What Equipment Do I Need For My Own Home Gym?
One of the biggest benefits of home workout programs is they allow you to ditch your gym membership and, with it, its monthly fees, gross showers, and the time it takes to travel there. By creating your own personal workout space you’ll be more motivated to do your daily workout. And that consistency will get you the results that you want.
I walk you through how to build a home gym to fit your needs. Of course, you don’t need all this gear for every workout you do, but with a fully stocked gym, you’ll be ready to push play with any program that you choose.
Step 1: Pick a room.
Ideally, you should set up your workout space in an area of your home that isn’t high-traffic. This eliminates excuses. For instance, if you set up your home gym in the living room (typically where I workout), your workout time may conflict with when others want to watch TV. Obviously this a battle you are sure to lose. While you can try to encourage them to join you, make it easier on everyone by finding a space where you can do your workout when it’s most convenient for you. If you don’t have the space available, you need to schedule your workouts when you’re least likely to be interrupted.
Here’s what to look for when selecting your workout room:
1. Do you have enough space to move around?
If you’re doing a home workout program, you won’t be using a treadmill or stationary bike. You’ll be moving around. Ideally, your workout area should be 15′ by 15′ so you can leap, jump, and lunge without running into the furniture. Most of the videos take into account space limitations so they to follow a “two steps in either direction” rule when creating workouts. Something to keep in mind when picking your workout area.
2. How high are the ceilings?
Are they high enough so you can jump without hitting your head? When doing jumping jacks or plyometric workouts you will need some room to jump so a basement with a lowered ceiling will not work unless you are 5 feet 3 like me!
3. How sturdy are the objects in the room?
When you jump, are you likely to knock anything over? This includes lamps, fragile heirlooms, etc. Planning ahead will not only save your stuff but help your workout because you won’t be worried about what you might hit during it.
4. Where can you put your equipment?
Ideally, you want to pick somewhere where you can leave your equipment (weights, yoga mat, agility ladder, push-up bars, foam rollers, etc.) out so it’s easy to access. Or pick a room where you can store your equipment easily either against the wall or in a large trunk or chest.
5. What’s underneath the room?
If you live alone in a freestanding dwelling or you want to work out in the basement, don’t worry about this. But if you live in an apartment or condo be mindful of your downstairs neighbors or the others who live in your home and pick a room that isn’t located above their bedroom. Here’s a tip: if you let your downstairs neighbors know your intentions and work with them to set an ideal workout time, you’ll save yourself an angry call from your landlord.
6. Is it well-ventilated?
When you’re working out, you want to be able to stay hydrated. You can do this partly by drinking water during your workout, but also by making sure your workout space is well-ventilated. Open the windows and get a big box fan to keep you cool while you’re sweating up a storm.
Step 2: Get good flooring.
Having the proper flooring in your workout space can make the difference between sore knees and a happy, healthy you. If you’re going to be jumping or doing exercises that may cause you to slip, put down a few interlocking rubber mats with rug runners beneath them so that they don’t slide. If you are looking for a little extra padding for a jumping-intensive program, consider a Plyometric Mat. It’s thicker and denser than a yoga mat and will help save your joints.
If you can, stay away from working out on top of plush carpet. Even if you lay a mat on top of it, the surface isn’t stable and you can sink…which might lead to a sprained ankle or tweaked wrist.
The equipment you need is entirely dependent on what kind of workout you’re doing. While it might be tempting to go absolutely gear crazy, you doesn’t need to be an investment of a lifetime to start solid home gym. Begin with a few, necessary basics and build as you go. Here are a few of my favorite pieces of equipment:
• Inspiring tunes and images. To stay pumped through your entire workout, set up an iPod or an iPhone player in your workout space so you can listen to your favorite tunes. And, if you can transform one space in your home into a permanent home gym, consider hanging some inspiring photos of the body you’re trying to achieve or quotes that motivate you on the walls. The quotes are my favorite so be sure to pick something that is important to you!
• Free weights or bands. When you’re working out, you’ll find that eating right and doing cardio workouts will help burn off the extra fat you’re carrying. But to create the muscle definition, you’ll need strength training. Some strength training exercises—including push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches—use just your body weight, and those will help tone your muscles. But to see serious results, you’ll need to use weights or bands for resistance. Especially if space is an issue, I recommend investing in a set of Resistance Bands or a set of adjustable weights such as Bowflex SelectTech. I bought this Proform set when I started out and I still use them today. Both are compact options and will allow you to increase the resistance as you get stronger. And if you’re traveling, bands are easy to throw in your bag so you can keep working out while on the road.
• Pull-up/chin-up solutions. Want sexy biceps, shoulders, and back? Pull-ups and chin-ups will definitely help you get there. A removable Chin-Up Bar can be easily mounted onto almost any door frame and removed when you’re not working out.
If you’re still looking for help when doing those pull-ups and chin-ups you can always use a chair. But I’ve found that using the Chin Up Max works even better. Here’s how it works: You put your foot in the strap, adjust the resistance, and lift yourself as if you were doing a normal pull-up. As you get stronger, you can lower the resistance and, one-by-one, remove the 3 bands that help support you until you can eventually do them entirely unassisted.
All this said, chin-up bars can be bulky and difficult to place. If it’s just not going to happen in your place, invest in a good set of Resistance Bands and upgrade kit. This will allow you to do lat pull-downs (a pull-up substitute) using any closable door.
Budget Tip: Being a busy mom I had to invest in this equipment over time. If you’re like me take a look at the program you’re interested in and look at the equipment that is needed. If you have most of the equipment already, here are some extra toys that I get to play with. I’ve created links to products that I found to be the cheapest price after researching them on Amazon. I love saving money and wanted to save you time and money searching around if you needed them. I also suggest using Craig’s List or E-bay to find slightly used equipment in your area as well.
• Push-Up Stands can take the pressure off your wrists, prevent you from sliding during your push-ups, and will help improve your form so you can get better results without hurting your joints.
• Barbells are an alternative to dumbbells that work well for heavy weights and compound lifts.
• Medicine Balls and Stability Balls. For strength and stability training, as well as aerobic work, there’s nothing like a good set of balls.
• A workout bench. This one takes a lot of space, but it’s a great tool for getting the most out of your weight lifting workouts. If you can’t fit in the bench I use a stability ball and have recently found this awesome deck bench that can be used for step ups and more. I found that one to be the best thing yet.
Creating your ultimate gym doesn’t have to be expensive or a chore. Give it a bit of personalization and it will empower you to keep going and getting those results. What do you think are the most important things you should have at home for workouts?
Leave a comment below and let’s help each other out!