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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.

Some of my posts you might have missed:

  1. My Home Gym, Cost Breakdown and Virtual Tour
  2. Ivanko COT-1.25 Olympic Barbell Compression Collar Review 
  3. Texas Method Intensity Day Training Log with Videos

And a few helpful articles I’ve come across this past week:

  1. 4 Things Your Girlfriend Should Know by Tony Gentilcore
  2. What's Your "Why?" By Molly Galbraith
  3. The Art of Consistency by Jen Comas Keck
  4. 6 Tips from 6 Coaches by Ben Bruno
  5. 5 Best Olympic Shoes by Nick Horton
  6. Why Strength Training Is Important by Tony Ingram

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…

One of the comments left on my last blog post entitled “10 Thing’s I Do Not Miss About Commercial Gyms” was from Craig Hirota, who suggested a great idea about writing my top 10 things that I DO miss about commercial here it is!

Some of these might not apply to you, but I’m sure there will be a few you could relate to:

1. Observing Others

Human females with a symmetrical face and a waist to hip ratio of about 0.7, wearing form fitting gym apparel, and performing just about any exercise correctly using a full range of motion are nice to look at by most, if not all heterosexual human males.

It can increase performance for some, but distracting for others.

2. Secretly Competing With Others

Treadmill Racing

I do something similar, in the weight room, lifting weights.

I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.

I like to be the strongest one in the gym. When I am not, I push myself to get stronger.

When I was living in Bangkok, there was a really big guy (well, big upper body at least) who used to partial bench more than I could bench press.

This motivated me to bench more weight than he did, but with full range of motion (that is, the bar touching my chest with every rep), which I did.

Training at home, I don’t have anyone around me to compete with. Although I do compete with myself, trying to break my previous personal records, it’s really not the same as out lifting someone you see on a regular basis at the gym.

3. People Watching You

I’m not an attention whore, but having eyeballs on me when I lift weights is motivating, especially during my main sets. This is also known as social facilitation.

There’s a sense that an audience is around me and I would have to perform.

And because people are watching (at least, I think they’re watching...), I don’t want to look like I added too much weight to the bar and bit off more than I could chew, so there’s an extra bit of motivation to complete that last rep and not fail.

4. Mirrors

I don’t have any mirrors in my basement home gym. At least not yet.

I’m not the type of guy who trains for aesthetic purposes, but I have to admit it’s pretty awesome seeing yourself in the mirror after getting a huge pump.

Often times I would look in the mirror and see some guy with a big traps, huge back and a bubble butt. I’d think, “Damn, this guy is huge!”

Then I’d realize that I was looking at a reflection of another mirror on an opposite wall...and it was me all along. Sweet.

5. Answering Questions

I’m not the most approachable guy at the gym. I tend to be focused on my training and tune everything else out.

However sometimes people would ask questions, and I don’t mind answering as long as people listen (and as long as they’re not interrupting my training or taking too much of my time in between sets like that Mr. Million Questions guy who seems to manifest himself in every gym).

It’s rewarding to see that I helped make an impact on other people’s training, strength, and overall health.

6. Non-Verbally Inspiring People

At least in my past experience, sometimes I don’t have to say anything to inspire others in their training.

For instance, when I used to go to a gym in Bangkok, there would be a group of kids (either fresh out of high school or just starting university) who I knew watched me while I trained. After a few days, I would see them attempt the same thing, albeit a bastardized version of what I was doing. For example, my squat in the squat rack became their squat in the StarTrack Maxrack (a 3D Smith machine).

I even saw that they purchased the same equipment as me. I have the Schiek weight lifting straps that I use for deadlifts. One day, I saw the group of kids with the same straps using them for incline dumbbell bench presses and on the EZ-bar on the preacher curl bench.

I also carry around a belt at the gym. I use it during my main sets (and sometimes during my heavier warm-ups) during squat, deadlift and overhead press. After some time, I saw this same group of kids carry belts with them too and wore it for ALL lifts. But mainly the ones where you sit or lay down on a bench.

7. Personal Trainers with an Area of Expertise

At Fitness First Rama 3 in Bangkok, there were at least 2 former competitive Muay Thai boxers.

When I found out about this, I signed up for a few weeks of personal training sessions with one of the trainers and began my Muay Thai training (ironically, in comforts of an air conditioned commercial gym).

His English wasn’t that great, but through body language, he could communicate what I needed to do and what I was doing wrong.

Hitting the Thai pads with an experienced pad holder and former fighter sure beats any other conditioning exercise I’ve ever tried. And on top of that, he’s given me tips on improving my punches, kicks, knees and elbows.

There’s nothing like getting a killer workout while sharpening your skills under the guidance of someone who has been fighting in the ring even since he was a kid (children competing in full contact Muay Thai is normal in Thailand).

8. Rubber Coated Olympic Plates with Grips

I’m talking about something like this:


Simply put, those rubber coated Olympic plates with built-in grips are easier to work with compared to steel Olympic plates with a bevelled edge.

It’s easier to carry around, doesn’t make that clanging noise when the plates hit each other, and are less vulnerable to rust.

Perhaps I’ll upgrade my weights in the future.

9. Super Expensive Specialized Machines

I’m not a big fan of exercise machines, especially those that are designed to replace their free weight counterpart.

But there are some machines I miss, and although I could buy them myself, they would cost an arm and a leg.

The machine I miss the most is the Freemotion “functional trainer” machine, pictured below:


Now, why would I miss this somewhat gimmicky looking machine?

It’s because the adjustable height of the pulley makes it easy to train my neck. What I do is attach my Ironmind neck harness to the machine, and adjust the pulley at the lowest level to do neck extensions, and then adjust the pulley to around eye level to do neck flexion and side flexion.

I’ve tried attaching a plate to neck harness and perform neck exercises. It works fine for neck extensions, but it doesn’t work as well when I’m trying to train the front and sides of my neck.

I would also use the same machine for face pulls.

The other machine I miss, and have only seen it in one gym (Popeye’s, which is now World’s Gym in Kitchener, Ontario), is the 4-way neck machine. These machines don’t come cheap either.


10. Compliments

Getting compliments from others feels good.

It’s a small reward for the time, money and energy I’ve invested in the pursuit of strength.

There’s nothing like a “YOU’RE A MONSTER!” from someone after nearly crushing myself with 400lbs+ on my back.

Feels Good Man

Feels good man!


Have you switched from a commercial gym and started training at home?

If so, what do you miss from training at the last gym you were a member of?

Leave your comments below 🙂