Well, that was tiring . . . but satisfying

A few days ago I wrote about shopping for gym equipment to expand the strength training I can do at home, over and above the “heavy” weight training that Miss D. and I do at Mark Rippetoe‘s gymnasium three times per week.  I couldn’t buy “professional grade” equipment – that can be very expensive indeed – but I’ve bought the best “consumer grade” gear I could afford.

I’ve just finished unboxing and offloading 325 pounds of weight plates in different sizes from the back of my truck.  They’re now in my garage, joining a curl bar, two short dumbbell bars, clamps to hold the plates on the bars, and a weight rack to keep everything together.  Over the next few days, I’ll rearrange my study to make space to store everything in there.

I’m planning to use this home equipment in between writing sessions.  I’ll set an alarm on my computer, to force myself to take a break every half-hour or so (to avoid my eyes becoming over-strained, or sitting so long in one position that I cramp up).  I’ll get up, walk around, make a cup of tea, and do other things for five or ten minutes before sitting down again.  My idea is that I’ll have the two dumbbells and the curl bar set up, ready to use, with the same weight of plates that I’m currently using at the gym.  I’ll do a “set“, or a few sets, of dumbbell and/or curl bar exercises during every break.  I hope to do a lot of the simpler exercises at home, perhaps up to a couple of dozen times every day.  That’ll let me concentrate on the more demanding ones – squatsdeadlifts, overhead press, bench press and so on – at the gym.  Hopefully, I’ll make progress more quickly like that.

After three months of strength training, two to three times every week, Miss D. and I are very, very impressed with the difference it’s made to our bodies.  Neither of us is feeling any less pain from our past injuries – I’m afraid nerve damage is permanent, so that’s a given – but we’re able to move more freely, get up and down from chairs or bed much more quickly and with fewer complications, and accomplish more when working.  The improvement in our stance and body posture has attracted approving comments from our friends.  Overall, I’d say strength training has already become a life-changer for us.  We expect to be doing it for years to come.  If you’re considering it, but aren’t sure whether it’s for you, we highly recommend the Starting Strength program in particular.

We’ll never be able to lift the weights that younger, stronger athletes can, but if we reach even half their level, we’ll be very pleased with our progress.  Depending on the exercise, I’m already lifting five to seven times more weight than I could manage when I began strength training.  Color me happy!



  1. FWIW, I've heard that strength training is the real fountain of youth. As long as your body is having to build (& rebuild) muscle it keeps all your body systems in a better condition.

    Keep it up and enjoy your gains! 🙂


  2. @Adam: That's for the gym. I don't have space (or enough money) for a proper squat rack. I do them at home, but with dumbbells or kettlebells, and not at full weight, either. I leave the 'real deal' for the professional space.

  3. I don't have space (or enough money) for a proper squat rack

    Actually, you probably do. A friend made a "hidden" squat rack to fit in the end space of his garage between the parked car and the wall.

    The central frame rests on the concrete floor and is bolted to the back wall, and the "wings" hinge out from that. Back the car out, hinge the sides off the wall, drop in the upper cross bar which stabilizes the top of the rack (attached to each wing with bolts and wing nuts), the bottom of each wing locks to the concrete floor with drop-in 1/2" steel pins. Takes about 2 minutes for setup.

    I've suggested he offer them commercially, but when he looked into that he said the market wouldn't support it – between the engineering costs to make it foolproof for average consumers, manufacturing costs to make it pretty enough to sell, liability exposure insurance costs and shipping, it's so much cheaper to buy a used rack from a going-out-of-business gym it wouldn't be worth it. Doesn't mean you couldn't design your own and have it put together by a local metal fabricator, though.

  4. Based on your recommendation, I comparison shopped weights at Wal-Mart vs Amazon. There is currently a package that weighs more than I do headed to my doorstep with free shipping. This tickles me for some reason. I ordered dumbbells, a barbell, and weights. I'm really excited. I'll be adding more as I can.
    You guys have each made obvious improvements. Not only are you looking stronger and sitting straighter, it's clear that you've got more energy. It's really great to see. You seem happier too.

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