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I want to buy a barbell and a squat rack so I can lift at home but looking around there's so many to choose from its overwhelming. I just need to know:

  • Which brands are trusted and recommended?
  • Difference between Olympic bar and other types?
  • How much weight should I buy? I squat ~75kgs.
  • What length bar do I need?
  • Any other important factors which I'm missing here?

I need something suitable for doing squats, snatches, deadlifts, bench press etc.

edit: also, what is the difference between an calibrated and uncalibrated plate?

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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Definitely go with an Olympic bar. They will be a standard weight and have a standard diameter. If you go with anything else you may be stuck buying proprietary weights for an non standard sized bar. A typical bar will be 6-7 feet long. I would go with the longer one since you plan on doing deadlifts.

The good thing about buying weight is you don't need to buy it all right away. You can buy it as you need it. I would start with 4 to 6 45-pound plates, and enough smaller weights so you can bridge the gap between having a full plate on each side. I would suggest:

  • 2 5-pound plates
  • 4 10-pound plates
  • 2 25-pound plates

That combination will allow you to go up in 5 pound increments between the larger 45-pound plates. You may also want to eventually add some 2.5 or 1 pound weights, but they aren't needed when you start out.

For the deadlifts, I would suggest either getting padded weights (only the 45-pound plates need to be ruberized if the lighter weights are smaller in diameter) or getting a pad to stand on while you lift. Otherwise you might damage the floor.

As for brand, it's really up to you. Certainly go try it out before you buy it, but as long as you're buying standard sized equipment you should be fine.

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4  
I agree with Sparafusile - look on Craigslist - there's a lot of people who've brought weights and have never used them. I would recommend a month or two at a local gym to get the feel of the weights and get some personal training on them (sounds like your new to lifting). You'll need a weight lifting program which the personal trainer could help with. Good luck and go for it. –  Meade Rubenstein May 17 '11 at 13:00
    
All good advice, thank you! Especially about only buying padded plates for the largest diameter. @Meade I have been a gym regular for years, just never bought my own stuff. –  rmx May 17 '11 at 13:46
    
"That combination will allow you to go up in 5 pound increments between the larger 45-pound plates. You may also want to eventually add some 2.5" - For 5 pound increments you'd need 2.5 pound plates, no? –  eevar May 20 '11 at 21:14
    
5 pounds per side so 10 pounds total. –  Sparafusile May 21 '11 at 3:06
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A few recommendations (to address your questions):

  • Get a power rack, they aren't that expensive but they are very versatile. You can use them for squats, and as a personal spotter for bench presses. (bench sold separately). The lower cross bars are there to act as your spotter so you never have to drop the bar on the floor or worry about the bar pressing on your neck if you can't get a lift up. You also might be able to build one yourself if you are handy with wood and tools.
  • Get Olympic bars, and keep an eye on the total load they can handle. Get one piece bars, there are a few cheap three piece models and I would not recommend them. 7' bars will be best.
  • Check to make sure the Olympic bar is truly 45lb. Dick's Sporting Goods sells one they call an Olympic bar, but someone weighed it at 35lb. That's not Olympic bar specs.

You can get a starter set of weights with an Olympic bar and 300lbs (136kg) of weights for around $300 USD. The standard set includes:

  • 2-45lb plates
  • 2-35lb plates
  • 4-10lb plates
  • 2-5lb plates
  • 2-2.5lb plates

Since my routine has me going up 5lb each time I workout (except for deadlifts, those are by 10lb) the 2.5lb plates are nice. When you are getting close to outgrowing the core set, you can buy 45lb plates separately and add them on as you need. That way you minimize your initial investment while still being able to work toward those 600lb deadlifts and 400lb squats.

RE: Calibrated vs. non-calibrated

A calibrated plate is certified to be the weight advertised on it. While a non-calibrated plate is not certified. It will likely be very close within a certain tolerance, but the calibrated plates are required for competitions. You can likely do what you need with uncalibrated plates.

RE: non-Olympic bars

Most non-Olympic bars I've seen have a smaller diameter (i.e. less than 2 inches) for the plates, and are also a lot flimsier. They simply can't hold the same amount of weight. While they are better than nothing, they aren't going to grow with you like an Olympic bar.

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