Planet Fitness Workout Plan (Machines Optional)

You can get a good workout in at Planet Fitness (if you know what you’re doing).

After reading this you should feel confident enough to get the most of your membership.

You don't want to own weights, you want to be fit.

I know because I'm a personal trainer in Columbia, Missouri with a private studio. I encourage clients to stay active because it grows confidence and helps you feel good.

A fair bit of people enjoy exercise outside the studio - I’ve written my share of PF workouts.

Let's talk about how you can get the most out of your planet fitness workout plan.

Woman standing in black adidas shoes next to a blue yoga mat purple dumbbells and a water bottle

In this article we'll cover a lot of ground:

  • To start - I’m going to walk you through what a traditional planet fitness is like.
  • In the middle - I’ll touch on some of the things you may need to work around to get an effective workout.
  • Towards the end - I’ll share a couple of workout plans that you can try out.

Skip down the page if you just came for a workout.

(You'll get more out of this article if you know strength training best practices)

Can You Get a Good Workout at Planet Fitness?

Yes, you can get a good workout in at planet fitness (if you know what you’re doing).

While a good workout doesn't require them, the ability to add weight to exercises is an effective way to measure and make progress.

Planet fitness is filled with machines, cardio equipment, some dumbbells, fixed barbells, and handfuls of other random items.

If you've visited a gym before, you might be thrown off by the lack of unattached barbells and plates.

You should still be able to perform several exercises covering:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Hinges
  • Upper body pushing
  • Upper body pulling
  • Loaded carries
  • Various core and accessory muscles

Let’s talk a little more about what makes planet fitness unique before we talk about why working out there is different.

How is Planet Fitness Different?

For anyone who is not familiar with the franchise, Planet Fitness is a national gym found in most major cities of the United States. Each planet fitness has a pretty similar big-box feel.

Part of this is likely done so you feel familiar in each location. On the business end, it makes building cheaper and predictable.

Branding itself as "judgment-free" and comfortable for anyone, Planet Fitness is marketed as the anti-gym.

How Much is it to Workout at Planet Fitness?

As of today in Columbia, Mo, Planet Fitness offers two low-cost membership options:

  1. The Classic Membership - $10/month
  2. A "Black Card Membership" - $22.99/month

Both memberships may vary by club and are subject to taxes and fees. The classic membership is likely the one you've heard the most about.

A classic membership includes:

  • Unlimited Access to Home Club
  • Free Fitness Training (trainers will show you around the gym)
  • Free WiFi (at participating clubs)

For around $10 a month, WiFi alone might make this worth it.

The Black Card Membership includes the above plus:

  • Use of Any Planet Fitness Worldwide
  • Bring a Guest Anytime
  • Use of Tanning
  • Use of HydroMassage (where available)
  • Use of Massage Chairs
  • Use of Total Body Enhancement (whatever that is)
  • 50% Off Drinks** (restrictions apply?)
  • Worldwide Travel Deals
  • 20% off at Reebok.com

This is worth it if you want to bring a guest with you each month. I'm not someone who uses many of the perks included in higher-priced packages. I came to lift and shower, bro.

Does Any Planet Fitness Have Free Weights?

Yes and no, Planet Fitness has some free weights. I visited a Planet Fitness in Kansas City last December (2019) and it was pretty similar to the one I checked out in Columbia.

At that planet fitness they had the following:

  • Medicine balls
  • Dumbbells (1-50 lbs)
  • Yoga Balls
  • Adjustable height benches
  • Various resistance bands

Technically a "free weight" is just about anything that you can pick up and move in any direction you please. Dumbbells count as free weights.

All the machines listed in the next section were included as well.

What Machines Do They Have at Planet Fitness?

Planet Fitness has various branded machines from Life Fitness to Hammer Strength.

From what I've seen and been sent pictures of, machines may be labeled by muscle or movement.

