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Do you think I have to go to the gym for bodybuilding? What about sugar?

by Mark Cammack    November 1, 2019


Hello Mark

I hope you are wonderful.

Many thanks for the helpful and fruitful article. I have learned new things especially about building muscles. I did not know that muscles can burn fat. It was so interesting. I used to go to TRX but unfortunately, my coach has gone from the gym... I go to belly-dance class every Saturday and Monday and circling my hula hoop and Push-up (80 times) almost every day at home. Do you think that I have to go to the gym for bodybuilding or these kinds of exercises are enough?

I am trying to eliminate processed sugar. But too difficult ;)

Yes, good people with a positive and strong personality like you absorb nice people like them.

Have a great day

Warm regards


Thank you for the kind comments. Receiving letters like this make writing the articles worthwhile.

Exercising at home has advantages. It saves time since you do not travel elsewhere and the gym is always open. The initial equipment purchase means there are no ongoing gym membership fees. You are the owner and not a renter.

Man performing V bar dips in a blue tank top while in Sweden

In the photo is a man performing V-Bar Dips while facing away from the device. The narrow outward grip position is for triceps work. It is common for exercisers to face toward the unit using the medium to wide grip for chest development. Dips can be done at home with two sturdy chairs.

Let's look at minimal home bodybuilding equipment for maximal results. A few basic items are needed. Since you are doing 80 repetitions of push-ups, it may be time to get either a parallel or a "V bar" dipping bar set for dips. A pair of sturdy metal folding chairs or dining room chairs can also work. They must be strong enough to support you and well-balanced so they do not tip over. Stand between the two chairs with the backrests or top rails near you. A folded towel placed on top of each back rest or rail can ensure comfort when you grasp the chairs. Use a medium to wide grip on the dipping bars or chairs. A narrow grip (close to the body) targets the triceps. A wide grip focuses on the chest.

The dips and push-ups are pushing exercises. These need to be balanced with pulling exercises such as chins or rows for the back and biceps. A chinning bar and/or barbell and dumbbell set with 1 inch (2.5 to 2.7 cm) thick bars and matching plates is needed. An adjustable plate loaded dumbbell set takes little space and is portable. A 5.5 to 6 foot (1.7 to 1.8 m) long barbell bar is also helpful. The dumbbell handles should be at least 14 inches (35.6 cm) in length each.

Picture with three types of dumbbells in pairs: smooth straight bar, threaded bar and collars, and solid cast iron. The smooth type has a single set of collars on the left bar and a double set on the right bar.

Above we see the basic dumbbell types. To the left is a pair of traditional adjustable dumbbells with 14 inch long chromed handles. Note that the bar on the left is "single locked" with one pair of collars while the bar to the right is "double locked" with two pairs of collars. In the upper right is a set of threaded dumbbell bars and collars that "spin on." Below those we see solid cast iron dumbbells.

Look for heavy duty dumbbell collars and preferably two sets (8 collars for two dumbbell handles). This is so you can double lock the plate loaded dumbbells if performing overhead presses or single dumbbell pullovers. There are also threaded dumbbell handles with collars that "spin on." These usually prevent the plates from slipping off. The downside is that threaded collars can loosen when exercising and require tightening to prevent rattling plates or an uneven load. The reason for using strong collars is because we do not want any chance of the plates coming off and causing an injury.

Another option is multiple pairs of solid cast iron dumbbells. These have no collars and if properly made are secure. They take space and cost more than an adjustable set. A concern is having enough solid dumbbells as you get stronger. The weights that feel heavy today may feel light tomorrow! If you need a pair of 30 lb dumbbells and only have the 20's, progress is limited. Again check for fit and finish of the items. There should be no wobble anywhere.

I have seen weights that were not as advertised. The plate or dumbbell may be stamped 30 lbs and actually weigh 26 to 34 lbs. Take a portable hand-held luggage scale to weigh each dumbbell and barbell plate. Wrap an extra chain or cord around the dumbbell handle or through the hole of the barbell plate. Set the scale to zero and slowly lift. Write down the reading each time. Keep the most accurate items. We want a balanced pair of dumbbells or an evenly loaded barbell when exercising. Check those weights!

Dumbbells will allow you to do many weighted exercises including:

• Pullovers on a bed or bench for the chest, back, and triceps
• Dumbbell rows or one arm rows for the back
• Curls for the biceps
• Lateral raises and presses for the shoulders
• One leg step-ups on a low step stool for the thighs
• Two and one leg calf raises for the calves

Picture of a man performing a one leg squat on a wood block

A consideration is having enough weight when working the legs at home. If you can do deep knee bends with the body reasonably upright for 12-20 repetitions, the next stage may be single leg exercises. These include the one-leg squat with body weight or one-leg step-up while holding dumbbells. Exercise form is important.

Performing the same bodybuilding movements daily can be too much, although you may still enjoy other fun activities such as dance or the Hula-Hoop. Recovery time is required after vigorous calisthenics and weight training. What tends to work well is three days per week with rest days in between when beginning. This is often Monday-Wednesday-Friday but any three days will do.

As a person becomes stronger they can do a split routine such as:

Day 1: upper body.
Day 2: rest.
Day 3: lower body.
Day 4: rest.

Another useful way to go is the three days on and one day off routine. An example is push-legs-pull-rest. It goes like this:

Day 1: chest-triceps-shoulders.
Day 2: thighs-calves-abs.
Day 3: back-biceps-forearms.
Day 4: rest.

Regarding processed sugar, the best solution is to eliminate it. There are undesirable health effects associated with it. Extra body fat is just one possible outcome. Sugar can affect the cardiovascular system, pancreas, heart, rate of aging, cross-linking and wrinkling of the skin, mood, and the entire metabolic syndrome. There are healthier alternatives. Stevia in moderation and high antioxidant fruits with fiber such as blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries can replace sugar.

The nervous system and our senses detect change. When sugar is regularly tasted we get used to it. More sugar is needed to provide the sensation of sweetness. In addition, our chemistry is altered so that we feel hungrier. In nature sweetness indicates a source of nutrients. With processed sugary foods, you are getting the taste without the nutrition. These calories are not only empty, they are thieves as they rob a person of what they need. Someone can end up with high levels of sugar and low levels of nutrition with this approach. By choosing foods without added sugar there can be a resetting of normal taste and chemistry mechanisms. When this happens, natural foods such as vegetables and whole grains may taste sweet again. You may also find that you are not getting as hungry as before.

Since you asked about bodybuilding and if other exercises are enough, I will tell you what I solidly know: A balanced exercise program with barbells and dumbbells, and body weight calisthenics such as chins and dips, are the best for bodybuilding results when properly performed.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Cammack


Traditional Adjustable Dumbbells With Single & Double Collars: © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.

Basic Dumbbell Types, V Bar Dips, & One Leg Squat Photos are derived works © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved. They include the following public domain works:

Cast Iron 10 lb Dumbbells: Carrie Z. of St. Louis, Missouri

Man Performing One Leg Squat is from the public domain book: Block Work For Leg Development in Physical Training, Muller, Anton H. Director of Physical Activities for the Allen-Stevenson School. Published by the Senior Club of the Allen-Stevenson School, New York City, 1920. Block Work For Leg Development in Physical Training at

Pair of Threaded Dumbbells: Helga of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Workout in Sweden (V bar Dips): John Fornander of Sweden


© Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.