If training at a commercial gym is getting to you, because of the time, crowds, cost or travel involved, and particularly if you feel this is limiting the number of workouts that you do, then it may be worth considering a home gym.
A few things to consider first…
By this I mean both the physical space you have available, and the time you need to dedicate to yourself to train. The set up I recommend ideally takes a minimum of 9m2, though you can stick with the more compact pieces of kit if need be.
Some people train very well alone, whereas others want the bustle or external motivation of classes or a large gym. If you are happy to follow your own program and feel confident in your ability to train, or to learn how to, then it’s a good option.
A lot of people fall victim to trends or over-complicated fitness equipment or expensive cardio machines. I particularly want you to avoid that one, and recommend starting with the basics, which I’ll run through below. Keep in mind that a home gym can evolve over time, and that it’s often possible to pick up second hand equipment.
When I train myself, or with clients, I emphasize exercises using free weights and a variety of movement patterns – large, compound movements using as many muscle groups as possible. I incorporate strength training while also working on flexibility and core stabilisation. If you want to set up a home gym, I recommend taking the same approach.
So, what tools do you need to do this? To get started I’d recommend you invest in the following 7 essentials:
Adjustable Dumbbells from 2.5kg – 50kg in 1.25kg increments
Rubber Matting 3m x 3m
20kg Olympic Barbell
140kg Olympic plates
Fractional Plate Set
Full Rack / Half Rack with safety supports
Not all are equal – I recommend looking out for the following:
Solid, good quality design
Tall enough for overhead pressing and for grabbing the chinup bar just at arms length
Safety arms that can be raised and lowered – if you are training by yourself, you want the security of safety arms which will catch the bar if you miss a lift.
You may think that if space is an issue you can bypass a rack, but without one, heavier leg, chest and shoulder workouts become almost impossible. 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.
From here up, you have a pretty complete set of kit. The following are additional items that will add to your training, and can be used in multiple ways.
Get the right program. As you can see, the set up described above is simple – there is no motorised machinery or trend-driven new developments – just tried and tested basics that will give you results. I always stress safety above all else, and this is particularly true when training alone. I’d advise you to seek some expert advice before trying any new exercises, or even just to brush up on those you’re familiar with. My YouTube channel features free expert demos of all the exercises mentioned above, or you can drop me a message with any questions.