Your location may including the following:

  • Abdominal crunch
  • Ab coaster?
  • Assisted dip/pull-up machine
  • Back extension
  • Cable columns (For seated rows, pull-downs, etc.)
  • Chest fly
  • Curls
  • Hip abduction
  • Leg extension
  • Leg press
  • Pulldown
  • Rear delt fly
  • Seated leg curl
  • Seated leg press
  • Shoulder press
  • Smith machine
  • Treadmills
  • Tricep extensions
  • Ellipticals
  • Fitness bikes

I'm sure that there are more machines than this. There are a couple that I honestly had no idea existed before visiting. Likely, your local PF varies slightly from this list.

Does Planet Fitness Have Squat Racks?

No, Planet fitness does not have squat racks in the traditional sense.

The closest thing you will find to a rack will be a smith machine. If you can get a fixed barbell overhead and into position, you could use that to perform a back squat. You'll be limited by the amount of weight that your arms can get into position.

To squat you could perform the following:

  • Goblet Squats
  • Zercher Squats - eliminates the overhead problem.
  • Front Squats
  • Pause Squats

You may also work your quads by performing a leg press, leg extension, or any lunge variation.

Can I Deadlift at Planet Fitness?

No, you can’t perform the standard barbell deadlift at Planet fitness. PF offers fixed barbells and a smith machine. You could perform smith machine deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts with free weights.

Smith machine deadlifts aren't the same as a conventional or traditional deadlift. For one, the angle that the bar travels is fixed.

If you're looking to build strong legs, that's not a huge issue. If you're looking to get better at the deadlift, there will be limits to the amount of improvement you'll see without deadlifting.

If you want to work your hamstrings, try these exercises:

  • Leg curls
  • Staggered stance Romanian deadlifts
  • Good mornings
  • Seated leg curls

You don't have to perform deadlifts from the floor. Be sure to perform hip hinges with a neutral spine within the range you can control.

Does Planet Fitness Have Free Weight Bench?

Yes, Planet Fitness has free weight benches. PF has both flat and adjustable height benches. What planet fitness lacks is the traditional bench with a free barbell and weight storage.

Not to worry, you can perform the following upper body pressing exercises:

  • Dumbbell bench presses
  • Push-ups
  • Dips
  • Shoulder presses
  • Smith machine bench press variations

There are other differences between planet fitness and other gyms well beyond the scope of this article.

Let's talk about working out at planet fitness.

What is a Good Workout Routine for Planet Fitness?

A good workout routine for planet fitness depends on your goals.

Are you looking for:

  • Workout plans to build muscle?
  • Workout plans to lose weight?
  • Workout plans for toning? (maybe some combination of the above)
  • Workout routines for strength?

A “good” workout for the above will vary by the goal.

  • Fitness routines aimed at strength tend to use heavier weights and longer rest periods.
  • Fitness routines designed to get you in better shape, use lighter weights and shorter rests.

You can certainly exercise for both, just usually not at the same time.

If any of this seemed unfamiliar to you, skim strength training for beginners.

Strength trainers follow 7 steps when making a training program1:

7 Steps of Program Design for Workout Plans:

1. Perform a Needs Analysis:

What are your goals, given where you are now?

  • If you're not training for a sport, your goal might be "strong legs".
  • What is your experience with exercise?
  • Have you been injured in the past? That changes things.

2. Choose Your Exercises:

What exercises do you need to perform?

  • Are you try to target certain muscle groups?
  • What kind of exercise technique experience do you have?
  • What exercise machines are at planet fitness?

3. How Often Can You Workout?

How many times can you make it to the gym each week?

  • Two to three times per week?
  • Three to four times per week?
  • Do you want to find some way to stay active every day?

4. What Order Will You Perform Your Workout Plan In?

What machines does everyone use? Jump on those when they're free.

  • Are you performing circuits?
  • Are you doing one exercise at a time?
  • You typically see the most improvement in things that come earlier in your workout.

5. How Many Reps Should You Do?

The number of reps in each set is directly related to the goals of your training.

