Commercial gyms are everywhere, and are more popular than ever. But they aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time. They can be busy, expensive, filled with annoying people, and are often in locations that are not ideal.
These issues can really lower people’s motivation to train, and as such a lot of people fall at the first hurdle. But it’s important to know that commercial gyms are not the only available option, you can create your own gym.
That’s right, we’re talking about a home gym. As you’ve probably guessed from the title this is going to be an in-depth look at how to make the perfect home gym, what the benefits are of doing so, and how to use it properly.
We’ll finish with a home gym workout program that you can try for yourself.
The Benefits of a Home Gym
The first thing people think of when it comes to home gyms is the initial cost, depending on what you buy the cost can spiral up to thousands of dollars. But remember you have control over what you spend, and you’ll be surprised at how cheap exercise equipment can be when it is second hand (but we’ll get into that later).
#1. You’ll Save Money
What a lot of people don’t consider is just how much they spend on a commercial gym.
Let’s say that you spend $1,000 on your home gym (though it can be significantly more or significantly less).
Let’s also say that a gym membership would set you back around $50 per month.
Which do you think would end up costing you more over 2 years?
That’s right, the gym membership ($1,200). But it’s not just those costs, you’ve got travel costs, parking, gym bag, iPod (nobody likes gym music), and the occasional hugely expensive protein shake when you forget your own!
So financially you’ll be saving money in just 2 years, but over 5 years? 10 years? You’ll be saving $600 per month! Clearly a home gym is a great idea for long term investors who want to look after their cash.
Alternatively, you could use the money saved to purchase better equipment, hire an at-home personal trainer, or expand your home gym further.
#2. Master of Your Domain
Another big benefit of a home gym is control. You decide what equipment is going to be there, you decide what music plays, you decide who gets to use the 20lb dumbbells, you decide what the gym’s policy on Speedos is, you decide what time the gym opens.
Having a home gym also saves you time, there is no commute, no waiting for six bros to get off the bench, no finding a parking space, no waiting for a shower, or struggling to find your locker.
No pointless conversations with a hard of hearing septuagenarian who wants to tell you about their nutrition regime. You can get home from work, get changed, and be in the gym within 5 minutes.
#3. Consistency is King
Because you are saving time, this also increases the likelihood of you attending the gym. So many people look at one of the issues mentioned above, and decide that they just can’t be bothered.
When there are no excuses not to train, you’ll find it easier to get that session in.
3 Tips To Help You Build The Ultimate Home Gym
#1. Acceptable Amount of Space
The first thing that you need is a decent amount of space, how much you have available can influence what you can achieve. Don’t get us wrong, if you only have enough space to lie down you can still create a workout to suit that, but a proper home gym needs a lot of space.
#2. Flat Surface / Lifting Platform / Rubber Mats
You also need a flat surface. You cannot place heavy equipment on an uneven or unstable surface. So before doing anything check your floor.
If you are planning on filling your home gym with heavy dumbbells, and barbells then you’ll really want to invest in either a lifting platform or heavy duty rubber mats. A concrete base would be ideal, and try to have your home gym on the ground floor if possible!
If you can’t manage this then you will just have to adapt your training and equipment to suit the situation.
#3. Quality Equipment
Only buy quality equipment. This does not mean that you can’t buy second hand, nor does it mean that you have to get the most expensive things out there. But don’t try and cut corners.
Remember, a home gym is only a good investment if it lasts longer than a few years! Buying a set of plastic dumbbells, and the world’s cheapest multi-gym is not going to serve you well over the years.
When it comes to dumbbells you have two options.
You can either buy a proper set with lots of different weights, (which is perfect if you have lots of money and space) or you can purchase a set of adjustable dumbbells. Again, buy quality. They’re not cheap, but a good set of adjustable dumbbells will last forever and will work well through different movements.
A bad set of adjustable dumbbells tend to not look anything like dumbbells and can be difficult to use for certain exercises.
You will need at least some form of multi-gym, preferably something with a pull up/dip bar (assisted if you can).
For chest and shoulder exercises you will need a sturdy workout bench, for legs you could obviously benefit from a squat rack and barbell set (again this depends on your funds/space).
A Smith machine is usually a good compromise. You can perform chest and shoulder exercises, use the bar for inverted row (back), perform a variation of a hack squat, perform some good lunges, and Bulgarian split squats, all with the added safety that training on your own requires.
Equipment Needed to Create A Basic Home Gym
The Bare Bone Essentials
Power Rack – Available on Amazon
Bench (Flat or Flat/Incline) – Available on Amazon
7″ Olympic Barbell – Available on Amazon
Olympic Sized Weights (At Least 300lbs) – Available on Amazon
Adjustable Dumbbell Set – Available on Amazon
Protective Floor Mats – Available on Amazon
Creating a Home Gym Training Program
One thing that often gets overlooked when creating a training program for a home gym is the importance of bodyweight exercises. They will help strengthen the upper and lower body, and are perfect for cardio. While an exercise bike or treadmill can be expensive and take up a lot of space, a TABATA circuit using Burpees, push ups, squat jumps, and mountain climbers is free and takes up almost no space.
There are about 5,000 variations of this so it would be impossible to create a program for all of them, but hopefully it will give you a good idea of what you can do.
Goblet Squats 3 x 12-15
DB Bench Press 3 x 12-15
KB Deadlifts 3 x 10
DB Single Arm Rows 3 x 12 (each)
DB Bulgarian Split Squat 3 x 12
Mountain Climbers TABATA (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times)
Kettlebell Swings 3 x 10
Push Ups 3 x As Many Reps As Possible
DB Sumo Squats 3 x 12-15
DB Bent Over Row 3 x 12
DB Lunges 3 x 10 (each)
Burpees TABATA (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times)
DB Front Squats 3 x 15-20
Incline DB Bench Press 3 x 12-15
Seated Shoulder Press 3 x 12-15
DB Romanian Deadlifts 3 x 10-12
DB Single Arm Rows 3 x 10 (each)
Step Ups TABATA (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times)