T Nation

Possible to Make Progress in this Situation!?


Hello T-Nation! I have been a lurker for the past six months that I have been working out and this site has been a great resource for me. Unfortunately I have hit a problem when it comes to working out. I am in a situation where I will be very poor and not near any gyms for the next six months until my new job begins.

But luckily enough for me a friend of mine gave me a bar, 400 pounds of weight and two adjustable dumbbells.
I have a bench but no sort of support for bench pressing/squatting, and the plates dont really work out in a way that would allow me to use both at the same time with even weight.
Is it possible to progress from where I am at with a barbell, only being able to use one dumb bell at a time and a bench?

I can do a lot of things with this setup but I am mostly worried about legs and chest.
With just a bar and one dumb bell I can easily take care of my back/hamstrings/biceps/triceps/shoulders but I am worried about my legs and chest. Anyone have any ideas for me?

I would like to progress until I can afford a gym membership in six months time.

Stats if useful:
19 year old male.
195 pounds.
225x5 squat
315x5 deadlift
200x5 bench press.

Also if possible cheap bulking food ideas would be very much appreciated!
Thanks in advance for the help!


ya, its totally possible. not ideal, but possible.

chest - bench, floor press (lower bar to nipple line and then pushing up and back toward your head to try and engage the upper pec? could work). the one dumbbell thing is kinda weak, try one arm flies? floor flies? it could happen.

legs you're going to have to learn to clean. clean the weight and then front squat. depending on how heavy you can get the dumbbells, high rep goblet squat? ummm, high rep bulgarian split squats. you can totally make this work. if there is a will there is a way!

bulking foods: EVOO, almonds, milk, pop tarts, pasta, yams, natty PB, rice.

try: 160g penne, 2 Table spoon olive oil, can of tuna and a glass of milk

its dirt cheap and high cal.


Get a used power-rack from Craigslist. I do almost all of my exercises out of my power-rack in my backyard. I enjoy my home gym so much, that I would never consider getting a membership to a standard commercial gym.


barbell hack squat and dumbell split squats or lunges are a couple more leg options. and these:


I have the same equipment as you with less weight.

It doesn't stop me. Hell I even back squat.


Thanks for the replies guys! The jefferson squats look interesting so I will need to try them out. If i can find a cheap rack of kijiji ill pick one up. Bruceleefan how do you do back squats with that equipment exactly? The only way i can think of doing it would be push pressing as much weight over my head as i can and lowering it behind my back.



It's unfortunate really. For a long time I just didn't bother. I thought squatting only what I can push press, lower and then behind-neck press after the squats wouldn't be enough weight. But I've got 2 inches on my legs out of it.

You just need to be realistic with your expectations. You aren't going to squat amazing numbers doing it like this.
On the plus side there is an advantage depending on how you look at it.
How many people do it this way? Not many - I don't blame them I'd rather have a squat rack. But it's a lot more volume in pressing movements. I don't even need to ramp up for my actual overhead pressing. I can just dive into my heavier sets.

There is also then the need to power clean. Just so you can ensure you can get the weight up in order to press it over and behind your head. Also as you get stronger on all these movements it has a knock on effect on your squats. The more you can deal with weight wise in pressing movements, the more you will be able to squat. It is a balanced sort of development that I wouldn't do if I had a squat rack but it makes best of the situation I'm in.


Suitcase deadlift and one armed DB bench are great ab exercises. Just so whatever you can. Don't forget about BW exercises either. A smart pushup routine could help your chest progress, although its not optimal. Be creative. Anything you do will be better than sitting around. Good luck


Same here. But I have a pullup bar and a place to do dips as well.

This is pretty much my routine:

Weighted chins, hammer curls, T-bar rows

Military press, db floor press, lateral raises, plate raise drop set, (possibly weighted) dips, fucking kickbacks!

Front squats, calf raises, high rep back squats if I'm up to it

Kroc rows, barbell/db curls, barbell rows maybe, bent over lateral raises, maybe chins

Push press, db floor press, lateral raises, plate raise drop set, (possibly weighted) dips, fucking kickbacks!

Cleans, deads, glute bridges and high rep back squats if I'm up to it.

Rest days when needed. I don't do all of this every time, but get stronger on all these things and you will grow. Front squats have carryover to back squats. And db floor press has carryover to bench press. It did for me, and I'm a little stronger than you I think.

Doing it in the snow is extra anabolic. Cereally.


Lol my garage gym was snowed in a while ago. I had to dig my way in there.

I agree about the front squats. I tend to do them if my energy is spent and I know I can't press the barbell back off of my back. Just as a safety thing.