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).
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).