Willpower is no match for muscleheads. The discipline to swab pub for weights flounders when there’s a six-deep queue at the bench press. But while a heaving gym is bad for your stress levels, your body needn’t suffer too. You just need to think outside the squat rack.

“Be willing to adapt your workout,” says Lloyd Bridger, the co-founder of LDN Muscle. It might say chest day in your phone, but you’re not going to build bigger pecs waiting in line. Either you hit the same body part with different kit – think dips or even press-ups – or you change focus to a different body part entirely. “If these aren’t an option, switch to a cardio or circuit workout.”

When you can’t pump your guns, pump your heart. High-intensity exercise burns fat and builds endurance, so when you get back in the gym on an empty day you can work harder for longer – and make up for any missed sessions. To cut your time dodging bros, look to total-body moves that work several muscles at once. Couple that with short rest periods and your body never drops out of fat-burning mode, so you get more results even from a short session. Who needs the bench, anyway?

The Total-Body Dumbbell Circuit

Grab a pair of dumbbells – the heaviest you can complete your weakest exercise with – and find yourself some floorspace. Focus on your form to the last rep, says Bridger: “As fatigue increases, technique deteriorates.” Which makes the workout less effective – and more dangerous.

Perform 10 reps of each exercise, with no rest between moves. After each full circuit, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat. Complete four to six rounds total.

Renegade Rows

Get in a press-up position, with a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your core locked and torso stable, row the right-hand weight up to your torso. Lower it slowly, then repeat with the left arm. That’s one rep.

Sumo Deadlifts

Stand with your feet wide apart, toes pointing 45-degrees out, with the dumbbells between your legs. Push your glutes back and squat down to pick the weight of the floor, then drive up through your heels. Pause then slowly lower and repeat.


Russian Twists

Sit on the floor holding a dumbbell with both hands. Lean back and lift your feet off the floor, then rotate to the right and tap the weight on the floor. Reverse and repeat the move on the left side. That’s one rep.

Squat Press

Stand holding the dumbbells at your shoulders, palms forwards. Dip into a full squat then drive the weight up over your head. Pause, slowly lower and repeat.


Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down then kick your legs back into a press-up position. Jump your feet forward into a squat, jump as high as possible, then land and sink straight back into a squat.