T Nation

Private time

I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of folks who have had positive experiences working out alone. By alone, I don’t mean alone in a crowd, but alone like you are the only guy in the room/garage etc. Motivation techniques? Thanx for any insight.

I left a hard core city gym at the end of last year, and moved to the country where there were no facilities, so I trained in my garage.
I had a bar, a few plates, and I built a bench, incline bench and squat rack myself out of fencing timber and four inch nails. It was dirty, hot (I’m in Australia) and uncomfortable, but I followed the 20 rep breathing squat program for 4 months, visualising the day I would return to the city, covered in slabs of new muscle. I plastered the walls with Schwarzenegger posters, cranked up the stereo and squatted myself crosseyed. Made the best gains of my life - over 40 pretty lean pounds in 16 weeks, bringing me up to 5’.8", 228lbs.
I went back to the city a couple of months later and pissed all over what my old training partners were lifting.
Training by yourself is a great opportunity. Nobody can distract you. Go for it.

I used to work out with partners but I’ve found private workouts are much more productive, motivation is not an issue for me because I actually enjoy my workouts but most people seem to get “pumped up” by certain music.

Personally, I prefered working out in a home
gym, except that I didn’t have all the
equipment I need. I was able to focus much
better, and often achieved “peak experiences”
(or whatever you want to call it). I find
focusing in a gym with people around more
difficult. Even if I take “smart nutrients”,
the music and commotion etc. hinder
concentration. Oh yeah, and those babes in
the sport bras and spandex shorts don’t help
much either. :slight_smile:

I have been training in my garage for 4 months now and the only complaints I have are that I don’t have all the equipment I would like. But I make due with a bench, power rack, barbells(1 and 2 inch diameter), and dumbbells. I put on my music and its easier to focus, harder to get distracted by friends or chicks, and I am free to use some equipment and perform exercises that aren’t readily available at most gyms. Things involving 2 inch barbells, sand bags and things like that. The only reason I may ever go back to my old gym is to showoff my new-found strength. Try training at home for a while; you’ll never go back to a gym.

Could you tell me how you made that squat rack? I was planning on going to a gym next month, but if home is better then I want to stick with it, I’ve never worked out at a gym. All I have is a few plated dumbells, some barbells and concrete plates from the 70s, and a weider bench w/incline that I found on the side of the road, which is better than what I had. The only squat rack I found in town was $400. I found a screwed up way to get the bar off the bench rack, but I would be much for confident and could life more if I had a squat rack. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

I’ve been working alone for the past three years. I love it, I don’t have any people coming up and telling me I am doing something wrong, or using to heavy a weight. I can listen to what I want to,and the best part is I don’t have some jerk coming over complaining that I am hogging up the machine. I use an olympic set 300 lbs, I have an old set of cast weiders(actually 2 sets) weighing in at 300 lbs.I use a bench with an incline, I also have a flat bench. I don’t know where I got this machine from but it is an old wall mounted cable machine with a 110 lb weight stack in it, I modified it so I could add weights too it.I would never go back to a gym.

I have to go with the majority on this one. I live in a town of 40,000 people and there are two gyms where I live (and no, there’s no Gold’s, Bally’s or the like either). Maybe I’m just too anal about it but the gym etiquette here is so bad and the hours suck. Add to it that I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone interrupt me when I’m in the middle of a set and ask me about supplements or something stupid (I am the manager of a popular health food store here where I live) Anyway I invested in a home gym. I received Power Block dumbells (5-85 lbs. plus adj. bench and dip stand) as a gift (thanks Mom) and I also have a power rack, 500 lbs. Olympic weights, Swiss balls and misc. Yes the equipment is better at most gyms but I’ll take a good home workout anyday. Sorry for rambling. Motivation wise, I’m pretty self- motivated, but I have pictures of my favorite bb’s (Zane, Pearl, Reeves, Grimek-and no I’m not that old, only 28 w. high respect for the pioneers), and good tunes definitely helps as well. The heavy stuff works for me (thanks for turning me on to In Flames Jeff).

