Underground Home Gym


Above, Dr. Ken Leistner working on his garage gym, a place known for EPIC workouts, rain or shine, brutal temps irrelevant.

It was REALLY tempting to find a way to make my Underground Home Gym a bit more cozy.... warmer..... nicer... a sound system to crank heavy tunes on..... But, as the saying goes, give them an inch and they'll run a mile with it.

I said to myself, "NO." Make it tougher to train in, more Uncomfortable than comfortable.... NO excuses.

It's cold in my garage, I bundle up with shorts AND sweats, 3 - 4 sweatshirts and a hood....and do extra warm ups.... maybe I'll get a space heater for when the temps REALLY start to plummet but for now, I do the work as is, period. As I type this blog post our first snow fall of the year has come.

[youtube width="640" height="390"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPJfaUenRug[/youtube]

Someone posted a comment under my you tube video as to why I would train at home, NOT at Underground HQ where I have everything and anything one could possibly want or need, including heat.

A legit question, for sure, yet my answer is simple:

1) I live 45 minutes away from my gym and I am not always there. I don't limit my workouts only to when I am up at my gym or only if I have the best set up. If you've followed me for a while you know that when the weather is warm it's quite rare for me to actually train IN a gym, most workouts take place outdoors via bodyweight only workouts like THIS.

2) When I am at my gym I often get caught up doing the things that allow me to actually RUN the gym, the place that puts food on the table for my family..... Operating the day to day business needs of Underground HQ takes my complete focus away lifting and distracts me when I know I need to return phone calls, e mails, organize new training cycles, etc.

** Workouts are supposed to be a time & place where YOU remove yourself from the rest of the world, NOT a time to allow interruptions & distractions. **

3) There is something VERY special about going back to my roots. I began training at home when I was 13 & 1/2, that was the Summer of 89'. I feel VERY kid like while training in my garage and at the same time, very Warrior like, training in cold, harsh conditions.

Here is a sample of my last workout inside The Underground Home Gym:

1) Low Incline BB Press (flat bench under a tool box) 135: 2 x 6-8, 185: 2 x 6 - 8, 205: 2 x 5, 255: 5 x 2

2A) BB Push Press 135 x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2

2B) Underhand Thick Grip Pull Ups x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2

Later that night I trained a group of wrestlers at The Elite Wrestling Club in Jackson, NJ and I did the finisher with them, 6 minutes non stop of varied bodyweight exercises:

A) Mixed Push Ups x 10

B) Squat Jumps x 10

C) Mixed Push Ups x 10

D) Lunge Jumps x 10

Training in a bare bones minimum, cold garage is NOT for everyone. Some people hate the cold, others have NO desire to feel UNcomfortable.

TRUTH be told, I would MUCH rather be training in the sun and heat any day over the cold and darkness. But one thing I can't deny is the wrestler inside of me, the training that has been instilled me will NOT leave me.

I've seen the mentality AND the physical edge leave MANY wrestlers after they leave the sport behind, including some of the best wrestlers to ever step on the mat, somewhere, somehow, they LOSE that edge. This is NOT a good thing, you must always keep your edge, and, if you feel it slippin', you must take action to rebuild your mind and very likely your body.

Once I get the blood flowing my workout takes on an animal of it's own. I push the pace to keep my body warm, something you should do when training in the cold, and when I'm finished, I feel GREAT.

I feel accomplishment after pushing through a challenge and conquering it. I feel solid BOTH physically AND mentally. As a father, I need to remain strong for my kids, they motivate me to be strong and ready. I refuse to let myself go.... I refuse to let  myself down..... I refuse to let my family down. They will NEVER see me as someone who has gotten weaker, softer and altogether a bag of excuses.

One day, I know, I won't be living in a place that has a change of seasons. The cold weather is something my wife isn't altogether a fan of, and although I love NJ, to make her happy, we will likely split time between a warm weather area during the winter months. Until that time and that day, I'll smash through any obstacle that is "supposed to" keep me down.

I personally LOVE where I am at, year round. It quiets down here a LOT during the winter months and I enjoy the quiet

Cold weather and winter is normally a time of bulking up, training in a warm, cozy gym, etc. But that is what "everyone else" does and I am not a fan of being like everyone else.

