Archives For basement home gym

Finally got a couple of posters for my home gym. No more bare walls!


Some people have suggested that I get posters of girls in bikini. But nah, there's no value in that.

I was thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu or Bruce Lee posters. I even thought about picking up some mirrors for my home gym, either some used sliding closet door mirrors or huge gym mirrors that sometimes show up on Kijiji.

But I finally decided on these:


If I’m going to have a poster hang on my wall in my home gym and look at it all the time, I might as well learn something. I figure if I see these diagrams all the time, it’ll be a lot easier remembering the muscles, bones and ligaments.

The Muscular System Poster


The muscular system giant chart measures 42” wide x 62” high…which is almost as tall as I am!

It’s pretty durable, and I can write on the surface with a dry erase pen if I wanted to.

There’s 3 holes at the top of the posters to make it easy to hang. I only used the center hole to hang on a nail, and used a pair of neodymium magnets to hold the poster onto the studs in the wall.

The Skeletal System Poster

I also got a Skeletal System 3D chart from the Dollar Store for $1.50, which is similar to the one listed here.


It measures 16.5” wide x 22.5” high, which is a lot smaller than the muscular system chart. Maybe I’ll upgrade to this giant skeletal system chart in the future.

The lettering is in rainbow color for some reason, and there’s a blue cloud border, but for $1.50 (so cheap!) it really doesn’t matter.


Now, I can lift and learn at the same time.

I’ve already learned something from these anatomy posters. Did you know that the “deltoid ligament” is in the ankle? I would have thought it would be located somewhere near the deltoid muscles (AKA shoulder muscles)!

My other wall is still bare, so I might get:

  1. Strength Training Anatomy Poster Series by Frederic Delavier
  2. MobilityWOD posters from Rogue Fitness
  3. Or maybe a Dim Mak chart to learn pressure points…just in case I need to perform the death touch in order to defend myself.

For those who want to workout at home and are planning on setting up a home gym, I’ve written this blog post that will hopefully guide you in the right direction as far as equipment selection, and cost.

This is my home gym so far:

(Go here if you can't see the image above)

I decided to start with, what I believe are the essentials to any home gym.

When I used to train at a commercial gym, I would occupy the squat rack (or power rack) and perform most of my training there. The selection of exercise equipment I’ve invested in is based on what I have used on a regular basis at the gym, which really isn’t much.

To minimize cost, I try to buy the equipment used. But this isn’t always possible because I prefer to have items delivered rather than picking it up myself.

Gym Flooring (Used)

Horse Stall Mats

The last thing I want is the steel plates damaging the concrete floor after a heavy deadlift, so proper gym flooring is essential.

My original plan was to buy horse stall mats from the Tractor Supply Company (TSC). But it’s a bit of a hassle to go there, pickup 10 rubber mats that’s 4’x6’, weigh 100lbs each and 3/4” thick, put it in the car and transport it home.

Luckily I found an ad on Kijiji (a classified ads website similar to Craigslist) from someone who was selling about 30 stall mats.

Turns out that these mats were used at a Crossfit gym in Waterloo! At the time, Crossfit Waterloo just moved location and wanted to sell their old stall mats.

These gym mats are made from virgin rubber, 4’x6’, 1/2” thick and weights around 100lbs. It was listed for $35 each, but I struck a deal and purchased 10 for $300. Best part is, it was delivered! (And no tax!)

It’s awesome for weights, but when tried hitting the “Body Opponent Bag” while barefoot, the bottom of my foot was all black. I’ll need to get some proper mats designed for martial arts in the future if I don’t want to be scrubbing my feet for 10 minutes after kicking the bag.

Cost: $300 for 10 mats.

Amstaff TR023 Power Rack

AmStaff TR023

Next I needed a power rack or squat rack. I was debating about the Amstaff TR023 or a Rogue power rack, but in the end choose Amstaff.

It’s a solid rack with band attachments and monkey bars at a low price. Check out my review here.

Cost: $449.99

AmStaff TS015F Commercial Heavy-Duty Flat Bench

AmStaff Bench

Purchased this bench along with the power rack.

Cost: $98.99

Total cost for the power rack and bench with shipping: $732.55

800lbs Olympic Plates

Olympic Plates

540lbs York & CAP Olympic Plates

I managed to find some good deals on Kijiji, and this is the best deal I’ve encountered to date.

A lady wanted to get rid of twelve 45lbs Olympic plates. I’m not exactly sure why she even had so much weight in the first place. She wanted $50 to have them removed from her premises. AWESOME.

