Barbells, plates, dumbbells, benches, etc. have been around for 100 years.

Jack LaLanne, the first fitness influencer, invented the cable-pulley machine in the 1950s. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some crafty Soviet lumberjack beat him to it. (Those dudes lifted all the time, why do you think they’re called lumberJACKS?)

Those things have all remained gym equipment staples ever since. Even the most modern and cutting edge health club or “performance center” will still have basic free weights, provided helping their members achieve results is a priority.

Now, the basics have come a LONG WAY. Today you can buy perfectly balanced barbells, plates with ergonomic grips (or even hexagon shaped, to annoy the deadlifters), and cable-pulley systems so well-designed and versatile they’re called “functional trainers,” I suppose to help justify the heavy price tag.

They’re light-years better versions of the same damn things.

Many other machines, gadgets, and trinkets have appeared too. Some proved their worth and stuck around, and then also gradually evolved and improved over the decades.

But most “advances,” especially the ones that tried to supplant basic free weights, didn’t live up to the hype.

Because the basics work best. Thats why they’re the basics and why they’ve have been around so damn long.

So before you whip out your credit card to order the latest infomercial gadget or fitness fad, have you really given the basics an honest go?

I’m not saying to turn your studio apartment into a Gold’s Gym, as cool as that would be. But adjustable benches and dumbbells don’t take up a lot of room, and with just that equipment you can train the whole body reasonably effectively.

Now add one or two trips a week to the “real gym” to use barbells and machines and you are 100% covered.

This hybrid approach of home and gym workouts has become extremely popular since COVID. I’ve written hundreds of programs like this because they’re really damn popular with my clients. Clients who have something at home—but who maybe don’t have the whole shebang of a massive squat rack or room for 400 lb deadlifts — love the flexibility of them. They also work REALLY well, unlike your growing collection of fitness gadgets you bought on impulse.

As an example of what the basics can do, here’s client Cody, after only 8 weeks of us working together:

You can tell he didn’t exactly hit the weight room for the first time eight weeks ago, but what I provided in terms of programming wasn’t anything beyond the basics. Not even that hybrid approach or anything like that. Just… the basics. (Notice those barbells in the background of the after photo?)

You won’t regret basic weight training. Follow a good program, and you’ll improve.

Buying a Shake-Weight? Different story.