I’ve been strength training for over 18 months now and the large majority of it has been done in my own home. I loved the Ladies Who Lift sessions that I had in the gym with Sally Moss back at the start of 2014 and the strength training that I did as part of my marathon training, but overall I love the convenience of working out in my lounge even more.
In the time that I’ve been using weights I’ve built up a bit of a collection of equipment and I’ve often been asked for advice on what kind of weights someone looking to start out would be best to get. So here in one handy post is a run down of what this lady lifts!
I started out with this York 20kg Cast Iron Dumbbell Set. These are a great beginner set which allow you to take on and off the plates to vary the weight you are lifting for different moves. For example, most people will be able to lift far more weight in a move like bent over row than they will in a bicep curl.
Once you’ve got a set of spinlock bars you can also then buy additional weight plates to add onto it if you need. I’ve got some extra York Standard Cast Iron Disc X4 plates too.
Soon things between me and weights were getting serious and I found I could lift quite a lot in some of the big moves. It was time to invest in a barbell. I went for this 6ft York Spinlock Bar. All the weight plates that I already owned fitted onto it and it meant that I could set up the bar with heavy weights for moves like bent over row and Romanian deadlifts and leave the dumbbells set up with lighter weights for different moves. Less faffing around, quicker workout, happy Becca.
I should point out (in the interests of health and safety) that I don’t do back squats with this bar at home. For that I’d need a squat stand or rack and preferably someone to spot me to. There’s not enough room in our flat for that type of equipment and I generally workout in the morning when my OH doesn’t have time to be standing around spotting me!
My next set of weights were a bit of a splurge, a present to myself for the progress that I’d made. They’re not by any means an essential piece of kit but for the ultimate in convenience and space saving they are fantastic.
Bodymax Selectabell Dumbbells are basically 12 sets of dumbbells in one. Each one of these can be anything from 5kg to 32.5kg. To change the weight you simply rotate a dial and hey presto – more or less weight added in seconds. Very clever engineering and no more faffing about with changing plates – the ultimate in convenience. I love these very much indeed.
In fact the only things that aren’t totally perfect about these is the fact that the weight goes up in 2.5kg increments. That’s OK for moves that involve large muscle groups, say squats or lunges. But for upper body moves 2.5kg is quite a jump and so I find that I have to have a pair of spinlock dumbbells set up for the intermediate weights as well.
There is one other small downside to the selectabells too, and that’s their shape. There are a couple of moves that I do where I need dumbbells with a flat edge, or I need to swing the dumbbell around like a kettlebell. I’m sure that the plates wouldn’t ever come off the selectabells but I never feel totally confident about trying out that theory. And that’s where the latest addition to my collection comes in.
These little beauties from a company called Savage Strength are perfect for swinging around with confidence. They are the only fixed weight dumbbells that I have and the only rubber ones too but I really like them. They are great for one of my favourite moves, the renegade row.
You start in a plank position with weights in both hands and the raise one of the weights while keeping your core tight and hips level. Then you return the weight to the floor. As you can see it’s not the sort of move where you want round dumbbells wobbling around underneath you so the hexagonal Tufftech weights are perfect. And I generally wear a top when I’m doing mine. I know I’m in my own home but I just generally feel a bit more comfortable that way!
Looking around the rest of the Savage Strength site has me drooling. While I might never have enough space to fit in an entire Power Rack, I’d like to think that one day I might be able to fit in a squat stand so that I could work on back squats and bench press safely in my own home.
But for now I’m doing fine with my trusty dumbbells and barbell. I’ve managed to make significant strength gains and lose fat without ever having to step foot into a gym. Even with the expense of the swanky adjustable set I’ve still spent less in 18 months than I would have done on gym membership in Central London and its mine to keep forever!
Disclosure – the people at Savage Strength were kind enough to send me the Tufftech weights for free. However, all opinions are my own.