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About Me

Found 16 results

  1. I've been looking back on old training videos from years ago and some of the photos including videos showing my physique I used to hate at the time. But now with fresh (older) eyes I'm thinking my physique wasn't all that bad. This short semi-relaxed back pose footage shows some good thickness I think. At the time all I did was deadlifts and rows - simple basic workouts using heavy and light weights.
  2. I'm looking into getting a Leg Curl / Leg Extension Attachment training device (pictured below) and Ironmaster is at the top of my list as I've previously purchased equipment from them in the past and I've NEVER been disappointed. This Leg Attachment (Pro version) on the Ironmaster UK website retails at £189.00 (GBP). Ironmaster.com retails the same device at $189.00 (US). The downside with buying something like this means I would also need to purchase an Ironmaster Pro Bench as the Leg Attachment Pro only fits the Pro Bench. Ironmaster.com retails the "Super Bench Pro" at $399.00 (US) while the UK site prices the same Pro Bench at £399.00 (GBP). If I didn't already have a weight training bench, it wouldn't be a big deal. However, I've just recently purchased a new Flat Bench and I don't have the space in my house to store two benches. So it's a case of either forget Ironmaster completely and find something else OR... invest in Ironmaster and ditch my currently new bench...What to do...What to do?? If anyone would like to share their thoughts on how good the Ironmaster Bench really is please express your honest comments. Also let me know if the Leg Attachment is any good or not. The other alternative for me (without actually buying a Leg Curl / Leg Extension machine) would be to find a company that could possibly design something like this.
  3. I always wanted a cable crossover machine for my Home Gym but space and money prevents that. So instead I've created my own DIY cable crossover setup. Equipment used includes: Olympic Loading Pins (X2): These can be purchased from... Pullumsports UK Ironmind.com Amazon - Cheaper loading pin compared to Ironmind. Carabiner Clips (X6): Amazon Fitness Cable Pulley (X2): Amazon Cable Handles (X2): Amazon Swivel Pulley Block / Wheels (X2): Amazon Hanging Straps (X2): Amazon Olympic Barbell Collars (X4): Amazon Iron Bull Strength Alpha Grips (X2): These can be purchased from... Amazon Iron Bull Strength Website - (10% off code: "strengtholdschool" ) * Instead of using Alpha Grips, if you prefer, you can use the original Fat Gripz (X2): These can be purchased from... Amazon
  4. If anyone wishes to keep track and up to date with my current 'Home Gym Training' then follow the link below to be taken to my Youtube channel. Remember to SUBSCRIBE if you wish to be notified of brand new videos and "LIVE" training videos! Click here!
  5. I thought I'd begin posting my workouts, not all but some, for personal reference and hopefully it may interest others. This training journal will detail full body workouts performed from 3 days a week to as much as 6 days a week. It will also detail split training workouts from time to time (depending upon how I feel), and grip training. A variety of thick grip training tools will be used throughout my training which will include, axles, thick grip dumbbells, fat grips, alpha grips, etc. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I will also post links to the training equipment I use. Yesterday (Mon 19 July 2021) I performed a full body training session to find my 5 rep max on various exercises. Max attempts were performed as strictly as possible. Full workout took well over 3 hours! I wouldn't normally train this way but I wanted to perform all my training lifts in one workout instead of taking it over two or more days. I didn't rest long between sets, as soon as I got my breath back I proceeded to the next set / exercise. The purpose of finding my 5 rep max lifts is to use a percentage of that max lift for future "Full Body Workout" sessions. 3/4 SQUAT (2" Thick Watson Barbell) - Check out this bar here. 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 5 reps 60kg (132 lbs) - 5 reps 70kg (154 lbs) - 5 reps 80kg (176 lbs) - 5 reps 90kg (198 lbs) - 5 reps 100kg (220 lbs) - 5 reps 110kg (242 lbs) - 5 reps 120kg (264 lbs) - 5 reps 130kg (286 lbs) - 5 reps 140kg (308 lbs) - 5 reps 150kg (330 lbs) - 5 reps 160kg (352 lbs) - 5 reps No knee wraps or belt was used. Top weight (marked in red) was 160kg. I achieved 5 reps and should have added more weight but decided not to. I perform 3/4 reps instead of full squats due to past knee injuries. I also tore my left quad muscle two years ago (non weight training related) and to this day I'm still worried about it happening again. So from a leg training point of view, I'm still experimenting. RACK DEADLIFTS (2.36" Thick Axle - Pulling from just above knees) - Check out this bar here. 