Skip to main content
Goblet squats

Alternative Exercises for When the Gym is Packed

It’s January and you’re back to work after a long break, but more importantly you’re back in the gym and on your nutrition regime.

What could be worse then on your first night back on it than being greeted by a bunch of newbies occupying your beloved free weights area, YOUR territory! However irritating it may be, they have as much right to be there as you.

So how do you cope? Well you have 3 options;

1. You could wait around for each piece of equipment to use, but this could seriously impact the intensity of your workout.

2. You could go at a quieter time like last thing at night or first thing in the morning


3. You could take this opportunity to try some new exercises which could be the best possible thing to kick-start your muscle building or fat loss in 2015


So what are the most important exercises and what can you do instead?



In my opinion THE most important exercise, you should probably be spending about 20% of your total time in the gym on these, so when the squat racks are taken by imbeciles doing bicep curls, keep calm and whip these bad boys out;

Zercher Squats

Simply form a V-shape with your arms and allow the bar to rest on the inside of your eblows. Squat as normal, no rack needed

Zercher squat

Goblet Squats

Grab the handle of a kettle bell (a heavy one) with both hands as close to your body as possible. Squat as normal.

Goblet squats



Bench Press

Finding a free bench in a commercial gym in January is tougher than finding… Something that’s really hard to find. Don’t think that this is holy grail of chest exercises however. Try these…

Floor Press

A bench press without the bench. Lay on the floor and use large-diameter plates so you can get under the bar. Press. The range of motion isn’t as great because your arms can’t go past parallel but you should find you can use a little more weight as a result. Use a spotter.

floor press

Weighted Press-Ups

You’d perform weighted Pull-ups as a key part of back workout, so why not weighted press-ups for chest? Rest a plate on your back and off you go. This is what I call a highly portable exercise, it can be done virtually anywhere in the gym.





Seated Dumbell/Barbell Press

In my opinion, if you’re going for a balanced physique and great abs (who isn’t?) you should limited seated exercises as much as possible anyway. Standing exercises mean using your core to stabilise.

Standing Dumbell/Barbell Press

Self explanatory really, to make this even more of a whole body exercises, add some weight and perform hang-clean and presses or clean and presses from the floor.

standing dumbell press



Pull Ups

Pull ups really are an awesome exercise and in all honesty, they can’t be replaced. I’d even go as far to say that there’d be nothing wrong with having an entire back workout comprised only pull-ups. Yes, I like pull-ups, but if there really are no bars around to hosit yourself up on, try these;

Kneeling Unilateral Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns are ok, but they can mimic the staple pull-up a little better with a few modifications. Kneel on the floor and attach two handles in place of the bar. This makes the exercises less stable, making each side of the body work independently, as well as involving the core.






Dips are really underrated and it’s unlikely that you’ll find all your dips bars taken as they’re grossly underused by most gym goers. If the newbies at your joint are particularly savy however you can make a make shift dip station…

Bench Dips

Position two benches parallel to each other, use your arms to stabilise you and place your feet on the other, dip down to parallel and explode up, not locking out your elbows. Add weight plates to your lap if needed.

 bench dips


Use this busy period to try some new things and breath life into your routine. Get in the mindset that everything can be an opportunity. Not benching or doing conventional squats for a month certainly won’t impact you negatively.

Enjoy your training, and happy 2015!


About Joe



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *