You don’t need to own a gym stuffed with expensive equipment to design versatile and effective workouts. Sometimes, all you need is a little creativity.
Try these DIY-style tricks to give yourself or your athletes a greater number of effective training options without breaking the bank.
Towels for Grip Strength
Every facility has cleaning towels or hand towels. Not every facility has Farmer’s Walk loading handles, nor do they have dumbbells or kettlebells heavy enough to challenge every athlete.
This is where towels can come in handy. If you want a way to make a loaded carry just a bit harder without actually increasing the load, you can introduce Towel-Grip Carries. Clamping onto a towel rather than a kettlebell or dumbbell handle is a unique and more challenging test of grip strength. This towel trick works especially well with kettlebells, as seen in the video below.
Loaded carries are great for athlete strength and core performance, as they’re one of the safest and most effective full-body exercises in our toolbox. Towels have a boatload of other potential uses inside the gym. They can be used in Pull-Up variations to make them more grip-intensive, or they can be wrapped around a bar or set of handles to simulate a pair of “fat grips.”
Additionally, towels can also be used to replicate slideboard exercises without an actual slideboard, provided you have access to a smooth floor such a wood, tile or linoleum. Considering a slideboard runs about $170, this is a big time money-saver.
Every gym has barbells. If yours does not, maybe start looking for a new gym! All jokes aside, the barbell is an essential tool for strength building, especially in the athletic population.
But barbells aren’t just for building muscle. They can also be used for massaging muscle, as barbells are a soft tissue work tool. Maybe your gym doesn’t have many foam rollers or recovery tools, or any at all. Instead of dropping $30-plus dollars on one of your own, you may be able to get what you need via a barbell. For example, here’s an explanation of how you can release your upper traps via a barbell:
Barbell smash explainer videos such as this exist for a wide number of problem areas. You can also use the “tempering” method if you have a friend to physically roll the barbell on your areas of need!
The brand that outfitted our facility charges $150 for a flat bench and $550 for an incline bench. For our style of training, I would call an incline bench a must-have piece of equipment. Unfortunately, that $550 I would call a don’t-have. So what’s a coach to do?
Luckily, we have weight plates—and a lot of them. You can use 45-pound plates to create your own custom incline when you need to do incline bench work. The thicker rubber plates may work best for this. Simply stack those plates to the desired height, set the flat bench nice and secured on top of the plates and, Boom!
You’ll wanna test it out before you try to push a bunch of weight while lying on it just to make its fully stable, but I’ve used this trick countless times. You can use it to set up for the lunge variation I recommend for those with knee pain. If the move calls for such an incline that using weight plates becomes untenable, you can simply stack one flat bench on top of another.
Weight plates are almost solely used to load barbells in most gym settings, but they can also be used as solo weighted implements. For example, this 10-minute workout finisher uses only a weight plate.
Over time, you can save up for the real thing or you may find that these hacks completely replace the need to spend additional funds on new equipment. Hopefully these simple tactics can help you and your staff out. Or, if you’re an athlete or someone who loves to train, you can implement these to save your own cash and just focus on training.
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