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Only Have Free Weights. How's This Program? Advice?



Hey, so I don’t have access to a gym because of where I live, but I do have a rack, bench, barbell and dumbbells.

I’ve struggled to find a decent program that only uses these, a lot of them seem to be really lackluster

I was thinking of something like this:

Day 1 - Chest and Triceps:
Flat Bench - 5 sets 6-8 reps
Incline DB Press - 5 sets 6-8 reps
Flat DB Flyes - 5 sets 8-12 reps
Overhead tricep extensions 6 sets 8 - 12

Day 2 - Back and Biceps:
BB Rows - 5 sets 6-8 reps (Potentially Pendlays but I find those tricky for some reason)
DB Rows (single arm) - 5 sets 8-12 reps
DB Curls - 6 sets 8-12 reps
Concentration curls 4 sets 6-8 reps
(I’d do pull ups but I don’t have a bar, can’t get one for my door. I’ve tried doing them from the bar on the squat rack but it doesn’t really work.

Rest day

Day 3 - Shoulders:

Military Press - 5 sets 6-8 reps
DB Press (single arm) - 4 sets 8-12 reps
Lateral Raises - 6 sets 8-12 reps
Upright Rows - 6 sets 8-12 reps
Farmers Walk - Not really hit upon a particular weight/time etc, just pick up something kinda heavy and walk. Open to suggestions

Day 4 - Legs
Back Squat - 5 sets 6-8
Front Squat - 4 sets 6-8
Goblet Squat - 4 sets 8-12
Deadlift - 5 sets 6-8

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated, I wish I had access to cables and such but it’s not an option for the next 6-12 months.


What’s with the 5-6 sets? That’s a lotta volume for every exercise.


Nothing really bad with your plan, not much your missing other than the chin up but as you say it’s not possible.

your leg day is a bit tough going, I know I wouldn’t get through that as it’s a lot of squatting, I would choose either front or back start or alternate weekly, and would lunge instead of goblet squat. I also don’t like doing full deadlifts after squats, would put in Romanian or still leg in the 15-20 rep range. But obviously that’s personal preference based on what I’ve done in the past. You may be fine.

run it and see how you go and assess after a few months, get your diet in check and pay attention to progression and good form

Good luck


If you’re truly a beginner like this section suggests then you’d be better off with full body routines 3 times a week instead of bro splits. You could also get away with a push/pull/legs split that you do twice a week. You’d add shoulders to your chest day.

Since I’ve been training for about 15 years I’ve accumulated some experience, opinions, and preferences. Here’s what I’d do:

Day 1
Squat 3 x 8-10
Romanian Deadlift 3-5 x 5-10 (5x5 light til you get the form, 3x10 if your form is good)
Incline bench 3 x 8-10
Bent-over reverse grip barbell row 3 x 8-10
Standing DB shoulder press 3 x 8-10
Bi’s & tri’s 3 x 10

Day 2
Deadlift 3-5 x 5
DB bench 3 x 8-10
DB row 3 x 8-10
3 way DB raises (front/lateral/bent-over reverse fly) 3 x 8-10 each done in a superset
Bi’s & tri’s

Day 3
Front Squat or even better, reverse lunge 3 x 8-10
Standing shoulder press 3 x 8-10
Landmine row 3 x 8-10
DB fly any angle 3 x 8-10
Reverse DB fly 3 x 8-10
Bi’s & tri’s if you feel the need

Form and quality come before quantity. That could be in terms of weight or reps.

Landmine rows

Look up other landmine exercises for some creative ways to use your bar.

Lastly, put the bar at its highest position and use it for chin ups. Hold your legs straight out so that your body is in an L shape. These will be more difficult than regular chins because you’re using energy to hold your legs up. If that’s too hard then bend your knees but that will probably cause your feet to hit the floor.

This setup allows you to get 72-90 reps per week with your major muscle groups. If you feel that this is not enough volume then add a set to each exercise. If you want to add more exercises then start with pulling movements. For the love of God don’t do more chest and shoulders than back. View the body in planes–if you do a horizontal push (bench) then do a horizontal pull (row). Overhead press goes good with a pull down or pull up movement. That’s the simplest way to maintain balance.

Good luck!

Oh yeah, you would also be good if you just followed this and picked exercises that you can do with your equipment.


Well I’ve been working out about 6 months, I’d still categorize that as beginner, although I don’t know if there’s an official marker.

Yeah this program seems good for me, when do you think is best to fit in the pull ups?

Thanks for the help!


x2 with Jmaier above -start off with full body 3 times a week, can be as simple as something like this…

Also get a couple of powerlifting bands for stuff like latpulldowns/pullup motion, tricep moves, band pullaparts etc


[quote=“legatta, post:1, topic:226252”]
I’ve struggled to find a decent program that only uses these, a lot of them seem to be really lackluster[/quote]
I didn’t see you mention your goal, but Starting Strength, 5/3/1, and pretty much any basic 5x5 program all work perfectly fine with just free weights. I’m guessing either you somehow didn’t stumble onto them or you think they’re not a good choice for whatever you’re trying to do. There’s also a program on the site here literally called the Simple No-Machines Workout.

“Grab something heavy and start walking” is a pretty good way to do farmer’s, so you’re fine on that.


You’ll be a beginner for about two years :laughing: It takes awhile for the body to settle in to the new movement patterns you’ll be doing. Also, the gains you will experience only happen in the first year or two if serious training. After that it’s a grind and true test of your dedication to make progress.

I do pull ups as my warm up on each upper body day. If you do a total body program then that means every day. No one in the history of documented weightlifting has experienced negative things from high amounts of pulling movements (can’t say the same about bench :wink:)

This, of course, does not include injuries. Shit happens. But over developing your back does not.


Sorry I should mention, I was running 5x5 but I kept stalling, someone recommended I either go for something with higher volume, or more intensity (I guess like 5/3/1)

Okay gotcha :joy:

One more thing, unless I’m mistaken it doesn’t look like there’s much work for the traps in there. Should I throw in farmers/upright rows anything like that, do you think?


Keep your farmers walks and any ab work you want to throw in. The bent-over reverse grip rows will hit your traps. There’s more to that muscle than the part that attaches to the base of your skull.

I’ve never trained mine directly and they seem to be fine. I’m not a freak but I’m proportional. Even if you don’t hit every muscle directly the body likes to grow everything together. You can emphasize one thing for a bit but you’ll never see someone with one muscle that dwarfs the rest.


Okay thanks for the help, I’ll start running this program!


I’m about 90% sure most beginners don’t hit “plateaus” and don’t need legit “deloads” nearly as often as they think.

Anyhow, if you’ve decided on a plan going forward, good. Do that.