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only have free weights with no bench,squat rack..

Hey guys.At the moment I only have access to a barbell,ez-curl bar, and dumbbells.There is no bench,sqaut rack,or chin up bar availabe.Anyone have any suggestions as to what type of routine I can use?

Deadlifts, Olympics, Overhead pressing and squatting, rows… the possibilities are quite extensive with what you have.

Try to gets some cash together and invest in a bench or buy a swiss ball (realtivly) inexpensive. Power rack is a must have though.

U can literaly imitate half the exercise if not all the exercise you do on the bench w/ the swiss ball.

Try olympic lifts for now since you don’t have any bench.

You can do any of the Olympic lifts and their variations (except from the blocks, since you don’t have any).

For legs: Power clean the weight into a racked clean position - from here you can do front squats, or jerk it overhead and lower it to your shoulders and do back squats or lunges. You can also do DL’s or any variation thereof (Hack squat, snatch-grip DL, Romanian DL, stiff-legged DL, keystone DL, Jefferson squat, etc.)

For arms: Power clean the weight into a racked clean position, and from here you can do overhead presses. If you do this with your EZ-curl bar you can also do tricep extensions behind your head. You can also do curls, obviously.

For chest: Only thing I can think of here is lying on your back and pressing from the floor. Stack some plates up on either side of you and rest the plates on the barbell on them. Then put something under your back (pillows, whatever) to elevate your chest so that it touches the barbell. That will increase the ROM. Otherwise you can do floor presses.

For back: Bentover rows.

If money is an issue, go to Home Depot and buy yourself some saw horses. You can use them as make-shift squat stands, and they’re cheap, too.

Check out Brooks Kubik’s site Dinosaur Training. Under his tips section he has an article “Can I train with nothing but a barbell?” http://brookskubik.com/tip7.html

Hope that inspires you.

Although people have suggested to train legs by cleaning into front squats, you’ll soon notice your limit strength decrease for squats.

Mostly because the average trainee can’t clean nearly as much as they front squat [let alone back squat]. Sure you could always go for reps, but then you arent anywhere near your 1RM weight. Of course this only poses a problem if your goal is to get stronger [as opposed to bigger].

I strongly suggest buying a squat rack. IF that’s impossible, add some heavy barbell hacksquats in your routine.

CaptainRubber (not going to make any comment on that one), there is no limit to the exercises you can do. Look through T-Mag and virtually every exercise you see will be adaptable to what you have in some way. Heck, do you have stairs in your house? You can do donkeys, do incline and decline pushups… Heck, I even used to do dips using my kitchen cunter tops. I used an overhang on my stairs to do pullups. I could spend years in my house and never run out of possibilities, even without dumbells and a curl bar. Use your imagination- virtually anything you can come up with is a possibility.

The only thing that is truly limited is chest exercises.

This should demonstrate that pecs have minimal functionality, considering you can’t train them in many ways without lying on your back.

Stand on your feet. Push things over your head. Pick heavy things up. Train like a man! :wink: (Read Kubik!)

The point about loading and Front Squats is a good one, but it depends highly on the person. If you’re not familiar with Olympics, it’s true that you won’t be able to clean much. But it’s also possible that your front squat isn’t (comparatively) that great, either.

Myself, for example. I clean about 10lbs less than I can max front squat. Hence, I could get a helluva workout just cleaning the weight up and front squatting it. But, my clean is comparatively better than my squats of any sort.

Here are some of Christian Thibaudeau’s strength ratios to strive for in this area:

Bodybuilder
‘Average’ Rating
(xBodyweight)

Power/Hang Clean: .8-1.1
Front Squat: 1.1-1.4

Regarding trading legs, I think you can still train them very effectively via olympic lifts, front squats, hack squats, lunges, one leg squats, one leg deadlifts, one leg good mornings, overhead squats, jump squats, and deadlifts.

The only thing that is truly limited is that you won’t be able to really max out on front or back squats. In the short term, this is not a problem.

As CGB mentioned, an inside corner of a kitchen countertop makes an excellent place to do dips for some chest work, which seems to be all you’re missing. I’ve also done these on an old-timer’s walker cage .

Complexes. Check t-mag archives.

Die Nadel, you make a good point about the load and front/back squats. There are some ways around this, though. If you accelerate the weight as quickly as possible tension will still be high (CAT). You can also make the exercise tougher by using a longer tempo or 1 and 1/2 reps. 1-legged movements (lunges, step-ups, split-squats, 1-legged squats) can be done with a lot less load, too.

Kim Baugher: I agree that there are many ways to get a so-called ‘good workout’ or induce hypertrophy with little weight resistance.

But, the gentleman who originally posted will find it very difficult to acquire strength gains with the equipment he listed.

