Inexpensive Weight Lifting Equipment Ideas – Ted Rath: Detroit Lions

One of the most common questions that I receive from High School Coaches is “how can I do that if I don’t have that piece of equipment?”  This is a very valid question with the current economic struggles that our country is facing today. When speaking in terms of exercise selection you are only limited by your imagination. I would like to take this time to share some inexpensive ways to incorporate new exercises into your strength and conditioning program.  Most people can afford these inexpensive weight lifting equipment ideas, so it’s time to get to work.


This inexpensive tool can be incorporated into your program with an almost endless range of possibilities. Probably Towelsthe most common way to incorporate towels is by attaching them to certain pieces of equipment to perform pulling movements. For example, you can attach towels to any standard chin-up bar or pulldown machine. This addition is great for training your grip. I have also looped towels through the center of a standard weight or kettlebell and performed upright rows, bicep curls, one-arm rows and other exercises.

Perhaps one of the most underutilized components of a towel is its ability to slide on smooth surfaces. Many programs cannot afford to purchase a slide board but you can perform multiple slide board movements with nothing more than a towel and a gymnasium floor. Below are a few exercises that you can perform with a towel on a smooth surface:

Hamstring Curl:Starting on your back in a sit-up position, place a towel underneath your feet. Slowly curl your heels toward your buttocks while elevating your pelvis.Beginners should use both legs and advanced trainees may perform the curl in a single leg format. This can also be performed on a physio ball.

Hip Adduction (groin):While standing up, place one foot on the towel and keep the other foot firmly anchored on the gymnasium floor. While keeping your anchored foot in the same position, slowly move the towel away from your body as far as your range of motion comfortably allows, at the same time your anchored leg will slowly move into a squat position.When you have reached your point of comfort slowly return to the starting position. If you are a beginner I would suggest holding on to a sturdy support structure until you are comfortable enough to perform the exercise standing freely.

Chest Fly:This is a challenging exercise and should only be attempted by experiences trainees. Place 2 towels on the floor and place one hand on each. Assume the push-up position; slowly allow the towels to separate just as you would if performing a dumbbell fly on a bench. Then return to the starting position.

OLYMPIC WEIGHTS:Obviously everyone reading this has used a standard Olympic weight; you grab 45’s, 35’s, 25’s, 10’s, 5’s and the occasionally 2.5 lb plate without thinking twice. You place the weight on the bar and perform a set, then change the weight and repeat. If you have ever been strapped for time and / or space with one of your teams, you know how frustrating it can be. If you think you are simply out of luck, think again. You can perform an entire workout with nothing more than a couple of weights. Below is an example of a “plate routine” that can be done anywhere when time and space are at a minimum.



Curl to Press

Lunge to Chest Press

Bent over Row

Squat & Press

Upright row

Wood Choppers

Standing Bench Press

Bicep Curl

Skull Crushers

MR TrisMANUAL RESISTANCE:Manual Resistance exercises can be performed with nothing more than a spotter. I will caution that in order to perform MR movements you will require a highly skilled spotter and must have a thorough understanding of each exercise that will be performed. Before adding any MR exercises into your program take the time to TEACH each exercise and be sure that both the lifter and spotter are skilled and mature enough to take on the challenge!

Communication is key during any MR exercise; the lifter must give constant feedback to the spotter.Below are a few guidelines to follow:

§Perform 12 repetitions per exercise

§Allow 4 seconds during the lowering (eccentric) phase of the exercise

§Allow 2-3 seconds during the raising (concentric) phase

§Apply less resistance during the exercises “vulnerable” positions.For example when performing neck flexion, the spotter will apply much less resistance when the lifter’s head is stretched toward the bottom of the movement.

§Add more resistance during the lowering (eccentric) phase

§Never apply maximum resistance on the first few repetitions

As the coach it is a good idea to time the lifters during their first several MR workouts. This will allow the spotter and lifter to get a feel for the movement at the proper rep speed. Count down the lowering phase of each exercise to be sure that the athletes correctly perform each rep. MR is a great addition to a strength and conditioning program but you must be willing to take the time to teach this form of exercise the RIGHT WAY!

Ted Rath Detroit Lions Strength CoachTed Rath is the Assistant Strength Coach for the Detroit Lions.  He is in his 5th year with the club and has become a popular speaker at strength & conditioning clinics around the country.

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