Now that I’m back in the gym and can tell that I’m not revisiting past injuries, I decided it was time to revisit my home gym setup. The reason was simple. There are times when I want to workout but can’t really leave the house to lift.
That meant I needed a setup here, and I needed one that would fit what I was already doing.
After doing a bit of research while working around schedules to hit the commercial gym, I settled on a couple of items to start with rebuilding the gym.
I looked to Titan Fitness to see what they had to offer, and while they have similar products to industry giant Rogue–which makes sense considering Titan has basically ripped off Rogue’s designs–but have them at roughly half the cost.
Yeah, it was a no-brainer.
Here are my initial thoughts on both products.
Why A Yoke?
First, for those who aren’t familiar with what a yoke is, hit YouTube and look up “World’s Strongest Man” competitions. In those, they’ll often have this heavy contraption that they carry across their back with weight down near the floor. That’s a yoke.
However, yokes don’t have to be just yokes. For example, the cross-piece can be lowered and it makes a solid sled for pushing. With this one and the similar item from Rogue, it has holes like a power rack. In fact, they’re actually based on power racks in a lot of ways.
As a result of these holes, a yoke can be used as a squat stand. As the holes go all the way down, you can use it for benching or other lifts.
In other words, it will do all the stuff I needed and a couple of things I wanted. You see, I really like strongman movements and want to incorporate those into my training very soon. With the yoke, I’ve got that movement covered.
Why That Particular Yoke?
The answer is simple. Titan’s was roughly half the price of Rogue’s. While Titan does offer a shorter version for less money, that one would introduce some challenges for me.
You see, it’s height would put the cross-bar around my head. The last thing I need is to get up under the bar to do some heavy squats, unrack the weight, and knock myself unconscious.
So, with that in mind, it made sense to go for one that was a little taller.
Not only that, but the height of the full-sized yoke allows me to do pull-ups on the yoke, plus I can add things like gymnastics rings for pull-ups and dips or other items to change up pull-ups.
Why That Particular Bench?
It’s not hard to figure out why I figured I needed a bench. While I’ve got a homemade one, it’s not really comfortable and a little narrow. That was from when cash was tight and there wasn’t a lot of options but to work around stuff.
Now, cash is better so I wanted a proper bench. The Titan looked like it had the beefy durability I wanted at a solid price point. Also, Titan has no shipping on any of their items, so it seemed like a simple decision. I pulled the trigger.
Yeah, there were, but let’s start with shipping.
Titan doesn’t charge for shipping, which helps make them more attractive from a price standpoint. However, you know the old saying, “You get what you pay for?”
Both items were purchased at the same time on the same order. However, delivery was…interesting.
The yoke is packaged in two boxes. This makes sense from a logistical standpoint. Box 2 of 2 has most of the universal parts for yokes such as the feet, skids, and the hardware. Box 1 of 2 has all the items specifically for that yoke. Logistically, you grab any box 2 of 2 and the relevant box 1 of 2 and you’ve got a yoke.
Where this gets interesting is when box 2 of 2 arrives on Thursday. Friday saw the arrival of the bench, and it wasn’t until Monday that I got box 1 of 2.
I got what I paid for one shipping.
This is especially true since Titan lived down to their reputation on how boxes hold up from them. They were all jacked up. It was ugly.
The bench had some issues. The first let, the straight piece went together perfectly. So well, in fact, that I was convinced I was looking at a half-hour job. I was ready to be dazzled with this one.
Then, this happened:
I found that the bolt didn’t want to work with this particular piece. I took it back down to basic parts and tried to figure out the problem.
What happened was the hole is roughly 8 mm in diameter. The bolt? About 9 mm. That just wasn’t going to work. Unfortunately, the hole was also threaded, so just drilling it wider wasn’t really a viable fix. I’d still need to tap it for the bolt, and I don’t have the tools or inclination for that.
Eventually, I ran to Home Depot and picked up a slightly smaller bolt and a nut. I used a set of vice grips to hold the nut inside the foot, then tightened the bolt. It was a fairly quick fix. I spent more time going to and from Home Depot than I did actually putting the foot on.