The only negative about this was I had to pick them up myself, and the plates were rusty (I have since refinished half of plates). But at 50 bucks, it was a deal I could not pass up.

Cost: $50

245lbs Bollinger Plates

I also found this on Kijiji. Not a killer deal, but the price was fair at $170 delivered. It also included an Olympic bar. The plates are:

  • 45lbs x 2
  • 35lbs x 2
  • 25lbs x 2
  • 10lbs x 2
  • 5lbs x 2
  • 2.5lbs x 2

The plates are marked “Bollinger”. I don’t think this company makes Olympic plates anymore. I’m not even sure it still exists.

Cost: $170

Weider 5lbs Olympic Plates (2)

I bought this from I wanted an extra pair of 5lbs plates so I can have all possible combination of weights.

Cost = $20

Rogue Fractional Plates

Purchased these from Rogue Fitness. Expensive, but very very useful. My review of the Rogue fractional plates here.

Cost: $75

Total Cost

  • 540lbs York and CAP plates = $50
  • 245lbs Bollinger = $170 *included a crappy Olympic bar
  • 10lbs Weider = $20 *including shipping, taxes and rounding up
  • 5lbs Rogue Fraction Plates = $75 *including shipping, taxes and rounding up
  • Total: 800lbs for $315

Ivanko COT-1.25 Olympic Pressure-Ring Training Collar

Ivanko COT-1.25 Olympic Pressure-Ring Training Collar

When I was living in Bangkok, Thailand and training at a gym there, the plates kept on sliding on the Olympic bar, even when I used spring collars. Purchased these collars from Amazon and haven’t that problem since.

Cost: $60 including shipping

B&R Bar

The B&R bar a solid bar that’s probably going to last me the rest of my life if I take care of it properly. Read my review of the B&R bar here.

Cost: $350 *included shipping & taxes.

Cap Barbell RK-1 Standard Plate Rack

I was thinking I could save some cash by having my weights on the floor. That thought lasted about a day, since I couldn’t stand seeing all the plates lying around.

I bought 2 of these because I wanted a weight tree on each side of the rack. It would make it convenient to load the bar on each side. I also need 2 because one weight tree wasn’t going to hold 800lbs of plates. Check my review here.

Cost: $110 *included taxes. Shipping was free.



1.5L bucket of “Teknik Chunky Yeti Chalk”. Purchased this from MEC. 1 tub cost $8. I’ll round this up to $10 with taxes.

Cost: $10

Ironmind Headstrap Fit for Hercules Neck Harness

Ironmind Headstrap Fit for Hercules Neck Harness

I got this while I was living in Bangkok. I wanted a neck harness that was durable, but lightweight. Most neck harnesses I’ve seen uses chains, but the one from Ironmind is made from nylon (I think) and supposedly can hold over a ton. Works for me!

Cost: $119.95 *including shipping

Ironmind De Rigueur Dipping Belt (Used)

Ironmind De Rigueur Dipping Belt

I also purchased this while I was living in Bangkok. There wasn’t a dip belt at my gym, so I scoured the interwebz to find a durable but lightweight dip belt. I found the this Ironmind dipping belt on eBay at a great price. There’s no metal chains, so it’s very light. Also, it’s made by Ironmind, who makes equipment for the World’s Strongest Man competitions.

Cost: $49 *including shipping



I’ve seen these advertised everywhere, so I decided to pick up a pair and see what’s all the fuss is about. They’re actually pretty good.

Total Cost: $40.26 *including taxes and shipping

B.O.B (Body Opponent Bag)


When I was planning my home gym, I knew I watched something to punch and kick. It was either a heavy bag, or a free standing bag. I got this off Kijiji. Right now it’s being used as a place to hang some of my gear.

To be honest, hitting a freestanding bag is not the same as hitting a properly hung heavy bag. Even when filled to the top with water, it still moves around when I kick it.

Cost: $200

Ikea Jerker Desk (Version 1)

I’m currently using this as a standing desk. I got this off Kijiji for $35 delivered.

Combined with a laptop and speakers, I use this area to:

  1. Keep a record of my workouts on my blog
    What I used to do is log my workouts in my iPod Touch. I would make a draft, and then upload it to my website. But now I can do everything straight from my laptop which eliminates the extra step uploading from the iPod.
  2. Play music during my workouts
    I hooked up an old pair of Monsoon MM-700 speakers and usually play the Trance or Goa-Psy Trance channel from
  3. Write
    I’m finding that having a separate computer and location to do specific work really helps with productivity.It also helps being surrounded by exercise equipment when writing about exercise as well.


So far, in total I’ve invested $2321.76 in my home gym.

