Home gyms are all the rage right now for obvious reasons, prices are at an all time high and yet demand grows and grows. The sky is the limit with home gym set ups, in fact there are a couple of new brands of “premium” “VIP” home gym equipment like Pent Fitness to cater to those with money to spend.
The real question is what do you need? Obviously it depends to a degree on your situation and what you are trying to achieve – live on a farm with a running track outside then you probably don’t want a treadmill but there are some items we would put on the “essential” list if you’re building a home gym. So here goes the top 10 essential pieces of equipment for your home gym, if you think we’ve missed something then get in touch and tell us why!
- Dumbbells – The versatility of dumbbells (DBs)is incredible. There is a seemingly endless range of exercises from bodybusting thrusters to muscle pumping shoulder accessory lifts like side raises. A minimum of three pairs of DBs would be best and with a heavy set and a medium and light. I would always recommend erring on the side of heavy for your heavy and medium sets because you can always use only one of them to reduce the weight. I would recommend rubber HEX dumbbells over any others.
- Kettlebells – Properly used the kettlebell is almost a complete gym in its own right. Most famous for the kettlebell swing there are actually a huge range of exercises with the kettlebell from goblet squats, to get ups and snatches. Using the kettlebell correctly is essential and that’s why it didn’t make the number one spot. Get a coach or follow accounts like @kettlebellqatar to see how they should be used. Opt for the unpainted, no rubber, powder coated cast iron variety
- Pull up bars – Pull ups and other gymnastic movements (knee raises, L sits) are such great exercises the pull up bar should feature in any top home gym. That said they take up a lot of space and need a strong attachment – door frame pull up bars work but make sure they are fixed properly. Pulling exercises that use the back of the body are probably the first to be lost in home workouts which can lead to body imbalance. We are always inclined to train the part of the body we see in the mirror (i.e. the front) but it’s also a lot easier to train push than it is to pull.
- TRX or RIngs – In 3 i highlighted the importance of pulling exercises – well the TRX offers that and so much more. A close runner for position 3 the TRX (or rings or another brand) can intensify your push ups, assist you with single leg squats and squatting in general it also provides a killer core workout. Attachment to the wall or even a door they are super versatile too. For me definitely an essential and can easily be used instead of the pull up bar
- Skipping rope – Cardio, agility, coordination, balance all in one low cost, super small piece of kit. The most efficient piece of equipment on the list. Can’t skip? Then learn!
- Medicine ball – Opt for the soft, leather style 35cm balls – great for core work, power work and even assisted squats. Not cheap but they last forever and they take up very little space – Rage
- Flooring – Depending on where you live some rubber tiled flooring can make your neighbours happy and prevent you from losing your deposit. It also makes many exercises more comfortable and lower impact. Interlocking rubber tiles of 15mm are best and the easiest to install
- Sandbag – Sandbags are great for home gyms. Low cost, adjustable weight
- Barbell set up – Barbell and weights are right down at 9 because although great they are not always needed for many people and they take up a lot of space. When buying plates don’t bother with 15kgs – you can use 10s and 5s. Opt for a bar that has good bushing or spend the extra on bearings if you are an olympic lifter. For standard strength work like squats and deadlifts you don’t need a bearing bar. Where to buy a barbell – if you have cash then Eleiko but this is a luxury and you can make do with many. Just don’t buy one with a bolt on the end.
- Cardio machines – Right down at number 10 but a cardio machine is definitely needed for a 5* home gym set up. But which one? For me the rower or the bike are your first choices. Rowers and bikes are 5-10 times cheaper than treadmills, take up less space in use and even less space when in storage mode. Rowers, particularly the Concept 2, are also very simple in design so don’t go wrong. Buy your rowers from Concept 2 (no compromise allowed) and bikes from Xebex fitness or Rogue for the airbike style or Wattbike (premium) or Concept 2 for the more steady state bike. Treadmills are the ultimate luxury if you really can’t get outdoors – we like the natural running machines like the curved Woodway or Trueform. Don’t buy an elliptical, just don’t.
Need some help with equipment choices or designing a gym or advice on how to use it? Get in touch on [email protected] or call 5050 2954
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