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  1. #1
    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Advice for upgrading my home gym

    Hi Gang,

    I'm a new member, but lurked around these forums for years. My brief story: I've never in my life stuck to a workout routine for more than a couple of months, often with LONG gaps between exercise regiments. I've had gym memberships in the past, but not for about 7 years. Now at almost 37 years of age it's catching up to me. I'm currently a flabby 5'10" and 228lbs after dropping 7lbs over the last few weeks on my current routine. Once again, I'm motivated to get on a routine and finally change something. Thanks to this site, I've decided I want to follow the Fierce Five novice routine. I've started slow and been building up the last few weeks to get primed for a "real" routine. My current goal is to get under 200lbs.

    I have a home gym in my basement that I can do all the exercises in the Fierce Five routine with. Currently I have a homemade power rack that I built about 8 years ago. Yeah...I know...sounds scary but it's sturdy as hell. See this link (I'm the author). home-gym-bodybuilding.com/homemade-power-rack.html

    I've got a standard barbell (non Olympic), EZ curl bar, cheap dumbbell rods and about 180lbs in plates for them. I will be buying some more plates, probably today from Play it Again Sports. An Olympic barbell and plates will be coming in the future, that will be my reward to myself if I stick with the routine and achieve my goal. I also have a newer treadmill and about a 12 year old Bowflex. The Bowflex is an old Schwinn Comp knockoff. I've been using it mainly for lat pulldowns, tricep extensions, hamstring curls. Everything else I use the free weights.

    I'm well aware that Bowflex machines are pretty much a joke in the lifting community. For now it's my only cable machine and the only way I can do the exercises I mentioned above. So here's my question: Is there a machine I should consider replacing the Bowflex with on a budget of about $300? Not looking to spend a ton of cash right now since I'm just getting started. Buying used on Craigslist is certainly an option. Space in the basement is an issue, so adding more bulky machines is not in the cards. If I add a different machine, the Bowflex will be getting a new home.

    I've not really seen any multi-machines that can replace the exercises I can do on the BF for this kind of money. Would buying a better Bowflex be a smart move for now? I've seen Bowflex Extreme SE 2 models on craigslist for around $250. Not sure if it's really an improvement...

    Any advice is much appreciated!
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  2. #2
    In Witness Protection mtpockets's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post
    Hi Gang,

    I'm a new member, but lurked around these forums for years. My brief story: I've never in my life stuck to a workout routine for more than a couple of months, often with LONG gaps between exercise regiments. I've had gym memberships in the past, but not for about 7 years. Now at almost 37 years of age it's catching up to me. I'm currently a flabby 5'10" and 228lbs after dropping 7lbs over the last few weeks on my current routine. Once again, I'm motivated to get on a routine and finally change something. Thanks to this site, I've decided I want to follow the Fierce Five novice routine. I've started slow and been building up the last few weeks to get primed for a "real" routine. My current goal is to get under 200lbs.

    I have a home gym in my basement that I can do all the exercises in the Fierce Five routine with. Currently I have a homemade power rack that I built about 8 years ago. Yeah...I know...sounds scary but it's sturdy as hell. See this link (I'm the author). home-gym-bodybuilding.com/homemade-power-rack.html

    I've got a standard barbell (non Olympic), EZ curl bar, cheap dumbbell rods and about 180lbs in plates for them. I will be buying some more plates, probably today from Play it Again Sports. An Olympic barbell and plates will be coming in the future, that will be my reward to myself if I stick with the routine and achieve my goal. I also have a newer treadmill and about a 12 year old Bowflex. The Bowflex is an old Schwinn Comp knockoff. I've been using it mainly for lat pulldowns, tricep extensions, hamstring curls. Everything else I use the free weights.

    I'm well aware that Bowflex machines are pretty much a joke in the lifting community. For now it's my only cable machine and the only way I can do the exercises I mentioned above. So here's my question: Is there a machine I should consider replacing the Bowflex with on a budget of about $300? Not looking to spend a ton of cash right now since I'm just getting started. Buying used on Craigslist is certainly an option. Space in the basement is an issue, so adding more bulky machines is not in the cards. If I add a different machine, the Bowflex will be getting a new home.

    I've not really seen any multi-machines that can replace the exercises I can do on the BF for this kind of money. Would buying a better Bowflex be a smart move for now? I've seen Bowflex Extreme SE 2 models on craigslist for around $250. Not sure if it's really an improvement...

    Any advice is much appreciated!

