In the early part of my lifting career I hardly ever worked out in my home gym. I always enjoyed the atmosphere of an actual fitness facility. It was not just about lifting weights, but also about improving. I felt the excitement of progress as soon as I would walk into the gym. It was about forgetting what was going on in life and just attacking my workouts. While school and work were high priorities for me, my schedule still revolved around my workouts.
Fast forward to now, my life is much different. I do not always have the liberty of working out at the gym now, and I own two of them! It is hilarious when people say things like “you are so lucky you work at a gym. You must work out all day. No wonder you are in good shape.” My job has given me a tremendous opportunity, but life still gets in the way.
So, after my wife and I had kids, it was time to switch my mindset. I was a gym bum and was not real excited to be forced to workout at home. But after I realized that I could still get a good workout this way, I began to enjoy my home workouts from time to time. It also allowed me to develop some great workouts that were short yet productive. Since I now had the experience of working out at home, I could do a better job and come up with these workouts for my clients.
Now you don’t have to break the bank to build a home gym. In fact, you can make a phenomenal home gym if you know how to use a foam roller, kettlebell and jump rope. That’s under $100! The old-school method used to cost much more as people were under the impression that they needed a weight machine, cardio machine and a full line of free weights. Times have changed, and so has training. If you are willing to invest about $100, you can have all you need. If you want to go the extra step, you still land under $1,500. Considering most treadmills cost more than that, you can get a ton of great equipment for less than the price of a treadmill.
Times have changed, and so has training. If you are willing to invest about $100, you can have all you need. If you want to go the extra step, you still land under $1,500. Considering most treadmills cost more than that, you can get a ton of great equipment for less than a treadmill.
HOME GYM ESSENTIALS
Foam Roll and Lacrosse Ball
Every home should have a foam roll or a massage ball of some kind. Our muscles accumulate adhesions (knots) from working out, from being inactive, or from pain and injury. Regardless of how hard your workout is; your muscles need regular massages. I look at foam rolling and soft tissue work as “medicine for your muscles.” It helps keep the muscle tissues and body moving better. Everyone needs to feel good, and these are the perfect recovery tools to do so. Make sure to buy a firm foam roller and not a soft one.
Foam Roller – $19.99, the brand I prefer is Perform Better PB Elite Molded Foam Rollers
Lacrosse Ball – $3-5, can be purchased at most sporting goods and large department stores
A lot of my clients have asked, “Which multi-station machines or dumbbell set should I get?” I say none of them. They are expensive and take up a lot of space. Instead, buy a couple of kettlebells. They take up minimal space and cost much less. You have endless amounts of exercise options with kettlebells that can be regressed and progressed for any fitness level.
If you have not been taught the correct methods to use a kettlebell, I advise you to seek some help before doing so. The kettlebell has amazing benefits, but the form shown in workouts and tutorials from Youtube can get a little sketchy. Find someone that can teach you proper form and technique of the basics: goblet squats, Turkish Get-ups, swings, military press, and rows. These should be the first kettlebell exercises that you master.
Women should start out with a 12-kilogram bell and progress to a 16-kilogram bell. Men should start with a 16-kilogram bell and then progress to a 24-kilogram bell. I would suggest having both of these size bells and add to your collection as you see fit.
I prefer the Perform Better First Place Kettlebells, $46.95-$86.94
Jump ropes have been around for years and years and never really went out of style. From gym class to athletes, the jump rope can fit in anyone’s fitness routine. It is ultra convenient to travel with and put in your garage. The even cooler thing about the jump rope is that it improves such a broad range of fitness qualities. Coordination, balance, stability, fat loss and conditioning just to name a few.
Having a jump rope is also handy for runners and athletes that are injured and need a rest from the constant pounding. The jump rope puts less stress on the joints and still provides excellent ground contact feedback.
THE ESSENTIALS 2.0
If your budget is a little bigger and you want access to more toys, here is what I recommend:
TRX Suspension Trainer
The TRX strap is you’re all in one multi-station strength training tool and costs much less than your typical at-home strength training machine stations. All you need is a door jam or sturdy overhead bar to secure it, and you have the best multi-station strength training tool that money can buy. It is easily stored away making it a great space saver for those with a minimal amount of room in their homes. The TRX strap allows for endless exercises regressions and progressions, making it a good fit for beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts. TRX also does an excellent job providing instructional videos and manuals to get you started.
Price: $209.95 at Perform Better
Concept 2 Rower
If you already have a kettlebell, or 2, and a foam roller, all you need now is a good piece of cardiovascular equipment to round out your home gym. Instead of buying a treadmill that will eventually become a clothing rack out of disuse, buy a piece of equipment that will get some practical use. The Concept 2 Rower is the most affordable piece of cardiovascular equipment that gives you the most bang for the buck. It is non-impact, making it ideal for people who can’t run, it burns a ton of calories, requires strength, power, and conditioning, and is a great cross-training tool. It also takes up minimal space and can be moved by anyone when needed.
Price: $900 from Rogue Fitness
As you can see, there are many options available when trying to build a home gym, big or small. At the minimum, I think that everyone should have a foam roll, a kettlebell, and a jump rope. After that, it just depends on how much you want to work out at home, how much money you are willing to spend, and how much space you have. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on things that have just one use such as a treadmill or an Elliptical Trainer. Instead, think of exercise tools that are functional and have many different training options.