Adding a barbell to my home gym setup was the best idea I ever had

Go hard or go home. Or better still, go hard when working out at home by using a barbell

Barbell home gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just like everyone else interested in fitness and concerned about losing all the gains they worked hard on before the pandemic hit, I ended up building an elaborate home gym in the small flat I currently live in. And of all the equipment I purchased over the last 12-14 months, I think the one that brought me the most joy is the not-so-humble barbell. Three of them, to be precise.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think getting a barbell ever really crossed my mind until very recently. I remember times when I thought buying expensive premium home gym equipment was a waste of money, especially considering gym memberships in my area cost £15 a month. Why on earth would I buy a Bowflex 1090 adjustable dumbbell for £400? That much money would cover my gym membership for over two years. And I have all the gym equipment I’ll ever need in there.

person standing with a barbell resting on their shoulders


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Things have changed significantly after the pandemic hit, including my stance on home gym equipment. To replace the FOMO I used to feel when looking at all the events and gigs going on around me, I started to feel the same when perusing dumbbell and kettlebell deals online. It certainly didn’t help that my job was (still is) to unearth the best Bowflex deals online so I was probably amongst the first people to see said deals cropping up. Nevertheless, since people gobbled up every piece of useful gym equipment early on, I ended up not buying loads of stuff in the first few months of the lockdown.

Truth to be told, I already had a few home gym equipment, such as a pull up bar, even before the plague happened. But the lack of gym access accelerated the process of gathering all things bars and weights exponentially. First, I bought a couple of 16 kg kettlebells, then got a set of heavy resistance bands. Some more kettlebells (20 kg) arrived, followed by a pair 10-kilo dumbbells. This was around September/October 2020, six months in the lockdown, and things just got worse from here. 

I decided to try the 10,000 swings kettlebell challenge  in December and even roped in a couple of family members to join me. For the challenge, I needed a 24 kg kettlebell: this was my next purchase. For Christmas, I was given a pair of parallettes and some gymnastic rings: the first is still an essential part of my gear as they alleviate wrist pain during push ups. This was the point where I should’ve stopped but things got even more out of control as 2021 reared its ugly head around the corner.

At some point in January 2021, I was casually scrolling Instagram to watch fit people do fit things when I noticed Mirafit put out a stock update post and that was all I needed to go into gym equipment hoarding mode yet again. I set up a bunch of stock alert emails, including one for Mirafit M1 Folding Weight Bench and a beautiful Olympic barbell. After I ordered these (of course), I spoke to a family member who has a garage gym and he said having a shorter barbell would probably be a better option for working out in a small space such as my flat. Needless to say, I completely ignored his advice.

multiple barbells on the floor in a small flat

Running out of space

(Image credit: Future)

Unfortunately, I had to wait another two months for weight plates to come back into stock but when they did, I ordered 100-kilo worth and also a shorter 5-feet barbell I can use with the bench. At this point, even I was concerned about the amount of space all the gym equipment I had took up in the flat, but this still wasn’t the end. I was offered a review sample of the Bowflex 2080 back in December 2020, an adjustable barbell/curl bar combo, which arrived early April and was way bigger than how I imagined it to be.

Despite that fact I now have more gym equipment than a small commercial gym, I don’t regret getting any of it, especially not the barbells. Things would be different if I wouldn’t live in a basement flat and couldn’t do deadlifts, but unless you’re one of those people who slam the barbell down after the set’s finished, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of having a barbell at your home gym arsenal. By the way, don’t be that person who slams the barbell, either at home or in the gym.

Person standing next to a barbell, shouting

That heavy lift feeling

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why should you have a barbell at home? If you want to build muscle, you need to go heavy and you’ll need a barbell for that. Barbells are essential for all the best compound exercises, including deadlift, bench press, weighted squats, overhead press and the list goes on. Adjustable dumbbells, the ones you’ll most likely buy when building a little home gym – apart from maybe the aforementioned Bowflex 1090 – are just not heavy enough to provide enough resistance after the first few months of heavy lifting.

Not to mention, nothing beats that feeling when you manage to move some serious weight during a heavy bench press set or when you lift more than your bodyweight off the floor during deadlifts. Doing these things in the gym is great but as it turned out, it’s almost equally as good to workout with a barbell at home. Will I add more items to my home gym setup? I’m sure I will, I wouldn’t mind having a sturdier weight bench and maybe even a squat rack at some point. But for now, I have my barbells so I can go hard and go home. Or stay home and go heavy. Something along the lines. 

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.