Build the Home Gym

Why a home gym?

When most people picture a home gym, several mental images appear:
 
1)  A dark cold room, completely secluded from other rooms in the house (think back room in the basement) that gets dusted twice a year and used half of that.
 
2)  A nice room with some fancy structured cardio equipment (elliptical, recumbent bike, treadmill, stair stepper).
 
Erase that image.  Expand your thinking right now.  Your home gym must be a space that you want to be, where dedicated work happens with equipment (or without equipment if you’re into that or tight on funds) they serves a wide variety of purposes.
 
If you have equipment that’s being use to air dry your laundry, sell it right now.  Dormant fitness equipment has no value if it’s not being used, and please kill off the thought that one day you’ll use it.  If you’ve owned it for more than 8-12 months without use, you’re not going to use it.
 
Sell off your equipment for the best possible price and either invest that money into some mutual funds or re-dedicate and roll that dough into some functional exercise tools.  The list below is PACKED with ideas for you.
 
There are logical starting points for acquiring equipment, and those starting points rarely involve big ticket purchases.  The best exercise equipment I’ve ever purchased either costs $200 or less, and is built to last a lifetime.  $200 spread across one’s life ends up be pennies to own.
 
The cost of owning quality exercise equipment is front end.  The ROI of that equipment is then spread across the number of uses compounded with time of ownership.  Even someone
 
A home gym is not for everyone, but it can be.  The reason it’s not for everyone is not why you’d guess (no room for it).  In fact, most people have more than enough room to workout aggressively.  Some folks have to be more creative and adaptive to their space, but it’s their, I’m telling you.
 
Is it time to cancel your gym membership?
 
My niche expertise is this:  encouraging people to leave public gyms and workout at home.
 
So yes, I am going to fight tooth and nail to shine the spot light on all of the incredible benefits of unchaining your body, mind and wallet from your local public gym.
 
Time.  First, we’ve got to shift our thinking on the value of our time.  It is the most valuable commodity we have since we are all delaying death.  Time waits for no one.  We’ve got to place a higher value on time, and we can only do this if we have goals, dreams, careers, family, self-improvement of any kind that are worth putting our time toward.
 
If you’re lost and floating along aimlessly through life, the value of time probably isn’t something you’ve considered.
 
But you will one day, later in life when the realization that you don’t have much more time.  I think the younger generation really struggles with doing more with time.  I speak from personal experience in my late teens, early twenties and even right into the first year of my thirties.
 
Unless you live above, next to or within a 5-10 minute walk from your local gym, you can bet that you’re wasting time just getting there.  Be real with the time commitment here.  I live in a mid-sized town (70,000 people roughly) and getting to a public gym takes 20 minutes if I hit all of the green lights.  20 minutes is a quick commute in my opinion.
 
So, 20 minutes to the gym, then 20 minutes back from the gym.  Now I’m at 40 minutes and I haven’t even opened the car door to enter.  I’d say most people have another 10-15 minutes buffer time where you’re lacing up your shoes, finding your playlist, reorganizing your plan based on equipment being occupied, finding the right channel to watch on the television, refilling your water bottle so you don’t have to stop once you’r moving, talking to a friend or acquaintance, etc.
 
At this point, 60-75 minutes have been committed, and you’re not even doing the work part of the workout.  You’ve only arrived to the site.
 
If you’re a person that thrives off being seen working out (public gym), removing yourself from the temptations and comforts of home (couch, candy drawer, television, beer fridge, etc)
 
But as a recovering penny pincher, the dollars and cents of owning a gym membership end up being a complete financial waste for a really large majority of people.  In fact, public gyms favorite clients are the ones that maintain a membership yet never use the facilities.
 
Why?  The gym brings in revenue, but incurs zero expenses from that person or family.  The exercise machines
 
I also think that we are in the midst of a major shift in how we view exercise.  For years, intelligent marketing from fitness equipment companies coaxed us into believing that fitness happens best on a machine, and somehow the purchase of a machine will reignite a person’s motivation to look like the model using that machine in the commercial.
 
