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A set of weight plates and a barbell are the way to start building your home or garage gym. But which sets are actually good? There are some pretty bad ones out there so we’ve selected the best starter sets that are worth your money.
In the rest of this article, you can find out why these sets are your best options. Which set is best for who and what you should look for when selecting a starter pack like this?
Best Overall Home Gym Bar + Plates Starter Set
XMark Texas Star 185lbs. Set With Barbell
This set is a great deal. It’s made by a well-known brand and comes with a high-quality barbell and weight plates. The plates are rubberized for less noise and more comfort while the barbell has a 700 lbs. load limit, which should be plenty for most mortals.
There is a good distribution of plates in all the sets but the smallest set I would recommend is the 185 lbs. one. It has;
It comes with a good 7’ long Olympic barbell that has good corrosion protection and spinning sleeves. This is a great barbell for all weightlifters. It’s actually one of the bars I recommend for garage gyms when buying bars and plates separately.
This is a high-quality starting set where you can adjust the weights with 5 lbs. increments which is ideal. This is the all-in-one set with the best finish and all the features you want and it doesn’t cost more than comparable sets which is why this is a good choice.
While most beginner sets come with a questionable quality barbell, the one that comes in this set is high quality and can serve you well for a long time. 185 lbs. is the smallest starter set I would recommend. If you want to lift heavier, it’s easier to pick that weight immediately. However, you can easily add 45-pound plates later on.
Best Budget Home Gym Bar + Plates Starter Set
CAP Barbell 300 lbs. set
Need something a little cheaper? Here’s another complete set with weight plates, barbell, and clips. The distribution of weight plates is also good;
The plates are bare cast iron and don’t have grip holes but will do the job. The machining is not the highest quality but the barbell and plates fit together and are heavy which is all they basically have to do. This set is simpler
The barbell is OK. There are some nice features like spinning sleeves, and black oxide coating for corrosion protection. Black oxide isn’t the best or longest-lasting coating so after a while, you might start seeing some rust.
The bar is 30 mm thick. If you like this is up to you. A normal barbell is 28 mm thick so if you have small hands this isn’t a good bar for you.
This is a cheap way to get 300 lbs. of weights in your home gym. It’s significantly cheaper than the XMark set but you get lower quality plates, barbell, and finishing. It will still do the job for most home gym duties.
Best Bumper Plate + Bar Starter Combo
FringeSport Garage Gym Starter Pack
This is a complete starter pack that’s great for people who want to use bumper (rubber) plates. You get everything you need;
FringeSport might not be the best-known fitness brand out there but they’re a reliable brand from Austin, Texas that makes high-quality gym equipment and provides excellent customer service.
Their bumper plates are very durable and will last you a long time. If you need more weight, you only have to add a pair (or two) of 45-pound plates and you’re good to go. The barbell can handle the extra weight without issues.
Best Weight Plate Only Starter Set
XMark Texas Star
The best option for a home gym weight set is the XMark Texas Star sets. They are rubberized grip plates and are very well made. They will last you for a long time. The rubber makes them more comfortable to handle and a bit quieter. The grip holes make them easy to load on the barbell and makes them suitable for other exercises.
It’s a brand and model that’s been around for a while so chances are you can still get extra plates of this model a few years down the line. That keeps your gym looking nice and tidy even when you buy more plates later on.
These plates are sold separately but also in sets from 65-365 lbs. The best option for most people is going to be the 215 or 235 lbs set. So you’ve got the choice and can easily add on extra plates in one order. This is the weight plate set you can’t go wrong with.
You can also choose the 185 lbs. set. if you’re not sure you need more. That’s a good starting set with all the smaller plates you need. If it turns out you need more than 185 lbs. you can easily add 45 lbs. plates when necessary.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Plate + Bar Starter Set
When choosing a plate and bar starter set for your home gym, several key factors should guide your decision.
Choosing a Weight Plate Set: To Include a Barbell or Not?
The decision to choose a weight plate set that includes a barbell may seem straightforward, but there are some things to keep in mind. While you can save a bit of money by combining the purchase, here are some points to consider.
Starting Out or Already Equipped
If you’re just starting to build a home gym and don’t have any equipment, getting a set with a barbell is a logical choice. On the flip side, if you already have a barbell or some plates that meet your need, there’s no need to double up.
Cheap sets come with cheap barbells. For plates, a lower quality isn’t that much of a concern. For a barbell, it’s more important.
The quality of included barbells can vary significantly based on the set. For instance, the recommended XMark set boasts a high-quality barbell, while the CAP set falls short in comparison. Opting for a more budget-friendly set means you might have to buy another bar down the line.
Matching Your Usage
If you’re lifting moderate weights and are careful with them, even budget barbells can be good enough. It’s important to note that lower-quality bars can corrode faster, are easier to bend with heavy loads, and don’t have sleeves that spin freely.
For serious lifters or people who want to have high-quality stuff, a cheap beginner set isn’t for you.
Investing in Longevity
Cheap metal plates can last decades if handled with some care. Cheap barbells do not. So while buying a cheap combo might seem attractive, you’ll likely have to buy another, better, barbell in the not too distant future. Spending some more money now means you get started from a better position.
Separate Purchases: More Options
When you buy the plates and bars separately, you have way more choices of both bars and plates.
If you decide to buy a barbell separately, ensure the hole diameter of the weight plates matches the barbell sleeves. The recommended plate sets all feature a 2” inner diameter hole, meaning you need an “Olympic” barbell.
Other Barbell Necessities
In addition to a barbell and weight plates, there are several other essential items you’ll need to create a well-equipped and functional home or garage gym. These items can enhance your workouts, ensure safety, and provide a comfortable training environment. Here’s a list of additional items to consider: