For some people the gym just isn’t their thing and if that is the case a home gym might be a good idea. The fact is, most people don’t need a lot of fancy equipment, but before you go down to the nearest sports store, there are several things to consider. First and probably the most obvious is cost. While it would be nice to have a room full of machines, you might not have the funds to do so. Space is another consideration. Do you have a dedicated room you can use? Can you go outside? Or do you just move the coach back in the living room? Third is how versatile or how much “bang for your buck”. Do you need a $3,000 leg extension machine or can you get some other tool to do a similar job?
Based on that the first piece of equipment, I would look at would be some type of suspension trainer. Suspension trainers can easily be mounted to support beams, on trees, squat racks, and doors. Not only are they light but they are extremely easy to travel with and can be used almost anywhere. The workouts consist of either hanging the legs or leaning back while gripping the straps and then performing a variety of movements. The most popular is the TRX which retails for about $200. That is definitely not cheap. The counter argument is you can do a lot of different exercises with it. There are cheaper versions, I cannot attest to the quality of these products, but they do seem to be popular as well.
Another option I would consider are exercise bands. Traditionally these multiple colored bands were staples in groups exercise classes. Now thicker, stronger bands are for sale that allow for assisted pulls-ups and provide enough resistance for heavy band rows. Band rows target the muscles of the back. The back muscles are responsible for good posture and help counterbalance the act of working behind a computer and sitting too much. Training the back can be hard, if not impossible, at home with no equipment. Smaller bands are great for arm work.
Finally, kettlebells would make the list. A kettlebell is a cast-iron weight that resembles a cannonball with a handle on it. They are relatively small for their weight and will last a lifetime. They are also very versatile. The same bell can be used for multiple exercises, so you don’t need an entire rack of weights. They work best for squats, get-ups, overhead presses and deadlifts and are arguably the only exercises you really need. The downside is that they can get heavy and lugging around heavy weights will not be fun.
These are only a few of the options. Other tools I would look into would be a Swiss ball, dumbbells and sandbags, just to name a few. There is no need to leave the house and you don’t need a lot to get a great workout if you have a plan and a few pieces of equipment.
As always consult your doctor prior to starting exercise program, and if you are unsure how to properly perform any exercise seek the advice of a trained fitness professional.
—Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in helping people look and feel awesome even after injury. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.