Two knee surgeries later and I am approaching my one year anniversary from my ski accident where I tore both my ACL and MCL. It is crazy to think that all this time has gone by and to remember the countless hours in physical therapy, the gym, and the doctor’s office. All this hard work, and I was not planning on anything stopping the progress I was seeing. However, this thing called COVID-19 showed up, stopped the ski season early and closed physical therapy clinics. 

So how have I handled this crazy turn of events? I surely didn’t let it stop the gains. Two weeks with no weight training would have been extremely detrimental to my progress, not to mention the damage four weeks could have done. After being sent home from school, all I had was time on my hands and I put it all into developing a makeshift gym. 

With a few Google searches and too much Instagram scrolling, I developed my plan. I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought the cheapest barbell set, sent a bunch of emails to people on Craigslist, and took a trip to the hardware store. The barbell set I got was 300 pounds for $240. It was the most bang for my buck and all the money I am saving from not having physical therapy visits nor paying gym fees easily outweighed the cost. I pulled the car up to the house and moved the 300 pounds worth of iron into my basement. 

The next step was a squat rack. This is where craigslist became quite handy. After multiple emails, I found a squat/bench rack for a grand total of $20. I called the guy and picked it up. Eager to test it out, I placed my barbell on the rack and loaded the bar up. Upon placing a 25 pound plate on one side of the bar, I realized my mistake as the bar began to tilt towards the side with weight on it. This was not a normal squat rack designed for weightlifting equipment; it was instead meant for a much narrower bar and not a whole lot of weight. My engineering mind kicked in and I decided to make a trip to Home Depot. To kill two birds with one stone, I created a plan to make an adjustable weightlifting bench so that I only had to make one trip to the store. A quick trip to the hardware store and $60 dollars later, I had some wood and some bolts. I took my dinky squat rack, sawed it in half, and created a system to piece the two halves back together using some bolts and some wood. I then ventured onto an unknown platform called Pinterest and came across a design for a DIY adjustable weight lifting bench. With a drill, some drill bits, a tree saw, and a hammer, I got to work. To spare you from reading my high school level writing describing these two DIY weightlifting necessities, I will instead provide some photos to show you the work.

To wrap this up, if there’s a will there’s a way. For all you trying to make offseason gains, think of the money you are saving from not traveling and skiing and invest it differently. For $320, I created a squat rack, a bench, and can now squat 300 pounds of iron if my chicken legs so desire. It’s not exactly cheap, but for 7+ weeks of quarantine, it may be the only thing keeping me sane. It has given me comfort in knowing that I will continue to get better even during the hardest of times. 

*PSA: All trips to stores were made before stay at home order was made. Shoutout to The Fitness Lab for helping me out with an at home plan during these times. Check out the Youtube channel “Garage Gym Reviews” for more ideas.