Monday, January 4, 2010

Recipe for a Great Home Gym

While it's not critical to have a ton of money to put together a home gym, this article will probably be of the most value to those who have a dedicated space if not a separate room for working out. If you're limited in the space depart you may still be able to get some ideas that will work. When putting together a home gym that you will really use it is important to include the right elements to facilitate good workouts. Read on for ideas and tips on what you should consider when putting together your home gym.


  • TV and DVD player

  • Mirror

  • Open section of wall

  • Weight rack and several sets of dumbbells

  • Resistance bands

  • One quality piece of cardio equipment

  • Flooring

  • Mats

  • Stability ball

  • Chin up bar

  • Lighting, decor and room temperature

I am believer in exercise videos. They are inexpensive and provide every type of workout you might want. This makes a well placed TV with a DVD play a great asset in your home gym. With so many workout videos out there the trick is to find the good ones. Some places to start are BeachBody (the makers of P90X, beachbody.com) and The Firm (firmdirect.com).

A section of wall with a mirror. Ideally the mirror should be wide enough that you can see yourself do a lunge. The mirror is nice for admiring the fabulous new muscles you're building but, more importantly it is very helpful for checking your form when you're working out on your own.

A section of wall that is wide open, about three feet wide should be enough, and unobstructed from floor to ceiling. This is great for wall push-ups, wall sits, single and double leg squats with the ball behind your back, and a variety of stretches.

A weight rack and plenty of dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells that save you space are also a good option. However, I prefer traditional dumbbells because I feel they allow a little more freedom of motion. A good weight rack is not absolutely necessary but, it keeps your weights off the floor and organized so that they look neat and they're easy to use. The more you workout the more sets of dumbbells you accumulate and a good place to store them becomes really important.

With that said, resistance bands and tubing are a great alternative to dumbbells. They offer a different type of resistance than dumbbells. If you're short on space they could completely replace dumbbells. They are also great for taking your strength training workout with you when you travel.

A quality piece of cardio equipment that you will use. No matter where you live in the country there are times of year, and rainy days, when you just don't want to exercise outdoors. My favorite cardio piece is the Nordic Track. They don't make these anymore but, you can get them on the used equipment market. I see them on Craig's List all the time. A good treadmill is another option. Walking is the original cardio activity and maybe the best one for you. If you can do it inside with your favorite movie playing (another reason why you need the TV and DVD player) all the better. Other options are a step, stationary bike, slide board or jump rope.

Flooring with some give to it. Whether you're doing Plyometrics or core training a floor with a little cushioning is a must. Not to mention that a little cushioning means there's a little insulation as well. A cold cement or tile floor is not where you want to be stretching or doing crunches. Choose a room with workout friendly flooring or you can buy flooring to install in your space.

A couple different kinds of mats. A mat can help with the cold, hard floor situation. However, if you're doing yoga, you want a sticky mat which will not provide you any cushion or insulation. Yoga is a fantastic addition to any one's fitness program and a sticky mat is essential. You also want a mat with a little more padding for doing ab work, Pilates or any exercise where you are kneeling. There are some dense foam mats and pilates mats that are a good combination of support and cushioning.

A stability ball is a versatile piece of fitness equipment. It can be used as a stand in for a bench. It's good for stretching exercises, core work, push-ups and more. It is great for making exercises more challenging, engaging your core muscles and working on balance.

A chin up bar is not a necessity but, in a home gym it can be tough to really work the lats. A chin up bar is a good way to solve the problem and there are many out there that can be placed in a doorway to use and then removed between workouts.

Lastly, consider the visual impact of the room you work in. In other words, a dark, drab room that brings you down just to look at it is not going to help you stay motivated to workout and to use your home gym. Make sure the room has a look and feel that you find inviting. If you can use a room that has it's own thermostat that is ideal but, a fan or a space heater can help make the temperature more comfortable if needed.

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