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Home Gym Alternative
If you have deep pockets, an alternative to outside facilities is purchasing equipment and building your own home gym. This can be a very expensive endeavor, but not impossible.

Your best bet is to visit local sports equipment stores to see what is available. After you get over the “price shock” take copious notes on each piece of equipment that will fit your personal program. If you can afford the individual pieces by all means purchase them.

However, for most new bodybuilders that kind of investment is prohibitive. A good alternative is to watch for “used” equipment. The possibilities of obtaining just what you need are very high.

Some of those possibilities are bodybuilders who have moved on to more sophisticated equipment or people who thought they would give bodybuilding a shot only to find it just wasn’t for them. Even though we caution people not to spend money on expensive equipment, there are always those who jump into any new venture blindfolded.

Some good places to shop for used equipment, are bulletin boards at local gyms, local newspaper classifieds, Thrifty Nickel and don’t forget yard sales.

Next, we need to take a look at what equipment is available for the bodybuilder home gym and the purpose they serve.

Free Weights
Free weights are the simplest and most cost effective pieces of equipment for the beginning bodybuilder. Free weights consist of barbells, dumbbells and weight plates. They are called “free weights” because they have no cables, pins or pulleys.

Available as normal weights or Olympic weights, be advised that Olympic weights are generally much more costly. The Olympic bar is also “thicker” at the ends to accommodate the larger hole present in Olympic weight plates.

Barbells come in all shapes and sizes. They consist of a bar that is usually 4’ to 7’ in length and can weigh from 20 to 45 pounds. Varying weights are attached to the ends of the bar. The weights are attached using collars or sleeves. You can find barbells in a “fixed collar” design. This prevents the weights from sliding off the end of the bar, but they are limiting as the weights cannot be removed. With adjustable collars you can add and remove weights to suit your own purposes.

The longer 7’ bar that is generally referred to as an Olympic bar can hold 500 to 1500 pounds. As mentioned, these are usually more costly. There are also other Olympic “specialty” bars available that are designed for specific purposes such as biceps and triceps.

The weight plates that fit the ends of the bar come in standard increments of:
2 1/2 pounds
5 pounds
10 pounds
25 pounds
50 pounds

If you stick with cast iron weights you are pretty much guaranteed that the weights will remain constant over time as opposed to those that are plastic encased or other metals that could warp over time.

If planning to go with the “home gym” sticking with standard weights is probably best for you. One of the advantages is that you can find standard weights available as a “package” that will include your bars, weights and collars. Most standard weight packages also come with dumbbells.

You will also need to have a weight bench. There are varying types of benches. You can find adjustable types that you can set for different inclines. This is a good buy because by adjusting the incline or decline, you can create a number of different exercises to work out different muscle groups.

Multistation Machines
There is no getting around it. When you begin looking at high end gym equipment, you can pretty much bet that these are going to cost quite a bit of money. These are often referred to as “home gyms.”

This piece of equipment is multi-purpose and able to serve more than one person at a time. They are designed with multiple work stations and the exercises are ones that can’t be done with barbells such as leg curls, lat pull downs, leg extensions, and cable movements.

Some things you need to take under consideration with this type of equipment is the size. Do you have sufficient space to house a multistation machine? They are pretty much stationery and not designed for portability. Cost is another factor as well as who will be using the machine. If it will be used by more than one individual the cost effectiveness of such equipment increases if you are weighing the purchase against joining a club.

Obvious advantages are that you and your partner can both use the equipment simultaneously and there is the added convenience of having the ability to train in your own home.

Variable Resistance Machines
What are variable resistance machines? Think Nautilus® or Bowflex®. Both are variable resistance machines that provide an alternative to free weight training.

The primary advantage is the constant resistance in the range of movement for the muscle group you are training. Another huge advantage over traditional weight training is that by working with constant resistance, you make the muscle stronger and you do it much faster than the traditional method.

This type of training also lets you deliver exactly the amount of exercise you desire to whatever specific muscle group you are working. There is the benefit of working that resistance through a greater range of movement as you can reduce your training time.
Variable resistance can be added to your free weight training routines to get much bigger and do it much faster.

Portability can be another advantage. These pieces of equipment tend to take up less space and many can be easily broken down in just one or two steps for storage convenience when not in use.

As far as which is better, free weights or variable resistance, it all depends on what your personal preferences might be. If you have established your budget and your goals, throwing variable resistance machines into the mix might be an option.

Regardless of which options you choose, let me remind you to shop around before spending too much money. There’s a good chance you can find used equipment that is just right for your purposes.


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DISCLAIMER: Information on this website is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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