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 5reps 60kg (132 lbs) - 5 reps 70kg (154 lbs) - 5 reps 80kg (176 lbs) - 4 reps My grip gave out on the last set so I wasn't able to achieve 5 reps which meant my top set (marked in red) was only 70kg. I don't perform full deadlifts from the floor at this moment in time due to a past injury. I will gradually increase the range of motion over time. However I do like rack pulls and so may stick with them and just avoid full range deadlifts. FLAT BARBELL BENCH PRESS (2" Thick Watson Barbell) 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 5 reps 60kg (132 lbs) - 5 reps 65kg (143 lbs) - 5 reps 70kg (154 lbs) - 5 reps 75kg (165 lbs) - 5 reps 80kg (176 lbs) - 5 reps 85kg (187 lbs) - 4 reps LAT PULLDOWN MACHINE (Wide-Grip Watson 2" Thick Handle) - Check out this handle here. 20kg (45 lbs) - 10 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 5 reps 55kg (121 lbs) - 5 reps 60kg (132 lbs) - 5 reps 65kg (143 lbs) - 5 reps 70kg (154 lbs) - 5 reps 75kg (165 lbs) - 4 reps INCLINE BARBELL BENCH PRESS (2 Plates steep - 2" Thick Watson Bar) 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 5 reps 60kg (132 lbs) - 5 reps 70kg (154 lbs) - 5 reps 75kg (165 lbs) - 5 reps 80kg (176 lbs) - 5 reps 85kg (187 lbs) - 2 reps LAT PULLDOWN MACHINE (Gym Pin "D handle" bar + Two Rolling Thunder Thick Grip Revolving Handles) 10kg (22 lbs) - 5 reps 15kg (33 lbs) - 5 reps 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 25kg (55 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 5 reps 55kg (121 lbs) - 5 reps 60kg (132 lbs) - 5 reps 65kg (143 lbs) - 2 reps Gym Pin website (UK based but ship world wide) - click here. Gym Pin "D handle bar" - click here. * Apply "strengtholdschool10" at checkout to SAVE 10% off your purchase at Gym-Pin. Rolling Thunder Handles - (International) click here / (UK based) click here. STANDING BARBELL SHOULDER PRESS (2" Thick Watson Barbell) 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 35kg (77 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 45kg (99 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 2 reps INCLINE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS (2 Plates steep) 10kg (22 lbs) - 5 reps 15kg (33 lbs) - 5 reps 20kg (45 lbs) - * Did not attempt * * I stopped after 2 sets. I was using adjustable dumbbells and the major negative with adjustable dumbbell handles is that after the weight is loaded, cleaning the dumbbells and resting both dumbbells on my thighs is too painful and uncomfortable. With Hex Rubber Dumbbells, this is a lot easier and much more comfortable to do. So I decided to end the exercise until I work out my options... either I switch to Hex Dumbbells (which I had initially planned to sell my collection) or I try out a device such as "Spot Grips" (expensive). ONE ARM LAT PULLDOWNS (Rolling Thunder Handle) 10kg (22 lbs) - 5 reps 15kg (33 lbs) - 5 reps 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 25kg (55 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 2 reps BARBELL ROWS (2" Thick Watson Barbell) 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - 5 reps 50kg (110 lbs) - 5 reps 60kg (132 lbs) - 5 reps 70kg (154 lbs) - 5 reps 75kg (165 lbs) - 5 reps 80kg (176 lbs) - 5 reps BARBELL CURLS (2" Thick Watson Barbell) 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 22kg (48.4 lbs) - 5 reps 25kg (55 lbs) - 5 reps 27kg (59.4 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 32kg (70.4 lbs) - 5 reps 35kg (77 lbs) - 3 reps I injured my left bicep about a month ago and it bothers for curling and pulling movements or cleaning dumbbells etc. It was stupid of me to do curls as I felt the pain from the very first set! TRICEP PUSHDOWNS (2" Thick Watson EZ-CURL BAR) - Check out this handle here. 10kg (22 lbs) - 20 reps 15kg (33 lbs) - 5 reps 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 25kg (55 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 35kg (77 lbs) - 5 reps 40kg (88 lbs) - X The last set would not budge lol. STANDING ONE ARM DUMBBELL PRESS 10kg (22 lbs) - 5 reps 15kg (33 lbs) - 5 reps 20kg (45 lbs) - (L)X (R)5 reps I forgot about this exercise and decided to throw it in, probably not the best idea after hitting triceps directly. Left arm presses were a no no due to my bicep on the last set. So I stopped there. LYING EZ-CURL BAR TRICEP EXTENSIONS (2" Thick Bar) - Check out this bar here. 15kg (33 lbs) - 5 reps 20kg (45 lbs) - 5 reps 25kg (55 lbs) - 5 reps 30kg (66 lbs) - 5 reps 35kg (77 lbs) - 3 reps I like this exercise but it kills the elbows! Very rarely will I attempt heavy weights on this exercise but I wanted to see where my limits were roughly. DUMBBELL CON. CURLS 8kg (17.6 lbs) - 5 reps 12kg (26.4 lbs) - 5 reps 15kg (33 lbs) - 5 reps 17kg (37.4 lbs) - 5 reps I should have added more weight but was satisfied. The above workout was recorded as a LIVE workout on Youtube. My camera lost charge towards the end of the workout I'm afraid but most of the training was recorded. OVERALL COMMENTS Some of my lifts where I used thick grip handles / barbells on pulling exercises did not display my actual 5 rep muscular max as my grip strength gave out first. So looking back I probably should have switched to a standard barbell etc to get an accurate true 5 rep muscular max lift on certain exercises. But it doesn't matter. Now I plan to create a '3 Day a Week Full Body Training routine' based on the above lifts. Workouts will be much shorter, hopefully no more than 1 hour. Light weights will be used (pumping style), no heavy training as I fully believe muscle can be built using light weight with medium to high repetitions and not training to failure! Anyway, stay tuned for future workout journals.