You might think that’s a lot, but $2321.76 pays for a little over 3 years of a gym membership, assuming the monthly cost is $60 (not including the cost of transportation).

But since there’s 2 people using my home gym on a regular basis, $2321.76 will cover about 1 year and 7 months worth of a gym membership. I plan on lifting weights until I’m on my death bed, so the way I see it, $2321.76 for my current home gym is good investment.

If you’ve got the space and you TRAIN on a regular basis at a gym, I would seriously consider setting up a home gym. You don’t need to buy all the equipment at once, and you can find some pretty damn good deals on classified ads websites such as Kijiji or Craigslist.

Best part is, you don’t have to deal with any of the annoyances typically found in a commercial gym!

Basement Home Gym

February 2, 2012 — 1 Comment

The garage and the basement were the 2 locations I wanted to set up my home gym. They’re similar in size, but ultimately, I choose the basement. In this blog post, I’ll explain why.

Basement Home Gym

My Basement Home Gym: Version 1.0

Now, before I go on, my situation and my personal considerations might be different than yours. Some of it might apply to you, while others may not. Either way, I hope you find it helpful if you’re planning on setting up a home gym!

Benefits Of A Basement Home Gym

Floor Is Leveled

In my basement, the floor in the area where I train is level.

Because of the leveled floor, there’s no risk of a loaded barbell rolling on the ground and slamming into walls, equipment or anything else in my basement.

Furthermore, I don’t need to worry about building a sloped lifting platform or level my basement with self leveling cement. This would be an additional cost to my home gym, and a headache that I’d rather not deal with.

I can just lay down the horse stall mats, setup my equipment and begin training.

Temperature & Humidity Control

In the wintertime the basement will be warmer, and in the summertime, it will be a lot cooler compared to the garage because of the heat from furnace and cold air from the air conditioning unit. This will allow a more comfortable and consistent environment to train.

There are some people who prefer training in extreme temperatures. Personally, I’d rather keep this variable constant and focus on improving my strength. Getting stronger is my goal, tolerating varying temperatures while training is not.

Also, because of the stable temperature and humidity levels (with a dehumidifier), the Olympic plates, B&R bar and other metal equipment won’t be subject to varying temperatures and humidity levels, so they’ll less likely corrode.

Sound Proofing

I could be wrong, but I’m assuming sound proofing is a little bit better in the basement compared to the garage. At least with mine.

Dropping a deadlift with all-steel Olympic plates would only annoy anyone upstairs. Whereas in the garage, anyone within the general vicinity could probably hear the crashing of the weights onto the floor.

I’d prefer not deal with neighbors complaining about excessive noise.

Negatives Of A Basement Home Gym

No Fresh Air

The air in the basement feels a bit stale and stuffy. Also, all the sweating, huffing and puffing from exercise doesn’t exactly freshen up the air.

I could open up a small window in the basement to allow fresh air in and the perspiration-laced air out, but (depending on the weather) this would not be as effective as opening a garage door.

Also, the window is a little difficult to open (it’s located near the top of the wall, and I have to manually slide 2 windows), whereas I can just push a button to open and close the garage door.


It is, was, and will be a pain in the ass to move all the equipment to the basement.

Exercise equipment isn’t exactly light, and much of it is long and awkward to carry, which makes it quite a challenge when trying to move everything downstairs without damaging the walls and floors. The good thing is I only have to do it once (or twice if I decided to move out).

Moving 10 pieces of 4’x6’ dirty stall mats weighing about 100lbs each from the garage to the basement was challenging. Moving 700lbs Olympic plates was hard labor. Long, rectangular boxes filled with metal pieces for my power rack wasn’t fun either.

If I had my home gym in the garage, it would be a lot easier to move equipment in and out.

Ceiling Height

As mentioned in my previous article, standing overhead press with two 45lbs plates on each side is not an issue for me because of my height (5’4”).

Someone who is 6’ or taller probably could not do this in a basement with a ceiling that’s just above 7’ high.

Jump squats and other plyometric exercises wouldn’t be a good idea in my basement either.


Ideally, I would have preferred my home gym to be in the garage, but decided on the basement because the floor was level. For me, it would be less of a hassle to move equipment downstairs into the basement than to deal with a sloped garage floor.

At this point, this leaves me to question: what am I going to do with the garage?

I’ve thought of a couple of options:

  1. Build a sloped lifting platform and do Olympic weightlifting movements in the garage
  2. Use the garage for plyometric training
  3. Hang a heavy bag on a wall mount in the garage
  4. Some the above
  5. All of the above

This would mean I would have 2 home gyms: basement home gym for weight training, and anything else that doesn’t need a perfectly leveled floor in the garage.

