A Great Little Gym

World and Olympic champion John Davis trained in a small gym he put together in the basement of a church in Brooklyn. That must have been one of the best gyms ever.

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

One of the best gyms I ever trained in was
my parents’ garage back when I was 18
or 19. I lived at home while I was going
to college.

You’d have laughed if you’d seen it. It was
a unique collection of things cobbled
together from a variety of sources.

I had an exercise bench we bought from a
local equipment company that some guy
ran out of his garage. I saved my pennies
forever to buy it.

The thing was a combination flat bench and
adjustable incline bench, and the first time
I tried an incline press on it (with 150 or
so pounds), it collapsed. After that, all I
could use it for was a flat bench.

My squat stands were wooden things made
out of 4 x 4’s, using a design from a course
written by Bruno Sammartino, the wrestling
champion. I’m not much of a carpenter, and
they probably would have earned me a C–
minus in Shop class, but they did the job.

My dad had an old exercise style barbell
with a one-inch bar and 110 pounds of
exercise plates. He bought it in 1965.
It was still in good shape 12 years later
when I used it as part of my garage gym.

I had two “big” plates. These were black
iron 25’s, which dad bought for his barbell.
They let me load the bar up to 160 pounds.

That wasn’t enough weight for squats,
benches or deadlifts, so I had to think
of something else.

Barbell plates were expensive, and I was
a poor college kid, working a variety
of part-time jobs to try to pay for school.

First I got another bar. This was a seven-foot
length of one-inch iron rod that lay rusting
in the corner at one of the local YMCA’s. The
athletic director let me have it for nothing.

An issue of Iron Man came out, and Peary
Rader ran an article on how to make barbell
plates out of concrete. This was amazing,
because Peary sold his own barbells and
barbell plates, so the article was strictly
against his own business interests. He
admitted this, but said it was okay
because he was doing it as a sort of
public service for lifters.

Which goes to show you the kind of man
he was.

Anyhow, I decided to make some concrete

I followed the instructions carefully.

You made a mold out of sheet metal
formed in a circle.

That was easy enough, although it took a
lot of work to get the thing to form a
perfect circle.

You mixed the concrete.

That was easy.

You poured the concrete into the mold,
added some small pieces of chain and
wire to help hold it all together, and
then you put in a piece of plastic pipe
to form the center hole.

That was all pretty easy, except for
getting the center hole exactly right.
I cast four plates and only got it right
on three of them. The other one was
a little bit slanted.

After casting the plates, I waited a few
days so they would have time to "cure."
If memory serves correctly, you had to
sprinkle water on them every day or two,
which seems like a strange way to help
the drying out process – but I think
that’s what you were supposed to do.

Mind you, this was more than 40 years
ago, so I may be getting some of the
details wrong.

When they were finished, the plates
were enormous.

They were huge slabs of rock, several
inches thick, weighing in at a whopping
75 pounds.

They were so big and cumbersome
that you got a good workout just
loading the bar.

But they worked fine. I used my old
iron bar from the YMCA and the concrete
plates for all of my squats, benches and
deadlifts, and although it may have
looked funny, it built plenty of muscle.

My first 300 pound squat was with that
homemade barbell – and later, my first
300 pound bench press.

That’s the way strength training used
to be – a lifter, a barbell, and not much
else. But that was all it took.

That’s all it ever takes.

As always, thanks for reading, and
have a great day. If you train today,
make it a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Those old concrete barbell plates
weren’t pretty, but they WORKED!

So do the training programs, the
advice and the ideas in these
books and courses:

Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of
and Development


Gray Hair and Black Iron


Strength, Muscle and Power


P.S. 2. My other books and courses --
including my Kindle e-books - are right


P.S. 3. Thought for the Day:

"The less you have, the more you can do."

-- Brooks Kubik


We have more than 25 Dinosaur Training books and courses in the Kindle bookstore - here are several of them - head on over and take a look at the others:

Grab Them While You Can!

