If you are shopping with us, or second hand or otherwise online, we're still happy to help.
1. Get a bar - make sure it uses standard sizing, if you can afford it, go for something with decent bushings and knurling
- Center knurling & Powerlifting knurl marks at 80cm apart
- 2.2m total bar length
- 29mm bar diameter
- 20kg weight
- 50mm sleeves
For the cost of a bar, its (in our opinion) not the best idea to buy a bar second hand if you can't tear it down and service. If you are buying second hand, get a rack and spin it to see if its bent (cheap bars bend a lot). Even get a long metal ruler and check if its straight. A bar that spins unevenly will do your head in.
This is very much a personal preference, but the basics are
The necessary: 20, 10, 5, 2.5, 1.25
People tend to get lots of 20s, no change plates, and struggle to complete programs. If you are a beginner - something like bench is FAR easier to progress if you have plates all the way back to .5kg.
The next step: 25, 15, 1, .05
Many people from commercial gyms love 20s over 25s, but if you are going to compete or just like efficiency, 25s are more applicable. If you have 15s and 25s, its very easy to get the bar to any needed weight.
If you are shopping second hand, bring scales. For obvious reasons, very low accuracy is a recipe to mess up your training. Having 20s that are 2kg off is very common. A cheap pair of callipers will also show if the sleeves are accurate (or they will slop around when you train). Look out for sleeves that have been glued back in, this is really common on cheaper weights.
A decent set of collars will stop you going insane training at home. If you don't have 'nice' collars - just throw rag/tape on the inside of bad ones until you can afford to upgrade.
This is mostly decided by how much room you have, and if you are benching at home. Best case, if you have the room and don't need to move it, buy a cage so you can use safeties to bench and squat.
If you use an open cage, still get one with safeties, and try to find a solution that allows you to dump weights safely.
Squat stands are cheaper, but quite scary if you aren't in an olympic training hall where you can just dump weights.
3mm steel should be your preference if you can afford it, light racks are cheaper but they will move when you set up your squat. If you go for a 2mm or smaller rack, plan to dyno bolt into the ground.
For the majority of people, we think a good flat bench is best, using a few plates for incline and decline. Its just less space, lighter, less parts, cheaper.
If bodybuilding is a goal, you may want a incline bench, and if you are small, you'll want a 'no gap' variety, so your butt doesn't fall in the hole. Most people that powerlift don't enjoy benching on a incline bench made flat (its wide at the wrong points)
Anything second hand usual sucks to bench on, you are relying on the grip of the bench to stay tight, and old second hand benches usual have sag in the covers.
5. Other considerations
You should set out a budget, and go backwards, or things can escalate. You will likely need
1. Floor matts
2. Deadlift jack
3. Weight Storage
Sometimes things like matts are the last to be thought of, then you have to move your rack around to get it all to work.