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Strength Training/Workout with smaller weights when you would rather have them bigger


I workout at a gym where the biggest dumbells are 20 lb/10 kg, no joke, it's part of a rehab/spa/medical centre so it makes sense. For many reasons I do not mean to change it even if I would be lifting more at home.

How to make-do with the smaller weights? I thought I could lift slower so increase the stress time on the muscle, or do more sets? Reps?

I do weights twice a week at the gym, then one day I'm home with the barbell and have free access to more disks.
Interval cardio one day, trail run another and two days rest, not in that succession.

I have always trained at home so adding weight was not a problem, I'm a bit clueless how to sort this issue with that gym.


Not the ideal situation, but we make do with what we have don't we.  The easiest solution is to try and think of different exercises to challenge the body that don't require a whole heck of a lot of weight.  Which is tough.

For example.  Let's say you dug squatting and obviously there wouldn't be enough weights for squatting traditionally.  But how about a single leg squat.  Sit on a chair and try to stand up just using one leg.  For most people it is fairly difficult.  So maybe that would be an option.

Maybe you shorten the rest inbetween sets to 30 or 45 seconds.  The first set might be easy, but the sets after that will get progressively more difficult.  

Maybe you try a weight exercise and then do a bodyweight exercise right after.  So, do a chest press for a certain amount of reps and immediatetly when you are done, do push-ups, then rest.  Hit the second set after that.

I'm not big on doing 20 or 30 reps because I don't know if that gets the benefit out of what you want to do.  I would try to think about doing some of the above changes and see what happens.  Let me know if you need me to clarify anything else.

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Adam Kessler


USA Weightlifting Sport Performance Coach and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. I have 16 years experience in the industry and now run my own personal training company.

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