Building a solid home gym There are those of us who for whatever reason, would like to work out at home instead of a gym. Sadly, most of these people opt to buy a proclaimed ALL-IN-ONE contraption such as a Bowflex. Now, while good for flexibility and general fitness, they quite simply will not give you any substantial results or build much core strength. “What then, are we to do, if not buy one of these wonderfully complicated coat racks?” Well, let’s look at just what we are going to need out of our home gym. To get a good workout and to build a strong physique, you MUST incorporate these exercises, it is not disputable. - Squats - Deadlifts - Incline Bench Press - Rows - Pull-ups - Chin-ups Now clearly you don’t have to buy a piece of equipment for every exercise, nor would you want to. Our job is to cut out all the equipment you will not need, to save space, and more importantly, your hard-earned money. What you must buy: - A power rack – picture - An Olympic barbell – picture - A bench – picture - Weight plates – picture - A Floor mat Optional(recommended): - Dumbbell tree – picture - Olympic EZ curl bar – picture With these few items you can perform practically any exercise, and get exponentially better results than with a Bowflex-type contraption. The power rack: This will be the heart of your gym. A good power rack completely encloses the lifter, preventing possible injury or worse.. damage to your house! It should also come with a pull-up bar. It should have room for pulley attachements, should you want to expand your setup in the future. It should also have easy to use safety catches. Many require screwdrivers to change the height of the safety(commercial use) and aren’t practical for a home setup, so when shopping around, look for one with an easy locking mechanism. The Olympic barbell: The barbell is pretty straightforward. Ensure that it is in fact 45lbs. With the barbell, make sure you get collars as well. Collars prevent the weight from sliding around on the bar late in a set when you get fatigued. The bench: There are a few options for bench. Many opt to go with just the flat bench, and no incline possibility. However, to exercise your chest effectively, you need to perform the Incline Bench press. The wise route to travel when buying a bench is to spend more and get a bench that has at least two possible settings. Flat and 45º. Weight plates: Be careful when buying weight plates. There are several different options, such as plastic(filled with sand), rubberized, iron, etc. The plastic ones are liable to crack and split over time, leading to a large mess. I personally used to have dumbbells like this, and sure enough they cracked and made a mess on our carpet. Cheap iron plates are usually made the most economical way possible, including a shoddy paint job, so you could be picking paint chips up off the floor for many years to come if you go this route, also the sharp edges are damaging to floors(and mats). The best bet is to buy good solid rubber-coated weights. If you’re serious about weight lifting, this is what you’ll need to buy, and how many: - 45lb plates: 8 - 35lb plates: 2 - 25lb plates: 2 - 10lb plates: 4 - 5lb plates: 2 - 2.5lb plates: 4 This selection pretty much covers any weight you want to put on the bar. As you get stronger, you need only add 45s as you need them. The mat: When buying a mat, look for ones with good grip on the surface, ones that are easy to roll up, and that aren’t too padded. The less padding on the walking surface, the better the weight transfer and thus more weight lifted. Make sure it’s designed to support the 7 foot Olympic barbell. The dumbbell tree: Again, choose good quality set that won’t let you down and leave you disappointed by this time next year. A good tree always..no not profound enough…ALWAYS, has a weight on it that you cannot lift. There should always be just a fraction more weight than you can lift, on your tree. Many people buy a tiny tree(3 weight capacity), and don’t use it after awhile. Your best bet is to buy a large tree (10-100lbs) and flush it out with weight as you need it. I personally don’t use a 10lb weight anymore, so the question begs..why should I pay for it? The Olympic EZ-Curl bar: Look for all the same standards and buy a quality bar. ---------- There you have it. There are many people asking basic questions such as “I want to work out at home, what should I buy?” or “My budget is xxxx amount, what can I buy?” All in all, this setup will knock you back anywhere from $800 to $1600, depending on quality of craftsmanship and quantity of weights and dumbbells. This is all far less than a quality Bowflex-type machine, and will give you a better work out than Bowflex could ever in its wildest dreams. All in all, more bang for your hard earned buck. p.s. I personally have a bowflex. I never use it and might sell it overpriced on ebay to some middle-aged housewife soon. I am also building a home gym myself in the near future. I intend to work out for the rest of my life, and thinking long term, that is a LOT of money that will be spent on gym memberships that I would be($40/mo = $480/year) putting back in my pocket.