Tag Archives: barbell

Calgary Barbell on YouTube does the best form checks!

Aside from being a strong-as-hell powerlifter from Canada, Bryce Krawczyk of Calgary Barbell also provides the best form checks on YouTube for powerlifting-focused lifters looking to improve their squat, bench and deadlift. Below is an example of what I mean.

Watch more of his videos at his YouTube channel.

The Beginning of My Garage Gym

I decided to cancel my commercial gym membership and begin building a home gym in the garage. Below is what I have so far.

A power rack.

It’s a PowerMark 475R, which is basically a rebrand of one of the Body Solid racks. I also got a plate loaded lat pulldown & low row combo to attach to the rack.


The type of rack you want/need will depend on a lot of factors. Personally, I wanted a relatively cheap full rack with good reviews and the ability to attach a lat pulldown for some assistance movements I enjoy doing. I also wanted a pull up bar, which is actually attached to most power racks at this point. This particular rack fulfilled all those requirements and is also rated up to 360kg/794lbs, which I won’t be squatting any time soon (if ever haha).

A barbell and mats for deadlift.

I got the regular barbell from strengthshop.de to get me started. It’s a nice barbell with a price I can easily live with. If I lived in the US, I’d probably start off with this barbell. (Not if I was into Oly lifting.) Rogue has a variety of nice barbells too.

In the future, I will also be getting a power bar most likely and some specialty bars (i.e. hex bar, football bar, swiss bar, log, safety squat bar, etc.) … SOON.

I went with cheap spring collars too, but I think I’ll also pick up some lock jaw collars for convenience.


The 12mm mats I got aren’t going to hold up very long, so I’ll be buying some plywood for deadlift. Depending on what kind of lifting you do, you’ll need anything from plywood to thick mats (horse stall mats are supposedly a great option), or even an Olympic lifting platform. That is if you want to protect your floor. I’ll be buying some plywood most likely.

Pictured below is the deadlift jack I made myself out of pipe. I’ll do a separate article on how to make it in the future.


Other misc items.

What I already owned: Oly lifting shoes, some bands, a lifting belt, lacrosse balls, PVC pipe and an ab wheel.

What I bought: Plate tree, weights (obviously), some extra attachments for the lat pulldown and an adjustable bench. Also a small space heater.

Future plans.

Hopefully sometime this year an actual room will be built within the garage for the equipment. I will continue to invest in the home gym with other ‘toys’ (i.e. dumbbells, chains, more bands, etc.) until I have everything I want or run out of space.

Overall costs so far.

Everything combined cost around 1500€ (slightly over $2k). With my gym membership costing 40€ / $55 per month, plus another 40€ / $55 for gas per month, I’m at 80€ / $110 spent each month to attend a commercial gym (where I have to share, and sometimes wait for, equipment). That means in less than two years my gym will have been a good investment. I intend to train much longer than that.

The costs will continue to go up I’m sure as I buy more equipment (a lot of which was not available to me at the commercial gym), so I will be obligated to train until I die!

Where to buy equipment…

There are quite a few decent racks available on Amazon.com, if you live in the United States. If you want excellent quality, go with Rogue (available in the US, Canada and Europe) or EliteFTS (US only as far as I know).

Strengthshop.co.uk is excellent if you live in the UK. Strengthshop.de is excellent if you live in Germany (I bought my barbell, bench and weight plate tree there). They also just opened a US store at StrengthshopUSA.com, which looks pretty good.

HeliSports.com (I believe they cover most of Europe) is where I got most of my stuff. They have good quality items for low prices.

Obviously there are many other stores with great reputations you could buy from.

Suitcase Deadlift Exercise Tutorial

This is an awesome exercise I recently started to include with my deadlift training. Here is a video of how to do it.

Special notes:

I would do it without straps in order to get some grip work in.

Keep your core stable. If you can’t stop from leaning to one side, lighten the load and work your way back up.

You can do the same movement with a dumbbell, kettlebell or any other object you can grab with one hand. With that being said, the barbell wobbles more and forces your core to engage more, which is why I recommend using the barbell variation of the one arm suitcase deadlift when possible.

