Forget expensive monthly memberships to narcissistic gyms where you have to sit in other people’s sweat, watch steroid-infused ‘machines’ strut around like peacocks in tiny shorts and tight singlets, and endure whatever dub-crap they decide to play on any given day. Instead, create a home gym and beef up both your man cave and your muscles.
This is not an advertorial for the Thigh Blaster, the PowerFit vibrating platform or any other useless piece of junk you see on morning TV. It is, however, a guide to creating a useful space at home where you can train, bulk up, and improve overall fitness without stepping outside. And you have to admit this is a pretty tempting prospect now winter has arrived.
Create A Gym You WANT To Spend Time In
It might be a spare bedroom, a vacant garage or even the back shed. Whatever constitutes as your gym’s digs, visualise how you want the space to look before making any big purchases or setting up.
Even the most dedicated health buffs lack motivation from time to time. Ensure your home gym is a place you want to spend time by fitting it out to your specifications and desires.
Proper lighting is important – not only so you can admire your physique in the full-length or floor-to-ceiling-mirror you installed, but because it improves overall safety. Likewise, an adequate sound system is essential, unless you prefer monk-style silent exercise.
Consider a bright feature wall – blazing red keeps us raging through long training sessions – and decorate the space with things that motivate you (from posters to sporting memorabilia). If you have any graffiti skills, or a friend who fancies himself a street artist, add some personality to the room with a motivational mural.
Much like your muscles, your gym will evolve with time, so start with the essentials. The following list of equipment is just a guide. The contents of your gym will rely on your fitness needs and the space and budget you have to work with:
#1 Barbell & Weights
A gym without a barbell is like a hamburger without meat. Choose from either standard or Olympic versions depending on your lifting needs. For example, if you plan on lifting more than 100kgs you may find that a standard 1-inch bar will bend under the pressure. Olympic models are 2-inches thick and built to hold heftier weights.
#2 Power Rack
Safety is paramount in a home gym, particularly if you plan on working out alone and lifting weights without a spotter. A power rack acts as a frame under which you can work out without fear of injury. Free weight manoeuvres are made possible with the power rack’s j-hooks and pins, while bonus attachments (like chin-up, dip and pull-up bars) add extra value for money in one functional piece of equipment.
#3 Bench Press
Get off the ground and onto something more comfortable sturdy bench press. Choose an adjustable bench rather than a flat bench to ensure the height is always perfect for you (your feet should lie flat on the ground). An adjustable bench is more versatile as it allows you to perform dumbbell shoulder presses and other manoeuvres not possible on a flat bench.
We recommend fixed dumbbells (hex dumbbells in rubber or steel are ideal) over adjustable dumbbells. Fixed models are convenient and user-friendly. However, this does mean you could end up with a shit load of dumbbells, particularly as you gain in muscle mass and strength and need heavier dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells might be more fiddly and labour intensive but they would suit a gym of limited space.
Don’t forget: a platform (sheets of wood covered in rubber, thick foam mats etc.), especially if you live in an apartment or have hardwood floors. The platform will eliminate noise and the potential of property damage.
#5 Skipping Rope
The skipping rope will likely be the cheapest and most useful addition to your home gym. Great for use in high intensity interval training, warm ups, and to get your heat rate elevated, skipping ropes have changed a lot since your Double Dutch days in primary school. Now you can choose from speed ropes or weighted varieties.
Tip: invest in a comfortable mat for floor exercises. Think thick – a yoga mat won’t cut it.
#6 Pull-Up Bar
How many do you do? Pull-ups, not Weetbix… Do a whole lot more, and improve upper body strength, with your own pull-up bar. Go all out with a ceiling pull-up bar to enjoy a fuller range of motion and avoid touching the ground.
#7 Resistance Bands
Increase or decrease the intensity of your pull-ups and push-ups with resistance bands. Built for flexibility, they can be attached to power racks and barbells.
With these essential pieces of equipment, you’re ready to beef up bro. What are you waiting for?