Plan Your New Weight Room
Coaches and Athletic Directors...Our company will design and layout your new weight room or help you upgrade and renovate your existing weight room. We do this for high schools and colleges.
We help develop the floor plan for the best flow and use of space. Our team provides several solutions for your new weight room or renovation as well, from flooring and weight room flooring with inlay platforms and logos, to all-rubber low-profile platforms, customized Texas Made strength equipment and all of the accessories such as bumper plates and bars.
We also provide services to create branding with your school’s logo or mascots throughout the weight room and into the locker rooms if needed.
All of the details are presented in a final 3D photorealistic rendering to allow you to share with your faculty and staff, as well as boosters and donors, as well as within the community for added support. Our images look amazing and represent your facility and are on-brand.
Planning is the first step in designing your new weight room. All steps are critical to the success of completing the journey of adding a new weight room, rebuilding or renovating an existing weight room. It's a great deal more involved than simply determining how many square feet or meters you will need, what color if any and if you plan to use rolled rubber products or interlocking tiles for your new or renovated weight room flooring.
In the planning step, you will need to determine these key elements.
- New or existing construction
- If existing construction, what will you keep in place? Strength Equipment, Flooring, Cardio, Lifting Platforms
- Space needed to accommodate your athletes
- Programming needs - strength, agility, speed, special needs
- Weight room layout - Strength, Agility, Flexibility & Warm-up
Some of the statements made in our articles are going to sound obvious, but it is better covered here than not, and leave you without a clear picture of the steps required to see successful outcomes in your new weight room or renovation.
Existing facilities in need of an overhaul could require less funding and can be completed much quicker than if you were staring over or simply building a new facility from the ground up. So funding, getting board approval to start new construction, city/county permits for building, additional insurances to cover construction are costly and time-consuming. This said you will finish a renovation much faster than a new build.
Space needed: this is key in getting the most of your new or renovated weight room. There are three factors that can dictate what space you will be working with.
- Space available
- Number of athletes needed to service
- Style of training (all at the rack)
You always start with the space available and work backwards if you do not have the luxury of building what is needed. That is another article where we can cover optional space planning. Your budget or proposed budget will certainly have an influence on what size of weight room you build or renovate. Lastly, a very important figure to consider is the total number of athletes and the schedule you are able to navigate to accommodate that number of athletes. This will impact the layout, configuration, and equipment selection.
Note: in high schools, it is important to consider other areas or specific scheduling for incoming and current freshman athletes.
If you are renovating or reconditioning your current space, you will need to create a list of what you must keep or plan to keep from the existing, to know what you much budget for with the new incoming. Will you keep some or all of your current strength equipment? If you replace your equipment, you should consider replacement programs that certain manufacturers have in place to help schools with their budgets by offering credit for existing equipment exchange or refinishing. If you provide cardio equipment, that is typically a replacement in most renovation or refinishing projects. Cardio does not hold up like strength equipment, so that is usually replaced at this point.
YOUR WEIGHT ROOM PLAN
Your weight room plan is important, we will cover the basics here. From your foundation of flooring to the exciting part of selecting strength equipment, the order shown below is the proper order to use while planning either a new weight room or upgrading your existing weight room.
- Weight Room Flooring
- Strength Equipment
- Weight Room Accessories
- School and Team Branding
Replace or Keep Existing Weight Room Flooring
Another really important reason or cause for discovery is determining if you will replace or keep existing weight room flooring. Many older high school weight rooms have bare concrete and/or livestock stall mats for the weight areas, or they may have a thin 8mm (5/16") recycled rubber or 10mm (25/64") or .39" of virgin rubber flooring that has been down for years. The majority of programs are conducting most if not all of the activity in front of the rack. Olympic-style lifting where athletes drop on the floor surface is very common. Without proper weightlifting platforms, if the athlete is dropping directly on the floor surface, the 8mm and 10mm floors noted above are not adequate. Damage occurs to the equipment, breaking plates and bending bars while destroying the substrate beneath the flooring (concrete).
The challenge is that the reality in performance flooring is that many flooring companies and contractors underestimate the need and prescribe a low-cost rolled rubber or a thin virgin rubber and call it a day. A simple 8mm (5/16") up to a 12mm (1/2") of traditional rolled rubber doesn't give your substrate or equipment the proper protection that it needs. It also doesn't provide much force reduction, resulting in damaged bumper plates and bent bars. When we prescribe flooring for high schools, colleges, and professional weight rooms, we go to a performance-based dynamic flooring solution to protect against drops with heavy weight packages on a regular basis.
How Does This Happen?
You may ask, how does this happen? In most cases, weight room flooring is not usually "top of mind" or a priority in the planning stages since the coach or athletic director is not involved at that point. Flooring is a critical part of the decision process, as most likely it is not the focus among coaches and athletic directors. Obviously, the safety of their athletes is most important to them, however, unless coaches and athletic directors have been educated in flooring solutions or choices available today, they simply don't make it a priority.
Flooring can and should provide several properties that are crucial to the safety and performance of your athletes and the training environment.
- Force Reduction
- Energy Restitution
- Traction or Coefficient of Friction
- Sound Reduction
- Vibration Reduction
Reduces strain on lower extremities, you can think of this as shock absorption. Most facilities have flooring ranging from a value of -0.01 to 11 % force reduction. There are excellent products available to deliver in excess of 35% to 45% force reduction and provide a great sound and vibration absorption as well.
