Short on Workout Equipment? Try These Tips, Part 2

Just because you're low on equipment doesn't mean you have to go easy on your training.

Not everyone can afford a gym membership or even basic workout equipment. If you're a student or just living on a tight budget, you can work around these financial limitations with a little ingenuity. The first installment of my no-equipment workout included substitutes for exercises that involved sleds and leg curl machines. Here are some more modifications to help you get more out of less.

1. DIY Weight Vest

Need a dip belt or weight vest? All you need are a band and a weight plate. Pull the band through the center hole of the plate, then put the band on like a backpack—one arm through each band end. This works great for exercises like Pull-Ups, Dips and Push-Ups, but do not use it for running or jumping exercises, as the weight will bounce. I have also used this on lower-body days with athletes who have shoulder or arm injuries that prevent them from putting bars on their backs. When this is the case, I program single-leg exercises such as Lunge Variations, Bulgarian Split Squats and Step-Ups.

RELATED: 6 Rules for Weight Vest Training

2. Sliding Exercises with Paper Plates

If you've ever used a slide board, you know how challenging a sliding exercise can be. In Part 1, I discussed using a towel for Sliding Leg Curls. That's just one of many sliding modifications worth mentioning. All you need is a wood or tile floor and two paper plates. The video below shows these exercises:

RELATED: The 7 Best Slide Board Exercises

3. Board Press with Foam Roller

Rarely are gyms equipped with boards to perform Bench Presses, but every gym has a foam roller. For this exercise, have someone hold a foam roller vertically along your sternum. Lower the bar to the roller (instead of to your chest), just like you would normally do when benching. When lowering the bar, you can tap it to the roller and press it up or pause the bar on the roller before driving it up. Benefits of programming this exercise include:

  • It's easier on your shoulders than lowering the bar all the way to your chest. If you have a shoulder injury, this may allow you to continue to bench during recovery.
  • It puts more focus on your triceps. The triceps dominate the top portion of the Bench Press. Add this exercise to your program if your triceps are lagging, or you're looking for a new way to target them.
  • It improves your lockout of the Bench. If you struggle at the top portion of the Bench, isolating that segment is a good way to improve it.
  • To lift and get accustomed to heavier weights. Going only part way down may allow you to handle heavier weights compared to your normal Bench Press.

4. Ab Wheel with Foam Roller

Missing an ab wheel? A foam roller will do the trick. I saw this done a couple of years ago via Joe DeFranco, and it has since become a mainstay of my program. It's just like normal Ab Wheel Roll Outs, but you must manually roll the foam roller out by turning it with your hands. Even if you have an ab wheel, this approach is great to mix things up. It's also good for large groups (if you have multiple rollers), and for beginners, because you manually turn the foam roller, which gives you more control over how far and fast you go out.

RELATED: The Ab Rollout: Best Core Exercise Ever?

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