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Where to Start – Creating a Practical Home Gym

Our lives are getting busier, people have less time, and we all need to exercise daily to keep our bodies healthy and in shape. Gyms are great if you have the time to spare and if you need more motivation from other people, but how often in a week do you have plenty of time before or after work? When you are trying to fit a fitness program into your life, convenience is a vital factor. Add up the time used in packing your gym bag and toiletries, driving there, fighting for a carpark, checking in, putting your items in a locker room, waiting for equipment, making polite conversation with staff or other members, showering, then driving home. This can add up to 2 hours per day. If you have a home gym you can save more of your precious time plus never have to pay a gym membership again!

To help choose what equipment is best for you, start with these steps:

o Work out what goals you want to achieve and break them down into achievable goals. For example, if you desire to lose body fat, you must choose exercises that build muscle to increase your metabolism as well as some equipment to do cardiovascular work on. For muscle development you will need to train with your body weight and/or external weights such as dumbbells or a barbell to make your body shape change.

o Create a good workout program yourself or look on the internet. The best place to start though is to get an experienced Fitness Specialist or qualified Personal Trainer to write your program and take your measurements. I’m sure you agree that guaranteed success is superior to guessing your program.

o Choose an eating plan that suits your goals and is maintainable. You won’t lose body fat very easily if you only increase your exercise and don’t change your diet. Otherwise a Trainer can also help you with this if you want faster results.

o Update your program by doing something different or ask a Trainer to tweak it for you every 10-12 weeks to give your muscles a new stimulus.

See below three categories of Home weight training equipment to suit your needs:

Essentials for a Basic Home Gym Setup

– All dollar values are in Australian Dollars

– What

– Why

– Approximate Investment

– Considerations

1) Training Mat

– For floor work & abs

– Starting around AUS$20

– Make sure that it is thick enough for a concrete surface

2) Sets of dumbbells – at least 2.5kg, 5kg & 7.5kg

– Many exercises such as Shoulder press, Upright rows & Squats

– Starting around $3.50 per kilo

– Rubber coated are best as they don’t scratch or rust as easily

3) Fitball / Swissball

– Core strengthening, balance, abs, & legs

– Starting around $50 for a good quality one

– Make sure that the maximum weight tolerance is at least 110kg

4) Resistance tubing/strips

– Upper body exercises, assisted chin-ups, rehabilitation

– Starting around $15

– Tubing is better if it has handles

5) Weighted Medicine Ball – 3kg, 4kg or 5kg

– Abs exercises, power throws, pushups, weighting your squats

– Starting around $12 per kilo

– You only need one or two

6) Weight Bench

– Great for many dumbbell & body weight exercises

– Starting around $200

– Very useful if you also have dumbbells

7) Stairs, strong wooden box or strong chair

– Dips, step ups, step downs, power jumps

– You will already have it at home

– Make sure it’s sturdy!

8) Big Mirror

– For watching your technique

– Depends on whether you get it new or 2nd hand

– The bigger the better!

For a Well-Equipped Home Gym – Add these too:

1) Complete Multi-Purpose home gym

– Targets most areas of the body

– Starting at $1000+ depending on the facilities available

– Make sure you choose one with a wide range of exercises

2) Adjustable weight bench with a benchpress rack, plus a barbell & weight disks

– Good for training legs, chest, back, legs and even use the bench for step ups; very versatile

– Bench – Starting around $250

– 20kg Olympic Barbell – Starting around $120

– Weight Disks – Starting around $3 kg

– Start with 5kg & 10kg disks, then add some 20kg as soon as possible.

3) Pairs of Dumbbells 10kg, 12.5kg, 15kg

– Squats, presses, rows, flyes, abs, lunges, deadlifts plus much more

– Starting around $3 per kilo

– May need a storage rack to keep them tidy and easy to access

4) Ankle weights – 1kg, 2kg, 3kg

– Good for leg curl, step ups & weighting your wrists for pilates exercises

– Starting around $35 a pair

– You may need one or two

5) Half foam roller

– Good for balance exercises such as squats, also for stretching and myofascial release to help minimize tight muscles and injuries

– About $35 – A full foam roller is great for myofascial release, especially for the ITB – when you’re ready for the pain!

6) Chin up bar

– To strengthen your upper body & improve your posture, and burn heaps of calories

– Install one yourself or do outside on a tree branch

– Can do incline chin ups on the edge of a heavy table also

7) Back extension bench

– Glutes, back and hamstrings – Starting around $200

– Get one that you use your own body weight

8) Rubber Floor Mat

– For protecting your floor from dropping equipment

– Starting around $15

– Stop the dents in your floor from dropping dumbbells

9) Balance disk or balance board

– Works on core and balance – essential for over 50’s

– Starting around $15

– Great for core stabilisation and balance work

10) Pictures of Arnold or someone you want to be like on the wall

– To get inspired and more motivated – Priceless!!

For an Optimally-Equipped Home Gym – Add these too:

1) Leg press

– Targets quads as well as strengthening calves, hamstrings, glutes, and adductors

– Starting around $400 or save money by having it part of your Multi-Purpose Home Gym

– Make sure you choose a Multipurpose Home Gym with a wide range of exercises

2) Leg curl

– Targets hamstrings & glutes

– Starting around $300

– Make sure you learn correct technique so that you will fire the right muscles

3) Pairs of Dumbbells 17.5, 20kg, 22.5kg, 25kg, 27.5kg +

– Train for strength, muscle growth or just to better tone muscles, depending on what program you are using

– Starts around $3.50 per kilo

– You will definitely need a storage rack for these!

4) Squat Power rack (adjustable for both barbell squats and benchpress)

– You can do most strength as well as power exercises

– Starting around $500

– You will need more weight disks with this. No slacking with the weight!

5) Lat Pull-down machine

– Better back and bicep strength. Helps improve posture.

– Starting around $500

– Just get it!

6) Cable machine

– Can be used for many strength, power and ab exercises

– Starting around $1000

– Adds more variety to weight exercises, if you can afford it

If you think that any of this is out of your price range, firstly do some adding up for yourself. What would you and your spouse spend in gym memberships in the next 5-10 years? About $7,000-$10,000? This makes the cost of a basic home gym fade into insignificance – it will pay for itself before 5 years is up! (You could even charge for the kids to use it to cover maintenance costs!) What a great investment which means an extra $1200+ per year that you can have in your pocket instead of a wasted membership at a non-attended gym. Also if you start with the basic set up you don’t have to outlay much money at all.

If you are looking more at buying single bits of equipment that do a lot of different movements but don’t involve a lot of shopping around, the best single piece of equipment to invest in is a Multipurpose Home Gym. These come with several different upper & lower body weight exercises as part of the setup. If you choose to go with a Multipurpose Home Gym, make sure you also add some extra free weights as soon as possible in your program to give you more variety.

In conclusion, there are unlimited machines available to target every area of the body. Just make sure you choose the right equipment for your specific wants and needs so that you don’t waste money on useless gimmicks. Always invest in good quality, as it will save you money on maintenance costs in the long run.

Be ready for our next article which goes on to explore cardio equipment for your home!