Outfitting a Home Gym
August 3, 2004 1:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking into making my home gym better equipped. I've had one of those all-in-one machines that do the pulley benchpress, the butterfly and leg curls. I also have a bar with weights that I do those arm curls on. I went to a gym the other day, and see how limited I am with just doing benchpresses on a pully system. It looks as if free weights are the way to go, meaning I'll need a bench and such. I'm clueless on what to get and searching usenet comes up with flame wars on how differeint exercise machines will cause cancer/spontaneous abortions.

Specifically I'd like something that does nice leg exercises and allows me to do free weight bench presses. I could be wrong, but I felt doin free weights gave me a better workout. This seems easy enough, but there are a billion things out there. My needs are fairly basic I believe, it's just finding the right piece(s) of equipment that I need. Getting multiple pieces of equipment is not out of the question.

This is along the lines of what I have in mind: Linex LP Combo Bench but there is a whole slew of other pieces of equipment that are nearly exactly the same and go up to ~$300. I figure this is in lieu of me joining a gym so price isn't really that much of a consideration. And since I know this will be asked: I'm not joining a gym because I don't feel comfortable working out around other people, and I know if I had to actually drive somewhere to workout I'd not do it as often.
posted by geoff. to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
don't worry about machines. get lots of free weights/barbells, a jumping rope, a bench, a thin vinyl mattress.
posted by matteo at 1:27 PM on August 3, 2004

Response by poster: Assuming the simple bench approach was taken, what should be done about the lower body?
posted by geoff. at 1:33 PM on August 3, 2004

Squats, calf raises, and stiff-legged deadlifts work for me - that's a complete free weight leg workout as far as I'm concerned. But if you're going to squat at home, you need a power rack, squat cage or stands for safety.

That bench also worries me a little. If you work out alone, and you stick at the bottom when you're bench pressing, what are you going to do? In a gym you can swallow your pride and call for help. At home, I think this is where the power rack comes into its own.

There have been extensive discussions on this subject in misc.fitness.weights, seach around with Google Groups and you should find plenty of stuff.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:25 PM on August 3, 2004

I had a bench much like that one. I got stuck a few times. Mine at least had catches that you could install at different points in height on the bench. I did most of my bench pressing with the bench fully reclined, so mine were perhaps 12 inches above the bench, or just a few above my head. I could usually make it that far.

There was only one time in memory that I couldn't do do so, and in that case I brought the weight down to my chest and leaned it over to the side until it hit the floor, and then rolled it off of me. Bruised myself a bit but no hard done. If you don't mind the rattling, you can leave the weight pins off and in that case rolling the bar to the side will dump the weights.

That bench has the ability to do leg curls and extensions, and in addition to that I did deadlifts (watch your back, use impeccible technique), calf raises,

Make sure to get barbells of olympic size. I don't remember the diameter now but I bet it was 2" (that is, weights with 2" holes and barbells with 2" shafts on the end). They hold more weight, flex less, etc.

Long story short, That bench looks fine. Get 2 barbells, one that is long and heavy for bench press and the line, and another that is shorter and typically curved for arm curls and similar excercises. You'll also want some dumbells, perhaps 5-50 in increments of 5. There are some adjustable ones out there (like mini barbells) that are good also. They have the advantage of less weight total. If you get a total set of 5-50 in increments of 5, that's 550 pounds total you've got to lug around. If you get 2 little adjustable dumbells instead, just 100 pounds. Cheaper and easier.

The only other equipment I use is a wooden block to stand on when doing leg extensions. Before I had that I stood on top of 2 50 pound weights.

I highly recommend reading A practical approach to strength training by Matt Brzycki. He lays it out very well, provides you with a huge set of excercises and all the ways to do them (nautilus, free weights, dumbells only, partner assisted, etc). After reading through his book anyone can easily figure out a plan that'll work for them.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:53 PM on August 3, 2004

My dad has a nifty Free-Spotter that you mount from you ceiling, uses ropes and release handles. Might be a good choice if you don't want one of those big safety cages for your barbell.
posted by treebjen at 3:03 PM on August 3, 2004

Anyone have a good site for buying quality plate style freeweights?
posted by rudyfink at 10:16 PM on August 3, 2004

god... I don't know if you want to go buying *weights* online. The shipping cost would kill. There has got to be someplace local. I sold some weights on ebay once and the guy wanted me to ship them. Sure I said. 25 cents a pound, how does that sound? (This was about $500 pounds of weights). He came and picked them up.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:11 AM on August 4, 2004

er, 500 pounds of weights, not 500 dollar-pounds.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:11 AM on August 4, 2004

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