No More Barbell, What Now?

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Level 3 Valued Member
My main access to a barbell was at my fire station. It's no longer there. It is what it is. All we have now are dumbbells (50 lbs or less) and a few hamster wheels (treadmills). I can still bring my kettlebell to work, but this was my only place for deadlifts and now I am at a loss. I'm not going to let it get me down, though, and I am dedicated to staying strong enough to never find myself in a situation where lack of strength was the determining factor leading to a poor outcome. So here's how I see my options and I'd like some input:

Option 1:
Become a member of a gym that allows deadlifting. This costs money, and the only gym in the area that allows deadlifting is out of the way of both my fire station and my home. That equals time away from home and less money and my wife and I are gonna have a baby soon. But also, DEADLIFTS!

Option 2:
Step it up at home. I lack room for a barbell setup at home (heck, I lack room and adequate surface types for TGUs) so I'll just step up my kettlebell game during my driveway workouts. I'm currently on 40kg bent presses and 48kg two handed swings, and without deadlifting I could probably progress those quite a bit. I have also considered adding in GTG bodyweight drills daily. I have achieved one handed (with two footed) pushups and pistols with my heels elevated (despite being what I like to refer to as "too fat to pistol") in the recent past and a little more "self mastery" with just my body might do me some good.

Any other suggestions?


Level 7 Valued Member
Reading your post i'm assuming you're a fire fighter or paramedic.
A deadlift setup requires only a bar and some plates, no rack or bench. A reasonable bar (i take Rogue's stuff as reference here) plus 400-500lbs bumper plates costs ~1000$ and that's all brand new, i'm sure you can get something used for much less.
So how about asking you colleagues to split the sum?
Just leave it at the fire station and everyone who paid can use it.

Btw what kind of gym doesn't allow deadlifts? o_O
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Level 3 Valued Member
There will be no more barbells in place of the barbell which is now gone, we were told.


Level 7 Valued Member
Sounds like a good opportunity to work on heavy swings while you figure out your next move. Particularly with a baby on the way it sounds like a better idea to keep investing in the home gym.


Level 6 Valued Member
I just snagged a barbell on Craigslist for $40 and a 300lb set of steel plates for $80 just for a home deadlift setup. I plan to get a few more plates to have a good amount of weight for under $200 investment.


Level 4 Valued Member
Maybe you could find a handrail or something similar to do some isometric holds. If you can find a few different heights to work with that can help. I've done that when I've had to travel for work and couldn't access a gym. At one stage when I was squatting heavy I went without a access to a gym for over a month and just did isometric holds and I adapted a sanchin style movement over the range of the squat and I actually gained strength.

I still do the sanchin/dynamic tension movements several times a week because I have no cartilage in my left knee and training heavy just isn't an option for me. If I ever need to lift anything heavy leg strength is never an issue for me.

Harald Motz

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
1442982547825.jpg +1 what tarzan said. An adjustable device can easily be build. You need a steel plate, rings welded or screwed on it, iron pipe with rings welded or screwed on it, two chains, four carabiners. When not used it can easily be stowed somewhere. You can bench, deadlift, squat and if the chains are long enough even overhead press.


Level 3 Valued Member
Just curious...So what did someone do with a barbell to get them banned from the gym?
There is always a story behind crazy new rules like that.

Sounds like a great time to work on the ETK - ROP. I find that one arm heavy swings seem to help maintain at least some of my deadlift strength.

With that said, another investment option...Horse stall mats.
I think they are 4x6 foot sections, about 3/4 inch thick super tough rubber. Two of those is enough space for TGU in the garage. I think I paid $40 each mat. And later on they will make a good spot to drop your rogue barbell and bumper plates.

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
A 4' x 6' x 3/4" rubber mat, a $200 starter Oly weight set, and a few extra plates.



Level 6 Valued Member
Heavy swings plus occasional snatches will likely maintain your deadlift strength.

One day a month go and pay for a one off session at a gym you can deadlift in - go and slowly work up to a decent heavy double (don't kill yourself with a max single) then back off a bit and get some reps in.

Alternatively buy yourself a trap bar and a load of 45# plates. It's not the same as deadlifting a bar, but you can lift some heavy heavy weights, get a lot of reps in and it won't take up as much space or cost as much as a worthwhile barbell. A great addition to kettlebell training and probably ideal for a firefighter or paramedic etc who needs to be everyday strong not barbell strong.

Will Moore

Level 3 Valued Member
It appears that you are limited to dumbbells, by policy. As a result, any chance that you could buy some heavier dumbbells for suitcase, straight-leg or kickstand deadlifts? In addition, a short platform might also be necessary to elevate the dumbbell to a similar level the bar would be with a bumper plate. Just a thought. Live well!

Keep Lifting

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
do farmers walks with your 40 and 48, its not the same as deads of course, but after 60 secs of walking you will start to get that great feeling of stress from your ears to your knees that you get with deadlifts. drop em, catch your breath, switch hands and go again.


Level 3 Valued Member
The past couple weeks have been spent fooling around and searching for what I wanna do. Since I'm enjoying the bent press so much I'm basically back to the S&S with bent presses that was outlined in Dave Whitley's "Taming the Bent Press". Bent Presses for 10 total reps each hand and then 100 swings one handed for sets of 10 just like outta the S&S book. It's going well so far. I got the 40kg down for BP singles and I've backed off to the 32 for now for multiple reps with a clean before each rep. The goal is to get the 32kg licked for 5 left, 5 right, 5 left, 5 right before I go back to the 40kg. I think that is keeping enough with the spirit of S&S. Right now I'm at 3L, 3R, 3L, 3R, 3L, 3R, 1L, 1R before my swings.
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