You do not need a gym membership to follow a good workout program. It is completely possible to achieve your goals while training from the comfort of your own home with minimal equipment – whether those goals are to lose fat, gain muscle or increase your strength levels.
Many people incorrectly assume that if they want to get in shape via weight lifting, they must join a gym. However, I only touch about 10 per cent of the equipment in a regular gym: I use the squat rack, bench press, a couple of sets of dumbbells and the occasional cable machine. That’s it. Most fancy machines are wasted on me.
The truth is that you do not need more than a handful of implements to achieve a good workout. And, depending on how much space you have available and your budget, there is no reason why you can’t pimp out your home gym so that it’s just as good as your local health club.
Of course, there are many exercises you can do with no equipment whatsoever, such as push ups, pistol squats, split squats and plyometrics, to name a few. However, for the most effective workout, I believe you should invest in the following at a minimum.
- A swiss ball or adjustable workout bench
- An aerobics step
If you are just starting to set up your home gym, the ideal choice of dumbbells would be an adjustable set. Alternatively, I recommend purchasing one light (5kg/10lb), one medium (8-10kg/20-25lb) and one heavy (14-18kg/30-40lb) set of dumbbells. That should be enough to get you started.
A workout bench will allow you to perform seated or lying exercises. A swiss ball is a cheaper alternative that works almost as well, and doubles as a great device for ab work.
Finally, an aerobics step is great for single leg exercises (such as step-ups, lunges and split squats) and plyometric exercises. You can also treat it like a bench for exercises such as lying presses.
There are hundreds of free weight exercises you can perform with these three pieces of equipment alone, and this is enough for many people.
Once you commit to building up your home gym, add some of the following next.
- A barbell and plates
- A pull-up bar
- Resistance bands
These additional pieces of equipment will, again, allow you to perform basic, free weight exercises. Although the addition of a good quality Olympic barbell and plates is an expensive one, it will allow you to perform the main, compound lifts properly – provided you have a power rack. Which brings me to my next point…
Finally, for the most dedicated at-home trainers out there, you can add the following pieces of equipment to flesh out your ultimate home gym.
- A power rack (for squatting and benching)
- A cable machine
- A back extension/glute ham raise
- A prowler/sled
- Medicine balls
- A weight vest
- Landmine (for rows, single arm presses and ab work)
- A suspension trainer/TRX
- Specialty types of bars (trap bar, safety squat bar, football bar, EZ bar, etc)
- Strongman toys (a yoke, log, atlas stones, farmers handles, etc)
- Battle ropes
- Shake weights (just kidding!)
The list of equipment you can add to your gym is essentially endless. You can add machines if you have the space and inclination, but I have kept the lists above pretty simple.
Again, start off with the basics by visiting a reliable, good-quality retailer such as Hart Sport and build your inventory from there. Remember that what you choose to add to your gym is ultimately up to you. Any purchase you make for your home gym should be made with the purpose of keeping your workouts interesting and enjoyable, and not because you think it is the “right” thing to add to your collection.
Do you ever work out at home? What equipment do you have?