For instance, when it comes to your barbell and rack, buy the best quality you can afford.
On the other hand, when it comes to weight plates and storage---go bargain hunting.
One way to save a ton of money is to buy your plates used; check Craigslist or eBay in your area. In less than an hour you can bring just about any plate back to new condition with a little elbow grease and some stuff that's probably already in your kitchen and garage.
I'm a big fan of those iconic, deep-dish Ivanko plates. New, they run anywhere from $2-3 per pound. Pricey. I found a guy selling used ones for $0.50 per pound. I scooped up six of them, and yesterday set about removing the rust and refinishing them.
What you'll need:
- A large plastic container (a small, cheap kiddie pool would work best)
- Stiff wire brush and/or steel wool
- Vinegar. A lot of vinegar
- Rustoleum clear coat
1) Soak the plates in the vinegar for a few minutes. It's acidic and will begin to eat away the rust.
I didn't have a suitable plastic container, so I lined a cardboard box with a contractor bag. It worked fine, but if I ever do this again I'm going to go to K-Mart and get a $10 kiddie pool so I can lay the plates flat, completely submerged. That would have made things much easier.
2) Scrub the rust away with the brush and/or steel wool.
Don't rush to start scrubbing; you'll just tire out your arm. Let the vinegar do its thing. If the plate is heavily rusted, let it soak longer. The plates I restored yesterday weren't too bad, so they were ready for scrubbing after just a few minutes.
3) Rinse the plates with a garden hose.
This is to get all the rusty bits and vinegar off of them. Lay them in the sun to dry.
4) When they're dry, give them a coat of clear Rustoleum to protect them from future rusting.
That's it. Your plates will be ready to give you decades of faithful use after this process. Don't forget to scrub and seal the center hole.