What equipment do I need to do Olympic weightlifting at home?

Here’s a list of what I consider to be ‘the essential’ things to have. I’ve noted a few ‘luxuries’ at the end!

Essential Olympic weightlifting equipment for home

Bumper plates

You can’t just use any plates for Olympic weightlifting. Bumper plates are important because:

  • They were made to be dropped, i.e. they can withstand the ‘abuse’ of regular drops from overhead height! Using other types of plate will cause damage to not only the plates, but also your barbell and the floor
  • Most Bumper plates are the right diameter i.e. the 5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg are all the same diameter as the 25kg plates. The diameter of the 25kg plate is the standard Olympic plate size and this diameter enables you to set up the bar at the right height. Other types of plate tend to all be different sizes (for example, even a 20kg plate will be smaller in diameter than a 25kg one). If you are just starting out you most likely won’t be starting with the 25kg plates, so Bumper plates let you set up at the right height whilst being able to use lighter plates

Barbell

You can’t just use any barbell for Olympic weightlifting. A special Olympic lifting style barbell is what you need to have. This type of bar is important because:

  • They have whip (the ability to store elastic energy). Good lifters use this whip to their advantage when they are lifting
  • They have smooth rotating sleeves. This allows the lifter to get under the bar quickly without having to release their grip and reduces wrist and elbow discomfort
  • The build of Olympic bars is such that they are able to withstand repeated drops from overhead positions
  • A women’s Olympic bar is different from a men’s bar – it weighs 15kg, has a diameter of 25mm and has no centre knurling

Flooring

This is very important to think about. I speak from personal experience. First, you have to decide what sort of ‘platform’ you want. You don’t need to have an actual platform. Indeed, I don’t have a platform, but instead, I have a rubber floor.

This means that the whole space where I do my lifting is covered in rubber matting. Underneath the matting, I have horse/equestrian matting. Using horse matting is a good tip!!

Think about it – horse matting is designed to take a 500kg horse stamping around on it all day, every day and in addition to this the mats are power washed and scrubbed heavily daily! They are therefore more than durable enough to make a good base!

I have the horse matting as my first layer, and then I have rubber gym matting on top. I have these 2 layers mostly to protect the ground underneath and because the original ground was not completely flat, but depending on what base you are lifting on, you may not need the extra layer.

The rubber gym matting (layer 2) is important as it:

  • Reduces the noise during lifting
  • Protects the bar and the weight plates

The main reason I went for rubber matting vs a wooden platform was due to lack of space. I only lift in a tiny area and since I also have wooden jerk blocks (which take up a lot of space), I needed to have rubber matting. You are not supposed to use jerk blocks on top of wooden platforms as it can damage the platform but, since the space I use is so small, I have no choice but to use the blocks on top of the rubber matting. My blocks are stored against one of the walls, so I just pull them out and rotate them when I need to use them.

Squat rack

Squatting is a vital component of Olympic weightlifting. You need to be squatting heavy and regularly!

Weightlifting shoes

I’m not sure if these count as ‘equipment’ but you should not be Olympic weightlifting without them, so they are essentials!!

Liquid chalk

Essential in helping you grip the bar without being too messy. Link to liquid chalk

Luxury Olympic weightlifting equipment for home

If you have the space and the money, here are a few other useful things to have:

  • Jerk blocks: useful for training jerks without having to do cleans. You can also use them for pulls and hang work. They are expensive (although you can build them yourself), and take up a lot of space however. Link to Wooden Jerk Blocks
  • Dumbbells: Good for assistance work and for correcting muscle imbalances. Also good for single leg training. They don’t take up much space so are good for having at home. They are also arguably safer to use than a bar if you don’t have a spotter
  • Glute ham raise: I have a compact version of this, so it doesn’t take up as much space as the standard version (which is huge!!). The glute ham raise has always been documented as a very good tool for Olympic weightlifters. Link to Compact Glute Ham Raise
  • Another bar: I have two barbells. I have one that I use for squatting and I have my Olympic women’s bar that I use for Olympic work. I keep the other bar in the squat rack which makes squatting more convenient. The bar I use for squatting has centre knurling, which stops it from falling down your neck/back when you are lifting. But if you are fine to use the Olympic bar for squatting, then that is obviously ideal! This is just a preference of mine and I know it’s not recommended. I understand the concept that “for all exercises, you should always use the bar you use for Olympic lifting”
  • Bench: A bench is a must if you want to do bench pressing or seated presses, etc. It can also be used for single leg exercises, such as Bulgarian Split Squats and step ups
  • Power rack: If you have the space, I would advise to go for a power rack rather than a squat rack, as the power rack is far more flexible and usually has the functionality for pull ups/chins up as well

I generally buy all my equipment on Amazon or at Strength Shop.

Good luck building your home gym!!

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