Garage Gym: One Year Later

About a year ago I decided to switch from using commercial gyms to my own garage gym. As I mentioned in that original post, the unreasonably high cost of the local gym membership is what made me switch. But I had always kind of dreamed of building my own gym, so the economic issue was more of a catalyst than anything else.

I decided to write this follow-up post because . . . well, because the mood has hit me. Maybe it’s because I recently found a sweet deal on a really nice elliptical machine. Or maybe it’s the used weights I bought for about half price and restored a couple of weeks ago.

Whatever the reason, now is as good a time as any to make an assessment.

A a couple of things that I miss about commercial gyms:

Comradery:   I’ve always gone to the gym to train, not to socialize. But I must say I’ve met some really cool people and made good friends at places I’ve trained. I even landed a good job (back in the 90’s) through a direct result of networking at a gym.

Having said that, things have changed significantly over the years. It’s very common for trainees to put their earphones in and tune everyone out, making even short conversations much less common. I’m not sure how many new friends I would really make if I was still training at a commercial gym.  But I still miss that aspect of commercial gyms.

Equipment: I’m pretty happy with what I’ve put together in my garage gym so far. But it was nice to have access to pieces of equipment like a high-end leg press, seated calf machine, etc. I may add some of these to my garage gym in time, but it just isn’t very practical for now. I’ve spent as much as I’m comfortable with for the time being.

These are the only two things I really miss. I’ve heard more than one person say he just doesn’t feel the energy or motivation when training at home. This was an adjustment for me as well, but I’ve never really had much trouble getting motivated to work out.

One Year of Garage Gym Training

Here’s my assessment after about a year of training at home: it’s pretty awesome! Every advantage I shared in the original post has been a big plus for me. And I think I’ll be more consistent with cardio training now that I have an elliptical machine in my garage (I used to have a really hard time getting motivated to go to the gym just for cardio). Getting my cardio in has become more important to me as I get older.

Below is a video I shot a few days ago. But before that, let me share some of the things I’ve added to the gym since I started:

Inexpensive Garage Gym Upgrades/Additions:

Trap Bar: This has been a great investment. I’ve always wanted to train with one of these–great for some variation in deadlifting and for farmer’s walks.

Kettlebell: It’s not always easy to find these used. But a 40-pounder is a pretty good deal on Amazon, especially if you are a prime member (free shipping).

EZ Curl Bar: I prefer this to a straight bar for curls and “skull crushers.”

Clamp Collars: These are much easier to use than the old wire versions.

Weight Rack: I spent a few bucks to get some of the weights off the floor.

Used Plates: I bought (and restored) 300 lb. of used plates for about half of what they would cost new.

Elliptical Machine: I found a really nice, fully functional Precor machine (on Craigslist) for a fraction of what it would cost new (or even refurbished).

 

Buying and Restoring Olympic Weight Plates

I wrote about making the switch to a garage gym in a previous post–a move which has been great for both my physique and my wallet.

I mentioned the importance of looking for good deals on Craigslist if you are on a budget (which most of us are).  Another place to find good deals is on Facebook “buy and sell” type groups.  That’s where I found my latest prize: 300 lb. of plates.  These were just sitting around in some guy’s back yard and he decided to clean things up and get rid of them.

You’ll find that you can buy used plates like this for about half of what they would cost new.  New plates usually cost around a dollar a pound.  I bought mine for 55 cents a pound.  You may get lucky and find weights for much less than that–there are people out there who just want to get rid of them and will sell them for pennies per lb. (or even give them away).  But I was pleased with the price, especially since the guy selling them lives just minutes away from me.  I was also really looking forward to having a set of 35 lb. plates.

The new additions to my gym needed a little TLC, so I began researching how to restore/refinish them.  I discovered there’s more than one way to do it, so I’ll share both what I learned and what I did.

Restoring weight plates is a pretty simple process:

  1. Clean them and remove the rust
  2. Paint them

Getting rid of the dirt and/or rust

After some rinsing (still rusty)

The way you choose do step 1 (removing the rust) will depend on the condition of the plates.  My plates were in pretty decent shape once I rinsed them off, so I chose to physically remove the rust spots.  You can use a hand-held wire brush for this, but I decided to buy a couple of wire wheels for my drill.  I’d highly recommend this if you have a drill (or can borrow one).  A 2-inch wire disk attachment will work really well on the hole in the center of the weight.  A drill with the wire brush attachment will make quick work of rust spots.  I’d advise you to wear safety glasses and a construction mask while doing this (better safe than sorry).

I just took a rag and wiped the plates off after hitting them with the wire wheel. I’ve seen some mention using mineral spirits to clean, but I was a little concerned about damaging the existing paint surface (which wasn’t all that bad).  I’m not sure it matters that much either way.

Let’s say your plates are covered in rust and you need to start over with bare metal (or as close to it as you can get).  It seems a lot of guys have success with soaking the plates in vinegar overnight.  That seems to eat away the rust–anything that doesn’t dissolve can be cleaned off the plate pretty easily (based on the YouTube videos I’ve watched).

Re-Painting

The first thing you’ll need to do is put the weights on some old cardboard (either outside or in a well-ventilated garage).

