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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 Sears.com. 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.

Chalk

Chalk

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

Fatgripz

Fatgripz

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)

BOB

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 di.fm
  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.

Summary

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!

How to Remove Rust & Refinish Rusted Olympic Plates

Before...

A while back I got scored a sweet deal on a bunch of used Olympic plates from an online classified ad. The lady was selling 12x45lbs plates for only $50...so cheap!

It was a great price, but the plates themselves were not in great shape.

They were stored in a shed, and most of the plates were rusted.

It was too good of a deal to pass up, so I bought them with the intention of refinishing them afterward.

I’ve read you could soak the plates in Coca-cola to remove the rust (something to do with the phosphoric acid in Coke that can apparently get rid of rust), but that seemed a little messy and is a waste of something I would rather drink. I’m a little skeptical and wasn’t sure how well this would work, and I wanted something that would surely take care of the rust problem, along with preventing rust in the future.

After some research online, I discovered an easy way to make rusty weight look as good as new. Turns out there’s a special type of paint made by Tremclad (the Canadian version of Rustoleum) that you can apply onto surface rust, that will penetrating rusty surfaces and inhibiting rust. On top of that, there’s no need for a primer and there’s many different colors to choose from. I went with the hammertone black because it looked like the original color of the York Olympic plates.

There’s a few steps and tools you’ll need to remove rust and refinish weight plates. Here’s how I did it:

Tools You’ll Need

how-to-refinish-Olympic-plates-007

  • Wire Brush (I’ve read sandpaper works as well)
  • Mineral spirits
  • Rust preventive paint (I went for Tremclad’s/Rustoleum’s, but I've heard Krylon works too). I needed 2 cans of spray paint for 6 plates.
  • Some old rags
  • Cardboard
  • Dust/face mask (breathing in the fine rust particles or any spray paint is probably not good for your health).

Preparation

how-to-refinish-Olympic-plates-005

Take large pieces of cardboard and lay them out onto the floor.

Make sure that there is no space in between the pieces of cardboard, or you’ll end up getting spray paint onto the floor.

Place the weights on top of the cardboard. The weights should be spaced apart, so it will be easier to paint the side of the plates.

Steps

  1. Take a wire brush and scrub the Olympic plates to get rid of any loose rust and dirt. Make sure to scrub along the sides of the plates, along with the insides of the hole. If your wire brush is too large for the hole, sandpaper will work.how-to-refinish-Olympic-plates-008
  2. Pour a bit of mineral spirits onto the plates and wipe them clean with a rag. Supposedly what this does is remove any excess dirt and oils so that the paint will stick to the metal. Do this on both sides and let it dry. I’m not sure how long it takes to try since I left it overnight.
  3. With a can of Tremclad (or Rustoleum), spray coat of paint onto the Olympic plates. I’ve never used spray paint before, so I just sprayed from side to side, working my way from top to bottom. Don’t forget to spray on the sides of the plates, and inside the hole.I let it dry for about 15-20 minutes before painting on a second layer.how-to-refinish-Olympic-plates-015
    I repeated this for a total of 3 coats. After the 3rd coat of paint, I let it dry over night before flipping them over and painting the other side.

Before & After

how-to-refinish-Olympic-plates-010

how-to-refinish-Olympic-plates

Not bad!

The front and back surface of the Olympic plates looked pretty good, but the inside of the hole and the side of the plates were still a little rusty.

Looking back, I would have taken some wooden blocks and place them underneath the plates before painting them. It would have been easier to spray paint the side of the plates.

Alternatively, I would have painted the sides and inside the hole using a brush and the paint-can version of Tremclad.

There you have it - cheap, rusty Olympic weights looking as good as new!

Recently I managed to score 540lbs of Olympic plates for only $50! 12 plates, 45lbs each. Check out the pictures below:

They were on the classified ads website Kijiji, which is eBay's version of Craigslist.

My brother sent me the listing, and right away I contacted the seller. A few hours later, they were mine!

Normally Olympic plates cost anywhere from $0.70-1.00 per pound.

But according to my calculations, I spent a little over $0.09 (9 cents!) per pound.

I'm in the process of building a garage home gym, so this will definitely cut down on the cost.

Details:

6 of the plates are silver in color, with the text "STANDARD BARBELL 45LBS 20.4KGS". I'm pretty sure these are crap made by CAP. I've read some reviews about CAP plates, and apparently each plate vary in how much they weigh. I'm going to have to weigh them myself to get an accurate measurement.

The other 6 plates was a pleasant surprise. They are York 45lbs Olympic plates, and judging from the looks of it, they appear to be York's "Deep Dish" version.

The weights were stored in a shed and are not in the best condition. The York plates are very rusty, but I plan on using some "Evapo-Rust" from Canadian Tire to remove it, and refinishing them with some sort of rust-proof paint.

Now to complete my garage home gym, all I need is a high quality Olympic bar, a few more plates (2x25lbs, 4x10lbs, 2x5lbs & 2x2.5lbs), a power rack, a bench and some gym flooring or horse stall mats and then I'm set.