    Bowflex is garbage, nothing more than an expensive clothes rack.
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  3. #3
    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mtpockets View Post
    Get bowflex our of your thought process immediately. It's garbage, nothing more than an expensive clothes rack.
    Yeah, that's the general consensus on these things! Any recommendations for a replacement that can do the cable exercises listed in the Fierce Five? It would be tricep pulldowns and face pulls.
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post
    Yeah, that's the general consensus on these things! Any recommendations for a replacement that can do the cable exercises listed in the Fierce Five? It would be tricep pulldowns and face pulls.
    If your really wanting the cables, find something that can be loaded with your Olympic plates.

    http://valorfitness-com.3dcartstores...62/BD-62-1.jpg

    But to be honest, if you built a power rack, you could easily build a pulley machine with a good rope and an industrial pulley. Just load the plates at the bottom of it.
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by brianmcg321 View Post
    If your really wanting the cables, find something that can be loaded with your Olympic plates.

    But to be honest, if you built a power rack, you could easily build a pulley machine with a good rope and an industrial pulley. Just load the plates at the bottom of it.
    \


    Interesting machine, thanks! Something like that may be an option to consider.

    I'm not set on a pure cable machine, looking for something that can provide a decent variety of exercises that free weights cannot, and do it better than a Bowflex. With my space restrictions, I'd rather not have a large piece of equipment that only does 1 or 2 exercises. Something like this I can certainly tuck in a corner somewhere.
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    Registered User grubman's Avatar
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    MY advice...

    -Don't buy anything from play it again sports. The majority of stuff I've seen at their store is junk, and priced as much, or more, than new and better stuff.

    -Do buy from Craigslist. Be patient! If you look every day, sooner or later everything you want comes up...and then comes up for an even cheaper price. I've seen real nice cable machines for $300 or less.

    -Don't buy a Powertec Workbench! Sooner or later you will see one of these yellow monstrosities for sale at a price a fraction of retail. They are heavy duty, look cool, and look to allow you to do a ton of exercises...the problem is they all just feel odd and wrong on the machine. It's even worse if you aren't the "right size" for the machine.

    -Do get that Olympic set right away!

    -When you want to get some more serious equipment (or that Olympic set), Do buy online from the Fitness Factory ( https://www.fitnessfactory.com/ ), ask for Matt and tell him you got his name off of Bodybuilding.com. I purchased a Body Solid functional trainer from him and 700 pounds of Olympic plates, and the discount was crazy good (I'm not at liberty to tell you the price I got as it's customer to customer).
    My 6 years of progress (with pics) thread: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=173360231
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    Registered User AD1985's Avatar
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    I love my setup, does everything I want. A couple tips:

    -- Resistance bands are a great cable substitute. I do DB banded cable flies for example. A 45 lb plate acts as an anchor from the floor. I also do banded face pulls. I progress by moving back further (you must be aware of your position to progress that way)

    -- DB handles are like having a DB set that goes up to 150 lbs. Plus you can micro increment them with chain loops and carabiners (can also be used on your big bar as well).

    -- Lockjaw collars make changing weights easier and don't poke you like the spring collars sometimes do.
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  8. #8
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    Fierce 5 *is* a "real" routine.

    Just sayin'.
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    Originally Posted by grubman View Post
    -Do buy from Craigslist. Be patient! If you look every day, sooner or later everything you want comes up...and then comes up for an even cheaper price. I've seen real nice cable machines for $300 or less.
    Agree with this, you can even set up notifications for when what you're looking for comes up. Built my home gym with patience, timing and cash offers.
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  10. #10
    Registered User grubman's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bando View Post
    Agree with this, you can even set up notifications for when what you're looking for comes up. Built my home gym with patience, timing and cash offers.
    Yep. Two times I dropped everything and drove a couple hours to buy something that was "already sold" before the other guy who was "coming the next day to pick it up" could get there...Cash talks and BS walks, as they say.
    My 6 years of progress (with pics) thread: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=173360231
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    Before you invest The money on a home gym start out with floor work and using body weight for resistance.

    See if you can stick to building on that getting to a 100 push ups, sit ups,crunches,scissors, leg raises.

    If you don't stick with that routine then what's the odds you will with the gym!?
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by grubman View Post
    MY advice...

    -Don't buy anything from play it again sports. The majority of stuff I've seen at their store is junk, and priced as much, or more, than new and better stuff.

    -Do buy from Craigslist. Be patient! If you look every day, sooner or later everything you want comes up...and then comes up for an even cheaper price. I've seen real nice cable machines for $300 or less.

    -Don't buy a Powertec Workbench! Sooner or later you will see one of these yellow monstrosities for sale at a price a fraction of retail. They are heavy duty, look cool, and look to allow you to do a ton of exercises...the problem is they all just feel odd and wrong on the machine. It's even worse if you aren't the "right size" for the machine.

