Picture this scenario: You have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you want to build yourself a home gym. Of course, a few thousand dollars in normal circumstances cannot outfit a complete commercial quality gym selection of equipment, but most definitely can purchase the bare essentials for a good workout. So let’s say this few thousand dollars can net you a total of FIVE pieces of strength equipment, what do you choose? Strength Militia staff did a private polling of over 1000 strength enthusiasts and asked them this exact question, with no restriction on price, but you could only choose your top 5 pieces. Below are the TOP FIVE responses we received from our poll. Enjoy!
1) Power Rack: This was an obvious no-brainer for most since the traditional power rack is capable of offering a wide variety of exercises in a single unit. And, depending on your choice of power rack, many of the ones available today come with band attachments, dip bars, pull up bars, and the like. But, what good is a power rack without one of the most important accessories to the rack, the barbell, which leads us to selection #2.
2) The Barbell: There are varying types of barbells to purchase but one thing remains the same with all, the barbell is a very useful piece of equipment. Paired with a nice power rack, the barbell is highly important for mainstay exercises like the squat (front, back, overhead, etc.), bench press (flat, incline, decline, etc.), floor press, standing press, deadlift rack pulls, and more. Outside of the rack, the barbell is great for various exercises like deadlifts (sumo, conventional, etc.), bent over row, Olympic weightlifting and other accessory lifts. But, what good is a 45lb barbell without more weight creating added resistance; hello selection #3!!
3) Bumper Plates: The problem with conventional steel plates is they don’t rebound well when dropped from above the shoulder, or even from six inches from the ground for that matter. This is why when polled, most chose to have a nice set of bumper plates as one of their necessary pieces of equipment. Not only are bumper plates fine to use in everyday strength training, they are also one of the most important items used when training in Olympic weightlifting.
4) Bench: What good is a power rack, barbell, and bumper plates if you don’t have a bench to bench press with? Not only that, a good bench can be used in other ways like step ups, box squats, jump box,hip bridges, bench dips, and other various accessory exercises. In the poll, people did not specify what type of bench they wanted, flat or adjustable, but lets just say for the sake of variety the adjustable one since it allows for more exercises than the purely flat bench.
5) Dumbells: I know what you are all thinking, why do we need a set of dumbells if we have a perfectly good barbell and bumper plates? The short and obvious answer is, because they said so. When we were outfitting my old gym we purchased a set of rubber hex dumbells (10lbs-100lbs) for a little over $1000. This to me was an invaluable purchase since dumbells add that many more exercises to your regimen, making your workouts much more successful.
Whatever equipment you find invaluable, whatever wets your whistle, as long as you can get the workout you desire it is the perfect choice, for you. Some of the notable runner ups for this poll were powerlifting chains, bands, Olympic rings, and lifting belts. Please comment below with your top five strength equipment choices. Thanks for reading!
I wanted to revisit an older post from Jim Smith of Diesel Strength and Conditioning. This article is quite thorough and could be the most impressive blog post on the Bench Press I have ever seen. The article includes exercise progressions, descriptions, advice, vids, pics, different bench exercises, and more! Much respect to the fellas over at Diesel SC for taking the time to put together such an informative post for everyone to see. Enjoy.
Update 1/22/14: Some more recent dribble regarding Planet Fitness
Back to the Planet Fitness article. The premise began with what author Lou Schuler described as “a Category 2 s—storm” on Reddit, when a poster complained that a squat rack was taken away from his Planet Fitness club. The rant from the disgruntled member made its way to several Facebook pages.
Schuler reached out to Planet Fitness Director of Public Relations McCall Gosselin, as did I, inquiring about the squat rack issue. Without knowing all the details of the Planet Fitness in question, Gosselin couldn’t comment directly on the Reddit poster’s problem. She did, however, tell me that Planet Fitness clubs do not have heavy free weights (more than 80 pounds) or machines such as squat racks and Olympic benches because “we focus on general fitness, and our members are typically first-time or occasional gym users. This is certainly not a new concept.”
Nor should it be. Planet Fitness is now well-established in the industry, particularly for its $10-a-month memberships, “lunkhead” alarms and “Judgement Free Zone” (which is misspelled). Heck, even the CEO, Chris Rondeau, recently called Planet Fitness the “Southwest Airlines of the gym business.”
Read the rest below:
We almost never do two posts in one day on Strength Militia but we had to jump on this new news viraling around the internet. Apparently Planet Fitness (pauses for laughter) has started taking out squat racks from their gyms because they are TOO INTIMIDATING to their elite of clientele. Between the lunk alarm, pizza parties, bagel days, no deadlifting, and now no squat racks, I am not sure how a place like this gets taken seriously in the fitness community…oh wait, they don’t. I can only hope that a gym like this will eventually crash and burn…but not with fat, lazy America supporting their membership base.
