I can't really have a web site based on having a home gym without really having one, right? So this page is the story of my home gym.
UPDATE: I have moved my home gym into the garage. Check it out!
If you missed it, you can read why I decided to exercise at home here.
My first purchase was a set of Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells, along with their super bench.
I also purchased some attachments with the bench: the crunch sit-up attachment; bar dip handles; and the chin up bar attachment.
Later, I exchanged the chin up bar attachment for the leg extension/leg curl attachment. Initially, this was all I planned to have in my home gym. You can get a really good workout with just dumbbells, but to really mix up the workout and keep it interesting, you need some variety.
The Ironmaster dumbbells and bench took up very little room in the lower level of our tri-level home. I suggested to my wife half-heartedly: "Let's turn the whole downstairs into a workout area" (ha ha) - and - SHE AGREED! (I knew I married her for a reason).
The next few weeks were spent researching and reviewing exercise equipment for the home. The centerpiece of any gym is the power rack. The power rack allows you to lift heavy weights safely by yourself, without a spotter. Most of the reviews I read were positive about the Powertec rack, and after using it I agree. Read my Powertec power rack review here.
To use the power rack, you need weights. The commercial gym I used to belong to had rubber-coated Olympic grip plates.
Rubber-coated Olympic plates are expensive so I decided to buy a cast iron set of VTX 300lb Olympic grip weights and a Body Solid Olympic weight rack to hold them. I later found an additional 187 lbs. of rubber-coated plates on Craig's list to supplement my original set.
My next purchase was a Body Solid GFID31 FID (flat, incline, decline) bench. It's nice to have two benches in your gym so you don't have to drag one around.
I also have accessories in my home gym such as handles for the power rack cable attachment and other handy gadgets such as a jump rope, medicine ball, calf raise block, wooden box, ab wheel, ab slings, preacher bench attachment, Perfect Pushup, a homemade T-bar row attachment and calf raise machine.
A fully-equipped gym also needs cardio equipment. I managed to find a decent used treadmill and hooked it up to a small TV with earphones. Another form of cardio is a rowing machine. Commercial ones were really expensive, as were the home versions, so I decided to make a homemade rowing machine utilizing the pulley system on the power rack.
Working out your legs in a home gym can be a problem. Sure you can do squats in the power rack, and lunges with a barbell or dumbbells, but to give yourself some variety, get a leg press machine. Now before you say they're too expensive, or take up too much room, I found this one, Body Solid's Leg Press machine, brand new, relatively compact, with no shipping or tax for $629! That's a great deal.
No gym home or commercial gym would be complete without mirrors. I've heard you can get free mirrors through Craig's list, but I had no luck with this. Instead, The Home Depot had the sizes I needed. I really wanted a mirror that went from the floor to the ceiling, but the ledge around my family room was in the way, so I ended up mounting them like this:
I found that equipping a home gym has become a fun and rewarding hobby. Not only do I enjoy researching and reviewing equipment, but also making my own (if I could weld, I'd be dangerous).
The two newest additions to my home gym: An infrared sauna and an ab coaster. Using the sauna, my muscles feel better, I recover quicker from workouts, my joints don't ache as much, and areas where I had injuries improved tremendously. I've even found it beneficial to stretch while sitting there. The ab coaster is new and I'm still learning how to use it the best way.
Latest addition...To add even more variety to my training I wanted to add machines to my gym, but since space is extremely limited, I only have room for one machine and this machine had to be capable of many different exercises.
The Powertec Workbench Leverage Gym WB-LS was the gym I chose. I chose this machine because I wanted to lift REAL WEIGHT, not weight stacks like most machines have and most lifters quickly out grow.
If you have any equipment ideas or comments about my or your own home gym, please use my contact form or leave a comment below
Read COMMENTS or jump down to leave one.
Barry C. What do you think about my gym? What should I add? Lets hear some comments.
Kelly Angel I am in the process of building a powerhouse home gym for my high school son and I. I have a good idea of what basic equipment to get, but I can't seem to find a power rack that I really like. I want something that will hold a ton of weight - from what I have seen on the market, you have to fork out about $2k for what I am looking form. I think I am going to get with a welder and have mine custom made. The deminsions are good with the units I have seen online, but I want something made of 4 inch rectangular tubular steel.
