T Nation

How to Get a Good W/O in a Crap Gym


Ok, first thing is first, if you ever thought you've seen a nightmare gym, this is it apart from the fact noone wears spandex (thank god)

We have a maximum of 44lb dumbells...I've used up 99% of the weight plates in the gym doing a 115kg deadlift and we don't (I repeat) don't have a squat rack or power rack. Followed by the fact most of the equipment is machine based.

Moving to another gym really isn't all that much of an option.....any ideas on how to get a decent squat workout out of this situation?

BTW:this gym is in a school so it's free...which is the main reason I go there. My home situation is about the same as the gym sans machines and I only have up to 80kg for my barbell...

Any solutions?


Start overhead squatting. The weight won't nearly be an issue, for quite some time. And OH squats are good for all people worldwide, regardless of goal, experience, race, creed, or color.

Other than that, you can consider some unilateral work. Consider starting your workouts with lunges (split squats) or step-ups. After those (which should pre-fatigue your legs), you can hit the squats as normal.


Try overhead squats, front squats, pause squats, squat jumps, split squats, switch leg split jumps. Got any chains????

Snatch grip DL, platform DL, suitcase DL, good mornings, SLDL, pause DL, sumo DL.

Just some basic ideas.



I'd say your best bet is to buy some old used plates from a local used sports equipment place.

Here in the States we have one called "Play It Again Sports" which has weights and bars and just about everything for a steal.

Other than that, and this is a serious recommendation...

Get some sand at the local builder/suppliers, put it into contractor trash bags in 25-50 lb groupings, seal with duct tape, and place them into an old surplus Army duffle bag.

Now, with this set up, squats take on a whole new dimension. Once the bag is up on your back, squat using good form.

The sandbag you've made won't cost you that much, but will benefit you far more than anything else, and you will be able to use it for presses, snatches, rows, you name it.

Eat alot of vegetables, though. Your bones will need the minerals!


You can goodmorning the loaded bar out of a bench. Have a friend guide the bar when putting it back.

You can always clean the weight up and do front squats. Hack squats work as well. DB step-ups. BB step-ups. Lunges. Zercher squats.

Have fun!



Snatch deadlifts from a deficit. I just started these and they are fricken awesome. Judging by how you described your gym, they probably have aerobic steps. Just stand on one and do snatch deadlifts. These should hit the posterior hard. The great thing is, you use much less weight than regular deadlifts, so shouldn't have to worry about not enough weights.

Then you can hit the quads with front squats, just have to clean the weight up.

These are just a start, but can help you build a lower body without a squat/power rack.


If you need an alternative for rows, consider single arm barbell rows. One half of the bar is loaded with plates, the other side empty, you stand sideways, suitcase deadlift it, then perform rows as you usually would. These are excellent for hitting the lats.


Stand on one leg.


Single leg squats or pistols with DBs, those 44 lbs ones should do it for a while, lol.


Convince them to spring on buying some more plates and equipment?

At least have a talk with somebody in the right place about the willingness to have better equipment.

If they would at least like to do so, if they had the cash, then maybe a way can be found.


Do a Steinborn lift:


use the red down arrow on the left-hand side to find a description


Hi and thanks for all the tips...I already hack squat, clean and front squat but some of the lifts, especially the older ones look worth a go and fun at that...

As to the issue of equipment...

My school is hardly going to buy new equipment for the gym. Even in my opinion, it is the wrong place to spend money. As important as training is, the building for my school suffers from considerable damp issues and well is generally a bit old and creaky. I have spoken to the teachers involved and they think similarly. There's very little I can do about it to be fair. I think I'll have to look for some sawhorses and more plates...

Though sandbags look like a great idea, I'll see if I can find a builder around where I live (nappy valley)


Sorry, forgot the best one of them all.
TURKISH GET-UPS.Try just the empty bar first time. Don't even think about using the 44lb. DB unless you want to look really stupid.



Turkish getup? I do them at home...with pathetic dumbell sizes...mainly broomsticks to be honest as I'm just getting used to em


Nappy Valley ? is this some joke term for that place in London ?


nah, nappy valley is an injoke about where I live. There are so many mothers and prams I like to call it nappy valley. I live about 10 minutes walk from Wimbledon Tennis


44 lb dumbells? That's a new one. Some good advice in this thread though.


I thought that was a bit odd too until I realized he was in the U.K.

44 lb = 20 kg


I would say talk to the coach about getting a fund raiser together so you can add to the weights you already have. I am sure the sports teams are needing more weight as well and would be more than happy to get involved. Go to the principal for funding etc.


No offense to anyone involved but I have talked to the teacher and there's one thing I'd like to tell you...according to our PE department head...we don't have enough budget to buy a set of plastic cones, let alone any plates...and as unbelievable as it may sound, our headmaster doesn't give a damn.

Also, most of the people currently in the gym are happy to use machines so I'm the only one railing...