Question for all you fit, weight-lifting or boxing dopers - specifically men...

I am interested in slowly putting together a home gym for my husbands (and my) use. When I say slowly, I would like to give him a few accessories as gifts. The first is our anniversary and I would like to give him a “Heavy Bag” to hang in the basement.

  1. What weight should I be looking for? He is a big guy (6’2", 250 lbs) so I’d like it to be a challenge. Do I have to go with 100lbs, or can we get by with an 80 lbs? Also, if I buy used what should I be looking for?

  2. When I am looking for a “home gym” can i get by with one of those ones that uses bands, elastic cords or bodyweight as resistance? I hesitate to buy the big huge ultra-deluxe weight model in case it sits downstairs gathering dust. I figure we could upgrade by his birthday if he uses it, I know the bands would be okay for me. Again, if I buy used what should I be looking for??

Does this sound okay, like I’m on the right track? Any advice is welcome…


Does he box already? Does he know how to use a heavy bag? That’s a big enough purchase (bulk-wise) that you’d not want to surprise him with it. If he already knows how to fight, somebody his size is going to be tossing the bag around no matter what. You might want to check with a contractor before you go hanging 100 pound weights from the basement ceilings, though.

On the weights, you want to get some system that you can use safely without a spotter, in case either of you want to work out alone some time.

Alternatively, if you want to buy small things a few at a time, you could get dumbbells (handweights) and work out with them for a while to see if it’s something you’re going to keep up with.

I"ve never used a heavy bag, so I can’t give you any advice there. As to whether to get free weights or the type that use bands, cords, etc., I’d opt for the free weights and a good combination bench.

Free weights are less expensive and, IMHO, a more efficient way (in terms of both money and space) at increasing muscle size and strenght. Bowflex machines and the like are not inexpensive and take up a bit of space. Free weights are not as expensive and you can start out with a relatively small set that won’t take up floor space (when done with a workout just put them against the wall - with a Bowflex the thing sits in the middle of the floor). On the downside, you may be more motivated to workout with the big, hulking thing sitting in the middle of the room saying “You really out to get your money’s worth out of me.”

Long story short - get a combination bench, a starter free weight set (weights, barbell, two dumbells) and get some instruction on proper form. Start with a seemingly too-light weight, develop your routine, and as you get stronger and more comfortable gradually increase the weight. If you’re still interested in a year, spring for the machine.

Unless your husband is already a trained boxer, I’d seek to dissuade you from purchasing a heavy bag.

It is really easy to seriously damage yourself with one of those if you don’t know what you are doing.

You want free weights. I would strongly recommend Olympic steel weights over concrete and plastic.

You should be able to buy a high quality starter “spotter bench” and a set of olympic weights for $200-300.

Spotter benches are real nice, and that’s the only kind I’d buy. Basically they stop you from killing yourself if you try to do one rep too many.

I know the heavy bag sounds like a lot of fun, but it’s use is limited, and it requires some serious instruction and preparation.

You can hurt yourself real bad, and what’s even worse is that you can hurt yourself in ways that you won’t immediately realize.

I should clarify. Yes, he does know how to use a heavy bag, he used to be involved in both martial arts and boxing, so the use of it is not really an issue…

As for the free weights - I am sort of worried about injuries/spotting, also, if he decides not to use them, they will just sit. At least if I get a gym, we can both (and my sister) use it.

Again, this I recommend a “spotter” bench. Ask the salesmen about them.

You and your sister can use the free weights, too. They are durable, useful, and maintain a resale value far better than those useless pulley things.

you still may have trouble with the heavybag, as proper use requires two people.

But, if you’re going to get one, the bigger the better.

You might think about getting a Slam Man, sort of bag. He stands on the floor and is filled with sand, and looks like a man. You can beat on him pretty good, and you can do it by yourself, practicing technique, and such.

The heavy bag is only useful for developing power and stamina, and as I said, needs two people.

If space is at a premium, I highly recommend Powerblocks. It’s an instant-change system; to lift more or less weight, you just move a pin. With a set like mine, I can change the weight from 5 to 90 pounds per hand in about 2 seconds in 10-pound increments, and changing in 5 or even 2.5-pound increments takes only a few seconds longer. And they store in just about 2 square feet of floor space. They’re ideal for an apartment-dweller like myself who wants to work out at home.

Heck, I’d recommend the Powerblocks even if space is not an issue; they’re good weights. And it’s better than buying a big ol’ rack full of dumbbells of different weights or changing after every exercise with a wrench or somesuch.

One thing you may want to consider, especially if you’re both going to use the weights - Iron Grip makes plates with handholds cut thru them - much easier to handle, especially the bigger ones. If he leaves the 45s on the bar, you’d have an easier time taking them off.