Sometimes things don’t always go according to the plan. The timeline for the growth of my home gym accelerated from a multi-year plan to a five-month plan.
When my shipment came from elitefts in March, the plan was to use the basement as a way to get my big three lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift) in with little interruption. Then, since I have little time to train while coaching people at the gym, I would use my down time there and get my accessory work done.
However, the pandemic has changed a lot of things. While watching TV in May, I heard gyms wouldn’t be a part of the Phase 4 opening and wasn’t sure if they would open at all this year. I didn’t know if I would be able to train anybody again this year or even be able to get a legitimate workout in myself.
About a week or two after, Justin Kavanaugh called me and told me he was giving away equipment from his gym. He wound up giving me a 45-degree back extension, a calf raise machine, a pair of kettlebells, some chains and a battling rope. He also gave me a pair of cables that I could attach to my rack to do all sorts of plate loaded exercises to mimic some of the machines. With the small space I had created, I didn’t have enough room for all of this and decided to expand. I always wanted a back extension because it’s one of my favorite pieces of equipment. Once I got it, I decided to go in and start building the home gym of my dreams.
To go about this expansion, there were two questions I had to consider: What would I need to train people the way I want and what would be optimal for my own training? I searched everywhere on the internet from Facebook Marketplace to eBay to Craigslist. My first two hits came from FB Marketplace where I found the Titan Fitness Multi-Grip Bar and Rogue TB-1 Trap Bar 2.0. I loved using the Rogue trap bar at the gym because of its thick handle and it was a lot tougher to use than the traditional trap bars. The numbers I pulled on the Rogue trap bar closely resembled what I would pull with a regular barbell.
Then, I went to Rogue’s website and ordered some mats for added floor protection during deadlifts and a band rack. I got the square mats they use with their deadlift platforms.The place was starting to take shape and I had about 80% of what I wanted. The big thing I was missing was dumbbells. I could workout fine without them, but figured they would be a big piece if I planned on training anyone else. I couldn’t get a whole rack of dumbbells and needed to look into finding PowerBlocks.
Finding a pair of PowerBlocks and getting the right expansion sets was a chore. It didn’t help that I was looking for, perhaps, the hottest commodity during a pandemic where all the gyms were closed. Finding them was easy, the hard part was getting them at a somewhat reasonable price. I saw the PowerBlocks that go up to 24 pounds going for at least $400 and the the ones that go up to 50 pounds were being priced anywhere from $800 to $1,000. I’m desperate, but not that desperate.
Fortunately, I was able to find a pair at a reasonable price in New Jersey and got the PowerBlocks 50 Elite EXP. These go up to 50 pounds and then found the Stage 3 Expansion kit (70-90 pounds) for a good price on eBay. All I needed was the Stage 2 Expansion kit (50-70 pounds). My first attempted at buying the kit off eBay led to me getting the wrong model (which I later sold on FB Marketplace). The Stage 2 kit was nowhere to be found and took a month of searching before I finally found it. This kit I had to spend a bit to get because they were so rare.
In between all this, I added a decline bench press for my own personal use and felt I had about 95% of what I wanted. I had a good enough home gym where I felt I could do almost any exercise I’d do in the gym. I got a little greedy and decided to make the last two purchases to finish the job.
First, I got a bar rack from elitefts to help with the clutter. The only piece I wanted to add was a glute ham raise (GHR), which is probably my favorite lower body exercise. They weren’t hard to find. The issue I had was space and height. My gym was getting a little crowded and my room isn’t tall enough to have people perform the exercise on a standard GHR.
I needed something smaller and the Rogue Echo GHR was sold out. After doing some searching, I found that elitefts made a home model that just came with the main pieces and had wheels. I feel like elitefts has a piece of equipment for every situation. I put in the call to Matt Goodwin and he set me up with my dream piece of equipment, outside of the squat rack.
I’d like to say I’m done, but I’m sure there will be more purchases in the future. But, hypothetically, if I didn’t purchase another piece of equipment for the rest of my life, I’d say I’ve got my version of the ultimate home gym set up. This set up has gone far beyond what I had in mind when I started this all in February.