Something to think about. Hmm…

Garage Home Gym

January 31, 2012 — Leave a comment

Going from the commercial gym to a home gym was one of the best decisions I ever made.

For those who are considering setting a home gym but are torn between garage or basement, I’ll share with you some of my thoughts and notes while going through the decision making process. I hope it helps if you’re deciding to quit your gym membership and train at home.

Now, my situation might be a little different than yours. I recently moved, so the basement and the garage were empty. That means that I did not have to deal with having to move or re-arrange stuff that’s stored in the garage or basement. Also, the basement is unfinished and the floor is bare concrete, just like the garage.

I ultimately choose the basement as the location for my home gym, however the garage was my first choice.

I mean, take a look at this picture and tell me it’s not awesome (note: not my home gym!)

Garage Home Gym

Anyways, here are some of my notes of the positives and negatives of having a garage home gym:

Benefits of A Garage Home Gym

Moving Equipment

It’s easy to move exercise equipment in and out. This is beneficial because if I order heavy equipment and/or anything that requires assembly, I can tell the delivery guy to unload everything into the garage. From there, I can unpack, and assemble everything right in the garage.

With a basement home gym, all the equipment would need to be brought into the house and then moved down stairs. During this move, extra care would have to be taken to make sure that the walls, floors, and whatever else are not damaged. I can tell you that I have a few black marks on the wall from moving 10 4’x6’ rubber stall mats from the garage to the basement.

Moving all the equipment out from the garage would be easier compared to the basement. If I decide to move and don’t want to take apart my power rack, I move the entire thing (without having to disassemble it) through the garage door, and then into a moving truck and be done with it. But because my power rack is in the basement, I would have to disassemble everything, make sure I don’t lose any bolts and washers, and then reassemble the rack. Hauling hundreds of pounds of weights, equipment, and those stall mats up the stairs not be fun.

Ceiling Height

The height of the ceiling in my basement is about 92”, whereas my garage is 112”. It’s fine since I’m somewhat vertically challenged at 5’4”, standing overhead presses with 45lbs plates is no problem in the basement.

But for someone taller, pressing a bar with 45lbs plates on both sides may not be possible without hitting the ceiling. A taller person could substitute the seated barbell should press, but this exercise is far more inferior than the standing overhead press.

If I decide to program plyometric exercises into my training (such as box jumps, etc.), I wouldn’t be able to do it in the basement. Whereas the garage, with an over 9’ ceiling, wouldn’t be an issue.

Also the Rogue power racks are 90”, or 7'6” tall, which will barely fit into my basement. Doing pull-ups and chin-ups would be an issue if I only have 2” of head room to work with. However, according to this video, you can request a customized 7 foot version of the Rogue power rack for an extra $50. You’d probably want to contact Rogue’s customer support for details about a 7’ rack.

Opening The Garage Door

Opening the garage door allows you to let in the fresh air from the outdoors while letting out any sort of odours from your training session. A garage door screen can be used to keep the insects, dust & debris out.

Any sort of strongman training that involves carrying a weight and walking around would be easier with a garage because you could make use of the driveway. Training outside would be as simple as opening the garage door.

And lastly, for better or worst, training with heavy weights with the garage door open will probably attract the attention of your neighbors.

Negatives About A Garage Gym

Temperature & Humidity Control

I live in a part of the world where it’s too damn hot in the summer, and too damn cold in the winter, and not enough in between. Because of this, the garage, if not properly insulated, will be subject to the temperature and humidity levels outside.

You can combat this by first insulating the garage door. I’ve read the “Owens Corning Garage Door insulation kit” makes it easy, but there are other DIY solutions as well.

Next would be heating & cooling the garage. Cooling the garage would be easier because you could just use a fan and/or open the garage door.

As for heating, portable electric heaters and utility heaters designed for garages works well, provided that the garage door and walls are insulated (I’ve tried heating the garage with an un-insulated garage door made of wood using a Garrison oil heater and it has no effect. However, the same heater can heat up the basement just fine).

Humidity would need to be controlled, or else it can make all the weights, racks and bars corrode. Which is the last thing I want, since I removed the rust and refinished my Olympic plates, and do not want the bare steel B&R bar to rust.

Sloped Floor

From what I understand, garage floors are normally sloped down towards the outside.

Dan Thomson writes:

“Heavy things and liquids go downhill.