  • How much can you lift? For one rep? For 10?
  • How much weight should you lift? Based on your current goals.
  • When should you add weight to your exercises?

6. How Many Sets Should You Do?

How many sets or groups of reps should you do?

  • One to three per exercise?
  • Two to four sets per exercise?
  • More sets on some exercises than others in the same workout?

7. How Long Should You Rest For?

There is more than one kind of rest:

  • Resting between sets of the same exercise.
  • Resting between different exercises.
  • How many days should you rest before working out again?

Each step in a workout plan is interrelated.

  • If you're going to work out every day, your fitness routine will look significantly different than twice per week.
  • What kind of experience do you have lifting free weights? Did you learn to workout using only machines? Have you been injured in the past?
  • How much time do you have each time you make it to the gym? If you exercise frequently, it makes it more difficult to lift hard. Typically, the harder you work, the longer you rest.
  • Getting in shape involves performing more exercise. Building strength involves fewer sets and reps with heavier weights.

Changing one thing has a direct impact on another.

Let’s get into some workout plans for building muscle, losing weight, and toning. When I say "toning", I mean maintaining muscle while losing fat.

While it is difficult to keep muscle and lose fat, you can aim to do so by resistance training as you lose weight.

You will want to perform enough volume to keep your muscle while placing yourself in a caloric deficit.

Remember, volume-load = sets x reps x weight.

If calorie deficit confused you, I recommend you skim a few relevant articles.

How to Perform These Planet Fitness Workout Routines

Let's talk about the two routines listed below that you can follow to workout at Planet Fitness.

Each workout plan is a full-body training day that could be repeated for a month or more at a time. Perform exercises that you can demonstrate both comfort and control with. Some opt to repeat exercises multiple times per week to help them learn faster.

I opted to use machines for strength because they're the easiest to load at PF. You don't have to use machines but, they're useful in this scenario.

A few tips, take them as general, smart training advice:

  • Start with a weight that you can do 10-15 reps with - aim to add weight each week as possible.
  • If you meet the top end of a rep range in each set - add weight next week.
  • Add sets as needed - sore to the touch is too much, back off a bit.
  • Science is unclear on rest times - rest as long as you need to perform well on each set.

The goal of the "strength training" workout plan is to add weight to your exercises from week to week.

The goal of the "toning" workout plan is to add or maintain volume from week to week. You can do that by adding reps to each set, extra sets, or an additional exercise.

Pro tip: It's easier to bring free weights to a machine than it is to try and use two machines.

A side note on repeating workouts:

You can perform the same workout for 4-6 weeks and then take an easier week. This week is commonly called a deload, it allows you to manage fatigue and continue to make gains in fitness. Try reducing your volume by 30-50%. Cut your weight by 10%.

Start your next 4-6 weeks where you left off or, slightly harder than you began last time around.

Below the workouts, I listed set, rep and load recommendations from the essentials of strength and conditioning for reference. Use these numbers as guardrails. They'll help guide you some if you're newish to strength training.

Planet Fitness Workout Plans - Warm-Up

a sprinting icon in green tights

General Warm-up:

  • Walk or Jog for 5-10 minutes
  • Soft tissue work like foam rolling
  • Or any activity of your choice

Movement-Specific Warm-up:

  • Ankle Warm-up drills
  • Lunges
  • T-Spine Rotations
  • Bird Dog
  • Push-Ups
  • Band Pull-Aparts

You may perform any movement that you prefer for warming up your hips, ankles, hamstrings, shoulders, etc. The above is purely an example.

