Building a kick-ass (and affordable) home gym
With the winter rains behind us and the summer sun basking the land in its glorious light, we all know what time it is….BEACH TIME!
Unfortunately, you just realize that your body hasn’t gotten the memo and is still toting all that winter weight which needs urgent shedding and what better way to get started than by enrolling in a local gym.
You take your dusty gym bag out of storage and put on your sweat stained kicks and with earbuds in pumping Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, you make your way to the closest gym only to realize everyone else has had the same idea and all the gyms in the vicinity are packed to the point where it’s impossible to even squat without your butt grazing someone else’s.
What if I told you there was a simple solution that will require a one-time investment and you won’t have to go through this whole charade next year?
Before you read further, a word of caution: plenty of good men have suffered the fate of being seduced by their home gyms to the point where they spend all their free time in this temple they have created dedicated to their bodies. You have been warned.
Building a home gym doesn’t have to be particularly expensive. People waste a lot of money on unnecessary cardio equipment, multi gyms and overpriced specialist products that quite frankly aren’t particularly useful in a commercial gym, let alone a home training space.
There are plenty of places to buy fitness equipment for dirt cheap, such as classified ads and auction sites like eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist, etc. You could also get in touch with your local gyms and get good deals on used equipment.
Keep in mind that your home gym will evolve over time. Start with the very basics and keep an eye out for the upgrades you need. When the time and price is right you can make those additions.
One of the most enjoyable part of creating your own gym space is being able to create your own atmosphere. Have a think about what motivates you and fill your space with the paraphernalia that will help you visualize what you are trying to become. Tailor your environment to your personality so that as soon as you walk into the gym you’ll pique your subconscious mind to prime you for hard work and success.
Barbell & Plate set
This is the single most essential piece of equipment you’ll need for your home gym and will be the foundation of pretty much all your workouts.
Remember, real workouts that produce results are not contingent on a vast array of flashy exercises, but rather the classic core few that we know work and have stood the test of time.
You’ll be able to find all sorts of sets and plates for sale on the internet — including second hand bargains. Bear in mind that you’ll need a true Olympic bar so that you can rely on its sturdiness and won’t outgrow it.
If you can stretch your budget a little, professional bumper plates really add that ‘Olympic training room’ feel to any gym and are a lot easier on the floor if they need to be dropped.
To make the most of your barbell sets, you’ll need a bench. A second hand commercial bench will last longer that a new one designed for home use which will come apart at the bolts and rip easily. Always go for a bench with incline and decline functionality. You may not use these often, but you’ll be glad of your decision when you decide to go for a split bodybuilding style training phase.
The rack is an important element of your gym set-up. It is also the biggest and most expensive piece of equipment. Again, you’ll want a more commercial feel here, as you need it to be robust enough to survive all of those gruelling workouts.
Although it’s not 100% essential, heavier leg, chest and shoulder workouts become almost impossible without it. There is also the safety element to consider as again, most of the time you will be training alone so will want the reassurance of being able to rack the bar easily.
You may also want to seek out a rack that is modular and can take attachments like the pull-up bar.
An important but often overlooked aspect of gym planning is the flooring. It protects your property and helps make your gym equipment last longer. Proper gym flooring will also dampen the sound level inside the gym.
Aim for commercial grade foam flooring which will last you years and is very affordable.
So, you must be thinking, “what about the treadmill and the cross-trainer?”. I understand your concern, but I just don’t think that they are necessary.
We can get a thorough warm-up from dynamic stretching and body-weight exercises, so you’re covered there. Anyway, if you really must run, go outside and hit the pavements!
Remember you will now be training all alone, so there won’t be anyone to check your technique or warn you if you are putting yourself at risk. If you are unsure about any of the exercises in your regime, investing in just one session with a good trainer to show you how it’s done could pay dividends later if you consider the cost of picking up an injury.
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