To maintain safety in the garage, it is necessary to slope the garage floor 1/4" per foot so things like gas fumes (which are heavier than air), fuel, water, etc. can exit the garage safety without building up and possibly causing a hazard.”

This is not good because the last thing I want is having a 400lbs+ barbell rolling into the garage door (or worst, rolling outside onto the driveway into the road!)

There are ways around this, such a building a lifting platform to accommodate the slope, or level the garage floor with self levelling cement (I don’t think I can do this because apparently a sloped garage floor is part of the Ontario building code).

Either way, it will be a pain in the ass and add addition work and cost into the home gym.


Overall, I decided against setting up my home gym in the garage because I didn’t want to deal with the issue of a sloped floor. Even though a garage home gym has many benefits, the negatives pushed me towards a choosing the basement as the location for my home gym.

And now, I have to figure out what to do with my garage! Right now it’s just a storage area for boxes that I’m too lazy to break apart and recycle.

For my next blog post, I’m going to talk about the benefits of a basement home gym, so stay tuned.

Over the course of my life, I have been a member of numerous commercial gyms in Canada and Thailand.

But ever since December 2011, I have put together a home gym in my basement and have been training at home ever since.

Here are a few things that I don’t miss about commercial gyms:

1. Personal Trainers Who Don’t Know What They’re Doing

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a personal trainer do upright rows at the same time their client is performing bench presses with the same bar.

Or the number of times I’ve seen trainers without a training log for their clients.

Or the number of times I’ve heard giving out the wrong advice or exercise instruction.

Don’t take this the wrong way, not all personal trainers don’t know what they’re doing, but it seems like (at least in my experience) there are more crappy trainers than good ones.

2. Commuting

I’ve always thought of commuting as a waste of time. The time spent getting to the gym and back can take as long (or longer) that the workout itself!

Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if possible, I’ll try to set up a situation for myself where getting from point A to B is minimal.

For the last 2 clubs I was a member of, I was fortunate to live close enough to be able to walk to the gym. It only took around 15 minutes each way, but that’s an extra 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. Multiply that by the number of times I go to the gym (3-5) per week, the number of weeks in a month, the number of months in a year, etc. and it adds up.

3. Waiting

Normally, the squat rack is never in use. However there are times when I need to use a bench. And more often than not, the people doing bench press aren’t even doing half-range of motion!

There are also people socialize in between sets, and/or use their phones while sitting on the exercise equipment. Often times they would spend more time on their phones texting and chatting than actually working out.

4. Crappy Exercise Equipment

adductor machine

This machine trains the "NO" muscles

Yes-No machines, Smith machines, elliptical trainers, & Nautilus circuit machines and countless others seem to get the most use in a gym serving the general public. They’re also the equipment that have the least impact on “getting toned”, “getting cut” and “losing weight”.

(I have to admit, I did use the Smith machine as an adjustable height pull up bar when the chin up area was in use).

5. Crappy Workout Music

I would not have known about Justin Beiber, Kate Perry or Lady Gaga if it wasn’t for those Les Mills group fitness classes. I bet there’s someone out there who loves to lift heavy weights to “Somebody to Love”, but it’s not my cup of tea.

At home, I tune into Digitally Imported and listen to either Trance or Goa-Psy Trance, which is probably considered crappy music to some people.

The choice of music to listen to while training is subjective, but since I’m training in my home gym, I can listen to whatever “crappy” music I want.

One man’s crappy music is another man’s ear candy.

6. People Asking A Million Questions In Between Sets

Don’t get me wrong, I like to help people with their training and answer their questions to the best of my ability. But sometimes people ask too many questions at the wrong time (in between sets), and take up a lot of time with their interrogation.

7. Unhygienic People

I’ve seen people picking their noses in between their sets, people who don’t wash their hands after they use the rest rooms, and others cough or sneezing into their hands before they grasp the barbell.


8. Dealing With People Who Don’t Put Away Weights


Why can’t some people put away the weights?

It’s just common courtesy to put away those 35lbs dumbbells and put away the plates after doing quarter squats on the smith machine.

9. People Who Drop Puny Weights On The Floor

I’m not sure what the deal is with people who drop dumbbells on the floor after they’re finished the set. I’m talking about people who are dumbbell bench pressing 50lbs (total) for 12+ reps with little effort, and then dropping it.

No matter how loud the sound of dumbbells dropping make, it won’t make you look any manlier!

In my opinion, the weight shouldn’t be dropped on the floor unless it is unsafe or impossible to put it down in a controlled manner. Or if they’re lifting with bumper plates.

10. Initiation Fees, Recurring Membership Fees, Hold Fees and Cancellation Fees

‘nuff said.