Setting up a home gym



Hi guys, it's me again!

I hope I won't get on your nerves by bombarding this forum with a bunch of posts!

In some months, we'll be moving into a bigger flat hopefully, which gives me the opportunity to expand my home gym from a corner of the office setup to a whole basement room! That's like a dream come true for me, because I like lifting at home much more than going to the gym. However, up to now, I just had powerblocks, a bench and a dip/chin stand (I know some purists will say that's absolutely all the equipment you'll ever need), and the desire to put myself under heavy barbells just drove me into the gym again.

Living in Germany, my equipment choices are somewhat limited as compared to you lucky Americans! I always have to find European dealers first, because ordering from an American dealer is way too expensive - shipping and customs easily doubles the bill! Some big companies (Powertec, Parabody, FitnessFactory) have German partners, so I can get at least the essential stuff.

Now, let's talk business: the core of my homegym will probably be the powertec rack system (rack + hilo pulley). The only thing that worries me is that lately my shoulders and lower back give me some trouble, and I don't know how many years of productive heavy free weight lifting I still have left (I just turned 30).

So I'm wondering whether I shouldn't stick with the powerblocks for the free weight stuff and get a good multigym for basic heavy compounds (e. g. the powertec multigym). That might be safer, though less versatile.

Are machines really safer than free weights? My exercise form is quite good, but I'm small-boned and long-limbed, so lifting heavy just poses a structural risk for me.

The wise thing would probably be to stop lifting heavier than my 10RM, especially because I'm quite satisfied with my current achievements and mainly lift for the psychological benefits. But somehow I'm not yet ready to pack it in.

What's your advice, veterans? (And don't tell me to forget the power rack and buy a pink jump rope instead ;) )
Essential gym equipment:
Squat rack/cage (mine's a mod'd york 3000)
solid fully adjustable (low) bench
7ft beefy bar
loads of disks (cut by your friendly local steel fabricator)
dip bars
trap bar (homemade)

Apart from the actual barbell bar itself; you could make the rest yourself - so trade a night a week & get to some welding classes...

und give it some "Vorsprung durch Technik"

TDM :confused: (I'm 34, and I aint got no pink skipping rope [It's a black Reebok speed skip thing])
Thanks for your quick reply!

Unfortunately, German cars are not what they used to be: in the reliability statistics they always get beaten by the Japanese. And when it comes to exercise equipment, the market here in Germany just isn't big enough to justify a lot of research and development by any home-based companies.

However, from the favorable reviews they get I understand Powertec make decent stuff at a decent price, so I'll probably stick with them.

A good power rack is the cornerstone of most home gyms, which is quite logical because of its versatility, robustness and the comparatively cheap price.

As I said above, I wonder about safety. Are machines really safer than free weights? And I'm not talking about dropping a 45 lbs plate on your pinky toe, but rather about inevitable wear and tear from years of lifting with good form.

I have heard the counterargument that most machines, especially the cheaper ones, cannot be accurately adjusted to fit one's individual paths of movement and might therefore be much more harmful to one's joints than free weights.

Another argument against machines is that they don't train stabilizers like free weights do and therefore are more likely to create muscular disbalances and postural problems.

Any truth to that? What is safer in the long run - the good old power rack or a good multigym for home use (e. g. powertec's multigym)?
Here's a pic of my Y3000 (I've since ditched the bench, moved the low pulley foot rests closer together, altered & finally taken off the "dangerous" pec-dek)

This is all you need "machine" wise. IMO.
Now if I had the money, and could afford a machine for every body-part; I still wouldn't need anymore than I already have... Having toiled away in my garage gym for the last 6 or 7 years, I appreciate the compound movements more than ever. I live in a world where as a father, I need to be fit in a Bruce Lee kinda way ("real world power") and at our ages we need all the muscles to work synergistically, to enable us to prolong our lifting "pastime".
By the way if you're after some top notch equipment, try They have the Powertec range, Body Solid and powerline ranges. (order their free catalogue)
The trouble is, like a car, you don't know if a particular machine/multigym is going to suit you 'til you've given it a test drive... The FS site in England actually has changing rooms etc so that you can try-out their gyms etc before you buy. It might be worth a phonecall to them, asking if there's anyone local to you who's purchased the P/tec gym etc: if you don't ask, you don't get ;)
Anyway, good luck
(one last piece of advice: don't buy all your new weights before you move... moving sofa' beds etc are enough of a workout)
Hi Dark Master,

thanks for the pics. Nice piece of equipment you've got there.

Thanks for pointing me to the UK site, but there is even a Powertec dealer in Germany not too far from my home. So I will be able to "test drive" all the equipment before purchasing it.

I totally agree that compounds are the most important lifts; when I have everything at home I plan to increase WO frequency and simultaneously decrease volume per workout: basically, I'll just do 2-3 alternating compounds every day, plus some assistance work for core strength.

Sorry I have to mention the Powertec Multi Gym again, but in terms of exercise selection, it really allows you to do most of the basic compound exercises you can perform with a power rack as well, the difference being the movements are guided. When I see that my home gym will hopefully last decades, the additional expenses are not really an issue.

Of course, with a multigym, testing it before buying it is much more important than with free weights, I just have to find out whether the machine is suited to my size & body structure.

Yet even if it does fit, I'm still not sure whether guided pathways offer an inherent safety advantage over free weight movements (see my last post). This would be the only argument for buying this multigym, as the power rack is more versatile, cheaper, and more fun.

I just want to be sure to weigh up all the pros and cons of my equipment choices before making any rash decisions, because they might be irreversible. Once I've got the equipment down in my basement, I hope it'll stay there for a long time. Inevitably, my setup won't be "perfect", but I want to get as close to perfection as the current circumstances allow.