Equipment to Train Properly
By Louie Simmons
I competed in powerlifting contests from 1966 to 2011. During that time, I made the top 10 lists for 34 years, beginning in 1971 and continuing through 2005. At 63-years-old at a different meet in 2011, I officially made a 730-pound squat, a 505-pound bench, a 675-pound deadlift, and an 1885 total. It all ended when I passed out due to a severe neck injury.
I began to train full-time in January 1970 in my mother’s basement after being released from my military obligation. My first piece of equipment was a power rack where I would squat, bench, and deadlift inside the rack. The rack also served as a safety spotter when box squatting and bench pressing. I would set the safety pins to catch a lift in case I missed the lift. For flat, incline, decline, or seated lifts, not only did I use the rack for a spotter, but I would do almost all of my pressing on pins with a dead stop.
I trained the deadlift on below-the-knee pins, but even my box pulls were inside the rack because of the small area in which I had to work. A flat bench and boxes were all the equipment I had, except for a hyperextension bench, the bar and weights, and a few dumbbells.
Remember, we are talking about 1970—no power gear. It was a simpler time. Today, you must outfit a gym to cover all needs for all sports.
So, what does Westside have in its facility in 2021?
With 3,600 square feet, the gym has three power racks plus a power rack bench. On maximum effort (M-E) days, for the squat or deadlift, it is plenty for the power crews. It could be rack pulls, isometric pulls or squats, suspended Good Mornings, or regular Good Mornings. Or, on bench press M-E days, it could be rack presses for all forms of pressing, including the floor press, and with the bar across the top, you can do chin-ups. Westside has five benches.
All of your squatting could be in a power rack, from regular squats to box squats and band work of all kinds. Two mono lifts are a must for a 3,600 gym for about four sets of squatters. Bands must be attached to all racks, benches, and mono lifts, as well as other bands for stretching.
And, of course, the following Special bars:
Safety squat Bar
Squat 65 lb. Marrs Bar
Bench 55 lb. 14-inch Cambered Bar
Deadlift 45 lb. Bow Bar
Front squat harness Zercher Harness
Freak Bar Tee Bar
Other equipment needs include:
Dumbbells up to at least 175 pounds
600 pounds of weight for each station
The Bent Pendulum Reverse Hyper®
Pro Model Reverse Hyper® with a roller and strap attachment
Medium balls from four pounds up to 100 pounds
Boards for board presses
Boxes to stand on for pulling
Weight sled for pulling outside
Some strongman gear such as yokes and log bars.
The equipment listed covers most of the gear you need to compete with Westside, but you should add lat and back machines. Two things that are not on the list are a K Box and a Static Dynamic Developer. Westside houses about 20 lifters who live additionally on the ATP Belt Squat Device, Ply-O Swing, Inverse Curl, and the Westside Hip & Quad Developer Pro for posture.
Well, that about covers everything to start a gym, so good luck to all.