Home gym: 101

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 walked 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, and I own three of them. Now add another obstacle: the COVID-19 pandemic. It has forced all of us to rethink our home gyms and the way we exercise. We all went from having the luxury of going to many great fitness facilities to whatever we own at home. 

The Covid-19 outbreak  has caused many people to examine the fitness equipment they have in their basement and see what they need to order so they can hop on one of the many ZOOM workout sessions online. 

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You don’t have to break the bank to build a home gym. You can make a phenomenal home gym if you know how to use a foam roller, kettlebell and jump rope. 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.

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, 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. 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

Kettlebells

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 for using a kettlebell, I advise you to seek some help before doing so. There are thousands of great trainers available online to help you get comfortable with kettlebells. 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 with either an 8-kilogram or 12-kilogram bell and progress to a 16-kilogram bell. Men should start with a 12-kilogram or 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, $36.95-$96.94

Jump rope

Jump ropes have been around for years and years and never really went out of style. The jump rope can fit in anyone’s fitness routine and is convenient for travel. The cool 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.

Rogue Fitness has some great options starting at $15.00.

Mini bands

Out of all of the equipment out there, these bands may give the best bang for the buck. You can do endless amounts of hip and core exercises, keeping your body in balance. They are used for everything from rehabilitative purposes to warm-up exercises. They are extremely affordable and come in a range of difficulty that can reach any fitness level. I suggest buying one of each color so you can use them for many different exercises. 

Perform Better First Place Mini Bands start at $2.50 and go up to $24.50 for a variety package. 

THE ESSENTIALS 2.0

If your budget is a little bigger and you want access to more toys, I recommend the following: 

TRX suspension trainer 

The TRX strap is your 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 making it a great space saver for those with a minimal amount of room in their homes. The TRX strap allows for endless exercise 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 Range $179.95 to $209.95 at Perform Better 

Rower, Air Bike, Or Ski Ergometer 

If you already have a kettlebell, or two, 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. Rowers, Air bikes, and Ski Trainer are 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: $700 – $900 from Perform Better: 

There are 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 or a full-rack of dumbbells. Instead, think of exercise tools that are functional and have many different training options.

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