How to create the perfect home gym
Have you grown sick of the hustle, bustle, and sweat-stained walls of the typical commercial gym? Do you find the travel time associated with getting to and from your local workout centre affects the amount of sessions you can get in each week? Are you simply fed up of paying through the nose for facilities that you have to share with others?
If you answered yes to any one of the above questions, it may be the time to consider creating your very own personal gym at home.
Before you do, though, a word of caution: plenty of good men and women have suffered the fate of being seduced into purchasing overly expensive and ultimately faddish fitness equipment for their spare room or garage. Just imagine how many ab cradles, ab belts, vibrating dumbbells and other relics of the fitness industry are stashed in attics across the land, never to see the light of day again.
First you need to ask yourself the following, crucial question:
Is this going to be good for you?
Having a home gym can be great for convenience, but it isn’t for everyone. Some people draw genuine motivation from the group environment of the social gym. They enjoy the expert classes and find respite from working out in gym chat. If that sounds like you, no matter how convenient training at home may sound, it’s probably not for you.
The truth is that some people are suited to training alone and some people aren’t.
Now consider your home life. Do you have young children? If so, a home gym can be a great way to exercise without spending ages away from your family (and dumping childcare on your other half). But it can also prove divisive: to have an effective workout, you need to create a space and time period that’s free from disruption and distraction.
Those points considered, if you still think it’s a good idea, let’s get to work …
Building a home gym doesn’t have to be particularly expensive. People waste a lot of money on unnecessary equipment, multi gyms and overpriced specialist products that quite frankly aren’t particularly useful in a commercial gym, let alone a home training space.
There is no reason you can’t create a fully functional home gym that will stand the test of time for between £1,000 and £2,000 There are plenty of places to buy used fitness equipment, such as classified ads and auction sites like eBay, where you’ll often be able to pick up equipment for less than half what you would pay for it new.
Easily the most enjoyable part of creating your own gym space! Have a think about what motivates you and fill your space with the paraphernalia that will help you visualise what you are trying to become.
- Barbell & plate set. This is the most important piece of equipment you’ll need for your home gym and will be the foundation of pretty much all of your workouts.
Remember that real workouts that produce results are not contingent on a vast array of flashy exercises, but rather the classic core few that we know work and have stood the test of time.
Here is a list of the basic exercises you’ll have available to you with a barbell set:
- Legs: Front squat, Back squat, Lunges, Deadlift
- Back: Barbell row, Upright Row, Power Cleans
- Shoulders: Military Press, Behind the neck press
- Chest: Bench Press (flat incline and decline)
- Arms: Bicep curls, Skullcrushers, Close grip bench press
You will be able to find all sorts of sets and plates for sale on the internet – including second hand bargains. Bear in mind that you’ll need a true Olympic bar so that you can rely on its sturdiness and won’t outgrow it.
- Flooring. A very important aspect of gym planning is the flooring, which must protect your property and help make your gym equipment last longer. Proper gym flooring will also help reduce the sound level coming out of the gym. Aim for commercial grade foam flooring (you’ll find it in interlocking squares). This will last you years and is very affordable.
- Kettlebells. Opt for a pair of relatively heavy kettlebells (12-16kg) over a rack of dumbbells as they are a far
more versatile piece of equipment. They can replicate most of the exercises you would perform with dumbbells and also bring an element of momentum and functional training to your workouts, providing 100s more variations without taking up much extra space in your gym. (Flickr)
- Treadmill. There are many of components to consider when choosing the best treadmill for home use; don’t just rely on the brand name. Take a look at things like the construction of the belt. The better the belt, the longer it will last. Is it a fully portable treadmill or do you really just need a folding treadmill? Motors typically range from 2.0 continuous horsepower (CHP) to 4.0. The larger the motor the better performance you are going to get out of the treadmill.
- Bench. To make the most of your barbell sets, you’ll need a bench. Opt for a second hand commercial bench over a new one designed for home use, as they tend to take a battering and the lower quality ones come apart at the bolts and rip pretty easily. Always go for a bench that has incline and decline functionality: if you decide to go for a split bodybuilding style training phase it’ll come in handy.
- Rack. The rack is an important element of your gym set-up; it’ll be the biggest piece of equipment and also the most expensive. Again you’ll want a more commercial feel here, as you need it to be robust enough to survive all of those gruelling workouts.
Some people think that because of the space issue they can bypass buying a rack. Not so. Without one, heavier leg, chest and shoulder workouts become almost impossible. There is also the safety element to consider as again, most of the time you will be training alone so will want the reassurance of being able to rack the bar easily.
So there you have it – select all or a few of the essentials and make the journey to the Gym a whole lot easier!