    -Do get that Olympic set right away!

    -When you want to get some more serious equipment (or that Olympic set), Do buy online from the Fitness Factory, ask for Matt and tell him you got his name off of Bodybuilding.com. I purchased a Body Solid functional trainer from him and 700 pounds of Olympic plates, and the discount was crazy good (I'm not at liberty to tell you the price I got as it's customer to customer).
    Thanks for the info. I didn't see your post till this morning. Stopped at Play It Again last night and you're right! They didn't have any matching used pairs of standard plates higher than 10lbs! New plates are $1/lb. Screw that! Went a mile down the road to Academy Sports, and they had 25lb plates for $17 each. Not the best deal, but still better. I got a pair.

    This will get me by for a while till I can find a deal on an Olympic set, which I'll be searching Craigslist daily for.

    I briefly checked out Fitness Factory's website. Damn, that place has some nice prices anyways, and thanks for the name drop!

    Thanks again!
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AD1985 View Post
    I love my setup, does everything I want. A couple tips:

    -- Resistance bands are a great cable substitute. I do DB banded cable flies for example. A 45 lb plate acts as an anchor from the floor. I also do banded face pulls. I progress by moving back further (you must be aware of your position to progress that way)

    -- DB handles are like having a DB set that goes up to 150 lbs. Plus you can micro increment them with chain loops and carabiners (can also be used on your big bar as well).

    -- Lockjaw collars make changing weights easier and don't poke you like the spring collars sometimes do.
    Thanks. I'd not considered this. Sounds like a very simple but effective piece of equipment to have around.
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    Fierce 5 *is* a "real" routine.

    Just sayin'.
    My bad, I worded that statement poorly. I have not started Fierce 5 yet. Meant I'm starting slow on another routine getting prepped for F5 (the "real" routine).
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    Originally Posted by Bando View Post
    Agree with this, you can even set up notifications for when what you're looking for comes up. Built my home gym with patience, timing and cash offers.
    I didn't know this about CL. I'll dig into this and set up a couple up. Thanks for the tip!
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  16. #16
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    Originally Posted by latverian41 View Post
    Before you invest The money on a home gym start out with floor work and using body weight for resistance.

    See if you can stick to building on that getting to a 100 push ups, sit ups,crunches,scissors, leg raises.

    If you don't stick with that routine then what's the odds you will with the gym!?
    I already have the home gym, just my fatass has never stuck with it. Not sure what triggered it, but right now achieving my goal is consuming my thought processes.
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    I know you said $300, but if you later decide to replace your current rack, you may want to take a look at this one. I have spent MANY hours researching them, and really like this one. Last year it was $600 for the unit with the high and low cable setup. I've been waiting and watching, hoping the price will come down or it will go on special.

    https://www.amazon.com/Fitness-Reali...ass+commercial
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    Likebrianmcg321 said... If you are capable of making a power rack (with non fatal consequences) what's to stop you getting a few pulley blocks bolted to a wall at different heights, some steel wire rope (cable), and making some kind of hangar to hold plates.

    It could be brilliant or trully dreadful, that's up to your skill

    Ignore the other comments about bodyweight, or buying things, they are way to sensible and helpful, where's the fun in that? when you can cobble together something home-brewed. Sure it'll look ugly, perhaps even usage will carry some risk (after you trap/sever a finger in a pulley you'll never do it twice), but like an ugly child you'll love it anyway. "Built not bought" that's a badge of pride where I come from (serious)
    Last edited by OldFartTom; 01-15-2018 at 12:28 PM.
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Likebrianmcg321 said... If you are capable of making a power rack (with non fatal consequences) what's to stop you getting a few pulley blocks bolted to a wall at different heights, some steel wire rope (cable), and making some kind of hangar to hold plates.

    It could be brilliant or trully dreadful, that's up to your skill

    Ignore the other comments about bodyweight, or buying things, they are way to sensible and helpful, where's the fun in that? when you can cobble together something home-brewed. Sure it'll look ugly, perhaps even usage will carry some risk, but like an ugly child you'll love it anyway.
    Yep, build one or just buy one. I just picked this up last week to attach to my rack. Haven't used it yet though.
    https://www.getrxd.com/pulley-system.html
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    [QUOTE=drkelly74;1540678821]I know you said $300, but if you later decide to replace your current rack, you may want to take a look at this one. I have spent MANY hours researching them, and really like this one. Last year it was $600 for the unit with the high and low cable setup. I've been waiting and watching, hoping the price will come down or it will go on special.