This is energy return, which is like a rebounding effect on the athlete. Typically the higher Energy Restitution, the lower the Force Reduction. It is important to reach a good balance of the two indicators.
Traction or Coefficient of Friction
Traction or Coefficient of Friction is important for three strong reasons. (1) skid resistance is important in athletic and activity areas for obvious reasons, we do not want slip and falls, especially where floor surface may become wet with humidity, sweat and water. (2) Coefficient of Friction is important as with most athletic programs, you have injuries. Athletes negotiating while walking with crutches or other aids, do not want their feet or their aids sticking or tripping on the floor because it is has too much friction. (3) as athletes train, squatting, plyometrics, and other intense activity, you do not want the athlete to lose footing and slip or lose their "base" footing.
Sound & Vibration Reduction: sound and vibration is not a concern typically, as many times it does not impact other areas of the school. The fact is, many coaches and athletic directors do not know there are options available that will reduce both sound and vibration significantly.
Cleanliness is important so that the flooring offers a surface easy to clean and does not promote bacteria.
Aesthetics: let's face it, everyone likes to have a motivating and attractive weight room. Different flooring can provide color and surface feel that will change the entire look and feel of our renovated or new weight room.
Programming needs are extremely important when planning your weight room. Do you intend to use your weight room for strength training only, or are you planning to use it for warm-ups and flexibility? Do you have enough space for a section or strip of synthetic turf to allow your athletes short indoor sprints and activity pushing a sled on turf? Will you plan to use your new space for plyometrics and agility?
What are your plans for strength platforms? Will you use existing traditional weight lifting platforms that are between 2" and 4" tall, with metal frames, wood centers and rubber drop zones, or inset-flush platforms, or something different?
A newer alternative that offers safety and a custom fit would be all rubber custom weightlifting platforms with inserts for your racks? These all-rubber weightlifting platforms are just 19mm thick with molded-in transitions for safety. These are all good points to consider and we will cover this in a later article on Weight Lifting Platforms, providing all of the pros & cons of each.
In conclusion, this article covers the high points of planning a new or renovation of your weight room, but there are several details that are simply too many and are relative to various facilities to cover here.
We can help you plan your facility, new or renovation, help you with the professional layout you will need to convince the stakeholders in your school's organization and outside for grants, bonds, and booster support.
We can also help you share your vision, by sharing realistic designs and photorealistic images to help move decisions in your favor. Adding color, school logos or mascots, and equipment to various space sizes and designs. This is a service we provide to schools in advance of any funding or money changing hands.
WEIGHT ROOM STRENGTH EQUIPMENT
The most exciting part of planning your weight room is the stage where you choose weight room strength equipment. There are many brands and styles available today for strength equipment.
Strength Equipment Style
We could easily break down the styles of weight room strength equipment style into two styles.
- Traditional Frame
- 1" hole Modular
The traditional frame style is more of a generic label, that covers all other frame styles other than the 1" hole design. This frame style is what generally you would have found in weight rooms since the beginning of rack systems.
The 1" hole modular frame is something that should be credited to a well-known powerlifter and strength coach Louie Simmons, founder of Westside Barbell. This 1" hole configuration allows the lifter to make smaller adjustments to allow the height of the bar to be more accessible and safer with heavier lifts. This design also allows the rack to accommodate various attachments and is easier to customize by the equipment owner.
STRENGTH EQUIPMENT MATERIALS
No surprise, strength equipment materials are mostly steel, some plastics such as UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) an extremely tough plastic, and fasters such as bolts, nuts, and washers. The finish is typically done with powder coating. Powder coating is applied as a dry powder through an electrostatic process, then cured with heat. It is known for providing high-quality, long-lasting finishes in terms of both functionality and overall look.
The steel is measured in both the size of the tube or plate, meaning the width of either a square or rectangle tube, and by the gauge (thickness) of steel. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel wall is. As an example, 7 ga. steel is thicker than 11 ga. steel. 11 ga. steel is more than adequate to build a high quality, long-lasting weight rack, but many components and frames are produced with the heavier 7 ga. steel.
WEIGHT ROOM EQUIPMENT CONFIGURATION
The weight room equipment configuration is important and will require a proper weight room layout. Many equipment providers will assist you with the layout of your weight room. Configuration can mean several things. What model of racking system do you plan to use, whether it be a Half Rack, Double Half Rack, Full Rack, etc. Much of this will most likely be dependant on the space and budget that you are working with, not to mention training style. Will the racks be connected from rack to rack, providing more support and strength, as well as additional functionality? What are your storage needs for plates, dumbbells, and other training accessories? These questions will define the configuration of your weight room.
In most cases, the most efficient use of your weight room space will be accomplished with Double Half Racks. This style of weight rack will provide two workstations with the smallest footprint. Our weight room layouts and configurations will always use Double Half Racks when space is available. In the event that space is less than enough, we will then resort to the Half Rack.
WEIGHT ROOM ACCESSORIES
Weight room accessories include the following but are not limited to bumper plates, dumbbells, Olympic plates and bars, Kettlebells, superbands, and several other items that assist strength programs. We will cover weight room accessories deeper in another article.