While most of us will admit to the numerous advantages of visiting the gym (socializing, ? motivational environment, varied equipment etc.), having your own home gym is an undeniable convenience. It saves you travel time, it gives you the liberty to work out whenever you desire, and last but not least – simply to enjoy a more peaceful and comfortable environment.
An investment like that may be costly but it is nevertheless justified. And once you decide to go for it, you need to be very smart and efficient with the way you utilize your (often times) limited space.
For me, as a trainer, a well-rounded workout plan consists of strength training with free weights, a diversity of movement patterns and exercises, as well as conditioning and mobility work.
So, how do you even go about achieving all that at home? Here are the top 5 equipment pieces that no home gym should be without:
1. Squat Rack, Equipped With a Barbell and Weight Plates
The days when women were not supposed to lift heavier weights and when the squat rack was a distant and forbidden ground, a place where only men could thrive, are thankfully long gone.
So, whatever your sex, you should be incorporating resistance training and compound movements, such as the squat, the push press and the deadlift, as they are a must and the core of every good training plan. Why? These are movement patterns that are transferable to everyday life.
By learning to perform them correctly and strengthening your muscles, you become much less prone to injuries not only in the gym but outside of it as well. I find the bumper plates to be the best option for a home gym, as they make less noise, and because they are much safer, in case you ever need to drop the barbell on the ground. Look for a squat rack that also has a pull up bar – it’s a great addition to a home gym.
There are no two ways about this – dumbbells are incredibly versatile and there are tons of workouts you can do with just one set of them (or even just a single dumbbell). You might find yourself tempted to go for the ones with adjustable weights, and while that feature is certainly a convenience, they are often not very comfortable to work with.
The clips, that keep the weights locked in, get worn down over time, which leads to noisy dumbbells and the need to constantly readjust the clips. A much better option are the rubber-coated dumbbells that come in a hex shape. Start with at least 2-3 sets, each in a different weight range for the different exercises you will be doing.
3. Jump Rope
Yes, it is as simple as that – a jump rope. Skipping is an extremely beneficial conditioning exercise that you can basically do anywhere. You can incorporate it in your HIIT workouts, in your tabata workouts, or just do it on its own.
Rope jumping develops your coordination, improves* your endurance and challenges your cardiovascular system, so that it burns more calories than most regular cardio workouts. There are tons of good options on the market – speed ropes, leather ropes, weighted handles ropes etc. Look for the ones that give you the option to easily adjust its length.
Speed ropes are a great challenge, as they force you to jump even faster, and once you get comfortable with that, you can even practice double-unders (the rope makes not just one but two passes per jump). They are not as hard as you might think!
4. Mobility Set
When you train regularly, mobility work and recovery play a huge role in keeping your body injury- and pain-free. What do you include in a mobility set? A resistance band, which you can also use for assisted pull ups, a foam roller, a lacrosse ball and possibly a self-massage stick.
Myofascial release is an alternative therapy that you can perform by yourself. It gained a lot of popularity in recent years and for a good reason. Tools like the foam roller and the lacrosse ball help you put a soft, sustained pressure on shortened or contracted muscles.
The technique is an efficient way to relax the muscles, improve* the blood and lymphatic circulation, restore motion and reduce* pain. If you are new to this, start with a relatively soft and smooth foam roller before upgrading to a firmer one with more texture. There are tons of helpful tutorials out there, which can show you how to properly use all of these recovery tools.
5. Rower Machine
There is no cardio machine that can simultaneously work your lower and upper body, better than the rower. In case you are not familiar with it: this machine, as the name suggests, simulates watercraft rowing, as if you were actually sitting in a boat on the water. The only difference is that you can do it safely and comfortably in your garage or spare room.
Unlike any other cardio machine, the rower provides you with both a calorie-burning cardiovascular workout and with a whole-body resistance training that involves nearly every muscle group – from the legs to the shoulders. This makes it an outstanding way to lose* weight and build muscle in a safe, low-impact way.
There are countless options on the market, so there is a lot to consider before buying one. Unsurprisingly, high quality comes at a price.
Read Next: Does Skipping The Gym Affects Your Body?
Some of the factors that you need to take into account are:
- The form of resistance they provide. (air, water, magnetic)
- The comfort level. (of the seat, the foot pads)
- The noise level.(it’s a personal preference thing, some people like them noisier)
- The row monitor
- The price.
Although rowers are usually on the expensive side, there are a lot of good options out there that come at a more budget-friendly price.
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