We're down to the last box of Strength, Muscle and Power - and I'm not going to do another printing any time soon - so if you want a copy, grab it now. 

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

We're down to the last box of Strength,
Muscle and Power,
and I'm not going to
do another printing for awhile - perhaps
not ever - so if you want a copy, grab it


It's a great book that gives you tons of
hard-hitting workouts - including the
exact program I used when I won five
National championships in the bench

It also covers:

power rack training

home gym training

heavy, awkward objects

thick bars

grip training

rest-pause training

specialization programs

building tendon and ligament

abbreviated training

ultra-abbreviated training

and lots more!

Go here to grab the little monster -
and if you want me to autograph it
for you, be sure to ask when you
place your order.

Here's the link again:


Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

The Barbell Room

The basement of our duplex doubles as a laundry room and a barbell room. I love home gym training, and I'm never going to give it up.

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Bob Hoffman used to say that every
family should have a home gym.

I prefer to call it a barbell room, but
it's the same idea.

A room that serves as a home gym.

Hoffman didn't think you needed very
much in the way of equipment.

He suggested:

A 110-pound adjustable York barbell.

Extra weight (25 and 50 pound plates).

A total of 300 or 400 pounds.

A set of adjustable dumbbells.

A chest-expander set.

If possible, a set of squat stands.

If possible, a chinning bar.

The York barbell sets came in a big
wooden box, which you could use for
bench presses by doing a bent-arm
pullover to get the bar into position.

Or you could do floor presses - or

When the weather permits, I train outside in back of our garage. So that gives me a second barbell room.
That was pretty much everything
you needed. Of course, you could
add other things, such as:

Indian clubs.

A speed bag.

Wall pulleys.

A smaller barbell for the kids to use.

Iron boots.

An iron horse-shoe exercise (look it

A wrist-roller.


A head-strap.

A good jump rope.

A sit-up board.

Hoffman believed that this set-up
was pretty much all you needed.

And if you were getting started and
couldn't afford to buy everything all
at once, an adjustable barbell and a
pair of adjustable dumbbells would
work fine.

It didn't cost very much, either.

The York Big 10 set built tons and tons of strength and muscle - and many years of superb health - for trainees around the world.

Back in 1941 you could buy a 210
pound York Big 10 set for just 22
bucks - or a 310 pound set for 29

That gave you a barbell, dumbbells,
wrist roller, head-strap and iron
boots - with equipment that would
for many years. Heck, the barbell
and dumbbells would last literally

In other words, for just 20 or 30
bucks you could buy a lifetime of
strength and health for the entire

That's a seriously good investment -
and a seriously good deal.

Trudi and I have a barbell room -
we always have and we always will.

I hope you have one, too.

It's a great thing to have.

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. I have 50 great workouts for
home gym training in Chalk and


P.S. 2.  My other books and courses
are right here at Dino Headquarters:

Hard-copy and PDF




P.S. 3. Thought for the Day:

"Wherever you are, and wherever you
live, make yourself a barbell room.

-- Brooks Kubik


We have more than 25 Dinosaur Training books and courses in the Kindle bookstore - here are several of them - head on over and take a look at the others:

Seven Tips for Strong and Healthy Shoulders

Old-timers like Bernie Baron (pictured above - in a photo from the early 1940's) built amazingly strong and healthy shoulders - and were able to avoid many of the shoulder problems that plague so many modern trainees.

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

I've been getting a lot of questions about
shoulder issues -- dings, dents, exercises
that help, exercises that hurt, and possible

It seems that many trainees - especially older
trainees - have shoulder problems that hold
them back - and that's a shame.

So I thought I'd cover some of the key points
in today's email. Hope it helps!

1. Use light Indian clubs every day.

Light Indian clubs -- not heavy ones! Five or
ten minutes of light club work is great for
shoulder health -- especially if you work at
a computer or keyboard all day long.

I got this tip directly from Tommy Kono, so
I think of it as "gold medal" training advice.

I use my Indian clubs every day, and it
really helps.