  6. I purchased two Plyo boxes from Watson Gym Company about a month ago and they're huge, heavy and take up a lot of space in my house. Given I train in my house livingroom which isn't big, space is an issue and unfortunately the Plyo boxes have become a wasted & very expensive purchase. So I'm looking into getting a custom step up platform attachment for my Power Rack from Rebel Strength (see photo below): At some point I plan to sell my Rubber Hex Dumbbells as I just don't have the space to store the dumbbells in my house, all 1 kg right up to 50 kg!! The problem with switching to loadable dumbbell handles is that the ends of the handles (while performing dumbbell bench presses) become a problem when cleaning the dumbbells and resting them on my thighs before performing the movement. The ends are pointy, aren't flat like hex dumbbell ends and so can be very painful when resting the heavy dumbbells on my thighs. The only alternative to avoid this is to buy Dumbbell Holders for my Power Rack. By using the dumbbell holders, there wouldn't be any need to clean the dumbbells from the floor. I've also experienced some injuries recently (left bicep, right wrist) so avoiding having to clean dumbbells from the floor to prevent further injuries is another reason to buy the dumbbell holders. I do still own my Bodymax Dumbbell Hooks but I'm not a fan of using them even though I do like the simplicity of the design. So I'm currently in the process of inquiring about price quotes as the Dumbbell Holders and Step Up Platform would need to be manufactured so could be costly. I'll know the price hopefully in the next few days.
  7. Here's a photo of my current home gym setup. Half of my livingroom in my house is split into a training area. There's not much space but there is enough room to get solid workouts in. To the left is my brand new Power Rack by Iron King. To the right is my "custom" single stack lat pulldown machine by Watson. I also have all my thick bar Grip Training attachments (not pictured) and Fat Gripz / Alpha Grips stored just under my TV. In another area of my house I have Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells including a large selection of Hex Rubber Dumbbells ranging from 1kg up to 50kg. I sold off my heavier dumbbells which went up to 70kg. I have 18mm (1.8cm) Horse Mats down on my livingroom floor for protection but I wouldn't recommend them. They are solid but the initial smell they give off is horrendous and takes forever to go away. Any questions regarding my home gym, equipment etc, ask away!
  8. Ordered a couple of new items for my home gym a few weeks ago and they arrived yesterday. I'm not an experienced grip trainer but over the last several years I've taken a strong liking to grip training. So when I perform typical movements like pulldowns, rows, deadlifts, curls etc I either use some type of Fat Grip like Alpha Grips (* Apply "strengtholdschool" at checkout to SAVE 10%!) or a custom thick grip implement. I own several thick grip axles, barbells and dumbbells, all measuring different sizes i.e. 2" grip, 2.36" grip etc. Country Crush is a well known company founded in late 2014 by Raymond “ Big Country” Cote who developed the "Country Crush Handle" you see above. The company has gone through some bad times during covid so being a grip strength fan and given the strong reputation the company has for producing high quality equipment, I thought I'd support Country Crush by purchasing a couple of their well known thick grip handles. Photo above shows the Country Crush handle with 4 Inch Colossal Crush Handles. Compare that to Watson Gym Company who produce 2 Inch thick grip handles... The 4 Inch handle looks huge in person and while being attached to my lat pulldown machine... I've had a wee shot using the 4 inch handle and it's alarmingly HUGE, no doubt too large for my mitts but I'll have fun using it from time to time. I made the mistake of ordering two handles but I'm glad I did as I'll use the standard handle for adding Fat Grips to. One of the negatives which will also explain why I'm keeping one handle for Fat Grips, is that the safety pins you can see which attach to both ends of the handles which keep the thick grip handle locked in, are extremely difficult to take off and on again. I would suggest a better design is required. The main Country Crush frame is solid, well built but what I like most is that it's a compact sized handle, not overly big which is great. The height difference in the handles between Watson and Country Crush is significant so from now on, I'll be switching solely to using Country Crush's handle as it allows me a better stretch at the top when performing pulldowns. You can buy different handles from Country Crush which come in various thickness's such as 2", 2.5", 3" etc and all you need to do is take off the safety pins and slide the different attachments onto the metal pins. But as I stated before, removing and adding the safety pins is difficult I feel and it's much, much easier to simply add Fat Grips. When it comes to thick grip training I'm still in two minds whether to just stick with standard size dumbbell handles, barbells and cable machine handles and just easily attach Fat Grips whenever I wish to tax my grip. Buying extra equipment like thick grip axles, barbells and custom dumbbell handles etc adds up and takes up so much training space - this only applies if you have a small training area like myself. For the time being I'll enjoy my thick grip implements including my fat grips but over the course of time I will be considering the idea of just sticking with Fat Grips. I'd be interested to know what other people's thoughts are on Country Crush handles and Fat Grips as well? Add your comments below. Thanks for reading, Strength Oldschool
