Today we’re going to talk about setting up your home gym to build strength and muscle. So let’s start with the basics and then work our way up from there. First, you can use your own body as equipment. There’s lots of bodyweight exercises that you can do to improve your fitness from bodyweight squats, lunges, push ups, and pull ups, things like that can get you a workout just using your own bodyweight. Unfortunately, that’s going to be limited in how far you can take your fitness levels (even though you can do a lot).
After you’ve outgrown your body weight the next step would be a bare bones set up. The first thing to invest in would be bands, bands are very versatile. You can do a lot of different exercises with bands, and they don’t cost much at all (around $50 for a set of 3). Another thing to consider would be a suspension straps, or a TRX strap. A TRX strap is something you may have seen in gyms, it’s kind of the gold standard, it’s well known and it has a good name behind it. But in reality, it’s a little bit of overkill. It’s thick and sturdy, which is great, but it’s a little expensive at around $150. A decent suspension strap is going to be about a third of this and for the majority of home use it will suffice.
If you want to spend more and you’re getting serious about your strength training you are going to need to spend in the neighborhood of $500. This price point would include a half rack, or a power rack (half rack tends to be a little less expensive and takes less space). If you’re one of those people who’s going to really push yourself and go to failure it’s better to get a power rack because the rails provide safety in case you get stuck during a lift (some half racks do as well but sometimes you can miss the rails creating a big problem). In addition to the rack you’re going to want to have a multi purpose bench. This bench goes from flat to incline to straight up and down. That’s going to be very versatile, and you can get a low end one for around $100. If you’re lifting moderate weight the lower end price point should do the trick, however if you’re going to be lifting heavy you’re going to want to spend at least another $50 – $100 to get a more solid one. Another item is an Olympic barbell (used starts around $50 and new about $100) and weight plates (used start around .50+ a pound and new ones at $1+ per pound). The barbell and plates aren’t fancy, but will provide you with a good starting point. People just starting out might want to get about 100 pounds of weights where a stronger or more seasoned lifter should get about 200-300 pounds.
While a barbell and rack is often recommended a set of adjustable dumbbells would be a possible option instead. For those who are not interested in heavy lifting, maximizing muscle, and/or have limited space a set of adjustable dumbbells would do the job. Dumbbells are a great choice but they are limited in certain exercises like deadlifts, squats, and heavy bench presses. Ladies typically start with a set that go up to 25 or 30 pounds (around $200), men or ladies with ambitious strength goals up to 50 (around $300), and hard core strength trainers up to 90-100 pounds (around $600).
If your budget is close to $1000 I would recommend getting both the rack and dumbbells.
For those wanting to outfit an elaborate high end gym where budget is less of a concern I would recommend a cable crossover/functional trainer. These machines offer unlimited versatility of exercises. While versatile, they are not cheap, usually starting around $1500, however most home models come in at $2000-$3000 (there are plate loaded versions that are less, however changing the weights is time consuming and inconvenient).
If you already have the basics which we listed before, here’s some additional options you might want to consider: The first would be a BOSU ($100). This is a great tool that provides balance challenges and versatility to some of the exercises that you do in the gym. Also, a gladiator wall or stall bars would be something that provides a variety of versatility from stretching to strength training ($300-$1000). A weight vest is another great tool because it allows us to take our bodyweight training to the next level. Also a step or box is an effective tool for box jumps, step ups and using it as a seat for some exercises. Kettlebells are also great tools for helping with power and strength and a stability ball can be a substitute for a bench and help with balance.
Besides weight training additions there’s lots of therapy tools that I really recommend for most people. These are trigger point tools, foam rollers, and a shepherd’s hook (all of these would be less than $100). These can keep you healthy and pain free. Another therapy tool is massage guns. These can provide a world of benefit for those sore muscles, help with recovery and help with tight muscles. Some other things include stretching straps, which can help with stretching kettlebells, which are great tools for CrossFitters.
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