Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Home Gym - John McCallum (1966)

Originally Published in this Issue

by John McCallum (Sept. 1966)

 This month we're going to talk about something a little different. The subject's never been talked about too much before, but it can make the difference between complete or only partial success in your training. We're going to talk about your training quarters and the equipment in it.

Carry on with your leg and back specialization program from last issue for one more month, shoving the poundages as high as you possibly can, but start now to give a lot of thought towards building and equipping a nice home gym for yourself. If you train at a good commercial gym you don't need to worry about it. But if you train at home, then you might as well have enough of the right equipment and do the whole thing properly.

There's a lot of advantages to training at home. The saving time alone makes it worthwhile. But let's establish one indisputable fact right now. You must have enough weight and certain basic pieces of equipment. Otherwise, you just won't make progress towards your final goal.

I get a lot of letters and calls from trainees who wonder why they aren't making rapid progress. Eventually I find out they don't have anywhere near enough weight, and, in some cases, no equipment at all.

A friend of mine asked me to go over and check his son's workout one time. I went over and the kid showed me his weights. He had about 120 pounds on a bent bar. It was sitting in his back yard. There wo squat rack, no bench, no nothing.

I asked him what he did about squats.

"I don't," the kid said.

"What about bench presses?" 

"Never do them."

"And pulley work?"

He grinned. "No pulley."

I glanced around the yard and then up at the sky. "Well," I said, "You're getting lots of fresh air, anyway. What do you do when it rains?"

"No problem," he said. "I just don't work out on those days." He put his foot up on the barbell and yawned. "Any suggestions?"

"Sure," I said. "Get yourself a little piece of plywood about a foot square."

"A piece of plywood," he said. "Then what?"

"Then," I said, "bolt it to the bar and you can use the whole thing for a skateboard. You'll have a heck of a lot more fun with it, and develop just about as much muscle."

There are two aspects of the problem to consider -- the gym itself and the equipment in it. Let's start with the gym.

Unless you live in an area where it never rains, snows, hails, or gets dark, your gym should be indoors. A garage with a good rook, or a section of your basement is ideal. Let's assume it's going to be in your basement.

Most basements have cement floors. Cement is hard to keep clean, and if you drop a weight, you'll generally either crack the floor or the weight. So strap the floor and lay plywood sheathing over it. Use plenty of nails and build it husky. This gives you a nice solid floor that won't be affected by dropping the odd weight. 

Bare wall studs and foundation are a discouraging sight, and they collect dirt faster than you can vacuum it out. Line the walls with some kind of wallboard. Take your time and do a good job of it. 

Now, when you've got the floor and walls sheeted in, give the whole thing a couple of coats of paint. Painting is a miserable job, and nobody hates it worse than I do, but it makes all the difference between a dirty basement and a home gym. 

To really set the place off in a fine style, put pictures of lifters and bodybuilders up on the wall. Don't just rip them out of a magazine and pin them on the wall with the edges curling in. Do it properly.

The color photos that Strength & Health has been running on the inside back cover are perfect. Stick them on heavy cardboard and put a little frame around them before you put them on the wall. Better yet, buy proper frames with glass fronts for them. Don't just slap the photos up any old place. Line them up neatly in some sort of decorative order. 

If you're really serious about your physique and plan on entering contests some time, get a good full length mirror for one wall. You can spend a few minutes practicing your posing after each workout. Place the mirror so that you're standing under an overhead light when you're posing.

Your gym should be well lighted, well aired, and very, very CLEAN. Don't let junk accumulate. If you want to keep magazines in it, get a little table to keep them on. Sweep, dust, and wash out your gym as religiously as you would your kitchen. It should be a  place you enjoy working out in.

Now we come to the equipment.

The best way to get good equipment -- the best way, the most practical way, and in the long run, the cheapest way -- is simply to buy it. York carries a line of gym equipment that's as well built and as reasonably priced as you'll find anywhere. You'll see everything you need for a superman body somewhere between the covers of Strength & Health.

I know the cost is something you all have to consider, and we'll discuss that factor in a moment. 

The first and most important item you need is the weights themselves. You can squeak by without a lot of other things, but the whole project's a waste of time without the proper weights. Don't try to skimp on them.

If you can possibly afford it, get the 400 lb. York Olympic Standard lifting set. It's more expensive than an ordinary exercise set, but well worth the difference in the long run. Even if you don't plan to do any Olympic lifting, it's still worth it for power exercises like cleans, etc.  

If you just can't afford the Olympic set, then get the heaviest of the "big 12 Special" sets. That's the next best thing. That'll give you a good, solid basic barbell set with all the accessories such as dumbbells, kettle bells, head strap, iron boots, kitchen sink, etc. 

