Strength Training With Limited Gym Equipment

How to Get a Good Workout With Limited Gym Equipment

I have trained in a variety of gyms in different countries, without a doubt, there are some very fancy ones with state of the art equipment.

Some of the modern gym equipment is nice but I must admit much of the newer is equipment is not better. In my own opinion the new gym equipment kind of dumbs you down into thinking to are achieving more than you really are.

Arnold doing rear delt press

Most of the famous old-school bodybuilders had a limited access to certain pulley machines, most used dumbells, and barbells, but the results were incredible.

If you train in a gym with limited equipment it's not the end of the world, in fact, compound exercises can help you grow and give you better muscle density than machines.

Some may argue this point but there have been many studies in favor of strength training using free weights vs machines.

There is no doubt that machines can help increase strength and stimulate muscle growth to some degree but training with free weights requires full body balance and creates better muscle stimulation.

If you have a gym with free some free weights, a barbell and a few decent benches you should be able to get a good workout using compound movements. Compound exercises will help you pack on muscle better than using machines.

A generous variety of dumbbells of varying weights can help transform your body, there are many exercises that can be performed using dumbbells. You can target just about every muscle group in your body using dumbbells.

My only pet peeve with some gyms is that many offer limited weight which may not allow you to continue to grow. Strength training should be progressive so that not only do you continue to build muscle you can also increase strength.

Exercises you can perform with dumbbells include the following:


  • Flat bench press
  • Dumbbell Flyes
  • Overhead pullovers


  • Side lateral
  • Military press
  • Front dumbbell raises
  • Arnold dumbbell raises
  • Upward lifts


  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Overhead pullovers
  • Dumbbell Rows


  • Dumbbell squats
  • Dumbbell Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Standing calf raises

If your gym has a good Olympic bar and an assortment of plates 10, 35's and 45's you should be able to accomplish some heavier and more intense training.

With an Olympic bar and some weight, you can maximize core strength exercises doing squats, deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, barbell rows and bench press maximizing weight.

One of the biggest frustrations with a gym with limited equipment is doing the same exercises all the time.

If you change your mindset it does not have to be this way.  If you think out of the box there are several things you can do to improve conditioning, strength, and build muscle.

Try doing superset training, some of Arnold Schwarzenegger's best training techniques were doing supersets training two body parts per day combining push-pull training exercises.

This kind of training can promote explosive muscle gains and also give you a good cardio workout.

So there you have it, the next time you feel down and depressed about your local gym, if you are creative less can be more, a basic set of iron and a couple of good benches can provide you with everything you need to build muscle and transform your body.

Maybe sooner or later a bigger gym will come to town or your current gym might eventually upgrade with some modern equipment, in the meantime, you have to do your part and work with what you have. If you don't, the only person losing out is you.

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