  9. Ironmaster, the KING of Home Gym, Adjustable Dumbbells, now offer 'Micro Plate Loading'. The fractional weight plates allow lifters to increase their dumbbells / barbells by the smallest amount of 1.25 lbs or 0.57 kg which is excellent for strength training purposes or just simply general resistance progression. I haven't been on the Ironmaster website in a while so this post may or may not be relevant for many people. However after browsing Ironmaster's website today I discovered this relatively new product - "Micro Weight Plates". I don't own these as of yet but I do own regular micro weight plates which I consistently use and highly recommend. Micro weight plates are great for barbell / dumbbell training on all exercises such as bench press, squat, curls, you name it. I'm a strong believer in only increasing weight very slightly and micro weight increments have personally been the key to my past strength gains on various big lift compound exercises i.e. 'Flat Barbell Bench Press', the 'Squat', 'Deadlift', 'Military Press' etc. I'm sure they're other lifters out there who would straight away dismiss such accessory equipment but as I said, personally, I feel its essential. Whether you are training exercises which affect several muscle groups such as squats or deadlifts or whether you're performing isolation exercises like barbell curls for the biceps, "micro loading" is paramount in my book. I've been using micro weight plates (also referred to as fractional weight plates) for years and before I had them, the smallest increment in exercises had to be 5kg (10 lbs+), and that's a lot of weight especially on smaller muscle groups like shoulders and arms. Ironmaster's Micro Plates weigh 1.25 lbs which is 0.57 kg for us British folk, which is ideal. The plate design is different as it's not the typical square format but circular. I do like the circular look and its one of my pet peeves of Ironmaster as I do believe if the overall design of Ironmaster's plates were circular, it would represent the look of a traditional dumbbell more but again, that's just my opinion. I'm glad Ironmaster implemented these micro weight plates as I'm sure they will prove extremely popular. To purchase this product see links below... UK customers: Click here International customers: Click here If anyone wishes to share your own reviews and personal opinions on this product or on "weight micro loading" in general, please add your comments below. Thank you. Take care and happy training! Strength Oldschool
  10. MONEY... MONEY... MONEY... Nothing but consistently empty pockets and doom, gloom breaking news on daily tv. In the land of regular, daily living for us ordinary hard working folk, the daily costs of just getting by in everyday life, can be financially tough. Finding a balance to save, pay bills, buy essential things like food and water (and beer lol) can be extremely challenging. This is where Visa cards become your new best friend (not recommended). I should be happy with what I've got in life but unfortunately one important thing is annoying me... I CAN'T BUILD THE HOME GARAGE GYM I DESPERATELY WANT!! Eight years ago, back in 2012 I moved into a new home. What caught my eye was the outdoor garage which formed part of the back garden (see photo above). It wasn't a large garage by any means but it had potential to be transformed into the "ultimate" home garage gym lol! If you're curious to know the dimensions of the garage, here they are. I've used the units feet (ft), metres (m) and centimetres (cm). (L) 17ft 2 / 5m 20 / 524 cm (H) 7ft 1 / 2m / 216 cm (W) 8ft 10 / 2m 78 / 246 cm LIMITED TRAINING SPACE / BASIC GYM EQUIPMENT To put the above garage dimensions into perspective, prior to buying my new home, since my teenage years back in the 90's right up to my early 30's (2010 onwards), I had either been using my bedroom to train in or a spare room when I used to rent. Gym Equipment I used back then was very basic... Living at home with my parents involved the use of a weight bench, 1" loadable dumbbell handles with large, bulky, plastic weight plates made by either Weider, York or Marcy, can't quite recall sorry (see above) and a 4ft or 5ft standard 1" barbell. Years later when renting and I had the luxury of having a spare room, so I purchased a 250 kg Olympic Weight Set which included a 7ft Olympic barbell. To go with this, I also treated myself to a set of adjustable squat stands which could be used for shoulder pressing, squats and bench presses (similar to photo below). For some reason I never had a weight bench so spent one year basically training all body parts directly with the exception of chest (and calves too - calf training bores me!). That was strange at first because I always loved benching. However after a year, my overhead pressing power was the strongest it had ever been due to solely focusing on only one pressing movement. I should point out that before I became a home gym trainer, i used to train at commercial gyms and a really good "Hardcore Hell-Hole Dungeon" which used to be owned by the Scottish bodybuilder, Steve Creighton. However, being the introvert I am, I much preferred training at home. One of my earliest memories of training at the 'Hell Hole' gym was being asked to lift a 70 kg (154 lb) dumbbell up to my shoulder in order to pass to Steve to do seated two arm dumbbell shoulder presses with. His training partner was lifting the other 70 kg dumbbell to pass to Steve, which he managed to lift just fine. Me on the other hand, I could barely budge the dumbbell which was embarrassing lol. That was my first time seeing a real professional bodybuilder in the flesh and working out! COMPACT GYM EQUIPMENT FOR SMALL TRAINING AREA Anyway, back to the story....Due to financial reasons I would later need to move back home (around 2010) and live with my parents again. Say goodbye to the Olympic weights, squat stands etc (never had the space to keep these) - Sold on the cheap to make some quick money which had to be done at the time. At that point I decided to save and "invest" in some compact adjustable dumbbells which could easily be used in a small bedroom. After researching online I came across "Ironmaster" (been around since the 70's). An established "Home Gym" company with a strong reputation for producing heavy duty, compact, home training equipment. This is what I purchased..."Quick-Lock Dumbbell Set - 75 lbs (34kg)... For a more in depth, honest, no bullsh*t review of these adjustable dumbbells, you can read my thoughts on these Ironmaster dumbbells by clicking here. And if you wish to purchase them... (UK): If you are based in the UK click here. (USA): If you live in the USA click here. Granted the equipment from Ironmaster is expensive, I'm not going to lie, you will definitely need some money in your pocket to afford these. That's why I said "investment", because it is. I don't want to turn this article into a product advertisement but Ironmaster products are "LEGIT". They will last you years and no-doubt a life-time, and I highly recommend them. The adjustable dumbbells are solid, and the weight plates are thin and stackable due to their unique design, and the storage rack is small enough to keep in a fairly small bedroom or as I do now, keep it in my livingroom (see