A “Life hack” is essentially a clever, and often non-obvious way to solve problems and increase productivity and efficiency in everyday life.
In this post I’m providing you with 7 weight-room hacks that will not only help you solve common problems in the gym, but also help you get the most out of using the equipment you’ve got.
1. How to Strip Plates Off the Bar After Heavy Deadlifts
Our first hack comes from my man, Bret (the Rear Admiral) Contreras. It involves a simple and easy way to drag plates off the bar after doing heavy hip thrusts or deadlfts, which is a cumbersome task that requires lots of extra time and energy when you don’t use this hack.
Sure! To many “serious” weightlifters, the hack shown in Bret’s video is common knowledge, But most people, like myself, aren’t “serious” weightlifters” – they’re athletes and fitness enthusiasts – so they may not be familiar with this hack. And, as iron game legend Richard Sorin, owner of Sorinex Exercise Equipment says, athletes are not in the gym to be weightlifters, they’re there to be athletes made stronger in the weight room.”
I would also add that individuals with physique and general fitness related goals (i.e. bodybuilding or fat loss) aren’t their to be weightlifters either; they’re in the weight room to be made bigger and leaner. That said, regardless of your goal, anyone can use this hack to save time stripping weight plates from the bar.
2. A Smarter Way to Rack Weight Plates
If you’re a gym owner or run a personal training facility, you may want to reconsider how you’ve set up your weight room equipment!
I’ve been all over the world and seen 100′s of weight-rooms and fitness facilities. And, in my opinion, the way most gyms, training studios and sports performance centers have their weights plates set up is in a manner that doesn’t make sense.
In short, sometimes making your workouts smarter and safer begins with simple solutions like I’ve describe in this video:
3. How to Stack Weight Plates on a Sled or Prowler
If you’re using a sled, you know it can be a real pain pulling the plates up off of the vertical weight-retaining bar(s).
That said, it’s doesn’t have to be! All you have to do is alternate 45lb plates with 5lb plates. Not only does this make it easier to grab and pull off the 45’s, but it also gives you nice and simple 50lb increments to monitor your resistance.
Also, as some physique training enthusiasts know, this alternating small plate/ big plate technique can also be used on the seated calf raise apparatus.
4. Use Ab Straps for More than just Hanging Leg Raises
Put simply, you can use ab straps as a handle option for various cable exercises in order to “work-around” nasty finger, hand, wrist, or elbow injury that prevents you from holding anything.
For example, you can use them to perform Bent-Over Rows:
Sure it’s not the full range of motion you’ll get from using a dumbbell or cable handle. But, if you can’t hold onto either of those due a hand/wrist issue, doing this is far better than doing nothing at all.
Another one of my favorite ab-strap cable applications is the Rotary Cable Pull:
The bigger lesson here is that an injury, joint pain or limitation doesn’t have to cancel your workout. In fact, in our Joint Friendly Strength Training 2-DVD Set, we show you over 100 innovative exercises for building muscle and strength while sparring your joints and working-around wounded knees, shell-shocked shoulders, a hand/wrist limitation, or a bad back.
5. Use Barbells as a Personalized Dip Station
The problem that most people fail to solve when performing parallel bar dips is one of attempting to fit themselves to the same bar width instead of fitting the bar width to themselves. This is important to notes as one of the common complaints about using strength training machines is that the machines don’t allow us to follow our “natural” path of movement. But yet, no one seems to liken this to doing parallel bar dips when everybody has their hand placement at the same general width regardless of their body shape and size.
Now, you may be thinking that there is no way to adjust the width of your hands on a parallel bar dip station because the handles are already preset at a specific width. And, the parallel bar dip stations that do adjust only have one adjustment were you rotate the handle’s either further apart or closer together, which still leaves plenty of people of whom would be best fit with the hand placement somewhere in the middle unable to fit the exercise to them.
So now that I’ve given you the problem, in this video (below) I give you a simple solution to doing parallel bar dips in a more personalized way that’s fully adjustable to every individual without requiring you to buy any new or specialized equipment.
Note: If you’re worried about the barbells rolling when you perform the dips, don’t be, as the barbells won’t roll once you put your weight on them. That said, as with every other exercise, there is always some idiot factor involved.
6. Using Wrist-Wraps for Front Squats for Wrist Issues
Just when I think that using wrist straps to perform front squats is a hack “everyone knows,” I find plenty of people who have never seen this technique before. So it’s worth sharing here for those of whom may not already be familiar with this technique.
Put simply, if front squats bother your wrists, or you’re just unable to put your wrists into the position required to perform front squats, simply wrap wrist straps around the bar and hold onto them.
7. How to Use a Trap Bar as a Four-Way Neck Machine
I’m a big fan of neck strengthening exercises, especially for athletes competing in impact sports like rugby, football, grappling, boxing, muay thai and MMA. That said, a very effective tool for strengthening the neck is a four-way neck machine. The only problem is that most gyms don’t have one, and many private training centers don’t have the budget or space availability to accommodate one of these machines.
However, No neck machine, no problem! In this video, Richard Sorin shows you how to turn a trap bar into a four-way neck machine:
As you can see from the video, it’s smartest to invest in a trap bar that’s designed especially to be long enough to be placed in a rack, like the Sorinex Diamond Bar, because it allows you to use the bar in more ways, helping you to get more value from your investment.
One last thing…
Sure you may have already known about some of these hacks shown above, and you may have been using them for sometime now. But keep in mind that many people have not seen these hacks before. Also keep in mind that the hacks in this article that you may not have seen may not be the same ones that others have previously seen. In other words, what you think is new may be old to someone else.
So, instead commenting in on social media threads that “I’ve known this or that hack for years” or “every serious lifter should be doing this already,” which does nothing but satisfy your own childish need for validation – Please provide comments that actually benefit the rest of us, like sharing other gym hacks you’ve used to better navigate the weight-room.