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Tips on buying exercise equipment

Many people will run out and buy a treadmill, only to hang clothes on it six months later. We tend to imitate our government and just throw money at  a problem, rather than thinking about it. This approach is not sustainable, and does not produce results. Let's look at an approach that does.

Not long ago, I ran into a guy who complimented me on "still working out." He asked, "Don't you ever miss?"  I told him, "Not since 1977." (I actually started getting into fitness about about a decade before that, but 1977 started my "no miss" streak). He said he needs to work out, but went to Gold's Gym and the cost was a show-stopper. Most gyms cost more per year than it costs to set up a decent home weight gym.

You do not need a health club or gym membership to be fit. I've said this in other eNLs, so I won't rehash what I've already said. Other ways to get around the price barrier include doing yard work, gardening, hiking, and calisthenics. Jack LaLanne doesn't use weights, and you won't find someone more fit. However, weights are hard to beat. Weight machines are a waste of money. We are talking free weights, the only kind of resistance training that gives you "useful movement" training and true injury prevention.

To set up a home weight gym:

  • Set your price range. Think in $100 increments. More about this, in a moment.

  • Set aside a dedicated space for it. A basement corner, laundry room corner, special building you erect out back, etc. If you don't have the space because you are in an apartment, see if there is a space you can rent for this purpose or see if a friend has space the two of you can share--you can split the costs of the equipment (be sure to document who owns what, and keep the receipts). If you don't have the space because your home is too small, take a harsh look at how you do use your space.

Let's take a look at what you can do in various price ranges:

  • $0. Do floor exercises. You can learn these from a book in the library. Set up a schedule for each muscle group, and do these faithfully.

  • $100. Buy a dumbbell rack and some dumbbells, plus a floor mat. You need two each of 10, 15, 20, and 25 pounds. Buy more if you can, but don't buy smaller than 5 pounds. Buy individual dumbbells, not adjustable ones. You do not need a bench--these rarely showed up in gyms back when the big guys like Arnold were strutting around in Venice Beach, CA.

  • $200. Buy all the $100 stuff and get yourself a chinning bar. Buy more dumbbells, going up in five pound increments from 30.

  • $300. Buy an Olympic weight bench,  Olympic bar bell, and as many Olympic weights as you can.

  • $400. Buy all the $300 stuff and more weights.

  • $500. Buy the Olympic weight bench and weights, plus a dumbbell rack and dumbbells.

  • $600 and up. Buy the $500 stuff, but add more weights and a lat pulldown accessory for your Olympic bench.

Some don't dos"

  • Don't buy a leg extension accessory. This is an unnatural motion that will do little for you. Do squats twice a month with free weights, and your knees will be super strong. Assuming you do the squats correctly.

  • Don't buy a leg press accessory. Do squats, instead.

  • Don't buy a Universal machine. It does not provide the total conditioning of free weights, and is a waste of money if you want functional strength and injury prevention.

  • Don't buy a weight belt. Your body has its own weight belt, and you must work this to avoid spinal injury. World-record power lifters don't use weight belts. Why should you?

  • Don't buy weight-lifting gloves, unless you have a temporary condition these can help with. Work on your grip, if it's weak. The average American male has a 25-pound grip. Mine is 145 pounds in my right hand, and 135 in my left. So, most folks have ample room for improvement.

  • Don't overdo things. Think out your fitness plan ahead of time, rather than jumping into it. While you're thinking, go for a 30 minute walk each day. You can think about your fitness plan during the walk. Make your plan doable and enjoyable, and you'll stick with it. Mr. LaLanne has done so for 85 years.

  • Don't work out every day. Don't work the whole body in one workout. Work one muscle group per workout, and divide things up over 3, 4, or 5 sessions a week.


Here's a great exercise device that we're pretty excited about linking to:

Home Swimmer provides a stationary swimming system that is portable, affordable, and easy to use. Check it out at

Other resources

Buy used and new exercise equipment at



Resources for Fitness
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Article Authorship

The articles on this site are authoritative, because:

  • Every contributor is an expert in his or her field.
  • The articles comply with the accepted principles of the bodybuilder literature.
  • The articles comply with the teachings of such luminaries as 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

 Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.

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If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please view the aboutus pages, or write to mark @ We do want your business.