How to Work Out in A Crowded Gym

We’ve all had that moment: we walk into the gym and groan as we see just how full it is. There are people on just about every machine and using every dumbbell on the racks, so there’s no way we can fit in a proper workout. Not so! The truth is that you can get in a good workout, no matter how packed the gym is. Here is some advice on how to work out in a crowded gym:

Do Bodyweight Training

No one says you have to lift weights just because you’re at the gym! In fact, for many people, it’s better to get away from the weights and start working out using your own bodyweight. Bodyweight training helps you to be more functionally fit, meaning you’ll develop strength proportional to your weight and size. The best part of bodyweight training is that you don’t need any weights! You can do push-ups, pull-ups, squat jumps, Plank, Mountain Climbers, and Burpees without anything but the weight of your body. All you need is a bit of wide open space and you’re good to go.

Use Just One Apparatus

Instead of trying to fit in a workout that utilizes different machines, benches, and weights, stake your claim to ONE apparatus and use that for your entire workout. It may not be ideal, but it’s better than fighting with other gym-goers for the equipment. For example, if you manage to find yourself an unoccupied bench press, you can combine your chest, shoulders, and triceps day into one bench-based workout. It will take a bit of creativity to work with the barbell for all these muscles, but you’ll find a lot of barbell-based movements for these “pushing” muscles.

Load it Up

If the gym is very full, you may find that the lighter dumbbells are already in use. The best solution for you: go heavy! The heavier dumbbells are far less likely to be occupied, and you’ll find that they make for a great power-training workout. Trim your sets down to 4-6 reps, but lift as much weight as you can. You’ll have a lot more weight options at the higher loads, as most people will be using the lighter weights. It’s a great way to mix things up, get creative in a crowded gym, and give your muscles a brand new punishing workout.


Instead of working the same muscle set after set, why not mix it up? Work with a buddy or a fellow gym-goer, and each of you stake your claim to a machine (indicated by a towel draped over the machine). Switch off sets, working two different muscles on the same day (chest and back, shoulders and legs, etc.). This will give you not only a better overall workout, but you won’t have to rest between sets. You’ll get through your workout much more quickly regardless of how packed the gym is.

Take a Class

There are times when it’s better to say “Blast it” and skip the weight room altogether. People flock to the gym in droves just before summer and first thing in the New Year, so you may have to get used to a packed gym for a few weeks out of every year. During this time, get acquainted with the classes your gym offers. Try spinning, Yoga, Pilates, or martial arts/cardio-based classes. They can be a lot of fun, a great way to mix things up, and option to consider on the days when the gym is just too full to get in a proper workout.

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