home gym essentials

Strength Equipment You Need – Home Gym Essentials

A home gym can greatly vary from person to person. If strength is the goal, then this is the article for you. It is important to select the items that cover the majority of the muscles while limiting the excess. Remember, we are focused on home gym essentials. This means we need to limit any items outside of what’s needed. Let’s dive in and take a look.

Olympic Barbell

It’s important that we use the proper term to ensure the proper weights are selected. An olympic barbell has 2 inch sleeves on the ends of the barbell. An olympic barbell is usually around 1 inch thick (28mm is most common). The rating of the barbell is the next piece to understand.

Tensile strength

This is the pressure the barbell can withstand before it breaks. The tensile strength should be above 125,000 to ensure it can handle a proper load. This also helps ensure that the barbell is somewhat reflexive in that it can bend but will also return to a straight / unbent position.


The barbell will have a weight rating and sometimes these ratings almost challenge the user to test that rating. Be aware that adding weight without the purpose of using that weight is a recipe for wasted cash. A decent barbell should withstand 600 pounds.

Putting it altogether

Buy an olympic barbell that has a tensile strength of more than 125,000 PSI. The weight rating should be at least 600 pounds, but having a 1000 pound rating can help ensure you won’t reach the max weight rating anytime soon. It’s important to take care of your barbell during use to help extend the life of the barbell. Ensure that the sleeves remain lubricated and that the barbell is not dropped. Slamming weights onto the floor, or pins of a squat rack is a recipe for a bent barbell.

The Rack

This is where things get a bit more tricky. Terms are thrown around quite frequently in exercise. The term “intensity” is quite abused since it has actual applications to exercise programming. There are several different types of racks, so let’s discuss them.

Power Rack

The power rack is often deemed as “the cage”. This is because it has four posts and tends to cage in the user. It is quite versatile and usually includes a pullup bar. The power rack also has safety catches often known as “pins”. These pins can be adjusted to varying degrees to allow the user a safety net for the barbell to land on in the event of a failed lift.


Squat Rack

This rack often has posts that angle backward to help limit tipping when racking a barbell (racking refers to when a user is putting a barbell back on the rack). As mentioned above, this rack is similar to the half rack and is also less stable than a power rack.

What rack to choose?

It is best to determine the adjustability of the rack you are planning to buy. The rack should allow several adjustments that are closer together to make sure a variety of exercises can be performed. You can perform a bench press and a squat in this rack. It makes it more difficult to use if the pins are not quite the right adjustment for you. This is why it’s ideal for more adjustments versus less.

The next piece is the weight of the rack. The lighter the rack weighs, the less dense the steel used to build the rack. In terms of exercise equipment, heavier tends to signify a higher quality (though that is not always the case, it’s a safe measure for comparison).

Olympic Weight Plates

Again, this is important because an olympic weight plate has 2 inch holes. A standard plate will have a 1 inch hole (and won’t fit on your olympic barbell). There are also olympic dumbbell handles in which you can use your olympic plates (handles for a possible later purchase).

Why not standard all the way?

Standard weight plates can be very versatile for using on adjustable dumbbells. Standard barbells tend to be less supportive (lower tensile strength and weight rating) in build and in general offerings. You’ll only see one or two standard barbell options when searching around. Olympic barbells are offered in several different ratings per manufacturer and thus become the premiere choice for home gym essentials.

The Optional Weight Bench

A weight bench is optional? It most certainly is because you can get by at home without a weight bench. You will need a place to rack your barbell so a rack and a barbell are the essentials. You can do body weight exercises that would allow you to skip over a weight bench. This would allow you to get started with training at home on a lower budget.

It’s important to remember that these items are a long term investment. A decent car will last you for a little while, but a great car will last you much longer. I also like the saying, “buy nice, or buy twice”. It takes time to research the right equipment for you and your budget. Buying lower quality initially may seem like the wise choice, but you’ll end up researching the nicer one later. Then, you have to sell your used equipment (everyone loves selling on Craigslist, right?) to be able to purchase that nicer piece of equipment. It’s a decision you’ll have to make, but do keep in mind that this should be a long term investment (quality definitely plays a role in equipment price).

Here is a basic home gym supply list:

Stop in to Exercise Express USA and let us put together an estimate for you. We are located at 7402 Gratiot Rd, Saginaw, MI 48609. You can call us at 989-781-6700 or email us with questions at sales@exerciseexpressusa.com.