T Nation

How 'bout JUST a flat bench?

The previous post sparked me to ask a question I’ve been sitting on for a while.I work out at home,and my entire setup consists of a flat bench(it does incline 2 levels),and a set of Powerblocks(the ones that go to 90lbs each).When I started training again, it was adequate(about 2 years ago…)My question is,has anyone else had good success with this setup,or am I shortchanging my results by not just biting the bullet and joining the gym?Ive had reasonably good results-With t-mags help,thee Delta 1250 diet,(And Androsols!),Ive gone from 142,to 165.Im now dieting back down-At 142,my bf was around 7%.But at 165,Its only up to around 10…(The reason I didnt,is I liked the convenience of gettin up at 6a.m.,taking my morning thermogenic,and hitting the weights,without leaving the house-but Im open to suggestions!!)

I think that’s all you really need. I’ve made my best progress in strength and chest size from doing only the flat bench and maybe some close-grips or dips on another day. And you have dumbells, so you can get variety that way if you need it. Basics are all you really need unless you plan on competing in bodybuilding or something. But for the most part, the basics will build strength and size.

Heya Manimals. Here’s the Monkeyboy set up: Basically my room is my gym. I have a small flat bench, a small incline bench, the same 90 lb. powerblock set that you mentioned (just got the new Powerblock cover for 'em) an olympic bar, two curl bars (one w/ close grip) and about two hundred or so lbs. in plates. Plus a stairclimber. Thats it. I’ve been training for two years now, I’ve been accused of using 'roids. I’ve discovered that innovation, determination and a 'lil shot of ingenuity can turn a crawl space into an arena of testosterone and sweat. Oh, I did forget to mential my last piece of equipment, my stereo along w/ kickass cd’s, can’t pump without 'em. Now go to thy room and get busy doing more with less.

“MB Eric: Man he’s fiesty writing these manifestos since 1492.”


If you’re just talking lifts like the OH press, bench, 1-arm rows, curls and the like, it’ll do fine. I do bench with dumbells (though I have done a few cycles of barbell), and have experienced good results IN THOSE LIFTS. However, I think you should add a barbell and squat cage to finish the set-up. You’ll be limiting your gains if you try to do dumbell squats with just those powerblocks (though doing lunges, those will take you a ways further). If money is a concern, you may be able to pick up a used squat cage for cheap.

I went through a period of time a few years ago where I trained in my apartment for about 9 months. I learned more about training during this period of time then I had in the previous 4 years. All I had were 2 adjustable dumbells and a sturdy coffee table. This situation forced me to get creative and even though I didn’t have much equipment I was still able to get in a great full body workout and I made plenty of progress…Here are some exercises I did.

Split squats, lunges, dumbell squats, step-ups, dumbell leg curls, ski-squats, one legged squats, stiff leg deadlift, one armed rows, pullovers, dumbell shrugs, dumbell laterals, arnold presses, bench presses, flyes, dumbell upright rows, overhead dumbell extensions, dumbell skullcrushers, L-lateral raises, dumbell cleans, alternate dumbell curls, concentration curls, zottman curls…I’m sure there are others too…As you can see th elist is quite extensive so you can still get in a great workout.

I started lifting in my bedroom with my older brothers old plastic weider weights, a small barbell and a sturdy desk to lay on top of.

in regards to your question about flat bench: i think doing only flat bench is inadequate. you don’t want to be one of those guys who has the low, un-aestheticly pleasing pecs that just look like fat when they’re covered with a shirt. ok, so maybe it won’t turn out that bad from neglecting to work your upper chest…BUT, anyone with an impressive chest has a well defined upper chest and puts in a lot of hard work on inclines. i’ve said it before: most people’s upper chest is neglected and that’s part of the reason their pecs look like shit. do some inclines.

I have expanded my home gym for very little $$$ and find I could add alot more variety. I had an adjustable bench, powerblocks, and the standard 300 lb olympic weight set. I mentioned at a party that I wanted to start training in my basement and a guy offered to sell me his power rack for $100! The power rack was almost brand new and allowed me to bench and squat in relative safety. I got a weight tree, grabbed my wife’s old rebock step, made a dip bar for about $50 with iron threaded pipe and wood stands, bought a swiss ball from Paul Chek, got an easy curl bar for my birthday and a plate loaded high/low cable machine for christmas. when a gym went out of business I bidded for and got a lifecycle for $100. I could preform almost any exercise invented with this equipment, all for under $1000.00. Look for second hand sports shops and in the newspaper for deals and build your home gym slowly; I will never join a gym.

I have a home gym as well - I love the convenience, but I do miss the gym for leg exercises, particularly. My setup is as follows - 2 sets of Powerblocks (started with the 45lb each(max) set and outgrew these and purchased the pro-set that now (after additions) goes up to 125 lbs each). Power rack with adjustable multiposition bench. Power rack has weight stack (200 lbs). 300lb Olympic barbell set. Preacher, Leg extension/curl attachments for bench. Various bars, etc. Treadmill and stationary bike. I find this setup to be really complete (I can do dips and pullups on the Power rack) except for calves. I do standing BB raises but I don’t feel like I’m getting good range of motion and the balance issues prevent me from really piling on the weight. I also do standing one leg raises with DBs with full extension (on the Power rack safety bars). I really miss seated calf raises, and I’ve tried to approximate them by loading plates on my knees, but this is both awkward and I can’t load enough weight. Calves/legs are genetically my best body part and I really enjoy working them. Any suggestions on calf exercises for a person working out by themselves with my equipment? Thanks.