photo below). The black, stylish, minimalist storage rack by Ironmaster looks good in my livingroom. Blends in nicely with the furniture ha ha. I would later give the Ironmaster equipment to my brother to try out and use as he was after some training equipment for a spare room in his own house. The photo above actually shows my "SECOND" purchase of the adjustable Ironmaster dumbbells. That shows how much I like them! I would later move out from my parents house to a rented ground floor flat, one bedroom. It was open plan so felt quite spacious. Back to the drawing board again in regards to buying equipment. I would eventually get the urge to buy Olympic weights again, which is what I did. I went back to an Olympic barbell, Olympic weight plates, and squat stands. Everything could be lifted out the road and stored to the side of my flat and when getting used, could easily be lifted into place. Now this wasn't a major hassle to do but it did become annoying after a while and it actually sapped my enthusiasm for training at times because I became lazy to move my gym apparatus about daily. Thankfully I only stayed in the flat for a year or two which would take me up to 2012, where I would step on to the property ladder and actually buy my own house! As I previously said at the beginning of this article, the outdoor garage grabbed my attention. Below is a video of what the inside of my garage looked like when I first moved in and the training equipment I was using at the time. Very basic and typical of what beginners would buy. Now, as the title of this article refers to 'Home Gym Problems', let's begin focusing on that.... CHEAP GARAGE GYM RENOVATION From around 2013 onwards I began renovating the gym (on the cheap). Want to see my training log showing my first ever workout session within my garage gym? Click here! I simply painted the single brick walls, replaced the garage door and ripped out some stuff to clear some extra floor space (with the help of my brother, cheers bro!). I then proceeded to build my gym by adding the following equipment (not cheap!! ) Large 6ft wide Mirror (£100 - UK British Pounds) Treadmill (£1000 - £1500 - Which I used maybe only 5 times! - Just recently gave this to my brother) Multi-Press and Squat Rack i.e. half rack (around £400) - 'Bodysolid' brand. **Now only £300 online - as of 21 July 2021** Foldable Wall Dipping bar (£160) - Purchased from 'The Gym Revolution' website Hex Rubber Dumbbells (1kg up to 30kg) and storage Rack (£1000+) More heavier Hex Dumbbells (35kg up to 70kg) and another storage Rack (£1000+) Cheap Gym Rubber Flooring (black jig-saw square panels) (do not buy!) [LINK] - Amazon purchase Various Barbells i.e. Ez-Curl bar, Cambered bar, 5ft Straight bar etc Thick Grip accessories i.e. Fat Gripz, Ironbull Grips etc. Gym equipment is not cheap, especially during these covid times. Hell, you'll be lucky to even buy brand new equipment as its likely to be sold out! However if you shop around you may get lucky with second hand equipment. Or just build your own if you're a DIY expert. Unfortunately I'm not. One of the most important gym pieces to buy I think, is a good, strong, heavy duty Power Rack which can support a lot of weight, not just the rack itself but more importantly, the safety bars. If the safety bars can't support sh*t, then don't buy! If something goes horribly wrong i.e. you fail a lift or you tear a muscle, you definitely want safety bars setup to protect you. This is all relative though, at the end of the day, it really depends on your style of training, for example... are you preparing to be a strongman and build herculean strength? If yes, get a really strong, heavy duty power rack. If no, you can settle for a cheaper, more slim-line style that still offers 'somewhat' peace of mind in regards to safety, in case of a failed lift. I was unfortunate and wasn't able to buy my "dream power rack" due to the very low ceiling height of my garage (which was a major pain in the a**!), this stopped me from buying a full power cage, so I had to settle for something in between. Despite limited space restrictions, overall, the garage became a really nice training area where I could zone out, forget my troubles, listen to "my" music and just simply train by myself without any distractions. Below are some photos displaying the 'step by step' transitional progress of my garage gym renovation... Between 2013 up to the present date (Dec 2020), the garage gym has changed and is currently not in use. Some equipment has been sold off to hungry strongmen (50 kg Hex dumbbells up to 70 kg!!, 50 kg olympic weight plates - that's kg not lbs, and some other stuff). And the reason why I sold off a lot of my equipment you wonder, AND why I no longer train in the garage.... ALL MY EQUIPMENT WAS RUSTING AWAY!!!! PREVENTING RUSTY GYM EQUIPMENT A little tip for you should you consider setting up your own garage gym... MAKE SURE your garage is INSULATED and has heating and ventilation, especially if you plan on buying EXPENSIVE gym equipment - This will help prevent / minimize rusting. Looking back, I should have insulated my garage from the start before buying any equipment. A rough estimate of the total cost involved in renovating my garage at the time (on the cheap - no insulation measures) was around £4000+ which included buying the gym equipment, painting the brick walls and other materials such as covering the ceiling with plastic white sheets etc - this was purely for aesthetic reasons. Without knocking down my garage and building it again from scratch I figure the costs involved in properly insulating my garage at the time would have been around £3000 to £4000 extra, which isn't too bad to be fair. Some recent photos of my garage gym can be seen below... The first photo actually looks inviting as the light contrasts with the darkness outside, producing a warm seductive glow....until you step into the gym and are unpleasantly greeted by a billion insects crawling the walls, along with leaves, some rubbish and stones everywhere after being blown in under the main metal garage door. My exceptional photography skills (lol) really don't do justice as to what I've described and probably for the better. I'm not a spider fan so walking into my garage covered in spiders and cob-webs doesn't appeal to me. So I removed as much equipment as I could which I have now stored in my house. Some remaining items had been sold off as I previously mentioned and other stuff which I was planning on keeping, I am now selling. My days of