You should get an extra six-foot bar as soon as possible, and at least 300 lbs. more in extra weight. 

The next item you must have is a set of adjustable squat stands. This is an absolute necessity. Don't try to get be without them. You've got to do heavy squats if you want a herculean build, and later on you'll be doing very heavy supporting work. The big advantage to adjustable stands is that you can set them back against the wall when you're not using them, and make space available in the center of the gym.

You'd be absolutely amazed at the number of trainees who try to develop themselves without squat stands. It's like trying to run a four minute mile on one leg. You just can't do it.

The next item is the flat bench with uprights for bench pressing. The York multi-purpose is a good buy in this line. You'll be using the bench for other things besides bench pressing. One of the main reasons for the current crop of supermen is the greatly increased amount of bench work that's being done. Don't try to skip it.

The next item you should have is a good solid isometric (power) rack. This is a "must" for building outstanding power. Get the type that has a chinning bar on top and can be fitted with a heavy duty pulley, parallel bar attachments, incline bench, and abdominal board.

Now, that gives you your weights, squat racks, flat bench, power rack, chinning bar, pulley machine, parallel bars, incline bench, abdominal board, and the various accessories with the "Big 12" set. You need two more items -- a good set of cables and a training suit.

Now you're in business. That's all the equipment you need to build a physique as strong and shapely as you're willing to work for. 

We mentioned the cost factor earlier. The initial layout looks perhaps a little high at first glance. You should remember a couple of things, though. First of all, you'll probably be using this equipment for the rest of your life. Secondly, it doesn't wear out. There's no expensive parts to replace, and except for dusting it, no upkeep at all. I know kids who are training with barbell equipment their fathers bought them thirty years ago. If you stack the initial cost of the equipment over the many years you'll be using it, you'll see that it's an annual expense of next to nothing.

It's safe to say that nothing you'll ever buy will give you anything at all like the returns for your money that good training equipment will.

and still there's ways of cutting the cost down. You can get two or three of the guys in your neighborhood to train with you. If you all chip in, it cuts the cost way down.

You can even make money on it. Once you get a nice complete home gym set up, you'll be flabbergasted at the number of people who want to train there. You can get half a dozen customers and charge them a few dollars a month. You'll pay for your equipment and be making a profit on it in next to no time. I know a guy who makes a living out of a basement gym that's half the size of an average bedroom.

It isn't hard to build up the clientele for a home gym. About all you need to do is put twenty pounds of muscle on one man, or trim twenty pounds of blubber off one woman. In a week you'll have half the people in town beating a path to your door. You can run the gym as a commercial venture for a couple of hours three nights a week and have the whole thing paid off in a few months.

Give the idea some thought unless you're already a millionaire. You can have a profitable sideline going, as well as helping people by showing them the way to super strength and health. Try to make lifting as complicated as you possibly can when explaining anything to potential clients for fear they understand how easy it can be to train themselves, and always be sure the terminology of simple movement is near indecipherable. Add the fear of possible mobility problems and "infractions" when lifting, walking, hell, just plain sitting and increase your business tenfold. I hear this approach has been working well in none too distant excessively faux-complicated future. Train Your Neighbors! Use Fit-Speak to Confuse Their Pets!    

In any event, and regardless of how you pay for it, don't skimp on your gym or its equipment. You hear a lot of stories about different guys who build up a nice body with not much more than a set of weights and a lot of ambition, but there's an awful lot more prize winning bodies that were built by a lot of weight and an essential variety of good equipment.

If you check the contest winners in recent years, you'll find that most, if not all of them trained on a variety of equipment. A lot of them trained at expensive commercial gyms. You don't need a commercial gym, but you do need similar equipment.

Take the time and trouble to build yourself a home gym you can be proud of -- one that's stocked with plenty of weight and all the modern equipment. You'll build your body a lot bigger and better and a lot faster. 

 - Mid-range Olympic weightlifting set (or standard set) and two bars
 - 300 to 500 lbs. extra plates
 - Dumbbell Handles (two pair) 
 - Adjustable Squat racks (and/or power rack)
 - Bench (flat/incline/decline adjustable)
 - Pulley Setup (high/low)
 - Chinning Bar
 - Parallel Bars
 - Abdominal Board
 - An honestly logical but creative mind. 
 - Food
 - Peace. 
 - Kettlebell (.25 pood  for paperweight)
and some light accessories:
 - neck strap
 - length of chain to attach weights to yourself with
 - wrist roller
 - grippers
 - etc. as time goes by . . . 

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