Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


My Home Gym Story
Posted By Conor Doherty (Star Factory Fitness)

I’ve been working out for quite some time now and have spent quite a bit of time in local gyms and commercial gyms when I’ve been away from home. The thing about commercial gyms and membership facilities is that they are not in the most convenient place you know, your home.

I’m not about to go trashing local and commercial gyms here because I think anyone that’s going to take the time to go and exercise and do something great for their bodies and their health is a great thing. If you like going to the gym and are experiencing great results, then keep it up.
But if you’re finding it tough to get time to work out or you’re frustrated that every time you go to use something it’s taken, then maybe a home gym is in the cards for you. I really couldn’t stand it when guys would be using a piece of equipment and would take 5 minute breaks between each set to talk to their buddies. I’m knowledgeable enough to find something else similar to do when that happens but not everyone is.
So I finally got tired enough of paying gym memberships and always having to wait to use certain equipment and started collecting equipment that I could use at home. The gym I have now, in my opinion, is perfect but it didn’t come all together right away. Unless you have a bundle of cash to burn it takes a bit of time to build up a collection of all the equipment you need.
Here’s how I started: I bought dumbbells and a bench.

The great part about this is that they didn’t burn too big of a hole in my pocket and I didn’t need a ton of space for them. If you’ve been working out for a while then you know a set of dumbbells can take you through a bunch of different routines. Any muscle you’re looking to work, you can pretty much reach it with a set of dumbbells.
But then something happened. My drive to improve and my need for variation took over. Dumbbells are great, but I only had 40lb dumbbells as my heaviest pair. I couldn’t buy anything heavier in town. So my next few purchases became a barbell with a bunch of plates. You don’t have to be a gazillionaire to afford this stuff by the way. I just looked on the local classifieds site and found someone looking to get rid of their set and went from there. Then every other month I’d buy a couple more plates and before I knew it, I had more than I could handle for any given exercise.
You’ll find when you’re putting together a home gym that you keep wanting more. It gets addictive. Especially if you’re passionate about training and working out. After a while, I hit another bump in the road. It was easy to do presses with the equipment that I had, but I needed something for rows and pullups. Luckily for me I have buddy that is a welder, and he put together a couple bars for me to put in my gym. And believe it or not, resistance bands are awesome for rowing exercises. All I had to do was drill a ring into the wall and I could use it as the anchor for my bands.
By this time, I had outgrown the corner in the spare room and had to move into the garage. It wasn’t the best situation in the winter, especially in Canada when it gets to -30°, but you play the hand you’re dealt. A space heater and some compression gear and I’m nice and cozy.
My newfound space brought on new possibilities. I was able to put in a small squat rack and a smith machine. I know, I know, a smith machine isn’t a favorite among seasoned vets, but when you’re working out alone my choices were limited for doing heavy lifts without a spotter. It also had an attachment to do rows and lat pulldowns, so for me, it worked. Again, I just kept my eye on the classifieds for people looking to get rid of stuff and snatched it up at a cheap price.
So if you’re looking to put together a home gym, start small. Go with what you can afford and what will give you a great bang for your buck. In my case it was a set of dumbbells. Save a little money here and there, keep your eyes peeled for stuff on the local classifieds and before you know it you’ll have yourself a home gym you can be proud of.
Check out the home gym tour video below to get a better idea of what to look for.

To your success,
Star Factory Fitness

Incidentally, if this has got you thinking about grabbing one for yourself, swing by the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

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Conor Doherty is an Educator, Personal trainer, and sports-obsessed fitness-enthusiast. He shares his training wisdom in the Complete Hockey Training System, and at his group training sessions in Ontario, Canada. Find out more at Star Factory Fitness and Facebook.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.