I am doing Starting Strength program and I am going to my hometown for Christmas. I won't be able to access a gym there. What can I do instead? I don't like the idea of not doing anything for a week, especially that I will probably eat a lot there.

I can always do pushups, squats, situps. Do you have some other ideas of how I can substitute regular training for a week?

  • 1
    How many weeks in are you? What are your numbers? Dec 16, 2011 at 14:52
  • I am doing squats with 80kg, bench press with 82, press with 46 and deadlift with 70.
    – gruszczy
    Dec 16, 2011 at 18:42
  • You can also try variations like explosive push ups, and explosive squats. They will help build the fast twitch muscle fibers, versus the slow twitch that most weight lifiting does. Dec 19, 2011 at 20:48
  • How many weeks in are you? Are you following the program--adding weight each time, 3 workouts a week? Dec 20, 2011 at 15:22
  • What's your starting bodyweight and current bodyweight? Dec 20, 2011 at 15:32

4 Answers 4


If you can find anything long and stretchy (failed bicycle inner tube, long bungee, surgical tubing) there are dozens of great exercises you can do with one or two lengths jambed into a closed door hinge. Slow "punches" with one arm (holding the free end in one hand) gives your core, biceps, and pecs a workout all at once. Kicks and "lawn mower pull" motions work well. I'm sure you'll dream up some good balance and control challenges during the strength rep breaks. And while you're daydreaming, think about where the rubber would fly if it pulled free or snapped--make sure your face isn't nearby.


There are plenty of body weight exercises that could keep you going.

If you find pushups too easy (ie. you can do more than 5 easily) make it harder by doing inclined pushups, or try one armed pushups.

If squats are too hard - can you do one-legged squats (pistols)?

A good book to work through during the week would be The Naked Warrior. Pavel goes in intricate detail about mastering the one armed pushup and the pistol. What you learn from going through this book will be useful for your Starting Strength program.

Also, pullups and chinups will give you a good upper body workout - if they are too easy, try them one-handed.


If I were you, I'd try to find a gym near my hometown that I could visit. CrossFit or a generic gym will probably allow a drop-in or short-term pass.

If it's really the case that there are no gyms around, I would consider two options: a rest/deload week, or a substitute-exercise week.

  • If I were pretty far along the program, the weights were getting heavy, and I was probably under-recovered even while making progress, I would lean towards a rest week. I would focus on recovery--good sleep, good eats, nothing more strenuous than a few walks or moderate hikes.
  • If I were less far into the program and the weights were not yet super-challenging, I would lean towards finding substitutes. I'd find the heaviest things I could pick up, and pick them up repeatedly. I'd get in a ton of pull-ups. I wouldn't worry too much about push-ups, crunches, or other relatively easy unweighted exercises.

Bottom line: you will lose substantial progress. You will get weaker. You will lose hard-earned strength. When you get back to the program, take 10 to 20% off your numbers.


I have just been given a body weight program by my PT to keep me going for 3 weeks where I will be without a gym. It's 8 exercises done tabata-style i.e. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, repeated 8 times, with a 1 minute break between each exercise, giving a total of 40 mins.

Here are the 8 exercises:

  1. Jump squats
  2. Bear crawls
  3. Push ups
  4. Alternating lunges
  5. Bouncing bears (same starting position as bear crawls, except feet slightly further back and you move sideways - right hand and right foot together, then left hand and left foot)
  6. Ab crunches
  7. Reverse oblique twists (windshield wipers)
  8. Straight leg drops

Some of these are much harder than others! So you could substitute in harder things if you wanted to have more of a workout.

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