Honestly – we hear this a lot (and no, the featured pic is NOT our gym!).

You’re at your local Pure Gym/Virgin/DL and it’s just too damn busy. But, it’s also convenient – it’s round the corner from work or home, and your work and family commitments mean it’s a struggle to go to a gym better suited to your training.

We’d always advise deciding where your training fits into your life’s priorities, and then training somewhere that matches up (like us, for example!), but we’re realists and we get that perfection just isn’t always possible.

So, how can you follow a programme in a gym with one squat rack, bent barbells and PTs that are more interested in watching MTV than stopping you breaking your back? Short answer – you can’t follow anything too rigid.

What’s the point in starting a plan that wants you to squat three times a week if every time you get to the gym at 6pm, there’s 5 teenagers in there having a curl-off? Or you can only find one dumbbell, because the other one has ended up being used as a door stop for Susan’s yoga class?

Some flexibility is clearly needed. Trouble is, too much flexibility often means too much variety, which means that you don’t train movement patterns enough to elicit any real change, and certainly too much variety to ever feel like you’re making lifting progress.

So – if we can’t guarantee to hit specific exercises, we can damn sure hit the same movement patterns. After all, yes, a DB and BB bench press do different things, but not THAT different. You can switch up. It’s not ideal, but it’ll work and it’s better than the alternative (making it up as you go along…).

The downloadable (free!) file below gives a sample template that I’ve used with several clients that have no choice but to train in a busy gym.


The idea is simple – every session, pick 1 exercise from each of the first sections, then 2 from the last section. The next time you train, make sure you pick different exercises, and keep rotating through. You should find that over a period of 4 weeks, training three times a week, even in a very busy gym, you have managed to hit every single exercise in the plan. The following month, you now have a reference point – try and beat the weights you did the last time you did that exercise.

It probably goes without saying that if you have a specific sporting/performance goal, this just won’t work. You’ll need to get yourself to a proper gym that allows you to stick to a plan. But, if your goal is get a bit fitter, bit stronger and look good nekkid, this’ll work a treat.

Don’t stress about things you can’t control – in a busy gym, rest periods might depend on who’s working in with you, or how long the queue is for the machine you want. Rest periods just aren’t THAT important to get worried about.

Have a go, and let us know how you get on.

And, of course, if you start to think “you know, maybe I need to switch gyms”, come and have a chat with us. You’ll probably find RWF Gym a little different to the big boys! We deliberately keep our membership at a level that means people don’t have to queue for kit, and that they can follow proper training plans.


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