Get your clubs from John Wood:


2. Focus on overhead pressing.

Focus on overhead pressing rather than bench
pressing. Bench pressing is much harder on the
shoulders. Old-time lifters had fewer shoulder
problems than modern lifters, in part because
they did lots of overhead work and very little
bench pressing or similar movements.

If overhead presses hurt, then try push
presses or use dumbbells - or kettlebells.

I've been using dumbbells a lot lately - and
I have to tell you, they are GREAT for older

John Grimek did heavy dumbbell pressing right into his 70's. Like many of us, he found that dumbbells are best as you grow older.

3. Avoid the "stretch."

If you do dumbbell bench presses, dips or
other movements where you can go really
low and "stretch" the chest and shoulders,
be very careful -- and DON'T over-do the
stretch. That's where many shoulder injuries

4. Skip those McDonald Bar bench

Bench press superstar Mike McDonald used a
special bench press bar in training. It allowed
a greater range of movement, i.e, a deep
stretch at the bottom. Don't do these --
they can hurt you. See point no. 3 above.

5. Stop doing the press behind neck.

This is a tough one for many of us, because
we grew up reading about Reg Park ramming
300 pounds overhead in the press behind

But the press behind neck leads to shoulder
problems for many of us. Military presses,
push presses and dumbbell presses are
much easier on the shoulders.

And again, let me repeat - for older Dinos
with shoulder problems, dumbbells are
usually way better and more forgiving
than barbells for your overhead work.

6. No machines!

Pullover machines and pec decs are certified
shoulder destroyers. This is especially true if
you "go for the stretch" when you do them.

7. Train your arms.

Your arms and shoulders work together - as
a unit - and your arms actually help keep your
shoulders healthy and strong.

That includes both your triceps and your

So don't be afraid to include some arm
work. You don't have to do two hours of
curls and triceps pumpers - but do enough
arm training to help boost your shoulder

A couple of sets of curls and some close
grip bench presses 2x a week can work

So there you have it -- seven tips for shoulder
health. I hope they help -- and I hope you keep
your shoulders healthy and strong for a very,
very long time.

As always, thanks for reading and have a great
day. If you train today, make it a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Gray Hair and Black Iron covers training
for older Dinos -- and if you're age 40 or older,
you need this book. It will help you enormously:


P.S. 2. Dinosaur Dumbbell Training has some
terrific shoulder builders - and remember, many
trainees find dumbbells much easier and more
forgiving than barbells:


P.S. 3.  My other books and courses are
right here at Dino Headquarters:

Hard-copy and PDF




P.S. 4. Thought for the Day:

"You only have two shoulders, and you
both of them - so take care of them."

-- Brooks Kubik


We have more than 25 Dinosaur Training books and courses in the Kindle bookstore - here are several of them - head on over and take a look at the others:

An American Hero

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

It's Memorial Day here in the USA.

The day on which we we honor those
who died in the service of our country.

In their honor, and in the spirit of the
day, I want to share a story with you.
It's a true story from World War Two --
and it tells the story of an American
hero. There were many like him.

Take a moment, and honor their


See you tomorrow.

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

A Real Life Spiderman

Strength, power and functional fitness  can come in handy when you least expect it. Read today's Blog post for the true story - with a video link - of a real world Spiderman - who happened to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

I don't usually share videos from the
web, but this one is an exception.

It shows a real life Spiderman climbing
four stories up the side of a building in
Paris to rescue a little boy who fell off
the balcony of his apartment and was
hanging on for dear life.

If you ever wondered why it's important
to train hard and be ready for anything
life might throw at you, this is why.


Let me know what you think!

Yours in strength,
Brooks Kubik

P.S. And yes, this is an excellent reason
to do your pull-ups - and to include some
Dinosaur Bodyweight Training in your

Dinosaur Bodyweight Training

A complete course in old-school body-
weight training - with plenty of killer
exercises - and more than 50 workouts.


P.S. Thought for the Day

"Always be ready - for anything."

- Brooks Kubik