To start with creating your home gym, you need to find the right equipment and stock up your home, whether that’s a spare room, your living room or even a garage (which is just ideal!).
The exact equipment you’re going to need is going to depend largely on the goals of your workouts and what you’re trying to achieve. The equipment you need to burn calories and lose weight for instance, is quite different from what you would use to build massive muscle.
As we’re going to learn later in this book though, building muscle is actually still one of the key ways to burn fat. The more muscle you build, the more you’ll drive up your metabolism.
What you’ll find then is that there are certain things and certain principles that will apply no matter what your aims are. And there are definitely some specific pieces of equipment that everyone should own. Read on and let’s take a look at what some of those are and how you should approach this process.
What Makes a Good Home Gym?
You are once again going to be faced with some unique challenges here when you begin building your own home gym. The first of these is the simple fact that your home gym shouldn’t cost too much. If you’re relatively new to the gym and if you don’t have any equipment yet, it can be tempting to stock yourself up with everything you think you might ever need and end up spending a small fortune.
Likewise, you need to think about how you’re going to store your equipment. If you have a room dedicated to being your gym, then this latter point will be easy enough. But if you do not, then you need to think about how you can make a gym that will be easy to take apart and put back together on cue, or one that is simply small enough and compact enough that it doesn’t matter too much.
Oh and you also need to make sure you aren’t going to smash any cabinets or go through any tables.
The best tip in this regard then is to start small and then build your way up. That means buying just a few items that you absolutely need to begin with but approaching them in a way that leaves you with the potential to expand and build upon that start. Take dumbbells for example. Dumbbells are useful for practically every workout under the sun and can hit all manner of different body parts. But you’re going to need dumbbells that are heavy enough if you hope to really make an impact on your muscle growth. Of course ‘heavy enough’ depends not only on your current progress (which will change with time) but also on the move you’re doing. Lateral dumbbell raises are difficult to perform with anything above 10kg, even for a trained athlete. Conversely though, 10kg would be incredibly light for doing dumbbell presses.
So the way to approach this challenge is to start out with dumbbells that can be increased and decreased in size. This means you should be able to remove and add weights as the situation requires and as you build up. Normally, you can get dumbbell sets for around $30 that let you increase the weight up to 20kg. This is a great starting point, or you might want to buy two lots of dumbbells, which will then allow you to build up further still.
This is just one example of how you can approach your home gym in a modular and compact way if necessary, while at the same time saving money. Another example of something like this is the pull up bar. This is an incredibly unobtrusive item and one that will only cost you $10.
You can even get pull up bars that don’t need drilling into the ground – they will simply fit over the door frame in order to fix into place!
The best piece of equipment to upgrade your pull up bar? Gymnastic rings! Gymnastic rings are simply plastic rings that attach to rope and can be looped over a pull up bar. These then allow you to perform ring dips, muscle ups, the iron cross, reverse push ups (pull ups from a lower height, with your legs touching the floor stretched out in front of you) and all manner of other things! The best thing about gymnastic rings is that they cost very little once again and they can be stored in.
A skipping rope meanwhile is a great alternative to a treadmill, while you can also do a surprising amount with a bull worker – a piece of metal that offers resistance when squeezed. As we’ll see later on in this book, there are likewise lots of things you can do with everyday items from around the home!
So think a little outside the box, use these tips and the principles behind these tips and build yourself a gym that does everything you need it to without taking up all the space in your home!
The Basics You Should Invest In
But for those looking for more specific instructions, the following is a good list of equipment that you can invest in over time to gradually build up your gym. Now note that none of these things are absolutely essential to get started except the pull up bar and possibly the dumbbells depending on your interests and goals.
Here is how to start…
Pull Up Bar: As mentioned, a pull up bar is the bear minimum you need to start training and building muscle. The reason for this is that the majority of muscles can be trained using body weight alone. By performing press ups you can train the chest and the shoulders, by performing sit ups you can train the abs etc.
However, the parts that are hardest to train without equipment are the biceps and lats. These are ‘pulling’ muscles meaning you need to be pulling something in order to work them. Seeing as you can’t pull the floor toward you, that means you either need to hang or curl.
Once you have a pull up bar, you can train your entire body – though it will be easier if you get a couple more items too.
Dumbbells: Dumbbells are incredibly versatile and are used for much more than just bicep curls. They can also be used for all manner of presses, for triceps, for rows that work the lats etc. You can also use them to add weight to your body while you train your legs.
Make sure to get dumbbells that can be increased in weight. Start with 20kg worth and buy two sets (giving you 40kg total) if you already have a good level of strength.
Bench: If you want to take your training to the next level, then look at invest in a bench. This will allow you to use your dumbbells in a much more efficient manner in order to do dumbbell presses, flyes and all manner of other moves. The best bench will be one that has an adjustable back, this will mean you can sit on it or lie on it and that will in turn mean you can do isolation curls and other moves with it as well.
On top of this, look into getting yourself a bench that can fold up in order to be put away. This way, you can tuck your bench under a bed or behind a wardrobe and it doesn’t have to get in your way as a result.
Exercise Mat: This is not completely essential but you will find that training without an exercise mat can cause your floor to become slippery with sweat and can make a mess in your home. What’s more is that a mat will make it easier for you to perform moves like sit ups without hurting your back or buttocks on the hard ground! This is also good for stretching and more.
Skipping Rope: For simply burning calories on the spot, there are few things better than the simple skipping rope!
Kettlebell: Now you’re beginning to get more advanced. For training legs and burning calories, kettlebells are incredibly useful. That’s because they will allow you to perform kettlebell swings and all manner of squats (such as goblet squats). This in turn will mean you can build leg strength without needing a bar to perform deadlifts and squats. That’s good news, because performing deadlifts and squats requires a lot of space in your room and are expensive to set up. A kettlebell can also be used for all manner of functional strength exercises, including things like one armed presses.
Gymnastic Rings: We already touched on the amazing benefits of gymnastic rings. The great thing is that these will let you do all the same exercises that TRX does but for a fraction of the price. In fact, they let you do a lot more seeing as TRX isn’t really suitable for dips!
Bench Press: For those that really want to get serious, a full bench press will eventually be a good investment. This will mean getting a bar as well, in which case you might want to move into permanent set up so that you aren’t loading and unloading the bar every time you want to lift.