull ups are not easy for you, by all means use a suspension device for a variation that fits your current strength level. If they are TOO easy for you, especially after a while, add weight starting with 5 to 10 pounds. The airborne lunges may be a bear too. You can scale them by limiting the range of motion with the couch or yoga block or any soft apparatus below the rear knee to limit the downward path.

6. Push this program for 3 weeks. Then do one week of not going over 1-2 or 1-2-3. That is your back off week. You can increase the weight of the kettlebell when 1-2-3-4-5 for all 5 rungs is done in proper form and you literally “own” that weight. Increase the resistance on the pull ups when it’s too easy. You may just choose to continue the ladder and do 4 and 5 reps. The airborne lunge will give you ample feedback on moving to the more difficult variation.

7. What should be your goal? Well let me pull this one out of my ass. How about C & P ladder with a 40 kg, Pull Ups with a 25 lb plate and weighted Airborne Lunges? With minimal equipment, focusing on basics and adding consistency.. you can do amazing things.

So this workout is called Corner Courage or #Cornercourage . Try it and tell me what you think.