    Nice rack, The added dip station is cool. Unfortunately it's too tall for my basement.
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Likebrianmcg321 said... If you are capable of making a power rack (with non fatal consequences) what's to stop you getting a few pulley blocks bolted to a wall at different heights, some steel wire rope (cable), and making some kind of hangar to hold plates.

    It could be brilliant or trully dreadful, that's up to your skill

    Ignore the other comments about bodyweight, or buying things, they are way to sensible and helpful, where's the fun in that? when you can cobble together something home-brewed. Sure it'll look ugly, perhaps even usage will carry some risk (after you trap/sever a finger in a pulley you'll never do it twice), but like an ugly child you'll love it anyway. "Built not bought" that's a badge of pride where I come from (serious)
    I hear ya, I take pride in my power rack! But that Valor cable station seems a good way to go. I've seen it online for just over $200, for that little money the time to research and build something wouldn't be worth it to me these days. I built the rack before I had two kids and a demanding job!
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    I'm in the minority around here with my stance on multi-gyms. I have one of the above mentioned Powertech lever gyms (I have all the other basics covered too), and I have a selectorized Tuff Stuff multi-gym. I have always felt that these things pack a lot of movements into a smaller footprint than traditional commercial dedicated pieces. I really don't have any issues with the feel of my powertech multigym, I'm only 5'7" so I get a full ROM on all the different movements.

    For the price range you referenced to get what I'm recommending, you'll have to be patient and look at the used market. I really like the look of Body Solid corner gym GLGS100. It's a redesign of Powertech's corner leverage gym, but you'll really need a flat/incline bench to get the most out of it. It has your high and low cable stations and a decent leverage station that's pretty versatile. I haven't seen one for sale on Craigslist, but I have seen the powertech equivalent a couple of times hovering around the $300 range.
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  23. #23
    Registered User grubman's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Cpl.Girthington View Post
    I'm in the minority around here with my stance on multi-gyms. I have one of the above mentioned Powertech lever gyms (I have all the other basics covered too), and I have a selectorized Tuff Stuff multi-gym. I have always felt that these things pack a lot of movements into a smaller footprint than traditional commercial dedicated pieces. I really don't have any issues with the feel of my powertech multigym, I'm only 5'7" so I get a full ROM on all the different movements.

    For the price range you referenced to get what I'm recommending, you'll have to be patient and look at the used market. I really like the look of Body Solid corner gym GLGS100. It's a redesign of Powertech's corner leverage gym, but you'll really need a flat/incline bench to get the most out of it. It has your high and low cable stations and a decent leverage station that's pretty versatile. I haven't seen one for sale on Craigslist, but I have seen the powertech equivalent a couple of times hovering around the $300 range.
    I'm not going to say you are "wrong", I mean, if you like it you like it. (I'm the same height as you)

    It's just, when building a home gym, a person usually needs to fill a limited space with the best thing they can get at a price they can afford.

    There is absolutely nothing (other than the calf raise) that that machine can work better than what you can do with free weights and a bench and rack. Even for variety ( which was why I bought it) it offers very few excercises that properly stimulate the muscles and don't put joints in an awkward position do to the nature of the short levers and arcs. Just watch people using them on the tutorial videos...nothing looks right (and that's exactly how it feels in real life).

    A high low pully offers much more variety, and much better quality movements. (And the pully on the corner machine has an awkward lever at the bottom as well). Better bang for your space and money.

    I will say though, you can get the Powertec for a song...and usually sell it for what you payed to the next sucker.
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  24. #24
    0.0 chadsalt's Avatar
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    Everyone likes spending the next man's money....you already have a rack. You need a flat bench and an Oly weight set. Stop worrying about a machine and the other accessory exercises. Crying out loud I haven't done a lat pulldown in 15+ years, hasn't held me back a bit. Cardio to get your weight down and do pull-ups, chair or band assisted as necessary.

    Get on a good starter routine and stick with it.
    I prefer starting strength, quick and simple. If you've still got some energy, go cardio.
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  25. #25
    barbell aficionado thejosef's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by chadsalt View Post
    Everyone likes spending the next man's money....you already have a rack. You need a flat bench and an Oly weight set. Stop worrying about a machine and the other accessory exercises. Crying out loud I haven't done a lat pulldown in 15+ years, hasn't held me back a bit. Cardio to get your weight down and do pull-ups, chair or band assisted as necessary.

    Get on a good starter routine and stick with it.
    I prefer starting strength, quick and simple. If you've still got some energy, go cardio.
    Came here to say exactly this. /\ That's some real good advice right there.
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