You can have your own place like those gyms of the 80's!
During this time of training I progressed from the small college weight room to the local town 'gym.' Now when I say gym I mean GYM. Not anything like most of the so-called gyms of today that promote themselves as a place to train and all they are are places of foo foo people doing arm curls at the power rack. Well, maybe for the weekenders and the new year's one-time members. But, not REAL iron pumpers who want to get big. Those like us want to enjoy the comradery of others who are after the same goals with an atmosphere filled with the yells of encouragement and good load music that gets the blood flowing. Mind you this is the late 80's.
I've trained all over the US of A with places that had all the best machines, mirrors, locker rooms, aerobic equipment, and juice bars. But, it only took me a week to figure out that I was in PURGATORY. I ran into many of the same issues that many of you and I are still dealing with today when we walk through the doors of any so-called gym. These problems include, but are not limited to, the following: gym owners, other staff and fluffy members: These so-called gym people feel you are bad for business because you scare their members away and break down the equipment. Yeah, whatever. I'd rather have a member who uses the expensive equipment I purchased and who is using the place I have to pay rent for. But, that's me, I'm not no fluffy don't know what a gym is for idiot.
After years of training in almost every type of gym, the best training I had was in a garage in Colorado with my husband. We bought our own equipment and trained together in that cold and damp room. We had everything we needed to get bigger and stronger. Some of the pieces we thought essential to our progress where a power rack, a plate loaded lat machine, and a bench press and incline bench, some dumbbells, and three bars with enough weight to accommodate. We got all our stuff from BiggerFasterStronger. Yep! That's their name. Great equipment at low prices.
Home gyms are created by lifters like yourself, ones that got fed up with the current state of the gym industry. Most of these home grown facilities are looking for serious lifters like you to train with. Visit a powerlifting competition. This is where you will find the same type of people with the same passion for the iron as you have. Take the time and talk to these guys after the competition. They just might have a home gym where they pound the iron.
How do you start your own "Hardcore" home gym? First of all, it is not as expensive as you might think. For everything in our home gym we spent a total of $3,000.00. Now, you can spend more or less, it all depends on space, and what you want to get done. Now, we will focus on how to set up your own training center. When you are setting up a place to train on a limited budget you have to prioritize your items based upon that budget. There are a few things that you must have and others that would be great to have. Check out www.biggerfasterstronger.com for most, if not all your items.
DESIGNING THE HOME GYM ESSENTIALS:
Power Rack: This has to be the one item all home gyms have to be based around. Several places offer racks from $600.00 to $3000.00. You do not need a $3000.00 rack for a home gym. The combo power rack is your best bet. The combo rack also comes with a freestanding bench (built to competitive standards) for all your bench press training and a platform. For any home or private gym start up this should be the first item you should consider.
Bars: The first bar you need is a good power bar. The Texas Power Bar is the best all-purpose bar you can get. Do not skimp on the bar or you will be buying new ones all the time. I would also recommend a cheaper bar that can be used for heavy rack pulls, and pin presses. Over time no bar can handle this amount of abuse without bending. So, get something cheap and use it. It does not matter if you use a bent bar on these movements so save your good bar for the squats, benches and deadlifts.
Plates: With these items be smart. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY FROM A MAIL ORDER OR INTERNET COMPANY unless you plan on a huge order. The shipping could kill you. First check your local sporting goods store or exercise equipment shop. Sometimes you can get a bar with a 300 pound set. Purchase only what you need. Get as many 45 pound plates as you feel you will need then only (2) 25's (4) 10's (2) 5's and (2) 2.5's. This will give you everything you need to lift any increment of weight needed.
Dumbbells: For the dumbbells, only buy the ones you will be using. Save the rest for later or when you get stronger. Hex dumbbells are the cheaper option. Pro-style may be a better bet for long-term usage but are more expensive.
Rubber Mats: The best ones are at Bigger Faster Stronger go to their web site and order a catalog. They have ½" and ¾" thick and 4x6 mats for around $45.00. This is about ½ the price you will pay from an equipment manufacturer or supplier.
Tools of the Trade: Now that you have your own place you can use as much chalk as you like. Get a box and start making a mess! Lifting straps, chalk, weight belt, arm blasters, grippers and any other little pieces that are need to accentuate the tools need to get big and tone and fit. You can get this right here at www.bodybuilding.com.
Reverse Hyper: I feel this should really be an important item to get along with your rack but if you are doing this on a budget, then save your money to get this and save some space for it too. This item is a must have. The Reverse Hyper is the best machine for developing the muscles of the lower back and hit the muscles of the lower back in glutes. There are three models. For the private gym I would suggest the Pro or the Standard. The Reverse Hyper can be found at www.elitefts.com. Get one.
Bands: Think you're strong? Get some bands and you'll get stronger. After your ego takes a little siesta. If you have not heard about training with bands then you are already behind the times. Training with bands has made an incredible difference in the strength of many Elite and Non Elite lifters across the country. Anita and I have increased our strength tremendously from working with bands. Bands can be applied in a variety of different exercises to enhance your strength. For more information on band training see articles at www.elitefts.com or the West Side Video Training Series.
Chains: Training with chains is another one of the training principles that has changed strength training. Chains work by adding more weight at the top of the lift, which is where you are at your strongest point. For training advice for chain work see above.
Dipping/Chin/Leg Raise Station: This is a must.
Pull Down: A lat pull down with low pulley. A unit that you add weights too. Do not get a selectorized piece, this is one with the plates already on. They are expensive.
Weight Trees and Bar Holders: If your going to spend all the money on plates and bars you should at least keep them out of the way and not sprawled out all over the ground or staked up along the wall. Trees are inexpensive and a needed necessity.
Cardio Equipment: Treadmills, recumbent bikes, exercise bikes, elliptical, stair climbers, or steppers are also a special need. Check out your local sporting goods store for these. Get a commercial piece and it could run you up to $2,500 plus for one of the above. So, again, go to your local sporting goods store for an inexpensive machine that can handle the abuse but won't kill your pocket book.
Leg Equipment: Now this is more of a luxury in a home gym, and with bulky and costly leg presses and hack squat machines the way to go is an Angles Leg Press. This apparatus was designed to offer space saving but professional type of machine without costing you a pretty penny. You can also do calf raises on this machine. The best one I've found on the market for a home gym is by YUKON Fitness Equipment. Contact them by calling 440-439-0030 or you can use their toll free line at 1-800-79YUKON.
This should provide an excellent start for anybody interested in getting a home gym started. Think about this, the initial start up cost is a significant amount. But think of all the money you will be saving in the long run. A gym membership usually is about $495 or more a year. A home gym will pay for itself in less then a couple years. If you don't want to save those monthly dues then every so often invest in a new piece of equipment, just don't get that garage or extra spare room. That is everything you need to build your own gym. You can spend as much or as little as you like.
Comments from Cathy and Lee Priest on their GYM AT HOME:
The home gym is great. Powertec, Pro Spot Gym Equipment. It is the best! The Pro Spot machine is great and every gym should have one. At home it's quiet and you can focus much better than at a gym. No egos walking around screaming and yelling. I like it because you can do everything you want, any exercise, and nobody is around to stare at you! We are very pleased with the PowerTec equipment because sometimes in the gym the machines are too big and I can't use it. I like to train with someone so I call some friends to come over and train with me. Our gym is a good size. We have 20 machines so it is enough for us. When I am by myself I train on the Pro Spot machine so I am sure I will be safe. Our gym was good for me... at my last show I was in my best shape ever and some of my muscle was better too. I really have good concentration at home. See more pics!