heavy lifting are not over but at this point in time, heavy lifting isn't my main focus. If I had kept everything in the gym till this day, I would have pi**ed away so much money for nothing. Spending so much money on gym equipment to just let it rust is stupid in my book. Granted, you might be thinking I could just clean up the dumbbells and equipment every year but when you have so many dumbbells, it becomes a major chore. See photo below: If you happen to have rust on any of your gym equipment watch what I did to remove the rust in the video below... PROTECTIVE GYM FLOORING You have probably looked at some of the previous photos and wondered what type of large mats were in my garden? If not, I'm going to tell you anyway..."Horse Mats". These mats were purchased back in 2018 with the intention of replacing my current, cheaper quality jig-saw mats. Each large mat measures 6ft X 4ft, is 18 mm (1.8 cm) thick and weigh 40 kg (88 lbs). So each mat is pretty damn heavy to move around. At the time of purchasing the 'Horse Mats' I honestly thought they were a great idea and still kinda do. The plan was to renovate my garage for a second time but get it done right, professionally insulated, proper heating, plastered walls etc and then bin the old gym mats and roll in the brand new ones. However this didn't happen. You can see from the photos below how bulky of a purchase the new Horse Gym Mats were. I had ordered six large Horse Mats. The quality was high, the mats were thick and solid and definitely looked heavy duty enough to protect my concrete garage gym floor but there were problems. [A] DIFFICULT TO KEEP CLEAN No-matter how many times I took a mop to these mats, the bucket of bleach turned a muddy black every time. I assumed it was dirt but maybe it was just the rubber material, I'm not sure. [B] SMELL Upon delivery I stored the mats in my house as you can see from the photos above. As previously stated, the plan was to keep the mats in the house until my garage got renovated. However, after a few days, there was a STRONG rubber smell that grew worse as the days went on and began spreading throughout my house. I'd wake up in the mornings and go to bed at night smelling that intense odor. It would actually give me headaches. I needed to keep the windows open all day to get some fresh air in. IT WAS THAT BAD!! After several days it was just too over-powering to the point where I complained to the company whom I purchased the mats from and seeked help on getting rid of the smell. I was told to clean the mats using "White Vinegar" I believe (can't quite remember), which did help. After cleaning the mats, I left them outside to dry for close to a week to try get rid of the rubber smell for good. I later decided to store them flat in the garage instead of taking them back in the house. I figured that since the garage isn't insulated, the rubber smell would eventually go away after a period of time, which it has done. FROM GARAGE GYM TO HOME GYM Fast forward to present times, and as I've already stated, that lovely outdoor garage photo at the beginning of this article no longer gets used as a gym. Due to work commitments these last few years, I wasn't able to devote time to training (finding a work/life balance has been tricky for me for several years now) and up to this present date, training in general has been pretty much non-existent (kind of). It's not for a lack of motivation, just simply life has unfortunately got in the way these last few years, and not for a good reason. Stress is a killer, that's all I'll say. Training can help with stress, that I know, but when you haven't got time or really the energy to even train an hour a day, due to work commitments, training slowly but surely comes to a halt. Starts off being only a day or two, then progresses to weeks, months, a year, etc. Sure, every now and then, like the common New Year resolution made by millions of people around the world to get in shape, you decide to start training again which lasts one or two gym sessions, then STOPS! On a positive note, for the last month or so, I've taken personal time to get my frame of mind sorted out which has been good as I've focused on training again and reading old magazine articles to kick-start my motivation - I recommend "Keys to Progress" by John McCallum who was a famous writer for Ironman back in the 70's, his stories on training were absolutely brilliant and will have you in stitches of laughter. So each day, I read a little, go online and watch bodybuilding Youtube videos, check out gym equipment companies to see what's the latest design in dumbbells, racks etc - this helps fire me up for a workout. Doing this everyday has also motivated me to get back into making Youtube Bodybuilding Motivational videos. It's also sparked an interest in writing my thoughts down, hence why I'm writing this article (thank you John McCallum). I plan to write more articles on a weekly / monthly basis (if possible) - I'm not the best writer but If I help inspire or motivate just one person, that's all that matters. Before Getting back to 'Home Gym Problems', firstly a quick tip on moving heavy Horse mats around, should you decide to buy any. Buy this tool... It's called a Grabbitt Mat Moving Tool which is used for moving heavy Horse Mats. I wish I discovered this tool over two years ago when I first purchased the Horse mats. I was lifting all six mats through sheer macho brute strength when I could have been using this little device. It cost's around £35 for one (you only need one), there are more expensive ones on the market but no need, this cheaper "Grabbitt" tool above will work perfectly and make lifting and moving Horse Mats a piece of cake! You can thank me later. So what's happening with my lack of gym?...Well, I do still have a gym but all equipment is now within my house as i previously said. I basically train in my livingroom. See the photos below: It's not exactly ideal. I don't live in a huge house, its relatively small (two bedrooms), has low ceilings (although a tad higher than my garage) and because I'm not solely using compact equipment, space in my livingroom is pretty limited. Plans were in action several years ago to professionally renovate my garage which I almost went ahead with. However I then decided that my garage required extending in size and this proved problematic and very costly. The garage for me would definitely need extending in size, both height and length but due to building regulations, I'm not sure if I would be able to alter the