Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Builiding an Affordable Basic Home Gym

Hey guys, just finished getting in a nice workout without even leaving the house. I know sometimes the hustle and bustle gets in the way and you can’t seem to find any time to hit the gym. But that’s where the home gym comes in. So today I’m going to talk about building a very basic home gym to keep you honest and your muscles pumping when you can’t make it out to the proper gym (or if you just feel like lifting at home).

If you happened to read my articles on the core upper-body/lower-body lifts, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of dumbbells. There is nothing you can do with a barbell that you can’t do with a dumbbell. And most of the time, the dumbbell is better than the barbell! It’s pretty clear then that the dumbbell is the one piece of equipment you simply must have in your gym.

Spinlock Dumbbells with Cast-Iron Plates
I recommend you target some good old-fashioned adjustable spinlock dumbbells. You get two 5 pound bars, a bunch of plates, and there you go, infinite variability. Plates typically come in vinyl, cast iron, or cement. There really isn’t a price difference between them so get the vinyl if you must, but the cast iron is the way to go, the cement doesn’t stand the test of time very well at all. You can also get them in chrome but weight is weight unless you’d like it to look pretty as well, in which case you’ll be paying a premium.

I have seen sets come from 40 pounds upwards of 100 pounds. 40 pounds is a bit light (a mere 20 pounds a dumbbell if you load two of them) and you will almost certainly need more. I would recommend nothing less than a 70 pound set although you might that to be insufficient as well. To give you an idea of prices you may find yourself paying, I bought a 105 pound set of 2 dumbbells (and 95 lbs of weight) for $110 with shipping included. I had seen a 40 pound set for 40 dollars, a 70 pound set for 75$ including shipping, which can be exorbitant as the weight goes up. I recommend you shop around, eBay is a fantastic option (that’s where I got the 105 pound set which has been fantastic).

Obviously, if you are going to have the dumbbell, you will need a bench. A bench isn’t too complicated, simply find an acceptable bench that allows at the very least a flat configuration, and preferably the ability to adjust it to an incline/decline as well. Once again, eBay is your friend. At the time of this writing, a quick search found a new adjustable bench on eBay for $42 + $20 shipping = $62 total.

Another optional but I feel to be vitally important element of a basic home gym is a chin-up/pull-up bar. I think very-very highly of that movement and you simply must have a bar. Unless you happen to have a pipe/bar you feel comfortable hanging off of, I recommend the Iron Gym. It is very easy to setup and will hold a significant amount of weight (300 lbs!) no problem.  And you simply can’t beat the price: $30 retail and often on sale.

That covers the pieces of equipment you will need for a comprehensive basic home gym. With the 105 lb db set, bench, and Iron Gym, the total is about $200. That $200 buys you the ability to do a number of movements effectively. As you get stronger and do heavier lifting at home, you may want to buy more plates for your dumbbells. Check your local fitness store, they often have dumbbell plates on sale for great prices.

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