Planet Fitness Workout Plan for Toning:

Workout A - Full-Body

Paired Set A: Perform one set of each exercise back to back

  • Goblet Squat | 2-4 sets of 12-15+ reps
  • Lat Pull-down | 2-4 sets of 12-15+ reps

Paired Set B: Perform one set of each exercise back to back:

  • Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift | 2-4 sets of 12-15+ reps
  • Dumbbell Bench Press | 2-4 sets of 12-15+ reps

Accessory Exercises:

  • Staggered Stance Glute Bridge | 2-4 sets of 20-30+ reps
  • Rear Delt Fly | 2-3 sets of 10-15+ reps
  • Crunch | 2-3 sets of 10-25 reps
  • Back Extension | 2-3 sets of 10-25 reps

Workout B - Full-Body

Paired Set A: Perform one set of each exercise back to back

  • Glute Bridge | 2-4 sets of 12-20+ reps
  • One-arm Dumbbell Row | 2-4 sets of 12-15+ reps

Paired Set B: Perform one set of each exercise back to back:

  • Staggered Stance Romanian Deadlift | 2-4 sets of 12-15+ reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press | 2-4 sets of 12-15+ reps

Accessory Exercises:

  • Reverse Lunges | 2-4 sets of 10-15+ reps
  • Lateral Raise | 2-3 sets of 10-15+ reps
  • Bicep Curl | 2-3 sets of 10-15+ reps
  • Side Plank | 2-3 sets of 20-60 seconds

This workout plan assumes:

  • You are in a calorie deficit if you're trying to lose weight.
  • It's more beneficial to be in a caloric surplus if you're trying to build muscle.
  • You are performing exercises with good form and technique. Try not to go through the motions.
  • You'll be working out for about 45-60 minutes.
  • You're pushing yourself between sets.
  • You're using accessory exercises to add volume.

Planet Fitness Workout Plan for Strength:

Workout A - Full-Body

Core Exercises: Perform all sets of each exercise before moving to the next

  • Leg Press | 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Chin-up (bodyweight, assisted or lat pull down) | 3-4 sets 3-8+ reps (or 3 sets of 8-12+ reps)

Paired Set: Perform one set of each exercise back to back

  • Smith Machine Romanian Deadlift (or Dumbbell) | 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Push-up (Weighted, bodyweight or hands-elevated) | 3-4 sets of 5-15 reps

Accessory Exercises:

  • Step-Downs | 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Rear Delt Fly | 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Dead Bug | 3 sets of 5-10 reps per side.
  • Back Extension | 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps

Workout B - Full-Body

Core Exercises: Perform all sets of each exercise before moving to the next

  • Smith Machine Hip Thrust | 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Smith Machine Row | 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Paired Set: Perform one set of each exercise back to back:

  • Smith Machine Goodmorning | 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press | 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Accessory Exercises:

  • Reverse Lunges | 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lateral Raise | 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Bicep Curl | 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Bend | 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps

This workout plan assumes:

  • You are trying to maintain your weight.
  • You are already in good shape and can handle tougher training.
  • You'll be working out for about 45-60 minutes.
  • You're resting long enough to perform well on each set.
  • You're maintaining in your accessories. Don't let their volume get too high.

Cool-Down

Stretch all of your major muscle groups including your hamstrings, calves, quads, hip flexors, etc with exercises of your choice.

Recommendations Based on Training Goal

Training Goal Reps Sets Load (%1RM) Rest Time
Strength ≤6 2-6 ≥85 2-5 min
Power: (Single-effort) 1-2 3-5 80-90 2-5 min
Power: (Multiple-effort) 3-5 3-5 75-85 2-5 min
Hypertrophy 6-12 3-6 67-85 30-120 sec
Muscular Endurance ≥12 2-3 ≤67 ≤30 sec

Source: Program Design for Resistance Training 20161.

Share these workout plans with a friend! I'm sure they'll be happy you helped.

Sources:

  1. Sheppard, J. M., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Program Design for Resistance Training. In 955580880 744355483 G. G. Haff & 955580881 744355483 N. T. Triplett (Authors), Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (Fourth ed., pp. 439-467). Champaign, IL, IL: Human Kinetics.

Want to be the first to know about new content?

The best way to stay in touch is by signing up for the free newsletter. No spam, ever.