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    Here's How To Get a Million Dollar Workout At A Shitty Gym

    You don't need a 5-star gym to get a 5-star workout.

    by ,

    So, your gym situation kind of sucks.

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    There are plenty of reasons why you might be stuck with a gym that's lacking equipment, too crowded, or just downright sketchy. Maybe you're on a tight budget, you live super far from a city, or you're stuck in a dorm or hotel for the time being.

    In any case, just because your gym kind of sucks doesn't mean your workout has to suck, too. We reached out to fitness experts Rob Sulaver of Bandana Training and Jessi Kneeland of ReModel Fitness to find out how you can get an incredible workout — even when the equipment you need is taken, broken, limited, or even just gross.

    1. Do your warm-up before you get to the gym. / Via

    If trying to find mat space at your gym to warm-up is basically like the Hunger Games, just get it out of the way before you go. Here are some good dynamic stretches you can do pretty much anywhere.

    2. Run, bike, or walk to the gym to get some extra cardio in.

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    Saves time and the annoyance of trying to fight people for that one open treadmill.

    3. Learn a bunch of bodyweight movements so you can do them when all the weight machines are inevitably taken/broken.

    Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

    Find tutorials for these moves here and use the interactive tool on to browse by muscle group.

    "You should also become familiar with the five major movement patterns and the variations of each: squat, push (push-ups, bench press), pull (chin-ups, rows), hinge (deadlifts), and core stabilizers (planks, chops)," Kneeland says. Once you have these down, the possibilities are endless and you won't have to rely on equipment and weight machines to get an effective strength training workout. You can also adjust these or modify the moves according to what feels good and works for you.

    4. For instance, you can definitely work your lower body without a machine.

    Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed / Via

    You can target more or less the same muscles you do on the leg press using squats and lunges — then add in dumbbells or kettlebells when you want to take it up a notch. With tons of variations, you can work a lot more than just your quads and calves, Sulaver says. Here's a super effective leg routine to get you started.

    5. And the same goes for butt workouts.

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    If you're used to using weight machines to target your glutes, try branching out with some mat exercises, like: fire hydrants, wall sits, kickbacks, leg lifts, and glute bridges. You can also add in weight to really get your booty burning.

    Here are some awesome 10-minute circuits and a simple five-move routine to get you started.

    6. Ditto for upper body and arms.

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    Pumping iron isn't the only way to get a great arm workout. So when you can't get on your favorite machines, try some standing and floor exercises that use pushing and pulling movement patterns like push-ups, presses, and arm raises. The circuit pictured above is beginner-friendly, but check out these intermediate and advanced versions if you want to take it up a level.

    7. Now plan your workout into three sections — one bodyweight, one with machines, and one with free weights.

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    The key here is being flexible about the order — so if you can't find the room or equipment to do one of these options, you won't waste any time figuring out a new game plan, says Kneeland. If you already have three possible lower body workouts logged in your phone, you'll always have a Plan B when something isn't available at your gym.

    "It's mentally draining to come up with stuff as you go, but if you have a set plan you can just focus on your workout and pushing yourself," she says.

    8. If you can only find one set of dumbbells, craft your workout around that.

    Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via

    With two dumbbells, you can do bicep curls, tricep extensions, lunges, and flyes. Or if you can only find one heavier dumbbell, Sulaver suggests a squat press, goblet squat, deadlift, bent-over row, and floor press.

    Try alternate sets of different exercises back-to-back with minimal rest in between so you're really working. And if you aren't sure how heavy you should go, Sulaver says you should choose a weight which feels challenging by the last rep (usually about 10 reps), but still allows you to keep perfect form — which is the most important part of weight training. Check out these dumbbell moves for more ideas.

    9. If the ellipticals are all taken, try fast-walking on an inclined treadmill and add in bicep curls with 5-pound dumbbells.

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    "The treadmill can be super boring but this is a good substitute and it's really tough on the legs," Sulaver says. Plus, you can add in 5- or 7-pound dumbbells and do sets of bicep curls if you want to get a full body workout.

    10. Zero cardio machines? Swap in a circuit of bodyweight exercises for 20 to 30 minutes instead.

    Jenny Chang / Via

    "You can milk bodyweight exercises for cardio effects and get an amazing, if not better, workout than you do on the treadmill or elliptical," Sulaver says.

