Times are pretty different right now in the world we are living in. Gym closures, quarantines and every type of social distancing you can imagine while necessary, is absolutely affecting people's ability to train at optimal intensity from home!
While you definitely can make progress with minimal equipment and continue to work towards your fitness goals at home, a lot of people miss the feeling of doing their favorite barbell exercises! Not to mention it has become very difficult to order any gym equipment for your home gym because of price gouging and other shortages in the fitness equipment field!
But fear not! I am going to tell you right now step by step how to build your own concrete barbell plates! Best part is, you can do this for very little cost compared!
Just did a quick check on amazon right now and a 45lb plate is running into the $129-145 range. For a single plate! Ridiculous! Not to mention it won't ship til mid july (Let's hope things are more normal by then)
Concrete is very inexpensive and honestly has a long history of being a part of at home fitness forever! (Who remembers those old shells you could buy and fill yourself?)
Bottom line is if you need some more weight for your at home workouts temporary or for long lasting, these will do great to help you bring up your workout intensity at home!
Although i haven't myself made concrete plates in years, i have some of my online training clients and athletes trying to get everything they can in for home workouts!
(Shout out to my client Meaghan Watson for some images of her experience!)
Here is my breakdown how i did it years ago and how you can do it home with about 30 minutes of your day and $12-$15.
STEP 1: GET YOUR SUPPLIES
Concrete- The amount you need will vary depending on how many "plates' and how much weight you want to make. You can typically get the cheapest concrete you can find and that sometimes will come down to as low as 0.10-0.14 cents per pound! Considering the fact the current range for a 45lb plate is about $3 per pound this is CRAZY savings! Like damn probably go get yourself something nice after for saving hundreds of dollars savings.
Plant Pot Saucers or buckets - You know those little saucers that you throw under the pots for your plants at home? Hello weight plates! Now you can also use a bucket or anything with similar shape as long as you can get several inches of depth out of it! Depending on the size of the saucer you use will also depend on the weight and size of the plate. 12", 16", 18" are all great places to start for a good set of plates. These are so inexpensive and cheap its crazy! At the time of writing this they are at home depot for less than $2.
PVC Pipe or other pipe like stuff- You don't need a lot of this at all! You can probably us some laying around if you have any. This just needs to be as big as the weights opening. In other words, make sure that the opening size will be big enough to fit your barbell, pipe or whatever else you are using as the bar for your concrete weights.
Buckets or garbage bags- These are for mixing concrete! Again might be something you already be something you have laying around. If you need to buy it, we are talking a couple bucks if that!
That's it! Here is the best part,
Price break down:
For 90 lbs weights on amazon at time of writing this = $260-$290.
For 90 lbs of concrete at home weights (prices will vary) Approx= $12-15 total. Less if you use stuff you already have around the house!
STEP 2: MIX AND MOLD
1. Pour your concrete in your bucket, garbage bag or other mixing apparatus (Bucket etc)
2. Add water (follow the instructions on the bag you purchased. Usually about 3 quarts per 80 lb of concrete)
3. Mix the concrete -(again follow instructions on bag you purchased. can be done in bucket or garbage bag)
4. Add to your mold (Plant Saucer, Bucket etc) - Make sure you are using a mold that is several inches deep in thickness. It should be 2.5-3 inches deep. Make sure that you distribute the concrete evenly and do not leave spaces. You can also smooth the top using a flat object, putty knife etc so them weights aren't janky.
5. Cut your PVC Pipe and press it into the middle of your concrete plate- Make sure that it goes all the way to the bottom of the mold and that there are several inches still visible on the top side. This means if your mold is 3 inches deep, you want probably 6 or so inches of pipe.
6. Let the concrete set - Now that you have it poured and your pipe is in place, it's time to let it set. You likely will need to cover the mold in plastic or garbage bags etc to keep it from drying out too fast and cracking or breaking. (Follow the instructions on the bag you purchased to make sure you do this correctly.)
7. After the 1st 24 hours (pending you follow instructions on your concrete bag) you should be able to take the concrete plate out of the mold. You can use whatever method you see fit to do this. Depending on the concrete and the mix you did it will be easier or harder. If you do this without breaking the mold, you can save it for more plate creating!
8. Take the pipe out - This should be done at the same time you remove the plates from the mold. A lot of times you can wiggle it out using pliers etc. Again really no right or wrong here. If you don't break the pipe, you can re-use it!
9. Let the final drying process occur- Concrete takes a long time to fully cure so make sure you follow the instructions on your bag of concrete to know exactly how long you need to wait before you use the weight (see what i did there?) typically this takes an additional 2-4 days hours after the initial drying phase.
STEP 3- LIFT
The weights should be ready to rock now! Slide them on your barbell (or whatever you are using) and get to work! Keep in mind these will break and be dusty in general as you are clangin and banging them around. You can try to cover them in stuff if you want to to prevent this but honestly i would say not to waste time with it. Just use them outside or in your garage where it's easy to sweep up in just a few seconds. If you live in an apartment (don't have garage etc) you could also go buy a bunch of duct tape and wrap them up! i would suggest many many layers. Likely the tape will weather, fall off and need to be replaced as time goes.
All and all this whole project is inexpensive, fun and still will allow you to throw on some weights at home even during quarantine!
Of course nobody really knows when gyms will be back, but it can never hurt to have some weights to throw around at home too!
Shoot me any questions etc and share your experience with me for reposts at Ryan@teamfflex.com or on social medias @Teamfflex
Cracking and brittle weights - If you had trouble with cracking or brittle weights its probably because they dried out too fast. Keep them covered and in a damp environment and make sure that you follow the instructions on your specific concrete you got and potentially consider letting them cure for even longer.
Had a hard time getting the plate out of the mold- This could come down to your concrete mixture, how well you mixed it and dozens of other possibilities. If you need to, you can break the mold off the concrete plate. But in most cases you can use a knife, a screwdriver or some other like piece of equipment to work the plate out of the mold with no damage.
Couldn't get the pipe out of the center- If you can't get the pipe out of the center it could be because your concrete dried too fast in that 1st 24 hours. (be cautious of brittle cracking plates) If you used PVC you should pretty easily be able to cut it out and still salvage the plate. Most the times again some diligent wiggling and or working it out with a tool will do the trick.