All of the other items we are looking at are pretty inexpensive.
You gym here is amazing. You are a lucky guy! I plan to make a gym that rivals yours, it's going to take me a while though.
Keep up the good work. Not only an impressive gym, but an impressive site. I really like it. Best of its kind that I have seen to date. Kelly Angel email@example.com
Barry C. Kelly, thanks for the comments and compliments! As a wrote elsewhere on this site: "If I could weld I'd be dangerous." Building a well equipped home gym takes time. Craigslist is your friend. I take it from your email address you are in the army?
Todd Looks Great I am using your plans for the t bar row and the calf raise machine. Thanks for the help will post pics when done. One question where did you get the foam and material for the shoulder rests?
Barry C. The foam you can get at hobby lobby, a craft store. It's 2" thick, and I doubled up on it for each shoulder rest. The fabric covering the foam came from Walmart, and my wife sewed a draw string into the fabric so the fabric would stay on. Let me know when you have pics!
Ian Barry- I really like your homemade rowing machine. It reminds me of an attempt I made at making an improvised VASA swim trainer using similar concepts. My result didn't turn out so well... But anyways, good stuff!
As far as DIY homemade exercise equipment, I recently made a sandbag with pea gravel, following the suggestion of ross enamait's sandbag guide. The thing is my new favorite piece of workout equipment!
I have been adjusting the weight in a pretty simple and quick way. Check it out
I recently read somewhere about doing glute ham raises using a car as a support, so I thought I would try it out
I have never tried an actual GHR setup. From pictures I have seen, I remember that the 'real' GHR setups allow the shins to be closer to and more parallel with the ground. I guess it's just a matter of finding a car with the right ride height. But regardless, the setup works, at least at my level. The exercise fries my hamstrings, but it has been getting easier and easier over the last few weeks. Keep up the good work!
the benj i gotta say, this is quite possibly the best site on the internet. i stumbled across it last night while searching for some home gym ideas and ive just been glued to it since. the mrs probably thinks im watching porn or something. awesome stuff man
Kelly Angel I checked with local steel suppliers, and I found it is an expensive proposition to make your own power rack. The steel I wanted to use cost $12.72 a foot. If I purchased a rack of this strength, I would spend much more, however, you have to consider the cost of a welder, the fact that mistake happen, etc.
I decided to take your advice on Craig's List. I purchased a very nice BodyCraft power rack, with the cable pulldown/row attachment included, for a very good price. This unit has a 1200 pound capacity.
Since I have started using Craig's List, I have purchased 1000 pounds of weight, two plate racks, two utility benches, the power rack I mentioned above, all the cable accessories I need, an olympic set of dumbbells, an olympic curl bar, some dip bars for the rack for a total of $865.00. Not bad! Thanks for your advice on this. You saved me a lot of headaches, and I scored some really good deals.
Next purchases will be a commercial grade leg press, a refurbished exercise stationary bike, mats, and a set of power block dumbbells. Thanks a million for your motivation and great advice.
Barry C. Excellent! When you get it all together, take some photos and I'll put them up on the site.
tfg Hello Barry, what a motivating and fascinating site. You gave me a lot of new insparation. I'am also advocating training at home and wrote an article about that (unfortunately in german). If you are interested you can take a look at (at least the pictures included in the article are "multicultural" and no knowledge in german is needed ;-) ) I also put a link from hardgainer.de to your site. I hope you will allow. If not I will remove it immediately.
Thank you for your work and your dedication. Best regards from Germany Peter Would be nice to stay in contact.
Barry C. Peter, Thanks for the positive comments about my site. You can link to it. Please read the articles and leave more comments.
Chris Wow! That's some gym. I set mine up a few years ago with just a power rack and an olympic barbell set. It serves my purpose fine, but you gym is great. I love the jackstands! What a great idea - I'm going to implement that one again. Great job!
Barry C. Chris, Thanks for your comments! Keep liftin'...... Barry
Duke I just recently purchased a precor icarian power rack virtually brand new but no j-hooks. I'm still looking for some that will fit the rack. Its 4 x 2, if not I guess ill have to make some. Any ideas. Great gym by the way! Something to shoot for.
carlos, buenos aires, argentina, southamerica great gym and equipment...congratulations...
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