height of the garage and that really annoys me. I could move house but I'm not interested in the hassle at this moment in time plus I do actually like the house. I also just recently inquired about extending my house (not the garage) as an alternative solution to creating extra space for a home gym. In theory, it sounded great because it would also allow me to extend my kitchen. Again, I'm viewing the extension as an investment in the hopes that it would add value to my overall property. However... the cost involved is astronomical, £40,000+ !! So there's no way that's happening. Maybe if I win the lottery! So the short-term solution is to simply use my livingroom as a training area. Space will be tight but I'll make it work. The funny thing is I've just ordered a new piece of custom gym kit for my livingroom from UK gym manufacturing company called Watson . It's a heavy duty, Lat Pulldown Machine customised to accommodate the use of bands. Very expensive!! I'm crazy I know! I'll post another article and review this new piece of equipment in the coming months. As it's custom made it will take about six weeks to manufacture and be delivered. Should arrive early 2021. I'm pretty pumped to see it live. I just hope it fits in my livingroom, otherwise I'm fu**ed! NEW HOME GYM EQUIPMENT? I've already mentioned the new piece that will arrive in the next couple of months, but I'm also considering a new Rack to replace my old Bodysolid Multi-Press / Squat Rack. (see photo below). There's nothing wrong with the rack I currently use (photo above), however, I do feel I need a change and my current rack lacks certain features I wish to have. For example, I'd like a pull-up bar at the top of my rack, not just for performing pull-ups, but to enable myself to do extra band exercises like tricep pushdowns or weighted hangs to tax and strengthen my grip - the top cross bar can prove really useful for more creative training. I do strongly believe that the Power Rack should be the most or one of the most expensive piece of equipment in anyone's gym. Companies today offer so much choice with racks now from adding band pegs, thick bar pull up attachments, cable machines, jammer arms, you name it, if you can think it, it's likely it can be designed and manufactured. After researching many different rack designs, I'm still struggling to select one I really like. At the end of the day It's likely I'll opt to contact the company "Watson" again and choose one of their Power Racks but have it customised to suit my own specifications. Gym equipment today is definitely revolutionary, some of the designs online are incredible, which allows lifters to train so many exercises but within a compact, limited space. I plan to write more about this in the near future. The two most important things stopping me from purchasing my "Dream Rack" is my current lack of training space and MONEY! I always told myself I wouldn't buy expensive gym equipment until I had my garage renovated but the reality is, that renovation could take years to happen but its highly likely it may never happen due to the associate costs involved. For both those reasons I'll likely choose to buy a reasonably priced rack in the mean time, which caters to my extra requirements but at a much lower, affordable price. I probably won't sell my old rack but instead stick it in the garage just in case I wish to switch back at a later date. One rack which I am considering buying is the Ironmaster IM1500 Half Rack. (Photo below). This rack has most of the extra features I'm currently looking for: Lower Band Pegs - This would allow me to use cables for benching, deadlifts etc. Barbell Storage - I have a couple of barbells on my livingroom floor so this would help. Top Cross Bar - I can do chins, inverted rows, cable exercises etc. A dipping attachment can also be purchased for this rack. The Half Rack is priced at around £800 and given its compact design, it's certainly a contender. SUMMING UP To conclude this article, my advice to others including myself (and I keep having to tell myself) is to take your time when looking to purchase new gym equipment. Do your research and shop around for prices. Some companies will actually give you discounts if you ask nicely, especially if you are ordering more than one product from the same company. Browsing gym equipment is fun to do but you can easily get carried away if you see something you like and desperately want. It's not until you actually buy the product, have it delivered and proceed to build it and discover the thing doesn't bloody fit in your gym! So make sure you get the measurements of equipment right and measure your training area to double check. Its not just the size of the equipment, you also need to leave room for moving around your equipment and have space for actually using it! You really need to know what type of lifter you are i.e. light weights (pumper), strength athlete, maybe both, whether you prefer cable machines, free weights, everyone is different. Free weights tend to affect the joints more, so if you are prone to injuries or you wish to err on the side of caution, you may be better off looking into using more cable based equipment than free weights, or a combination of both, for example, Ironmaster's IM2000 rack offers a built in cable system which you may find more appealing? Always think before you buy, and even when you believe you are sure on something, take another few days to think about it. As far as planning my own Home Gym setup, I have a while to go yet. In the meantime, I'll settle for training in my livingroom and continue the hunt for a brand new rack! Keep training hard folks, All the best, Strength Oldschool * Please note: Text and Photos are copyrighted and may not be used on another website! Readers do have permission to share this article (greatly appreciated) across social media by clicking the "share" button link. *
  11. This photo is from 2018 and showed my entire Rubber Hex Dumbbell collection which ranged from 1 kg right up to 70 kg. Even I look back on this photo and think...WOW!!
  12. I used to train in my garage until my gym equipment began rusting badly due to the lack of insulation. So I packed up all my equipment and moved everything into my house which is where I train now using half of my livingroom. This section will show photos and videos of how my gym used to look including some funny(ish) ones. More content will be added over time. But you can also check out my Instagram for more! Two photos from 2017 Can you spot me?
