There are many reasons why barbells are so useful in training: they are scalable, easy to measure, readily available, and multi-purpose(i.e. you can perform many different lifts). They allow us to train the body as a single unit with movements that utilize lots of muscle mass. We can begin very light and progress for a long time until our strength improves to the highest levels. Besides this, however, one really great benefit to the barbell is its utility in a home gym. Outfitting a garage or basement is very easy, costs very little, and allows you to train without having to wait for equipment at a commercial gym. The home gym isn’t for everyone. Some people need to get out and are more motivated when they have other people around them. If you are interested in having your own gym at home, here are a few essentials you’ll want to buy:
A good barbell: Depending on your strength levels you might need to buy a lighter, technique bar. At some point though, you’ll want to invest in a standard 45lb barbell. The B & R bar is a good all-around option for most people.
Squat Stands: This is what allows you to rack the bar. I’d buy this from Rogue, as a well made one is sure to not be a liability. Make sure you buy safety bars for when you’re benching and squatting alone.
Weights: This is where you can begin to shop around. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other options might exist for used iron weights. Make sure the center hole has a 2” diameter. If you want to buy new, just know that it’ll cost a bit extra. One thing to consider also is to buy a pair of 10,25, and/or 45lb bumper plates. This will let you get the bar in the correct starting position on the floor, especially if you’re not deadlifting 135lbs easily.
Floor: Depending on how strong you are, just laying a couple of ¾” thick stall mats can be enough to protect your floor. I don’t have an exact number, but when you’re lifting considerably more weight you might want to think about building a deadlift platform.
Chalk: Buy a painter’s bucket and some chalk and you’re good to go.
Bench: A flat bench will be necessary if you’re going to be bench pressing(obviously). I like this model from Rogue. It’s one piece, not terribly heavy, and very affordable.
As far as the basics go, that’s pretty much it. You can add some other options as your budget and space allow. You might want to do some conditioning, so a push sled or bike could make a great addition. Olympic rings are a versatile tool that can be used for rows, warming up the shoulders, and other exercises. If you need to make smaller jumpers than 2.5lbs you might look into some “fractional plates.”
There may come a time when you get tired of waiting for equipment at the gym. If you currently spend a significant amount of money per month there, it may be worth considering building something at home.