Other than that, the bench went together fairly easily, which was great.
While I had to wait for the complete yoke to arrive–the instructions were in box 1 of 2, damn it–assembly wasn’t overly complicated. There aren’t a lot of parts and while some parts were a little tricky, it wasn’t too bad.
It took several hours, but much of that was me trying to deal with the heat and recovery from the gym yesterday.
Honestly, the biggest problem I had were some odd cramps and the mosquitos. I can’t put either of those on Titan. Those were all me.
The Bench: As things stand, the bench is nice, but nothing spectacular. It’s a bench. It’s should work fine for what it’s meant to do.
It has a decent amount of padding, making it comfortable for benching or even just sitting on. As you can see in the earlier picture, Titan has branded this with a nice bit of embroidering that really looks good. Frankly, nothing about it looks like a bargain-level company, and that’s a good thing.
It appears to be solidly constructed and while Titan is notorious for having crappy welds, all of these looked good. I’m not an expert on welding, mind you, but I’ve seen some horrible welds and these weren’t remotely bad based on what I’ve seen.
While there was clearly a QA problem with my bench, this doesn’t seem to be the norm. While I’m not entirely comfortable enough to recommend this bench to others at the moment, I am comfortable enough using this bench for the foreseeable future.
The Yoke: Holy crap, this thing is beefy as hell.
Titan used some really thick, sturdy steel to construct this monster, and that’s a good thing. The skids are somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter-inch thick steel and nothing on this beast is “lightweight.” Nothing. Nothing at all.
This sucker weighs in officially at around 178 lbs, and I can believe it. Good gauge steel will do that.
The only potential failure point I can foresee would be the bolt-together construction of so many of the pieces. However, there’s been no mention of the issue with anyone who had them so far so I’m assuming any problem will be way on down the line.
As for recommendations, I can definitely recommend this one at this stage. That might change after consistent use for a while, but I don’t see how. It’s big, beefy, and does everything it’s supposed to do. It’s also cost-effective, all things considered.
Overall Impressions of Titan Fitness
Alright, here it goes. Titan is a smaller company that’s trying to compete with Rogue. To do this, they’re importing stuff from China. This is how they’re able to undercut Rogue to such a degree.
For some people, that’s a dealbreaker for Titan right there.
If you’re not one of those people, there are a few things to keep in mind. One is the finish of the items. Titan is notorious for having chipped powder-coating, and my stuff was no exception. However, it wasn’t awful and I knew about it beforehand. Worst case scenario? I paint the stuff.
The powder-coating is definitely something to think about. For some people, that’s going to be hard to overcome, but it wasn’t for me. Since the price was so much lower than Rogue’s, I thought of it as shopping at a scratch-and-dent sale.
Another thing to consider is that Titan frequently sells out of things. In my case, the J-hooks I wanted were sold out when I ordered the yoke and bench, which is why there’s no barbell sitting on the rack right now. These aren’t the only products I see sell out regularly. Titan’s bumper plates do a similar vanishing act all the time.
What I can take from that is that the company still hasn’t figured out the sweet spot on their reorder point for these products, which I hope they’ll work on finding.
As for customer service, I did email Titan to ask about those J-hooks the day I ordered. I was wondering if they had something else that would fit and they were quick to reply with a “no.”
Early yesterday afternoon, however, I hit them up to let them know about the issues outlined above, plus a missing piece of plastic on the foot of the yoke. On that, I haven’t heard anything as of yet. If I hear back from Titan, I’ll add that in later.
The question is, what does any of this mean? The earlier reply indicated a consciencious customer service department. It’s possible that because I had so many complaints, mine got kicked up to a higher level and that’s why there’s a delay.
Or, they don’t give a damn.
So, would I recommend Titan Fitness?
Yeah, I probably would, but with a caveat that this is not going to be pristine gear and be careful if you’re in a rush. You may not be able to get up and running as quickly as you like.
That said, if you don’t mind the minor headaches, Titan can get you outfitted for a whole lot less than many other companies.