The Rack February 26, 2008Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Other, stronglifts 5X5.
A couple of people have asked me what sort of strength-training equipment I have in my home gym. It is hard to describe a power rack to people who haven’t seen one before. They are certainly not the sort of thing you will see if you go to your local sporting goods store and look around. I suspect that’s because they don’t cost very much money. This one was only $300 on ebay, delivered (and it was about 200lbs, so the delivery costs would have been substantial.) Once you have one of these things (below), and the bland-looking bench inside it (plus a barbell and weights), you have pretty much everything you need to begin the strength-training program that I have undertaken–Stronglifts 5X5.
Before I ordered this rack thing in January I was lifting weights using a couple of saw horses as a spotter. That was OK on squats, but when I started getting above 120lbs, the bench press began to look and feel a little scary-couldn’t use the sawhorses, they were too high. Twenty-five reps can be pretty challenging, even if you split them into five sets. Twice I had to tilt one side of the barbell onto the cement floor and find a way out from under it during a set (well, I guess it was at the end of the set). I just couldn’t see myself doing that with the truly massive weights I will eventually be hefting, so I decided to make the investment.
Unfortunately, to use a power rack, your barbell has to have enough distance between the weights so that the weights are on the outside of the rack. Olympic-size bars are perfect for this, but if you already bought regular, non-olympic weights, they won’t fit on an olympic-size bar–the holes in the middle aren’t big enough. Luckily, I found a place in Salem, New Hampshire that sold extra-wide bars for regular-size weights. So I’m still out like $500 for the whole set-up, without the weights, but since I used to spend that for just three months of tennis, I think I’m still ahead of the game.
Oh, I had one more accessory I needed, because my son began the program, too. He’s only a skinny ten-year-old (five feet tall, already, getting his height from his pop). And the stronglifts program is based on adding weight each time you work out. And the smallest I could find were 2.5 pound weights. But adding five pounds (one 2.5 lb weight on each side) every workout, when you are a tall, stick-thin, ten-year-old could be pretty discouraging. I needed some 1.25 pound weights, so I made some. I took two plastic 5-gallon paint can lids, drilled a hole through them and stuck them together with enough latex caulk to make them total 1.25 pounds. Then I taped the outside with black duck tape. Then I sprayed them with black paint. Don’t they look cool?
Next step is to paint numbers on them. My son wants them to say 40 lbs, which seems about right. They are only slightly smaller than the 50 lb weights I have.