By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
How realistic is it to get a great chest workout with very little weight?
I’m talking about those moments when the gym isn’t an option OR you work out at home with your own equipment (and you don’t have very much of it).
The good news is it’s actually very realistic to intensely work out with limited weights. You just need to be pointed in the right direction.
Even if the only equipment you have for working out is a lousy 80-100 pounds of plate weight, a barbell and a pathetic flat exercise bench (rust is optional).
Listen, after 25 years of working out I still like doing bench presses big time like most guys. Throwing 225 lbs around for reps is fun but that isn’t gonna fly with nothing more than a measly 100 pounds of iron and a barbell in your garage.
But we all need to start somewhere and frankly most guys training from home don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on heavy duty racks and tons of weight. I totally get that.
So what would you do if you were limited on equipment?
Well, as I said, you do have options. Here is what I would do with that so called “worthless” 100 pounds and a barbell for hammering those pecs, shoulders and triceps.
Micro-Burst Chest Workout
For a period of three months and twice per week on non-consecutive days do flat barbell bench presses with the 100 pounds for no more than two sets; do as many reps as possible.
Here are some bullet points for you in part one of this workout:
- 90 days
- 2x per week on NON-consecutive days
- No More than Two Sets
- Rep until failure
The key is to always try to do more reps in each workout!
In other words, don’t settle for less than one additional rep each set per workout. Rest two to three minutes between the first and second set.
Upon completion of the second set strip the bar completely of all poundage and position it securely on the floor. If you must, use some type of wedge on either side of the collars to keep the bar from moving or rolling under you.
Get into a regular push-up position and grasp the bar with your regular bench press hand spacing. Now do two sets of bodyweight push-ups only for as many reps as possible.
Again, mimic the instruction given for the barbell bench press. Do as many reps as possible on each set and try to desperately add one additional rep to each set each workout.
You will experience a tremendous pump from this micro-burst chest workout but even better, at the end of three months, you will hold most of the previous gain factor on your 225 bench press reps. You may even make an increase in poundage or reps with 225 lbs.
I’m using 225 lbs as a bench mark since it’s such a common poundage used across the country for testing etc.
NOTE: It’s always recommended to hit a gym occasionally even if you work out at home most of the time. The gym gives you an opportunity to do more sub-maximal or maximal weight lifting safely which actually needs to be done here and there if strength is important to you.
There’s just no good replacement for testing yourself with 80-90% of your 1 rep max.
Remember, as long as you’re ‘properly’ destroying your body with light to moderate weights, it’s amazing how much strength you can retain when you go back to heavier weights intermittently.