You can choose to be like everyone else or you can choose to be YOU, and in the process, you must destroy the obstacles and anything that will dare to stand in your way, regardless of what it is: cold weather, hot weather, waking up early or staying up late...... perhaps it's the people in your life who stand in your way and try to bring you down.

Whatever or whoever it is, let nothing stand in your way when it comes to stepping closer and closer towards your goals. NOTHING.

If you're tired of training in gyms that suck out all your energy, intensity and passion then you need to start the building of your home gym. Put it in your garage, basement, back porch, sun room..... location doesn't matter too much. The critical thing is that you set up your training space in a way that allows you to get your edge and keep it forever.

The other day I stopped into a Retro Fitness to buy a protein shake and I almost threw up in my mouth seeing and hearing the weirdos in that place, listening to the crappy music and the atmosphere damn near started sucking the energy OUT of my body.

Training in these commercialized settings will steal your testosterone and turn you into a weaker man almost instantly. Rage against these norms and if that means you snag nothing but a barbell to train with fear not, you can build yourself into a BEAST using just a barbell (THIS is the bar I have in my garage & at my gym)...... ripping that bar off the ground for deadlifts, cleans, snatches, clean and press, rowing..... You've got bodyweight exercises to do on your own, anywhere you can.....

Stay tuned for a future inspiration contest regarding home gyms, I'll announce shortly.

For now, if you want to see where I picked up all my Underground Home Gym Equipment, click HERE.

Underground 4 Life


PS: This is the Underground Bodybuilding Program I followed when I was FIRST beginning to train in my garage about 10 years ago. It was a brutally minimalist approach and the results were shocking to ALL including myself. Click HERE for More Info

Underground Home Gym Resources:

- Wooden Gmnastics Rings

- Power Rack

- Barbell

- Kettlebells

7 Responses

  1. Basement home gym is where it’s at for me. Bare bones with only a power rack, B&R bar (same bar as yours), & Olympic plates…I don’t even have a mirror.

    No distractions, no interruptions…just pure TRAINING.

    Ironically when I trained in a commercial gym, I was one of the weirdos. I was the only person doing full ROM squats/bench press, the only person who used the squat rack for squatting, and actually progressing over time!

  2. Awesome post, your home gym looks sweet..

  3. I love my garage gym I have my rack my chinning attachment is an old car roof rack. I have an adjustable bench a load of plates heavy kettle and dbells a trap bar Ssb bar and a few other grip bits and pieces. I do dips between 2 bits of pipe. I put a flat bench on 2 milk crates and do hypers and I even made a reverse hyper which works fine. And 2 heavy tires. Places like golds now have no spark no brutal work lads on mobiles wearing little vests. When was it right for men to wear ugg boots in the gym arrrghhhh

  4. Mark Alexander says:

    Cool what you have to say about just a barbell, some plates, and a small space to throw them around… I had just finished a question on a site asking if they only had 1 exercise for the rest of their life, what would it be – I go with picking heavy weight up from the floor, getting it to you chest, and pushing it to the sky! Spending most of my time overseas, I have gotten plenty jacked with the basics and seen plenty of other guys do the same. Keep spreading the word brother! In my profession we have a saying – To be high-speed, you only have to master the basics… Glad to see you leading the charge with the same attitude for being strong and being a man!

  5. Great post Zac, it rings so true with me. I own a 3000+ foot athlete training facility, but I’m the most focused, the most alive, when I train in outside or in my garage, keeping myself grounded.
    There’s a powerful connection when I train with the equipment I’ve owned for years, like my first kettlebells (all chipped & slightly rusty from learning curve mishaps, training in the snow, sleet, rain…).
    The warm & cozy comfort zone is part of the “pussification” you’ve mentioned in previous posts.
    Thanks for keeping it real.

  6. all my live I trained at home, once decided to join to a gym, it worked for me for month and I had enough, I came back to train at home, its the best!

  7. Where can I get hold of your stuff in South Africa? I stopped going to gym because of the generic shit and started working out at home, but need some guidance.

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