For a lot of people, myself included, the hardest part about working out isn’t the actual physical exercise — it’s simply getting to the gym in the first place.
Once I’m at the gym, in my workout clothes, getting in a good sweat becomes second nature to me. It’s easy. I know which exercises I want to do, which machines I need to use, and how many reps/sets I should be performing.
Typically, my workouts will last around 45 minutes or so (on non-cardio days), and I enjoy doing them tremendously.
The problem we’re trying to solve
But as I mentioned, the hardest part of staying in shape is dragging myself to the gym four-to-five times per week. We all have very busy lives, whether it’s work, kids, a social life, or some mixture of all three.
Life gets in the way. We don’t have the time or energy to get changed, hop in the car, find a parking space, do our exercises, shower at the gym, get dressed, and then drive home.
The problem is, a major part of staying in shape is developing a routine that we can stick to, week in and week out. It’s super important to be consistent. And that’s where building your own home gym comes into play.
Having a gym of your own, in the comfort of your home, has several, obvious big advantages, namely that it’s so much more convenient than going to a gym because you can work out whenever you have time, and — in the long run — it’s also a big money saver (say goodbye to monthly gym membership fees).
So what do you need to get started?
Really, every home gym needs a set of dumbbells. There are just so many different exercises you can do with them, it’s kind of ridiculous.
Naturally, when you think of dumbbells, you probably consider working out your arms, such as bicep curls and tricep extensions. You can also work-out your chest by doing a floor press.
Dumbbells are also good for the lower-body, as you can perform various squats and deadlifts as well.
So combine the fact that they are so versatile with the idea that they take up so little space, and it’s no wonder why a good set of dumbbells can be found in nearly every home gym.
Are squats the single best weight training exercise you can do for your body? They may be. And that’s why you need a power rack in your home gym.
With a power rack, you can do front squats, back squats, and shoulder presses. You can also lower the bar and perform floor presses and rack pulls.
As an added bonus, a power rack also allows you to do pull-ups, another great overall exercise.
A bench doesn’t really need much explanation — you grab your dumbbells, hop on your bench, and you’re ready to go. Or slide the bench under your power rack, and you’re ready to do bench presses. You can start to see how these machines really work in tandem.
This is for our cardio freaks, as up until now we’ve only really focused on strength training. A good rowing machine will accomplish several things for you: it will give you a great all-around workout; it will burn a ton of calories, and it will really get your heartbeat up.
Not only that, but the best reason I’ve found to use a rowing machine — I’m the proud owner of a Concept2 Model D — is that it’s actually fun to use.
My biggest issue with doing cardio, i.e. which for most people simply means running, is that I find it incredibly boring. I just become so disinterested in the workout that I really get no enjoyment out of it whatsoever.
A rowing machine has changed that up for me, as you get to perform a completely different kind of exercise motion, all while sitting down, but still working different muscle groups. It’s a win-win.
Of course, the biggest downside here is that most rowers take up a lot of space, but if you have the necessary square footage to work with, to me it’s worth the investment.
If you don’t want a rowing machine, then our second cardio option is a good recumbent exercise bike. The idea is the same as your traditional exercise bike, except the way that it’s designed makes it less stressful on your back.
A good recumbent bike will give you a nice cardio workout without putting unnecessary stress on your knees and lower back.
One thing to caution with these is that if it’s not one that folds-up, it can take up quite a bit of space.
But Jane, where am I going to fit all this stuff?
For most people, there are really only two options for where you can set up your home gym: either in your basement or in your garage.
My husband and I currently have all of our equipment set up in our garage, and it works great for us. But we also have a pretty big garage to work with.
Obviously, not everyone can have all of this equipment in their home, nor should they need to; they either don’t have space, the budget, or the need.
So I recommend taking a personal approach here. First, figure out how much space you have to work with. Take measurements of the square footage.
Then, figure out which pieces of equipment you want to use; certainly, it may not be everything that we’ve listed here.
A good place to get started maybe with the dumbbells and bench — these don’t take up much room at all, and you can accomplish quite a few different exercises with just these two pieces of equipment.
The other pieces take up quite a bit more room, so you’ll have to determine which one you prefer to workout with, and how much space you have to work with.
The thing to remember is that it really doesn’t take that many different pieces to build up a good, small home gym that will give you an effective workout.
Start slow and small with just two or three pieces of equipment, and if you find yourself needing more (and have the necessary space, of course), then just add to your collection.
Before long, you’ll have your very own home gym set up to your specifications. No more dragging yourself to go workout, and no more membership fees. A win-win all around.