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Building a Home Gym

Home Gym Equipment

<What home gym equipment do you recommend for people who do not have the space, desire or knowledge to use dumbbells, bars and an assortment of free weight? Is there a single piece of commercially made home gym equipment that is worthwhile?>

Any basic bench (that inclines and declines) and a set of powerblocks (www.powerblocks.com) for starters. For less than $250 total, you are off and running with all the equipment one really needs. Chris L. Johnson

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Weider has a few really nice multi-purpose machines — I have one. It has flat-bench, incline-bench, presses, lat-pulls, curls, leg extension. Guy2

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Having set up many home gyms for my clients over the years, I can offer the following input:

First, it is my belief that the fitness neophyte would save him or herself much time, money, and aggravation by initially purchasing no equipment other than a pair of comfortable running shoes and workout attire. In the beginning stages of exercise, bodyweight only calisthenics are capable of providing adequate resistance for a productive strength training regimen. I have seen far too many pieces of home exercise equipment be converted to clothes dryers and / or dust collectors. If someone as been consistently exercising for a minimum of six months, they can then give equipment purchase some serious consideration.

Best advice I can offer here is to avoid equipment specifically marketed as 'home gym' quality. It is pure, unadulterated junk. Not only will it not last, but it won't even work right when new. This is especially true in the case of leg extension / leg curl apparatus commonly affixed to most 'home gym' bench units. Marcy makes the absolute worst garbage I have ever seen. It is so bad that moving parts on their exercise machines have metal rubbing against metal without rollers or ball bearings. The friction is off the charts.

I also believe that treadmills are a waste of money. Do your walking or running outside where you can breathe fresh air and enjoy the scenery. Commercial grade treadmills are the only ones worth the money if you really need one. You can typically buy a refurbished commercial grade used one for half price.

Here are some equipment manufacturers I recommend. Schwinn Windsprint, available through your local Schwinn Cyclery dealer
Northcoast Health&Fitness products:
carry quality used treadmills and other commercial grade products. Tel. 1-800-655-3503. Ask for Ross Arnold or Denis O'Neil.
Schnur Construction:
e-mail [email protected] for rugged exercise equipment. Atlas Metal Fabricators, manufacturers of Stone Strength Equipment:
Contact Alan Hatch 1-800-639-7706. Very durable benches , racks, and pulley systems, but avoid leg extension and leg curl -- probably too expensive anyway.
Cemco Fitness Products:
1-800-782-6377 for free weights, contact Brendan Cosso
Frank Zane Total Body Blaster:
e-mail [email protected] For what you can do with this unit, the price can't be beat.

Hope this helps. Jim

Click here for more equipment thoughts from Jim

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<Just saw the post about home gym equipment. I was curious about the Bowflex machine. Is it worth the cost and is it effective in building muscle?>

David...the answer is no and no. And, yes, I owned one at one time. Steven in Ohio

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I highly recommend a BowFlex. That is what I have been using for the last five months. As a former muscle head who has lifted competitively for ten years in and out of various gyms, I am extremely impressed. Back in my competitive days I used to snub my nose every time I saw a Bowflex comercial. I can tell you now, don't knock it until you have tried one. There is no doubt in my mind that a person can build a physique just as good or better than the athletes who do the commercials. I know because I'm getting it done. In fact, if you supplement this machine with some inter-changable DBs and one barbell, you practically have the versatility of a private health club right in your own home. When the commercial says "Quality Health Club Excersizes" they are not kidding. As a former 400 bencher and 700 squater, I have not run out of resistance yet. Even a person over 6' tall can use it and still get a full range of movement on the squats and lat pulls. There are alot of home gyms out there, but none of them can match the quality and versatility of the Bowflex. Tim O.

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I've been training at home for 17 years. Basically I have a cast iron free weights set and a simple bench that has 3 inclines, a leg curl/extention attachment and a pulldown attachment. Get a cast iron set, barbell and dumbbell bars with 2 X 25, 8 X 10, 4 X 5 and 6 X 2 1/2 lb plates. Which is fine for a skinny guy like me (142lbs or so) and all for about $500. But if you're a big bloke then you're going to need something heavy duty. Also a piece of 1 X 10 X 24 plank for calf raises. Henry

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My own Home Gym is a composite of York, IronMind-Milo, Mpex and KeyFitness. The KeyFitness multipurpose bench is the only piece I regret having bought. It is uncomfortable and while it is really strong, it is poorly designed (the back rest wobbles a bit-- which is distracting-- and it is too high & wide for sanctioned benches). If I ever did another home gym, it would be all IronMind-Milo, PowerTec and MuscleMaxx.

The York stuff is nice too, but I am biased because it was the maker of my first barbell set back in the sixties. Back then, York was actually made in York, PA, now it is imported; so I'd go with the American solid weld equipment. Marty

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A good bench, definitely. One that declines and inclines, preferrably. I have a smith machine with a pulley attachment but wish it was a power rack. All of our equipment is Tuff Stuff. I train at home and have a pretty complete set up. But I think that with an olympic set, a few sets of dumbbells of appropriate weight, and a good bench, you should be able to get a good start. Lauri

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For home gym equipment I recommend Body Solid for benches, power racks etc. If you are wanting a multi-gym, a really solid good home version is the Coronado by Pacific Fitness. This is a good peice of equipment for supersetting. I worked on it while on vacation and it is decent for sure. Delphene

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When my youngest daughter moved out a year ago I converted her small bedroom into a workout room. This is what I got on a moderate budget. # 1 item in my book was a squat rack. I got a Bodysolid power rack with a lat attachment. Of course I also got a good incline/decline bench and a set of standard weights, with extra plates. I now wish that I had gotten an olympic weight set instead,. I also have a set of dumbells. I have a leg attachment for the bench as well as a preacher curl attachment. Over the year I have added a few different attachments for the cable system such as a stirrup handle, leather ankle attachment, and ez curl bar, an ab sling, rope attachment, etc. The exercise selection with this set up is incredible. I am very happy with my purchase. I hope that helps a little. Susan

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Posters, man. Technology without art is like sleep without dreams: the job is done, and there's pleasure in that, but it's not quite enough. Steve

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Click here to see Len's home gym set up

Click here to read Hugo's home gym training suggestions

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