I love working out in my garage. The few times that I worked out with a buddy at his gym, the workout took twice as long, waiting for people to get off certain machines, looking for weights. Add the transit time and the home gym is the way to go.

My biggest concern is safety. One thing I have done lately to make my home gym safer is add a safety fall chain for my barbell. I have a 12"X12" solid wood beam that run along the ceiliing of my garage. I used 6" self-tapping bolts to attached two chains to the beams. I have two quick connects on the barbell that allows me to adjust where on the chain that I attach the bar. Once I established the particular link that suits a particular exercise, I marked that link with a permanent marker.

It is somewhat cumbersome compared to a power rack, but it cost me a grand total of $60 at the local Ace Hardware.

If anyone is interested in photos, perhaps, I can send some in to T-mag and maybe they’d be kind enough to print them.

I used to work in a gym and thus had my own key. I used to go in before I opened and sometimes stayed after we closed. I loved it. Im fairly big so some people come up to me and want to know my “secrets”. They ask me why I write down everything I do and why I time myself during my workouts and all that type of stuff. Well working out alone gave me an escape from all that bullshit. But one time i was doing incline presses and i misjudged my last rep and i got stuck. i didnt want to dump it and pick all the plates up so i rolled it down my chest. well when i rolled it down it squooshed my nuts. i threw the bar about ten feet. its funny now but it sucked then.

I prefer working out at home. No distractions and you create the atmosphere. The last few years I’ve changed my empty basement into a respectable gym. I still don’t have all the fancy machines but I have more than enough to build my physique. Hands down, I make better gains working out at home then in a gym.

re: building a squat rack
Visit a commercial gym, and base your design on a model there that you’re comfortable using.
The floor of my garage is concrete, so I used a 6’ by 6’, 2" thick piece of particle board as a foundation. This will allow you to nail the whole thing to the floor.
The uprights should be 3" or so less than the height of your shoulders (to allow you to remove/ replace the bar with ease).
Use thick lumber (min 5" by 5") throughout - I wouldn’t recommend anything lighter - and 3-4" nails - anything shorter might not be safe, anything longer will probably split the wood.
Safety rails (strongly recommended if you’re training alone) should be set at a height 1" below however deep you plan to squat. Two options:

a) You could use chains hanging from the roof, or
b) Use timber as uprights, with solid metal piping/ bars forming safety rails, which you can place the bar down on in emergencies. The latter can be attached to the timber using metal braces - flexible strips of galvanised steel with holes for nails - ask at your local hardware store .
The most important concern is safety/ stability. The uprights may be pushed sideways in the course of an accident. Design accordingly - brace all of your uprights against a wall, or two walls if possible using a lighter gauge timber (2" by 4" is best for this).
Just remember that nails are cheap, spines are not. If your uprights can move sideways, you aren’t finished. Add more nails and more bracing.
Hope thats of some use, good luck dude.

I have been working out at home for over 20 years. Keeping yourself motivated proves to be a challenge from time to time, but never having to wait for equipment outweighs that. Probably making your home gym safe is the biggest challenge of all. I have manufactured all of my equipment, and over the years have built up quite a nice gym. Acquire a good power rack and a reasonable olympic set and start from there. Eventually, you may opt for going to a commercial gym, as I have on a few occasions. But I will always have my best work out’s being able to completely focus on my objective. Best of luck.


Two words. Pearl Jam.
Cranked loud, with a double espresso to wash it down.

Ok so you gotta get pumped up, for me i juice up the music. Provided you have a power rack and adjustable bench you should be just about fine for equipment. I am taking up WSB stuff right now (helping my legs a lot). For that working at home is better because it gets rid of: 1) I don’t want to look like a pussy syndrome- no one sees you esp when you are using real light loads (like on the dynamic day) 2)I hate getting stared at syndrome- brining in chains and boxes into a gym wouldn’t workout that well in most local “Fitness Centers” 3) you don’t have to wait on other people/ no one will get in your way. The only problem can be doing max effort excercises in WSB becuase you need a good spotter for most of the exercises whether you are at home or the gym. I like working out in my garage over the gym - most of the time.