Starting off saying “we’ve all been there” when talking about a limited budget or crappy facilities isn’t always the case with all strength professionals, but I have been there.

During those times, you have to get creative with your purchases and requests for purchase. I going to go over what I think are must-haves for a weight room on a limited budget.

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Half Racks

If I’m trying to save on money and space, I will always go with a half rack. There is less steel, so they are cheaper. They will usually always come with a pull-up bar so you have that as well in your arsenal. You can perform a ton of movements out of a half rack just a like a full, but again, when you save on the footprint, you have more room to maneuver.


0-90 Bench for Rack

This will serve two purposes:

  1. You will be able to perform the bench press without having a separate station that is bench press-only; and
  2. You can use these same benches to perform dumbbell work. They can also be used for split squats, a variety of scapular exercises as well as chest-supported rows, and core work in or out of the rack.

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Olympic Bars with no knurling in the middle

It’s nice when you have a bar that can be used for your power movements such as the squat and bench press and a different bar for your Olympic movements such as the clean, jerk, and snatch. But more bars cost more money and take up more room. Athletes can squat using an Olympic bar with no knurling in the middle without any problems. Of course, if you want to utilize a low bar approach to squat, this would NOT be ideal, but I don’t, so there you go. Get a bar you can use for both or all movements. You can always upgrade later.

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Dumbbell Power Block

Now, I can say I’ve never purchased these. Everywhere I’ve been and every time I have built a facility, I have ordered full sets of dumbbells. They take up more space, but that is what I want. If you are limited on space and money, a Power Block will do just fine. At the end of the day, it’s all weight, so what does it matter? I would get a Power Block for each rack so that when you have your groups, everyone will have what they need at that one station.

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Rubber Bumper Plates

If money is an issue, you do not want to buy steel- or urethane-coated plates or bumper plates for your Olympic movements. That is a ton of money. Buy your bumper plates and use them for everything: squats, bench, deads, cleans, etc. Weight is weight, but it’s enough to accommodate your heavy work but no need to have different plates for different movements.

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I personally use a lot of bands for accessory, activation, and scapula work. Having a big collection of bands will expand your exercise menu exponentially. Just like everything, there are pros and cons, but they are mobile, versatile, and can stand the test of time. Now, I replace a ton of bands every year, and it can get costly if you do it yearly, but for me, it’s worth it.

The short of it for me is a half rack with a bench, bumper plates, a solid Olympic bar, a Dumbbell Power Block, and bands.

With those simple things, I can accomplish a ton of things and feel really that if that is all you had, you should have no problem training athletes, clients, and yourself adequately. On a tight budget, these are the necessities.

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