Ask Men’s Fitness: What’s a Good Starter Setup If I Want to Use Weights?

Home gym

What’s a good home-gym starter setup if I want to start dabbling in weights? —Tom D., Dallas, TX

According to Pat Davidson, Ph.D., director of training methodology at the Peak Performance gym in New York City, you’ll need: one barbell, a set of dumbbells, a bench, a pullup bar, and a squat rack. 

“Compound movements like the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, row, and pullup are the staples for developing strength and muscle mass,” says Davidson. 

You may feel tempted to invest in the kind of fancy (and pricey) equipment you’d find at a high-end gym, but resist that impulse—and not just because it’s cheaper.

“Free weights are more versatile,” says Davidson. “They train the stabilizer muscles along with the prime mover muscles to a greater degree than machines that move along a fixed axis.” 

Meaning, you’ll go further with basic tools and exercises.

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