The $600 Home Gym

I was inspired to write this article after talking to a guy at the gym. This guy, about 52 years old, said that he was pretty muscular back in college, but then lost the time to come to the gym day after day; thus, he lost most of what he had. He told me not to train for muscle, because it's so hard to maintain, but instead to try and get/stay ripped. First, the question "why not use a 9 day schedule, lifting 4 days out of the 9?" popped into my head; but the question I asked was "what about a home gym? Why didn't you just train at home?" Faced with this question, the guy seemed pretty confused; I think that he realized how much time could have been saved. 

Besides saved time, training at home also has a few other benefits. For one, you could train at any time of the day; if your job has you working late, you could lift and train at midnight if you wanted. A few more advantages would be that: you don't have to wait in line for an exercise, you don't have to pay that hefty membership fee, you can watch TV or listen to your boom box while lifting, etc... . 

So how do I build one without it costing me an arm and a leg? you ask. Well simple, here's how:

The first thing you're gonna need is some weights. I definitely think that a barbell would be better than dumbbells in this case, since you can load some heavy weights on it; try to get an Olympic bar set. An Olympic bar with 300 lbs. of weight should run you about $100 now days. 

Next, you want to get a bench. Get one that's very sturdy and has a very wide set of bar holders on it. I remember the first bench I bought had these puny little things on'em that really sucked after about a month of use. Forget about the ones with leg extension and pull-down attachments, they really go out of use, start squeaking, and can't hold much weight after about a month's use. Just go for a rock solid bench that can incline; the ones with the fly attachments are o.k. too. This should run you about $100-150, depending on the quality; don't sacrifice quality for price on such an important piece of equipment! 

You'll also need a good set of lifting gloves and a belt. Get gloves that fit snuggly and one of those new belts that are a bit thinner than those old leather ones. About $40-50 for them both. 

That's all you really need(I'm gonna write an article on how to train at home with just those pieces of equipment pretty soon; I'll put it in the Training section and call it the Simple workout). But there are a few things to add that could make your home gym a bit better. 

Now that you have weight-lifting equipment, a nice piece of endurance/cardio machine will definitely help you get ripped. For that, I would undoubtedly suggest a stationary bike. They are very light on the joints (Health Riders are bad for your lower back, ski machines are just a pain and uncomfortable, and those damn home treadmills are just crap!), you can stay on one for hours, and they're very quiet; one should run you about $100-120. You really don't need one with all those fancy calorie counters because those calorie counters are set for the average man (i.e..- what the insurance companies say a 5'10" man should weigh; they say 140 lbs.!). If you can not afford that, I say go with classic jump rope; about $10 at the most but somewhat hard on the knees and lower back. 

Next, I say get a set of dumbbells; get the ones where you can change the weights and make sure the area where the weights go is very very VERY long (should hold a few plates per side at the least; before you buy it, make sure that each dumbbell can be fitted with at least 100 lbs. of weight). This will run you about $50. These are important for exercises like side lateral raises. 

And finally, if you're feeling really rich, get yourself a nice pull-up bar set. Don't get the ones that are supposed to set up in your door; they mess up the frame and don't have enough room for behind-the-neck pull-ups. Get one that stands on it's own and has a few other features (i.e..- a dip bar, etc…) This should run you about $80-100. 

So here's the list in order of importance:

Lifting gloves and belt - $40-50 
Weights (300 lb. Olympic set) - $100 
Bench (good and sturdy one) - $60-100 
Stationary bike - $100 
Jump rope - $10 
Dumbbells - $50 
Pull-up bar/set - $100 

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