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Home Gym Dilemma
Free Weight Only Workout
15 May 2006



The gym where I was working out closed so I’m going to start training with a friend in his garage. He has a lot of free weight stuff like dumbbells, Olympic bar, curl bar, squat racks, adjustable flat/incline bench, chin and dip bars, but no machines at all – no calf machine, leg extension, leg curl, leg press, lat machine or whatever. Can you suggest some good exercises using free weights. I’ve been working out over a year and have made some gains but I’m afraid the gains will stop with such limited equipment.

Answer: Don’t worry about your gains stopping because of having only free weight equipment to work out with. Actually, this should prove to be a blessing in disguise, especially at your stage of the game, because you’ll build a lot more size, strength and functional athletic ability doing basic free weight exercises instead of machine isolation movements.

Here’s a list of free weight exercises you can do for each body part:

Calves: One Leg Calf Raise (using a dumbbell); Donkey Calf Raise (either with a partner sitting on your back or a weighted dip belt for resistance); Seated calf raise with a barbell (place a squat pad or thick towel on your knees).

Thighs: Squat, Front Squat, Hack Squat (hold the bar tight under your glutes, use a block under your heels, and go deep); Sissy Squat (old school lean-back style); Lunge; Leg Extension (sit crossways on a flat bench, put a thick towel over the top of your feet, place a dumbbell across the towel, squeeze your feet together and you're ready to go).

Hamstrings: Stiff Leg Deadlift; Dumbell Leg Curl (have your training partner place a dumbbell between your feet. It helps to use an incline with your head toward the top).

Chest: Bench Press, Dumbell Bench Press, Incline Press, Incline Dumbell Press, Flyes, Incline Flyes, Dips

Back: Deadlift, Wide Grip Chin, Close Grip Chin, Barbell Row, One Arm Row, T-Bar Row, Stiff Leg Deadlift, Back Raise (hyperextension – lay face down across a flat exercise bench and have a training partner hold your ankles).

Traps: Barbell Shrug, Dumbell Shrug, Rear Shrug, Power Clean, Upright Row

Shoulders: Press, Seated Press, Dumbell Press, Seated Dumbell Press, Press Behind Neck, Seated Press Behind Neck, Upright Row, Laterals, One Arm Laterals, Bent Over Laterals, Alternate Forward Raise.

Biceps: Barbell Curl, EZ Bar Curl, ’21’ Curl, Seated Dumbell Curl, Incline Curl, Alternate Dumbell Curl, Concentration Curl.

Triceps: Dips, Close Grip Bench Press, Lying Tricep Press, Seated Tricep Press, Dumbell Tricep Press, One Arm Dumbell Tricep Press, Tricep Kickback

Forearms: Wrist Curl, Reverse Wrist Curl, Reverse Curl, Hammer Curl

Abdominals/Mid-Section: Hanging Knee In, Hanging Leg Raise, Lying Leg Raise, Seated Knee In, Reverse Crunch, Crunch, Twisting Crunch.

There you have it…a pool of ‘old school’ ‘hard core’ exercises to choose from that work every muscle from head to toe. Give us a shout in a couple of months and let me know how you’re doing…

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Charles Hawkins and Arley Vest