A busy gym can be a nightmare to train in. When all of the equipment is taken up, some serious creative thinking and planning has to be used if you’re going to get a great workout in. It’s not to say it can’t be done, you just need to think differently about how you train and what your outcome measures are.
One of the best ways to exercise in a busy gym is to base all your exercises around one single piece of equipment. This one-kit workout philosophy works really, really well, as long as you pick a piece of equipment that allows for variety of movement, stimulus and exercises.
In this article I’m going to run you through an all-body conditioning workout using only one item of kit – a barbell. It’s a workout that will make sure you get a great session in, even when the gym is busy.
One Kit Workout – Barbell
A barbell is perfect option for a one-kit workout. Here’s why…
There’s barely an end to the amount of exercises you can do with a barbell. Regardless of the body part, the movement or the load, a barbell offers so much variety that you just can’t get with most other items of gym kit.
Barbells can be adjusted for load more than any other item. From lighter loads for conditioning work or exercises on smaller muscle groups, to larger loads for strength and power exercises, you can dramatically adjust the load on the bar.
A standard olympic barbell is 7 feet wide. Allow for room to move around the barbell and enough room to perform exercises and that’s the entire space requirement you’ll need. In a busy gym you can pretty easily tuck yourself into a corner somewhere and get a great workout in.
Once you understand and can perform the exercises competently, the barbell is a great item to train with. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, programmed, adjusted or set. All you need to do is adjust the load up or down depending on the exercises you are performing, and even that is simply a case of adding/removing plates.
Now we’ve established why the barbell is so effective as a one-kit workout piece, we can outline a workout that will use all of the muscles in the body, is simple to set up and can be done in a relatively short period of time.
The Barbell Workout
Thrusters 4 x 10
This is a classic all-body exercise. This is a great option to get started – use a medium weight and keep the form good quality. It’s hard work, but sets the tone for the rest of the workout.
Deadlifts 5 x 8
The deadlift is one of the most famous exercises of all – a great test for the muscles of the legs, back and core. It’s a mainstay of a lot of programmes and I think it requires a place in this programme too. Go medium-heavy on this because it’s our strength element.
Push Press 4 x 10
The push press is a more explosive, all-body version of a military press. I’ve put it in here ahead of the military press because it can be done with a higher weight and therefore is typically higher intensity. Go with a weight you can military press for 8 – the extra two reps will be manageable because of the help your legs give you!
Lunges 3 x 20
Lunges are a less popular but very effective leg exercise. I like them in a workout like this because they force each leg to work independently, whereas with squats the load can be shared between two legs, often with the stronger leg doing more of the work.
If you don’t have the room to walk, perform alternating lunges in the same spot.
Barbell Roll Outs 3 x 10
Any good workout needs to include some kind of core stability work and this is probably my favourite abdominal exercise. It’s also perfectly suited to a barbell, so you don’t have to change kit to perform it!
The One Kit Workout Concluded
Equipped with this workout you won’t need to fret next time you’re in a busy gym. Simply grab a barbell, a few plates and get to work. A good workout isn’t about the amount of exercises you perform, it’s about executing good quality movements regularly and at a high enough intensity.
This workout will allow you to do that perfectly and should take you less than an hour if it’s done properly. At a high intensity with short rest periods, you could be in and out of the gym in around 45 minutes total!