Using Just a Barbell & Dumbbells


Alright well, most of you guys propobley know me from the injury thread I have posted up. Now I have another situation lol. Not as bad though.

Ok well, I have to start working out at home now, in my basement. I will be doing this for awhile, intill I can find another place to train. Anyways, all I have in my basement is an olympic barbell with 250 pounds of weight, and 2 pairs of dumbells with 40 pounds for them. I have a bench, but can’t use it as it was made for plastic weights, and well you figure it out lol. Not squat stands, or power racks.

Most of you guy’s would say with the equipment I have. Do olympic lifting, but I dont have olympic plates. I have the standered sized plates. with the 45’s seeming to be the size of the olympic plates. Now on all my lifts. I am not lifting 2 45’s on each side yet so that is going to be a problem as I need to get in position for the olympic lifts. So how would I go about getting through this?

Also with just the equipment I have. What kind of program could I do? I am training for American Football.

it’s tough without the bench…do deadlifts, do hang cleans to front squats, assuming you know how. 1-leg stuff will work as well. Basically anything you can do with db’s, do it.

buy a sled if you can afford it. It can easily be used to work a lot of excercises like bench and stuff if you don’t have an actual bench. Problem is that there’s no negative part of the rep.

Don’t forget that you don’t have to use your weight set to get a good workout. I’m not aware of the extent of your injuries, but if I were you, I would use the following exercises:

Bent Over Row

Military Press
Floor Press

Front Squat
Hack Squat
Overhead Squat

For upper arm work, it’s pretty easy to do curls and tricep extensions with the equipment you have. The other exercises above also involve your upper arm.

You can, of course, vary the set/rep parameters however you want. There are lots of other exercises you can do as well. But to be honest, unless the 250 lbs you have feels like a feather to you, you can improve a lot just by focusing on a few simple movements.

I’ve worked with a similarly limited setup.

You’ve got all you need to deadlift, row, and military press.

If you hang clean the weight you can do front squats. (If you get stuck at the bottom of a front squat it’s pretty easy to squirm your way out from under the weight.)

You can’t really bench press without a bench, but if you put some of your plates in a backpack you can do weighted pushups.

Check out the lifts at and and just see which ones you can do with equipment you have or equipment you can improvise.

I recommend picking up a few bumpers if you can afford them. I have a similar setup at home- just a bar, bumpers/plates, and a pullup bar- and I’ve been able to cut in half my weekly trips to the gym with a heavy emphasis on oly variations and deadlifts. Really the only movement you can’t hit with such a setup is a horizantal press type like a bench press. The bumpers make a huge difference since they allow me to front squat whatever I can clean without fear and I can do stuff like goodmornings with whatever I can clean and jerk and just dump it when I’m out of gas. I don’t understand why more gyms don’t have bumpers and platforms. Ok, I do but I still dream of a world not filled with idiots.

Anyway, another accessory is a thick ass section of rope (~2"). I don’t have DBs at home but I can do many of the same movements by loading plates onto the rope. OSH had spools of the super thick manila rope I got last time I was there.

Think dudes in prison have bumper plates and nice floors to do cleans on. Fuck that, you have to train with whatever you got.

Everybody before me has posted solid stuff, listen to them.

Hang clean, Overhead press, Front/Back squat (clean it up there and do whatever you can). Do all types of push ups for your chest and triceps. Curls, rows, pull ups.

Shit, do Zercher Squats.

Deadlifts of all kinds- Snatch grip deads, SUmo deads, stiff legged deads

Do Good Mornings- clean that shit up and do your reps.

Calf raises for high reps-anything.


hahaha thats great lol. i love it when peeps type lol. it roks. lol.

I am in a similar situation. I only work out in my basement with a couple friends, but I also have a curl bar, pull up bar, squat rack, and bench. There is plenty you can do with what you have. OLY variations are an awesome start as many of the precedent posts suggest, you can always get creative. Try single arm DB snatches, single arm overhead pressing (great for the core), lunges, cleans (OLY/power), hang cleans, overhead presses, deadlifts, rowing variations, all types of squats (if possible).

Some Dan John articles are a great place for some new and interetsing ideas, too. Many training methods he presents are unorthodox and require little if any actual weight equipment but work wonders and are a great change from casual exercises. Good luck to ya

On one hand, you can do alot of cleans, pulls, and standing press stuff like people have said above. (Afterall, this is is how people lifted weights before benches, racks, and squat stands became popular around WWII.) But, especially if you are training alone, I would recommend acquiring some kind of power rack and a cheap gym bench.

I spent a fair amount of time training with just a bar.

You can do:

Floor presses
Steinborn Squats
Hang Cleans
Bent Rows
Arm crap


You can take the barbell outside in the grass or dirt to do your olympic lifts. That way you can drop it without breaking the floor. Also, you can do your olympic movements with the 25’s on and just start at a defecit. It is just fine to do.

Also you can find some stones and lift those and carry them around. Look up some old school strongman crap as it is pretty fun to do.



What most people said is good enough. If you want a good upper body workout with a bench, try doing cleans and presses the old timer way (extra lean back during the press to emphasise the shoulders and chest more).

You could also try bent presses. And for whole-body quick workouts… try the bear and turkish getups with the barbell.

Sorry about not getting back with you sooner about this.

I have read you guy’s post. Great information. I have read somewhere also saying that if you only have a barbell than deadlift, and do standing presses, and that should be all you will ever need. Don’t know who I heard that from. Do you guy’s think by just doing those exersies would be good enough to do, for the sport I play.

Also about the information you guy’s gave me. How do I go about putting those into a training program?

Try this article.
Renaissance Body Development
A Holistic Approach to Bodybuilding
by Christian Thibaudeau

Many of the exercises would be able to be done by yourself seeing they are from the ground up.

10/10 program.