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Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2013 (Bloomington, MN) with: Josh Knutson and Ryan Vikander
Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2013 (Bloomington, MN) with: Josh Knutson ( @Emergence ) Ryan Vikander ( @rvikander )

Project HUGE: Building A Home Gym - Buying The Steel

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Last week, I embarked on a life-long dream of owning a home gym. It's been years since I've worked out seriously. And, it's time to get my life - and my body - back on track. After my Fitness Gear Pro Utility Bench finally arrived, I was able to test the waters with a few light workouts over the weekend. And, holy chickens, it was awesome. This was exactly the validation that I was looking for. So, at the end of that first workout, I pulled the trigger on taking things to next level: buying some steel.

Before this weekend, I'd never really thought about barbells. I mean, they're awesome. I pick them up and I put them down. But, beyond that, I never really gave them a thought. I had no idea how many options there were. And, with CrossFit being the new hawtness, there's ton-load of bar various and bearings and knurling and whip and finishes. It's actually kind of overwhelming.


 Building a home gym - rogue ohio power bar packaging.  

Someone (I forget who, sorry) suggested Rogue Fitness, an Ohio based fitness manufacturer geared towards CrossFit. They, alone, have over 50 bars to choose from (like I said, overwhelming). I started to look at the Matt Chan Rogue Bar because it seemed like a good compromise bar in that it had the center knurling for squats but had aspects that were targeted at CrossFit. After doing some measurements on a wooden dowel, however, I felt the outer knurling on the Chan bar was too far apart and I ended falling back to a more standard, power-oriented bar - the Rogue Ohio Power Bar with a black zinc body and bright zinc sleeves.


 Building a home gym - the rogue ohio power bar.  


 Building a home gym - the rogue ohio power bar.  


 Building a home gym - the rogue ohio power bar.  

I have to admit, I love the black zinc finish - I think it's sexy. It also has nice knurling, though I'll have a better sense of that after a workout. I did throw 225 lbs on the bar just to try a deadlift (in my slippers). And, even with no chalk, it felt pretty sweet. And, what's more, the Shock Athletic Extreme Gym Flooring that I bought looks like it will really protect the garage floor (and cut down on the noise).

On its own, a barbell is pretty cool; but, it really needs some weight plates. At first, I looked at Dick's Sporting Goods. But, frankly, I was very unimpressed with their olympic plates. Not only were they unattractive (hey, I work in the design industry), they were also smaller (in diameter) than your typical gym plates. This would mean getting even father down on a deadlift, which I have no interest in doing.

Buying solid metal is an interesting problem because you can end up paying more for shipping than you do for the actual product. So, I was determined to find something locally. A lot of people recommend buying this kind of stuff off Craig's List. But, there was nothing in my area. Luckily, I found a Hudson Steel Co. fitness showroom about 20 minutes away and was able to drive over and pick up 265 lbs of rubber-coded steel plates.


 Building a home gym - hudson steel co, olympic weight plates with rubber coating.  


 Building a home gym - hudson steel co, olympic weight plates with rubber coating.  

While the holing in the plates is nice, aesthetically, it also provides a great number of natural handles which makes these plates really easy to lift. The rubber coating also feels really high quality and should help protect the floor and my fingers from damage.

And, of course, no gym is complete with an EZ curl bar. I just went with the Body Solid 47-Inch EZ Curl Olympic Bar from Dick's Sporting Goods. While there are variations on the curl bar, for the price, I didn't really care. So, I just went with the first one I found.


 Building a home gym - body solid ez curl bar.  

They haven't arrived yet, but I also purchased a pair of SteelBody Slip Lock Olympic Bar Clip Collars. As with the barbells, there's a ton-load of different kinds of collars out there all geared for different kinds of activities. But these are the best ones that I've ever used (granted my experience is limited). I've only ever been to one gym that had them and it blew my mind at how easy they are to use - they slip on and slip off without effort thanks to some internal ball-bearing lock. No squeezing springs, no tightening screws, no adjusting levers - just slide on, slide off. Of course, they may not be great for olympic lifting or any kind of significant dropping of the bar. But, for standard, controlled lifting, nothing is easier.

(pictures forthcoming)

Does anyone smell deadlifts? Cause I'm pretty sure they're on the menu for tonights dinner.


 Building a home gym - rogue fitness ohio power bar and hudson steel co olympic weight plates.  


 Building a home gym - rogue fitness ohio power bar and hudson steel co olympic weight plates.  


 Building a home gym - rogue fitness ohio power bar and hudson steel co olympic weight plates.  

As of now, here's the current home gym inventory:

Subtotal: $650.05

Subtotal: $815.02
Running Total: $1,465.07

As you can see, the weight itself is probably one of the most expensive parts of a home gym. And, frankly, 265 lbs isn't all that much. Luckily, most of my lifts are a joke (in terms of strength). But, my 1-rep max on deadlifts was 455 lbs, though that was five years ago (are you kidding me!). Even so, I lifted 315 lbs the other day at the NYSC. So, this 265 lbs is just the starting point. More steel will have to be purchased. But, at this point, the only thing I'm really missing is a rack... but don't you worry, wheels are in motion.

Reader Comments

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel