Content of the material
- Why are weight plates 45 pounds and not 50?
- Other Shapes: Curl Bars, Tricep Bars, etc
- Supporting your fitness journey
- Booking a gym class
- Booking a personal trainer
- How to start a gym workout for beginners?
- Favorite Barbell Accessories
- A beginners’ gym workout plan for women
- This exercise benefits: glutes
- This exercise benefits: abs
- This exercise benefits: glutes, quads, hamstrings
- This exercise benefits: abs, shoulders
- This exercise benefits: core, hamstrings
- This exercise benefits: shoulders, triceps
- This exercise benefits: hip flexors, quads, lats, calves, glutes, hamstrings
- This exercise benefits: core, abs
- 9. Forearm plank
- How much does the average annualgym membershipcost?
- Women’s Olympic bars
- Powerlifting Bars
- Key Features of an Olympic Weightlifting Bar
- Additional Questions
- Should I buy more than one barbell for my garage gym?
- How much does a “good” powerlifting barbell cost?
- Should you have both a power bar and an Olympic weightlifting bar?
Why are weight plates 45 pounds and not 50?
This is a really good and common question, and it makes sense.
Wouldn’t 50 be a much rounder number to use? It’d certainly make “gym-math” a heck of a lot easier.
The answer lies in the metric system.
Weight plates were originally designed around kilograms instead of pounds.
So the “plate” we know today is really a 20kg plate in disguise. That’s roughly 45 pounds.
Other Shapes: Curl Bars, Tricep Bars, etc
Specialty bars like curl bars, tricep bars, hex deadlift bars, and the multi grip bar above, can also weigh anything conceivable and are usually not designed to be any particular weight. They make the bar, figure out what it weighs, and make that model (hopefully) the same every time so it comes out to the same weight.
Supporting your fitness journey
Booking a gym class
Attending the gym regularly is a fantastic step towards achieving your fitness goals. If you really want to reap the results, though, you should sign up for a gym class.
Gym classes are sessions led by a professional trainer who will take you through a fixed set of exercises. They’re done in groups, so it’s the perfect opportunity to build some friendships as well as pushing yourself a little further than you might when training solo.
There are hundreds of different classes to choose, ranging from yoga and aqua aerobics to boxing and even dance classes. Each class varies in intensity and duration. If you’re just starting out, we recommend going for a low-intensity or low-duration class so you don’t push yourself too hard.
Booking a personal trainer
Classes are great for giving you new ideas for workouts, but they can’t always help you move forward with bespoke goals. For this, you might need to work with a personal trainer.
Personal trainers are fitness professionals who work with clients to create custom workouts and provide advice during exercise.
What can a personal trainer help with??
- Reaching an ideal weight
- Developing strength
- Rehabilitation after an injury
- Improve their performance in a particular sport
Personal trainers usually aren’t covered in the standard membership fee. However, many gym members find it’s worth the cost of even just a few sessions when you’re starting out because it sets you out on the right path, meaning your workouts are more effective going forward. Personal trainers will also keep you accountable to your goals, preventing you from slowly drifting away from your routine.
Gym staff will usually set up a brief ‘meet and greet’ with your personal trainer so you can get to know their training style and they can learn what it is you want to achieve. If you’re wondering how you’ll know if your personal trainer is right for you, these 6 questions can help you decide.
How to start a gym workout for beginners?
WH’s best practice for beginners at the gym is:
- Keep workouts simple
- Stay consistent
- Start lighter than you think
- Follow an expert plan not a bunch of random Instagram posts
There’s always scope to add on weight if the weight isn’t enough, but starting too heavy runs the risk of injury, especially in the early days as your body adjusts to a new routine.
Favorite Barbell Accessories
Your barbell workouts will be made better by these accessories:
- Barbell collars: Keep the plates securely in place with these barbell collars (Amazon link)
- Micro plates: This set of micro plates (Amazon link) allows you to add small amounts of weight to the bar so you can keep making progress.
- Squat pad: Need a little padding between your back and the barbell? This Profitness squat pad (Amazon) is both high quality and affordable.
- Deadlift pads: Dramatically reduce the noise and impact on the floor when deadlifting with these Yes4All pads (Amazon).
Find my favorite barbell and weight plates by clicking here.
A beginners’ gym workout plan for women
Try these nine moves as a gym workout once a week.
- Do: three circuits, starting with exercise one and ending on exercise nine.
- Rest: two minutes in between each round (from one-nine).
- Focus: on the area you’re working to really feel the burn and maximise effects.
This exercise benefits: glutes
- Sit on the floor with a bench behind you and a weighted barbell over your legs (the amount of weight you go for should be informed by your goal and capability).
- Roll the bar so that it’s directly over your hips and lean back so that your shoulder blades rest on the bench.
- Drive through the heels of your feet, pushing up your hips (shoulders and feet supporting you).
- Squeezing your glutes, extend as high as possible. Hold for 5 secs then slowly lower. Do 20 reps.
Side note: if there’s no barbell available you can use one heavy dumbbell instead, positioned horizontally across your hips.
This exercise benefits: abs
- Lie on your back with your arms skywards and legs raised and bent at 90 degrees.
- Slowly lower your right arm behind you, as you extend your left leg out in front.
- Exhale, then gently return to the starting position and repeat, this time extending the right leg and lowering your left arm behind you. Reduce the weight if your back arches off the floor. Do 10 reps per leg.
To take it up a notch, hold a 6kg dumbbell.
This exercise benefits: glutes, quads, hamstrings
- Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Step forwards into a lunge on your left leg. Hold for a beat.
- Push off your left leg to return to the starting position and repeat. Do 10 reps per leg.
This exercise benefits: abs, shoulders
- With a dumbbell in each hand, start in a high plank position, keeping your pelvis as stable as possible and hips lifted.
- Row your right arm back without twisting your shoulders, keeping your elbows tucked in to engage your lats.
- End with your wrist by your hip, then lower the dumbbell back to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side, then do a press-up. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps total.
This exercise benefits: core, hamstrings
- Hold a barbell in your hands, keep your knees slightly bent, your back straight and your core engaged.
- Hinge forwards at the hips, keeping your upper back and arms straight so the barbell lowers directly in front of your legs. Hold for 3 secs then return to the starting position by squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips forward (remember to keep your back straight). Do 10 reps per leg.
This exercise benefits: shoulders, triceps
- Lying on your back, hold two dumbbells in each hand in front of your shoulders. Tuck your pelvis under and keep your core tight.
- Push the dumbbells overhead, holding your wrists strong. Then reverse to the starting position. Do 10 reps.
This exercise benefits: hip flexors, quads, lats, calves, glutes, hamstrings
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell by its bottom in front of your chest, elbows down.
- Push your hips back, keep your back straight and torso forward, and bend your knees to lower into a squat, elbows brushing the insides of your knees. Hold for 3 secs then push yourself back up. That’s one rep. Do 20.
This demonstration is shown using a kettlebell. Both a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell is fine for this exercise.
This exercise benefits: core, abs
- Sit on the floor with your ankles together. Hold a dumbbell at each end with both hands. Twist your arms to one side so that your torso follows but your back stays straight, clasping the dumbbell firmly.
- Twist as far as you can so that the dumbbell is nearly touching the floor. Engage your core and twist back through centre and over to the other side. Do 10 reps.
9. Forearm plank
This exercise benefits: core, abs
- Get into a plank position with your forearms on the floor, elbows stacked under shoulders, toes tucked and hips raised so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet.
- Engage your core (it should feel as though you are tensing) and hold for 30 secs. Remember to keep your hips raised, breathe and try not to arch your back.
How much does the average annualgym membershipcost?
In the US the average annual membership cost is $507 for the first year. The cost drops to $479 for the succeeding years because you no longer pay any initiation or enrolment fees.
During the first year, the high-end tier is 36.36% higher compared to the average cost of low-end gym memberships. In the second year of your membership, the average high-end price is 41.91% more than the average low-end tier.
Women’s Olympic bars
Women’s bars are lighter and slightly thinner than men’s Olympic bars, but they are also noticeably shorter—about 20 centimetres shorter. They weigh 15kg.
Women’s Olympic bars exist for women to use when competing in the snatch and clean and jerk. They have two main advantages over a men’s bar (if you are an average sized woman):
- They are thinner, making them easier to grip, especially with the hook grip that Olympic lifters typically use.
- They are whippier, so that the bar doesn’t require quite as much weight on it to be able to bounce. This matters in Olympic lifting (for example, when you let the bar whip as you’re standing up from a clean) and means basically nothing for other lifts.
Because they’re specialised for Olympic lifting, you’re not too likely to see these bars in most gyms. But they’re out there, and can be a nice substitute for a deadlift bar if you want something extra thin and whippy. Just be aware of the weight difference.
IPF specifications (see page 6 of the PDF) for powerlifting bars mandate that the weight of the bar plus the collars is 25kg. Normally the collars are 2.5kg each, so the bar is 20kg / 44lb.
That said, some expensive and widely used powerlifting bars are 45 lbs.
One way to identify a powerlifting bar is by the aggressive knurling cut into the bar. You won’t be able to slide your hand as comfortably along it, and squeezing it hard may be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to it. The knurling will grab your skin. This not always the case, but it’s generally a good giveaway.
Unlike with weightlifting, powerlifting meets do not make use of women’s bars to fit their smaller hands. Women use the same bars as men.
Key Features of an Olympic Weightlifting Bar
An Olympic weightlifting bar is designed for the basic movements involved in Olympic weightlifting. Those movements are the snatch and the clean and jerk. The features of an Olympic weightlifting bar are designed to aid in those two Olympic weightlifting events.
The features you’ll find on an Olympic weightlifting bar are:
- High “whip.” Whip can help an expert lifter lift more weight by using the bar’s flex to aid in the initial pull and momentum of the lift. Most home gym owners will never notice the whip of their bar. For a full explanation of bar whip, see my article here.
- 28mm shaft diameter. This smaller diameter adds whip to the bar.
- More passive knurling. Because Olympic lifting requires fast, aggressive movements, a less aggressive knurl allows the bar to move in your hand without taking a layer of skin off with it. This reduces the overall grip of the bar and is a trade-off.
- No center knurl. Because the bar will rest on and move across the chest during the clean and jerk, a center knurl tends to cause discomfort and chafing. For this reason, most Olympic weightlifting bars have no center knurl.
- Knurl rings 36″ apart. This is a standardized measurement determined by the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation). If you are competing, you’ll want your bar to match this, so the bars you use in competition will match. If you aren’t competing, the actual distance between the rings doesn’t matter.
- Bearings for sleeve spin. Because of the explosive nature of Olympic weightlifting, it’s desirable to have the bar sleeves spin effortlessly. This is where bearings come in. They allow much freer spin than bushings. They also add significantly to the price of the barbell.
Should I buy more than one barbell for my garage gym?
Start with a quality power bar and go from there. Most people find that this is all they need, even if at first they think they’ll need multiple bars. If you find over time that your power bar simply isn’t doing something you need it to, then it’s time to look at adding to your bar collection.
How much does a “good” powerlifting barbell cost?
If you stick between the $300 and $500 price point, you can get an excellent bar that will last virtually forever. I don’t recommend bars under $200 if you can avoid it and bars between $200 and $300 need close scrutiny before purchase. Some are quite good and many are mediocre at best.
Should you have both a power bar and an Olympic weightlifting bar?
If you are doing both types of lifting, yes. If not (and that is the case for almost everyone who will be reading this article), then no. You are much better off taking the money you’d spend on a second barbell and investing it in a great bench or set of dumbbells.