Recently, after some deliberation, Sweeney and I determined it was time to discontinue our gym memberships. Ever since I moved, I’d been thinking about the possibility of using my basement as a workout room. Between the two of us, we’ve managed to make the home gym a reality, by the sweat of our brows and a bit of legwork.
We didn’t have a whole lot to work with starting out. The basement was cluttered, covered in spider webs, and not exactly level. We set a budget of the money we would’ve spent on memberships, and started planning it out.
We picked up 450 lbs of Olympic plates, which came with a bar, from a nice guy named Tom just outside the city. We then ordered a squat rack, a better bar, and a bench from Rogue Fitness. They had quality equipment at reasonable prices, and shipping hundreds of pounds of metal seemed to cost them less than expected.
Next came cleaning up and furnishing the basement. We picked up a bunch of lumber to create a stiff surface to lay horse stall mats on, and beams to level everything and bolt it all together. Yes, I did say horse stall mats, which from what I can tell are the best gym mats in terms of bang for your buck. They did have a pretty rubbery smell when we first picked them up though.
Once we cleaned up the place and hung a second light, there was a marked improvement. We vacuumed up all sorts of crap, including roots, dirt, cement blocks, and even some of the walls. Shop vacs are the best. The next step was the flooring, which was the most arduous part. It involved lots of sawing of hardwood, the creation of several shims, and dealing with brass wood screws which were prone to stripping, or shearing. We got it done though.
What we ended up with is a sturdy, nearly level plywood platform for the rack, covered by mats. There’s just enough room to do cleans, and dumbbell snatches. We’ve been using the new space successfully for two weeks now, and I have to say it’s nice to have the right equipment to do some supersets or circuit training, without having to wait to get onto every new piece of equipment, whether it’s a rack or a bench or just a specific set of DBs.
Our current program is a slightly modified version of what we were previously doing, with more pre-workout mobility work and foam rolling, and less waiting around. We’ve been focusing on a fair amount of unilateral lifts. A year ago if you suggested I stop back-squatting I’d have brushed it off, but I’m finally starting to wrap my head around movements advocated by guys like Mike Boyle and Eric Cressey.
Now we just need to coat the place in ski posters as training encouragement, and we’ll be good to go.