How to Survive a Packed Gym

A new year means lots of new gym goers. While it is great to see a packed gym, it sucks when you are working out and constantly have to wait for equipment. Here are some tips so you can still chase your fitness goals when the gym is packed. While you may have to change up your workout, it could end up being a good thing.

If you strictly follow a workout routine or plan in the gym, make sure you are prepared with alternative exercises or a backup plan if it’s too busy. Some great places to go to look for alternate exercises are,, Jefit and Fitnotes.

If you want a safe bet, try out some of the seldom used equipment. Every gym has some equipment that people seem to ignore or have just been over ordered. Since the new year is packed with people trying out the gym, you might as well try out or retry something that you are unfamiliar with or avoid too.

While most people have a favorite piece of cardio equipment, you’ll be able to raise your heart rate and break a sweat on pretty well on all of them, so don’t be afraid to change it up. While treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals are generally the first things that people flock to for cardio, there are plenty of other options. Rowing machines are often overlooked and can be great for your core, back and legs while also being low impact. Skill Mills, Jacob’s ladders and Versa Climbers are newer cardio equipment and are often empty because people don’t know how to use them and they’re harder to do endurance workouts on. They’re great for a high intensity cardio workout though and mixing in some high intensity cardio still improves your endurance too. If you have some floor space available, skipping is also great cardio and helps improve your coordination.

It’s also a great time to hop on the often ignored glute/ham machine. As well as working your glutes and hamstrings you can also use it for situps, back extensions and hip extensions. Check out some demos here if you need to.

If you want to stick with your usual exercise, don’t be afraid to ask to work in and potentially make some new friends. Generally the wait shouldn’t be too long if you do this. The main exception to this is probably the squat racks. Because they are in short supply on a normal day in most gyms, getting one in January can be an exercise in patience, luck and perseverance.

Luckily, if you don’t wind up getting a squat rack or barbell, there’s still lots you can do with dumbbells and kettlebells to effectively work your legs. Split squat variations, single leg deadlifts and dumbbell jump squats are good exercises to sub in for front and back squats, deadlifts and cleans. It’s a good time to focus on unilateral training so you can make sure both legs are equally strong and get more balance and core stability training. Dumbbell split squat variations and single leg deadlifts are great to keep in your workout routine if you aren’t already doing them.

If you are strapped for time and want a fast and efficient workout when it’s busy, utilizing floor space is your best bet if your gym has some. This way you can just grab a spot, bring all the equipment you need there and monopolize it without being called out or having to wait for anything.

And if nothing goes according to plan, remember that some exercise is better than no exercise at all

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