I used spray paint: Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Paint and Primer.  I used the black satin for the 35’s and the hammered black for the others.  The hammered color has a really nice texture to it, and I wanted to make the 35’s a slightly different color (so I won’t accidentally pick up the wrong plate).  There are other paint brands that may be just as good or better.

Coat one side, let it dry for a while, then put on a second coat if you want.  Check and see if you missed any spots, and don’t forget to get the hole in the center of the plate.

Make sure the one side is 100% dry before you flip it and paint the other side–otherwise you’ll end up with cardboard stuck to the plate and you’ll have to brush and paint again.  I made this mistake, and I would have let one side dry for a day (or at least overnight) if I had it to do over.

A couple of coats of paint and your plates will look good as new–or at least very functional.  There may be a few tiny rust spots that I missed on these plates, but I’m not too worried about that.  I just want to train without getting rust all over everything.

Here’s a before/after picture.

You can buy a Sharpie paint pen and paint the logo/numbers if you want.  I painted the numbers just for the heck of it (put I didn’t bother with the brand/logo).

Now it’s time to put these treasures to good use . . .

See Also: Garage Gym–One Year Later

Old School, New Body Review

Introduction:

I have had the opportunity to review an extremely popular program called Old School, New Body by John Rowley and Steve/Becky Holman. This is a system designed for men and women who want to stay in shape or get back in shape.   I’m interested in this program for a couple of reasons:

I’m in my mid-40’s and I’m interested in maintaining a high level of strength and fitness for years to come. I’m always on the lookout for training and diet information designed for more mature trainees.

One of the major health issues we face here in the West is sarcopenia–the decline of strength and muscle that occurs with aging. Some of this is inevitable, but lifestyle choices do worsen/accelerate the problem. I can tell you from personal experience that it is possible to look and feel much younger than your chronological age. I’d like to see more men and women enjoying a healthy, high energy lifestyle in their 40’s and beyond.

With this in mind let me share with you what you will get if you order the Old School, New Body program. Keep in mind that these are all digital products–they are quickly and easily downloaded from the website if you decide to order this program.

Program Components:

Old School, New Body Main Guide: This E-book is your guide to the overall history and philosophy of the program. According to Rowley, he and Steve ran across some of the training journals of the legendary Vince Gironda. Gironda was a trainer to many Hollywood celebrities in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. He was a man that was truly ahead of his time.

These training journals inspired John and Steve to do more research and eventually created the Focus-4 Exercise protocol (F4X). These workouts make it possible to build muscle and burn fat while minimize the wear and tear on joints (something older trainees have to be more conscientious about).   Another beauty of this system is that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym every day. You can, in fact, maintain a high level of fitness by training only three days a week and adjusting your diet. The book gives several examples of success stories–those who have used this system to stay in shape.

Here’s one thing you may find surprising about Old School, New Body: even young people can benefit from these workouts. The authors have seen 19 and 20-year-olds transform their physique with these training techniques.

Needless to say, there’s a lot more I could share about this manual. But hopefully this gives you a pretty decent idea of what the authors hope you can accomplish by applying this system.

Quick Start Workout Guide: This document will guide you through the F4X workouts. It is divided into four different phases. The first is called Lean workouts–these are the beginner level workouts that will help you get started on your fitness journey. The second phases is called Shape workouts, designed for those who are ready for more intensive training. The third phase is called Build. This phase is for those who want to add some muscle after building the foundation from previous phases.

Ultimate Fat Burning Secrets: This E-book includes some additional fat loss tips that you may find helpful. The key to fat loss, of course, is a negative calorie balance. But you’ll learn some extra things from reading through this document.   Here’s one example: those who eat diets higher in protein tend to be more successful at weight loss. Protein helps you to feel full and keeps you from eating other more high calorie foods.

Ultimate Muscle-Building Secrets: Like the previous book, this one includes some additional information to help you build muscle. The authors mention different supplements, for example, that you may want to consider adding to your regimen. One example is taking 400 milligrams of magnesium before you to bed. This mineral is helpful for keeping cramps away and may help you relax and sleep better

Ultimate Sex and Anti-Aging Secrets: This is another E-book/manual with helpful information: supplements, dietary adjustments, etc.

Ultimate Health and Happiness Secrets: This E-book is a little bit different than the others because it includes some tips on the psychological/mental aspects of life in addition to the physical.

MP3 Interviews: you can also download interviews with fitness experts–you’ll hear some of their insights on staying healthy and happy.

Review:

As I mentioned before, I’m interested in diet and training information that can help with both longevity and the quality/vitality of life. I think that Old School, New Body is a good program for those in search of this kind of resource. Let me tell you who I think would most benefit from this program:

Older adults (middle-aged and up) who wish to improve their level of health and vitality. I think this is a great program for those who wish to lose fat, gain muscle, and become more energetic. One of the beauties of this program is you can do so without worrying about trying to lift heavy weights.

Younger trainees who want a break from heavy lifting may also enjoy this program. It would be useful to follow for a few weeks to let your joints recover.

If either of these descriptions sound like you then I think Old School, New Body is definitely worth a try. It is not expensive and available for download as soon as you purchase it. Just CLICK HERE if you’d like to order this program or learn more.