Let me play devils advocate for a moment.

If you accelerate the weight as quickly as possible tension will still be high (CAT).

Aside from the OL, CAT still requires you to use 85%+ 1RM. If not, you’ll be spending half of your lift decelerating the bar

Although CAT using a submaximal load might be able to generate the same amount of tension as lifting maximal weights slowly, you’ll eventually hit a plateau. Basically because Power is limited by the amount of limit strength you have.

You can also make the exercise tougher by using a longer tempo or 1 and 1/2 reps.

True. That would definitely make the weight feel heavier. Mostly because we would then be moving away from strength training to anaerobic training. Nothing wrong with that! But it may not create the training effect you wish.

1-legged movements (lunges, step-ups, split-squats, 1-legged squats) can be done with a lot less load, too.

Hate to sound negative :slight_smile: But exclusive unilateral training will eventually make you weaker too!

Let me give an example to demonstrate my point. Let’s take a guy with a 300lbs 1RM backsquat. Due to unknown reasons, he no longer has access to a squat rack and decides to do unilateral squats:) For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that he could 1-leg squat with 150lbs 1RM (which of course he wouldnt be able to). For the next 6 weeks he trains diligently only doing singles. Then one day, he gets a hold of a squat rack again. Do you think that he’ll be able to squat 300lbs for a 1RM? Nope. Although his legs have been training heavy his spinal erector has been detraining for 6 weeks by using a load of 150lbs instead of the 300lbs he would normally handle.

Anywho, that’s enough of a ramble for now :slight_smile: Catch y’all in a bit!

CGB’s right to a certain extent- there certainly are a lot of exercises (using BODYWEIGHT) you can improvise around the house. Shoot, for chins I sometimes just use the back of the door (making sure my pants are slippery!). Great for maintenance, toning, a change of pace. However, if you’re looking at making mass gains, you really do need some more weight exercises.


Die Nadel has made some nice points- I think the best gains will definately come from pushing the LIMITS of your body, and for that you need to keep lifting more challenging weights. There IS only so much you can do with the equipment we are describing.


However, we still don’t know Captainrubbers situation clearly. (If you’re still out there dude, please expand). Is he only in this situation for a short time, or is this gonna be permanently the way he trains? Is he planning on buying more equipment in the future? Is he an experienced trainee, or has he just started in the Iron Game? All these are important variables in the advice we offer.


We all know that a change around in training can often bring impressive results. So let’s say he’s never done the OL’s before- a cycle of say CT’s “The Power Look” would give some great upper body (back/traps)development. Similarly, if he hasn’t done much DL training, well then there’s a GREAT exercise to base a cycle around- NO extra equipment required. The other exercises in such a routine would be purely supportive, and not necessarily at max strength.

Another idea would be P Tsatsouline’s PtP training- using DL’s and Bent Presses. I had some good strength AND mass results using the “Bear” variation of this training routine.


Oh, and talking about “Bear”, whoever mentioned complexes was onto something as well- if you’ve tried Coach Davies “Bear” complex, you’ll know that if that doesn’t give a T and GH surge, nothing will. How about basing a cycle around this?


Nothing will work big time for a long time. However, for a while (say up to 6 months) training with this limited equipment should cause no problem at all.


If you are still not convinced you can do it Captainrubber, or you already are very competent in all the exercises suggested (unlikely I think), how 'bout going to the local gym once a week for 1 workout, then at home for 2/3? -A compromise, and you can do the “equipment limiting” exercises on gym day. There are many gyms who will give you a pass for so many sessions, and there is no time limit as to when you use them. If there isn’t such a scheme set up, ASK for one. It’s a cut-throat business out there, and most gyms are desperate for your business.


Just some ideas to toss around Captainrubber. Hope they help. Please get back to us with your specific situation and long-term plans? SRS

Sorry- Another thing we need to know that nobody has yet asked-


When you say “barbell, dumbells etc”, are we talking about an Olympic set, or something plastic by Joe Weider with 60lbs total from Sears? HOW MUCH WEIGHT DO YOU HAVE? And as I said before, how experienced are you in training? These are the MOST important variables here.


Just wanted to clarify that. :slight_smile: SRS

Thanks guys for all replies.Basically I’m a college student who stays on campus in a dormitory.The gym we have on campus only has machines and dumbbells.In addition its always really crowded.
I used to train at home where I had a bench,chin up bar, and a squat rack.Due to the space constraints at my dormitory I have only been able to bring over my weider barbells and 300 pounds of cast iron weights.
I have been training off and on for the last 5 years so i’m quite familar with the standard weightlifting movements.I have no experience with olympic weightlifting movements.
Just wondering how far I can go and how strong I can get just using your standard barbells and dumbells.