Pizza Day at Planet Fitness!!
BTW: NO DEADLIFTING EITHER!!
Full Article Below:
A little over a year ago there was a video going viral around the strength and conditioning community; essentially it was a video of a “strength coach” telling some Olympians that partial squats are the way to go nowadays instead of those dangerous full squats. Anyways, I am not going to beat a dead horse and pick the video apart…mostly because the dudes over at 70’s Big have already done just that. Enjoy.
The 70’s Big Response:
I’m really good at pointing out things that are wrong, so let’s get started.
1. Nobody in this video can string a sentence together confidently. At one point Maurice Greene says that the coach is going “to facilitate us on the weightroom”. Huh??? Then he says, “Here we have Montel Douglas who is the British national record holder…for Great Britain…and shit.” I added the last part because they undoubtedly had to edit that part out. Then the coach makes up his sentence as he goes along as if he’s never had to think about it before. Then he says the squat is “important for a track athlete to simply create force into the ground”. To clarify, we don’t summon force out of thin air like a demon, we apply force into the ground so that Newton’s third law occurs (equal and opposite reaction) to move. I’m not expecting this explanation, but I am expecting correct terminology when you’re a supposed expert.
I could keep going. “We go a hip-width distance” — of what? “We feel that halfway to a quarter is deep enough,” — sharing your feelings is not a way to prove why to do something.
Sure, even I have bad days with communicating, but this was terrible. What is Montel the world record holder of? Why should track athletes lift weights? What is this squat movement accomplishing? Why is this “new” movement beneficial?
2. “What better exercise to load the lower body than the barbell squat,” and then he hardly loads the body by doing a partial rep. And wasn’t this the reason that Maurice stated that they didn’t want to go deeper?
3. ”Puts a lot of stress on yo body, creates injuries…and shit”. If you perform the squat like Maurice Greene, who is labeling himself as the expert, then yes, they can be injurious. In fact, decent squats can be injurious if regular mobility work isn’t performed. This is why a proper squat is done with the hip going below the knee so that it trains the lower body joints and musculature through a full range of motion. This is also why proper foot attire is worn to increase the efficiency and subsequently the safety. Remember that lifting shoes have the slight heel increase, the non-compressible sole, the meta-tarsal straps, and the wider sole base to help solidify the articulation of the athlete to the ground so that they can properly apply force. Furthermore, lifting shoes help utilize the body’s mechanics more efficiently to distribute force evenly across the thighs and hips regardless of anthropometry. A belt will only increase all of this efficiency by increasing the intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure, increasing the stability of the trunk which will not only improve the transmission of force (AKA performance), but help protect the spine by improving the pneumatic “brace” against the anterior portion of the spine.
The rest of the response can be found in the link below…
The Bench Press; Lie on your back, press a heavy weight over your heart, what is not cool about that? The bench press is a historical exercise and dates back to the 19th century. The bench press is by far the most talked about strength training exercise. It is also one of the best anterior upper body strength building exercises you can do. I do not know anyone personally who does not have this exercise in their routine, not one. I for one continue to be a huge fan, and continually challenge myself each time I perform the lift.
Aside from the “how do I tone” questions I get all the time, I would have to say the second most frequently asked question is “how much you bench”? The question gets asked, to which I answer with “not as much as I used to”. I know, cliché is it not? I think most of us have come to terms with the fact that if you don’t do bench press, you need to. There is no better ego building, shit talking exercise out there than the bench press. The ability to bench press the most weight is a constant battle between friends, enemies, frenemies, co-workers, cops, robbers, you name it and we want to bench more than it. I really have nothing negative to say about bench press. Can you get hurt, sure, but you can get hurt on most exercises if not done properly. Shoulder girdle stability is crucial to keeping your shoulders safe (scapular depression/retraction). I always run through shoulder mobility exercises, rotator cuff exercises, and make sure I am properly warmed up before I bench press(but this is the same for most lifts I do). Have fun, be safe, and go bench press.
If you have not added the bench press into your routine and feel you should(as I feel you should), here are some tips on how to perform the lift safely and properly. They also include the variations on the bench press to add continued value to your program and increased strength gains.
Even Ronald McDonald does The Bench Press
Well, the title of this may give you the wrong impression that your skinny ass growing a beard may make you stronger. It might, but it won’t make you as strong as these next seven bearded monsters. I went ahead and hyperlinked the current websites for the lifters who are still active in their names. Beards are awesome, grow one if you can.
3) Marshall Johnson:
4) Doyle Kenady
5) Roger Ester
6) Bill Kazmaier
7) Jim Wendler