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Saturday, March 2, 2024
HomeBody Building SupplementsThe Ultimate Machine-Based Training Plan - T NATION+ - COMMUNITY

The Ultimate Machine-Based Training Plan – T NATION+ – COMMUNITY


How to Work Out at a Wimpy Gym

Bad gym? Don’t have a barbell? no problem. Regardless, use this machine-based plan with a few light dumbbells to sculpt your body.


If you’re a member of a well-equipped gym, any training program is doable. It’s a little tougher if you only have access to an apartment, dorm, or hotel fitness center. Most of these small gyms only have machines and some light dumbbells. Not good if your main goal is hypertrophy…unless you know how to train.

good news

Machines are still building to size. Being able to zero in on a fixed path allows you to gradually overload and isolate the fatigued muscles and utilize consistent, reliable mechanical tension.

If you have a strength base and know good technique, it’s a goldmine for building muscle. Whether you use these methods all the time or only when you travel, as long as you play your cards right, you won’t be in the worst situation you can imagine.

common equipment

Most apartment, apartment, or hotel gyms have some staple equipment. Here’s what you might encounter:

  • Seated Chest Press
  • Seated Shoulder Press
  • Lat drop down station
  • pull up station
  • leg stretcher
  • cable tower
  • Assorted dumbbells, adjustable bench
  • rowing machine

Believe it or not, if you have access to this list, you can build a pretty awesome training plan around it.

A week of sample programs

This program makes good use of basic isolation machines and light dumbbells. You’ll be expanding sets and overloading and fatigued muscles. If you are unfamiliar with some of the exercises in the program or need some tips, watch the short video below:

Day 1: Return

exercise set represent rest
a. pull up 4 maximum Allen*
B1. Lat Pulldown (Underhand Grip) 4 10
B2. J type drawstring 4 12 2 minutes
C1. cobra pull down 4 10/arm
C2. bent over reverse fly 4 12 2 minutes
d. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row (Suspended Reps)** 3 12

* As long as needed.
** This does not require the heaviest dumbbells for rhythm reasons. Aim for a three-second descending phase and pause at the top and bottom of each rep. It does long sets and intensely hits the upper back muscles.

Day 2: Chest

exercise set represent rest
a. Seated chest press* 1131 15,10,8(slow eccentric),15 2 minutes
b. Incline Pull Chest Press (EMOM)** 8 minutes 10
C1. Flat Dumbbell Flyes 3 12
C2. bodyweight push-ups 3 maximum allen

* For the first two sets, add weight. Once you reach the working set (3×8), use the slow eccentric. The goal of the working set is to get the maximum effort for the largest part of the set. If your last two reps are only slightly stronger than your first six reps, you’re not heavy enough. Try to find the sweet spot where the weight feels heavy but still allows you to use good form. The second half of each set should be a slow grind.

** EMOM stands for “every minute.” So, start your clock, and do your first set while the clock is running. Let’s say it takes 15 seconds to complete a set — you can now rest for the rest of that minute (45 seconds in this example) until the next minute starts. That’s when you start the second set. You’ll be tired at this point, so start off a little lighter than you think.

Day 3: Legs

exercise set represent rest
a. Dumbbell Rear Foot Raise Split Squat* 4 8/leg allen
B1. Pause Leg Stretch** 4 12
B2. reverse nordic curl 4 10 2 minutes
C1. rowing machine hamstring curl 4 10
C2. Goblet Squat*** 4 12 2 minutes

* If you can, elevate the front foot onto a lower step or platform (no higher than 6 inches) to create a deficit. Rest for 15 seconds between your legs, taking as much rest as needed between rounds. Use the heaviest dumbbells possible.

** For leg extensions, use controlled eccentric, strong concentric, and a pronounced pause at peak contraction (full knee extension).The good thing about this Composite set? It trains the quadriceps to extend the knee from a position of hip flexion and hip extension. All muscles in the quadriceps group are trained. Rest two minutes between rounds.

*** You will be fatigued at this point, so even if your gym is equipped with lighter dumbbells, they will still provide training benefits. Rest two minutes between rounds of this superset.

Day Four: Shoulders

exercise set represent rest
a. Seated Shoulder Press* 1131 15,10,8,15
b. High Inclination Presses (EMOM) 8 minutes 8
C1. cable reverse crossover aircraft 3 15
C2. Dumbbell lateral raise (standing) 3 12 90 seconds
D1. Single Arm Inclined Side Raise 3 12/arm
D2. Rear deltoid cable chop** 3 15/arm
E. face pull*** 2 20 allen

* For the first two sets, add weight. Once you reach the working set (3×8), use the slow eccentric.

** The rear delt strike takes advantage of resistance to the normally untouched shoulder range of motion: from most adducted (arms over chest) to midline. Most abduction patterns start at the midline and work outward from there, ignoring the good stretch starting point of the rear deltoid.

*** Choose the best Noodle Variations for your goals.

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