    Great options are jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knees, and burpees — but the possibilities are really endless. All you have to do is plan out a circuit of exercises, Kneeland says, then alternate between sets or intervals with minimal rest for about 20 minutes to half an hour to get a good full-body cardio workout.

    Here are more ideas for cardio workouts that aren't running.

    11. Learn lots of off-the-floor core exercises so you're not always relying on the mats or ab machines.

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    Wouldn't dare lay on a mat or the floor of your nasty gym? OK so crunches are out, but that's no big deal. There are tons of other ab exercises you can do off the ground.

    One of Sulaver's favorite exercises is the renegade row, where you hold a pushup position with two dumbbells on the ground and pull one arm up, alternating left and right — you can modify this and keep your hands on a bench if it's easier. The goal is to engage your core the whole time so that you don't rotate from side to side as you're doing it.

    Other non-traditional ab moves that get you off the ground include: side planks, farmer's walk, cable wood chops, stepping wood chops (the arms cross the body to the lifted knee), or a medicine ball rotation throw.

    12. And when you want to get in and out of there ASAP, do a quick two-move workout that'll still kick your butt.

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    You'll want to pick two moves that target different parts of the body, like a squat press with two dumbbells and a Russian twist using one. Then, set your phone timer to 8-10 minutes and jump back and forth between sets of each, trying to do as many as possible before time runs out.

    "The point is to go as fast as you can with very little rest time to race against the clock, so it's an incredible and challenging workout," says Sulaver. And since this doesn't take up much space and requires minimum equipment, you can do it basically anywhere in the gym.

    Check out these high intensity moves to get started.

    13. Or pick one total-body move and do lightening-fast intervals of that.

    Sally Tamarkin / John Gara / Via

    Think of this as your go-to, full-body exercise when everything is taken and you don't feel like thinking too much. It's quicker and easier than a circuit, but still super effective, says Sulaver.

    Examples include: plank pushups, burpees, a lunge to dumbbell row, or a squat press with dumbbells. Once you perfect your form, you can do the move for however many reps or time intervals (example: 60 seconds on, 30 off) you want until you feel the burn. And you literally only need a corner to yourself and maybe a mat or dumbbell.

    Try this crazy-intense 100 burpee workout or a these total-body moves.

    14. Get a pair of cheap-o earbuds and keep them in your gym bag so you never ever forget them.

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    Perfect for drowning out all the ridiculousness happening around you, so you can get in and out and on with your day.

    Check out these pairs on Amazon under $10.

    15. Bring your own quick-drying towel to use on machines and mats.

    A lightweight, absorbent towel is the perfect barrier between you and another person's booty sweat. Buy this nifty one here for $11.97.

    16. And bring your own yoga mat if the ones at your gym are always taken or super gross.

    Available in a variety of colors here starting from $12.99.

    17. Don't forget an odor-absorbing air freshener in your locker so even if the whole locker room stinks, your stuff stays fresh.

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    Try "Odor Executioner," which uses natural charcoal to help absorb all those nasty gym locker room odors. Buy a pack of 2 for $21.99 here.

    18. Never skip a workout because you hate your gym or you think the workout won't be "good enough."

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    "Live by this mantra: It's better to have terrible workout than nothing at all," Sulaver says. Giving yourself permission to have bad days and subpar workouts is a great motivational hack because it helps you stay with the gym habit even if you aren't feeling your best. "I think even when you accept that you will have a crappy workout, you end up working much harder than you think," Sulaver says.

    Click here to check out more motivational tips for when you're feeling lazy AF.

    19. And if ALL ELSE FAILS, just quit your gym and join a new one or start working out in the great outdoors.

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    If it gets to a point where you are constantly avoiding and skipping workouts because you can't stand your gym, you might just want to cut ties. Because the whole point of having a gym is to have a dedicated space to go to when you want to sweat it out — so if your gym actually makes you want to cry and avoid it, then you've got a problem.

    "You can always just run or walk or bike," Sulaver says. And if you still want to work out at a gym, take time to research your options and see if local gyms offer any special discounts or deals that can save you money — as long as you find something that works for you.

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