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Build a Low Cost Unconventional Gym for your Home Workouts

How to Build a Low Cost Unconventional Home Gym

Written by
January 26, 2015
Updated April 11, 2018
Category: Fitness

When I opened my garage gym one of the first strength tools that I acquired was the Atlas Stone. The Atlas Stone is almost exclusively utilized in hardcore strength gym’s and that is a list I want in on. Along with the Atlas Stone, the next priority was making concrete dumbbells.

Atlas Stones for Your Home Gym

Atlas Stones for Your Home Workouts

Every piece of custom concrete creates a unique training tool which is also a pleasure to look at. When I made my first Atlas Stone from concrete I was looking forward to training with it as soon as I broke it out of the mold. After making my first stone I decided to make a custom set, which entailed using one mold and changing the weight for every stone. I began with using a 16 inch Slaters Stone Mold, which you can order on their website. Next, I used several different foam balls to act as buffers in the stone molds.

Onnit Kettlebell Starter SetThese “buffers” will decrease the weight per stone. To make the stones heavier I inserted lead inserts. I made seven different Atlas Stones ranging from 135 lbs to 235 lbs, all with the same size 16 mold.

You have two primary choices for Atlas Stone molds (both are good): Hybrid Athletics and Slaters Hardware. If you want a more comprehensive guide to making you own Atlas Stones read my 6 Essential Tips For Making Atlas Stones.

Atlas Stones were the first concrete training tool at my gym and is still one of my favorite training tools today. Nothing is better than picking up an awkward ball of concrete off the ground, battling to place it on a platform. Atlas Stone training is a true test of mental and physical strength; why do you think it is the last event of The Worlds Strongest Man.

Today, Atlas Stones are not just for strongman training. Atlas Stones are beneficial for anyone interested in functional fitness and are available to everyone from varying fitness levels. I have many different size stones from 8 to 18 inch for use by all my clients. An 8 in. stone mold can weigh as little at 45 pounds and with the 18 inch mold it can go up to over 500 pounds. Stone training is a compound movement with a large focus on the lower back.

You can use the stones for several different exercises from traditional strongman lifts to shoulder pressing, front squats, plyo push ups, and different carry exercises just to name a few. With a little creativity you can complete a full workout solely with the use of Atlas Stones.

Concrete Dumbbells for Your Home Gym

Dumbbells for Your Home Workouts

How to make Concrete Dumbbells

My next favorite concrete tool is the circus dumbbell.

STEP 1: Start with an old 2.5 inch metal pipe.

STEP 2: Get a couple of old buckets that were of identical size and shape. \

STEP 3: Fill them up with concrete and used lead inserts for added weight.

STEP 4: Place the 2.5 inch pipe cut to size and place it in the center of one of the buckets.

STEP 5: After the concrete dries, I flip the bucket upside down and place the other end of the pipe into the opposite bucket. Use wood to brace both sides and to keep it from tipping over.

STEP 6: After a few days of drying,  remove the bucket molds and allow the concrete to finish drying.

A few of days after that, the dumbbell was ready for training.  Like the Atlas Stones, I added inserts to the dumbbells.  This is a cheap and easy way to make your own dumbbells. Using a fat handle makes it a challenge to lift but you can use a different size pipe to make it a little easier either way.

I discovered these tools reading a book showing countries that only use training tools that are custom-made. After seeing these custom-made dumbbells and Atlas Stones, I decided to make my own.I have been pleasantly surprised with these training tools and will say they are a versatile training tool. The inquisitive looks you receive from people walking by while lifting a concrete dumbbell or Atlas Stone is worth the time it takes to make them.

Trent Bender is the owner of the Underground Strength Gym, The Pit in Venice Beach, California. At The Psychology of Strength, our main emphasis is on the mental aspect of training. We believe that perseverance is a skill that can be learned. Our main focus is developing the ability to overcome adversity. This is true strength. We care less about how much our clients can bench press and more about how people can use the skills we teach to handle obstacles in their lives. Mental toughness is our primary goal. Find out more at
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