In my last post I highlighted the top three reasons to start your own home gym: removal of excuses, convenience and creating a lifestyle surrounded by fitness. As stated before, the home gym will not be the end all, be all of your fitness ventures but it does play a vital role in the support of creating a disciplined lifestyle surrounded by fitness. The focus of this post is to support you in where to start and the items that will give you the biggest bang for your buck as you build your home gym.
First, with a vision for the space (long term or short term). If you are currently living in an apartment or a space that my not be for the long term (multiple years) then you may want to think about your short term vision for the space and what is realistic, because your space may be your living room/home gym. In addition, landlords may not take too kindly to drilling holes and a bunch of structural changes to the property. If you are in a more permanent space for the long term, you want to think about the space as something that you want to be able to grow into. Many people often choose their garage, basement or an unused room of the house. You also want to think about temperature. Here in New England, it’s hard to motivate yourself in the winter to go out to the awesome garage gym you created over the summer that has no heating source or insulation.
Next, you want to think about your baseline equipment that is going to allow you to get a dam good workout through a variety of movements without breaking the bank. The items I would recommend starting with are as follows:
- Plyometric box
- Pull up bar
- Gymnastics Rings
- Moderate Weight Set of Dumbbells
- Light set of Dumbbells
- Jump Rope
- Couple of Stall Mats
Now let’s talk about the rationale for each item:
A three-sided Plyometric box (20, 24 and 30 Inches) will support with a variety of exercises and scaling. (Box Jumps, Step Ups, Box Step Overs, Weighted Step Ups, Bulgarian Split Squats, Single Leg Squatting, Box Squats Weighted or Unweighted, Scaling Push Ups and Dips) – If you are deconditioned, a beginner or shorter in stature, you may need a reduced height from the option listed above.
Pull Up Bar
(Event if you can’t do a pull up!) This will be a great set up for your rings, which will be next on my list and will support building that pulling strength for your pull ups. The pull-up bar offers a lot of versatility in building grip, upper body pulling and core strength. Through this piece of equipment you can perform (Pull Ups, Toes to Bar, Leg Raises, Knee Tucks, L-Sits, Dead-hang…) Please use caution when using door frame bars. They are a great tool (short term), but may not hold up with some of the more aggressive kipping exercises or other movements).
A pair of gymnastics ring is a great tool in building upper body gymnastics strength through various pushing, pulling and core stability exercises like ring rows, dips, push ups, knee tucks, L-sits and other static holds. Many movements can be scaled through adjustments in the rings height and incline of the person body.
(Light Set and Moderate Set) The rationale for having 2 sets of Dumbbells is it helps to provide options regarding exercises. The lighter set should be something that you can use to help warm up with and use for more isolation exercises like tricep extensions. The moderate set should be used for bigger compound exercises like squats or cleans that are using multiple muscle groups to perform the exercise. All movements that can be performed with a barbell can be performed with dumbbells. They require more stability of the body while often requiring less weight when performing the movement. They also take up less space.
Jump rope is a great monostructural movement that can be done with limited space and will support increasing special awareness and coordination. A jump rope can be used in a variety of ways aside from the regular jump.
A couple of stall mats will provide a good surface area for you in regards to space and keeping things comfortable as you perform your workout. They are easy to clean up and provide a nice surface for you to perform your workout.
As a coach, if I was to hear a client had these items at their disposal along with all the other body weight movements we can perform through a consistent exercise routine, we could make a very fit individual with just the items listed above. Many of these items can be found used through a little hunting and some DIY work and will not break the bank. The fitness industry has led you to believe that you need a big flashy elliptical or bike, and don’t get me wrong, these items have their purpose, but are limited in their versatility and significantly more expensive. Sometimes…“Less is More!”