Building your own home gym: Buying the weights and barbell

This is the third in a seven-part series on building your own home gym. Today, we take a look at what to consider when buying free weights and the all-important barbell for your gym.

The barbell (aka bar) is not an area where you want to skimp on quality. The better the barbell, the better the safety and feel. And since you’ll hopefully being using it a lot – from exercises ranging from squats, to bench, to dead lifts and much more – you’ll be sliding a lot of weight on and off.
My recommendation is to get a 45-pound Olympic quality barbell, even if you have no plans to go to an elite level with your training. This wider quality barbell can still be great for you to use and will build better balance, strength and grip with its width once you get used to it. Good quality barbells will support up to 1,000 pounds.
Make sure to get collars with the bar to keep weight from sliding off. If you’re really on a budget, you can still find some good deals on eBay and Craiglist.

There are countless companies that produce plates for your bar. You’ll want to get weights with 50mm holes to fit your barbell. Troy is a good brand for plates.
It’s often possible to get package deals when you buy the barbell and/or weights together.
To start out, I’d recommend getting four plates each for 2.5, 10 and 25 and then six 45 pound plates.
Iron plates are usually less expensive than rubber-coated plates, which are not really necessary unless you’re doing Olympic style lifting.
Getting a weight tree to keep the iron off the floor and organized is a great idea.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at