  13. My First Ever Garage Gym Workout In my new home. Looking back, I'm really glad I took a photo of this training log session, dated Mon 4, Nov, 2013. I've even included the duration of the workout lol. I had just recently purchased my house and was excited to clear the garage of spiders and start working out. I love how I've added notes at the bottom... "Buy a radio"....."Buy a mirror" ha ha. Brilliant. I eventually did. At that point in time, I had basic equipment, but it got the job done! Anyone else keep a training diary of past workouts? If you want to read more about my earlier home gym workouts leading up to the present date, then click here.
  14. Decided to train today and test out my grip strength by lifting a 12" long dumbbell with a 3" custom thick grip handle by Watson. UK company Watson Gym provide amazing custom gym equipment which can be shipped World Wide! They're not the usual dumbbell handles you would buy out of Argos, or a typical fitness equipment shop. These handles by Watson are custom made on ordering, manufactured to my own needs. They can be made to various lengths and grip thickness. After I failed on my heaviest attempt I decided to experiment and repeat the process but instead using a longer (20 inches) dumbbell handle with only a standard grip size (1.25") but add 3" Alpha Grips by Iron Bull Strength (* Apply "strengtholdschool" at checkout to SAVE 10%!). The plan was to test out if there was a significant difference between using thick grip custom handles and fat grips. The end result was 'no'. Here's the video: Lifts went as follows... (no chalk was used) Set 1: 3" Thick Grip Handle + 5 kg (11 lbs) - Success Set 2: 3" Thick Grip Handle + 10 kg (22 lbs) - Success Set 3: 3" Thick Grip Handle + 15 kg (22 lbs) - Success Set 4: 3" Thick Grip Handle + 20 kg (45 lbs) - Success Set 5: 3" Thick Grip Handle + 25 kg (55 lbs) - Success Set 6: 3" Thick Grip Handle + 30 kg (66 lbs) - Fail with both hands Set 1: 3" Fat Grip Handle + 5 kg (11 lbs) - Success Set 2: 3" Fat Grip Handle + 10 kg (22 lbs) - Success Set 3: 3" Fat Grip Handle + 15 kg (22 lbs) - Success Set 4: 3" Fat Grip Handle + 20 kg (45 lbs) - Success Set 5: 3" Fat Grip Handle + 25 kg (55 lbs) - Success Set 6: 3" Fat Grip Handle + 30 kg (66 lbs) - Fail with both hands I purchased my "Watson" custom dumbbell handles back in 2018. Here's a comparison between two similar dumbbell handles by Watson...Both are 12 inches long but differ in grip thickness. One measures 3 inches, the other is standard size i.e. 1.25". I was browsing through files on my computer trying to find a video or photo which showed how heavy the 3" thick grip custom dumbbell handle was and luckily I found it. I knew I had it. The handle weighed roughly 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs). I'm still in two minds whether it's worth buying thick grip implements likes axles, custom thick grip dumbbell handles etc given that it's probably much cheaper and much easier to simply slap on some Fat Grips to regular dumbbell and barbell handles. You can even simply and quickly add fat grips to the handles of cable machines and pull up bars etc, their brilliant. At this point in time I won't get rid of my custom thick grip axles and dumbbell handles but it's something to think about. My thoughts on Alpha Grips by Iron Bull Strength... These Alpha Grips by Iron Bull Strength are just as good as Fat Gripz. Different shape to Fat Gripz which I suppose is meant to suit the natural grooves of the hand better. The thick Alpha grips are slightly shorter in length also which I find better fits certain gym equipment handles. I own a set of standard dumbbell handles which unfortunately the Fat Gripz did not fit. Thankfully the Alpha Grips do. I own three sets of Alpha Grips... 2" grips, 2.5" and 3". The photo displays the 3" Alpha Grips. Surprisingly, Fat Gripz do not offer a 3" set which I don't understand. Alpha Grips are extremely handy to have to transform regular gym equipment exercises into more demanding and challenging work. They would easily fit into your gym bag for convenience. These bad boys will save you money buying thick grip barbells and thick custom dumbbell handles which can easily cost between £100 - £500+ depending on which company you buy from. The only negative I have is the friction generated from doing higher reps which tends to burn the skin slightly due to the rubber material. I don't feel this friction with regular steel barbells and dumbbells. This is not a deal breaker and I'm pleased I purchased these thick grip training tools. Definitely makes training more fun and stresses the fingers, hands, wrists and forearms very well which according to science, produces better gains in muscle and strength. Whether that's true or not, I'm not 100% sure but there's definitely more stress placed on the muscles and in a good way. Whether you buy Fat Gripz or Alpha Grips, they will last you a life time! They feel virtually indestructible. My advice...Unless you have massive hands, only buy the 2" Alpha Grips first and test them out for a period of time. Take your time to ease into thick grip training as I plunged straight into buying the 3" grips which resulted in hand and wrist pains which I assume was due to pushing too much weight too soon with such a large thicker grip. My hands just weren't used to it. As a result, I had to stop training for a period of time to let my hands, fingers, joints etc properly heal and recover. * Apply "strengtholdschool" at Iron Bull Strength checkout to SAVE 10%!
  15. For anyone that uses the social media of 'TWITCH' you can keep track and up to date with my current 'Home Gym Training workouts' by visiting my Twitch channel. Remember to FOLLOW if you wish to be notified of brand new videos and "LIVE" training videos!
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