I personally use this as a supplemental lift during a lower body workout (toward the end of the workout or even the very end). I like it a lot. Give it a try, if you haven’t!

No Squat Rack at Gym

This is another post inspired by a strengthcamp video. The video is below and it’s a workaround, if your gym doesn’t have a squat rack.


– A ‘gym’ without a squat rack isn’t really a gym at all. It’s more like a health club… whatever the fuck that means.

– The squat is more than an exercise. It’s a primal movement pattern that you should train, even without access to a squat rack.

– If you are unable to gain access to a squat rack, train the prime movers (your legs in this case) with isolation movements, but still do squat movements for neural efficiency.


Optimal Solutions to Your Lack of Squat Rack Problem

Before I’m going to give you alternatives to the back squat, I want you to first do your absolute best to somehow gain access to a squat rack. If none of the options presented will work for you at all, then move on to the alternative exercise selection.

Option 1: Buy Your Own Squat Rack

This one is pretty straightforward. If you have the room at your house or in your garage, maybe it actually makes sense to cancel your shitty gym membership and buy a squat rack instead. While the racks at Rogue Fitness are beyond awesome and what I would recommend to anyone without hesitation, not everyone can afford them.

If you’re on a budget and that’s why you’re at a terrible gym without a squat rack, maybe you can find a used rack on Craigslist or one of the following are a nice budget-friendly option for you.

For $370 (shipped), you can get a decent power rack like the one below. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.


If you can’t fit that or it costs too much, maybe just get a squat stand ($140 shipped) and some mats to ditch the weight onto. You might have to practice dropping the weight off your back, but Oly lifters seem to do okay without a power rack.

You’ll also need a barbell


…and some weights. Maybe even bumper plates? You can buy them individually as well. Check Craigslist and similar sites to see if you can find some used weight plates in your area!

This is probably your overall best option. Let’s say you end up buying a power rack for $370, a nice bench for $165 (you might be able to find one cheaper used), a barbell for $100 and weights for $500 (more or less depending on current strength levels). That’s a pretty good start to a home gym for about $1100. A gym membership might cost $30/month or more plus whatever it costs to get you back and forth… let’s say another $30/month.

So $60/month invested total. 1100 divided by 60 is 18.33, which will be the number of months it takes for the home gym to have paid off. So if you plan on training for more than two more years, it’s a good investment. Especially if you don’t have a squat rack at the gym and now you do have one at home!

Option 2: Build Your Own Squat Rack

If you’re very handy, maybe you can weld one together out of metal. The cheaper, easier option would be to build one out of wood. Click here or on the wooden squat rack picture below for instructions on how to build one!


It says it’s about $100 to build this one, so you’d be saving about $270 as opposed to buying a regular power rack. You can also customize this to fit wherever you need it to, because you’re building it yourself anyhow. Obviously you’ll still need to buy the rest of the equipment… or build it yourself. Good luck building a barbell!

Option 3: Switch Gyms

This one is probably the easiest. Find a gym with a squat rack and go lift there instead of your current health club.


Alternatives to Heavy Squats

If you can’t make the above options work for whatever reason(s), then here are some nice options to still train the squat movement pattern without heavy weights.

Clean to Front Squat

For this to work, you need to learn how to do a barbell clean. Watch the three part series from Glenn Pendlay at California Strength below.

After you can clean the weight up, just do some front squats with it.

This will allow you to use the most weight possible in absence of a squat rack.

Front Loaded Bulgarian Split Squat

These will allow you to overload one leg more. To make it work without a squat rack, you’ll have to clean the weight obviously, just like with the regular front squat.

Goblet Squat

Another nice squat movement that forces a vertical torso like the front squat. You can use a kettlebell like in the video or a dumbbell. It doesn’t matter too much.

Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat

Pistol Squats

These are squats done on one leg, so you can use less weight to heavily tax one leg at a time. Good eading material on the topic of pistol squats: Breaking Down the Single Leg Squat by Ben Bruno


You can assist these movements with heavy isolation work like the leg press, but try to still train the squat movement pattern with what you have available to you. Good luck with your training!