Fact:  Models in fitness commercials are essentially hired actors that are paid to look sexy, ripped and like they are in love with the garbage machines their using in the ad.  
Most of which do not use the machines being featured in the commercials.
 
I don’t know about you, but I want to buy equipment, programs, books, etc… from people that developed them out of self-necessity, use them on a regular basis, and know them inside and out.
 
Not someone who thought the product was a good idea for everyone else but themself.
 
Pet peeve:  People who suggest that other people buy a product or do something they haven’t done or wouldn’t do themselves.

Tools to lift for strength…

Kettlebells

Kettlebell training is a premiere form “functional resistance conditioning”.  10 years ago, swinging a kettlebell was largely considered taboo, “dangerous” and largely mis-understood.  We tend to fear what we don’t understand, and now we understand.  

The effectiveness of kettlebell training is undeniable, supported by lab data and thousands of personal testomonials (self-testing is an amazing tool to leverage).  

You could build body around two signature kettlebell drills:  turkish Get-Ups and kettlebell swings.

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12kg (26lbs)

16kg (35lbs/standard for females)

20kg (44lbs)

24kg (53lbs/standard for males)

28kg (62lbs)

32kg (70lbs)

36kg (79lbs)

40kg (88lbs/BEAST!)

Tools you can slam…

Slamballs (no bounce)

The slam ball is a must-have for developing upper body power.  Overhead floor slams and various rotational/chest press throws make this piece of equipment essential.  Unless you’re looking for a ball that rebounds, go for the “no bounce” option, it will save your face.  No bounce balls are also suitable for throwing against brick and mortar walls (rotational and chest press throws).

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Valor Slamball

J/Fit Slamball

Jump USA Slammer

Sandbells

Steel bells

 

Tools you can use to workout while traveling…

Suspension Trainers

Suspension trainers are the most portable piece of exercise equipment on the market.  Leveraging bodyweight, angles and body position will re-invent your workouts.  If you’re looking to get a workout in while traveling, pack your suspension trainer and you’ll never be without.  

Lifeline Jungle Gym XT

TRX Suspension Trainer

Monkii Bars

 

Gymnastics Rings

A nice pair of gymnastics rings can perform many of the same functions as a nice suspension trainer.  However, drills like muscle ups, dips and push-ups might feel much better using a pair of rings.  Gymnastics training is the hottest trend in fitness right now, and anyone who’s explored even the simplest of gymnastics drills can attest to the difficulty (and effectiveness) of such training.  Amazing functional body builder.

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Nagoya Gymnastics Rings

 

Stretch Bands/Resistance Bands

Until the portable cable machine is invented, resistance bands will remain an effective alternative.  Shoulder pre-hab, anti-rotation core training and warm-up activation drills are all great exercises to use with stretch bands or nice pair of resistance bands.  Mini stretch bands are fantastic for turning on the hip muscles pre-workout.  

Large stretch bands are perfect for assistance into chin-ups/pull-ups, or increasing the load for push-ups and squats.

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Bodylastics Resistance Bands

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WODFitters Large Stretch Bands

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Perform Better Mini Bands

Soft-Tissue/Massage/Trigger Point/Recovery Tools

Traveling can leave your body a mess.  Travel hard and recover hard.  Taking care of your body before and after the workout is vital for long-term participation in fitness.  If you’re working out consistently, aches and pains are a guarantee.  5-10 minutes of self soft-tissue work most days of the week will help maintain movement integrity and keep you feeling good.  Don’t go overboard, no need to roll your muscles over a metal pipe to get relief… more extreme doesn’t mean better relief.  Progress your soft tissue maintenance in a targeted, gradual and intelligent way.  

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 The Grid Foam Roller

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TriggerPoint Therapy Massage Ball (5inch diameter)

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 TriggerPoint Therapy Massage Ball (2.6inch diameter)

Lacrosse Balls

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Tiger Tail

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Theracane

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Body Back Buddy

 

Fitness Trackers/Heart Rate Monitors

When trying to assess your pre-workout state or intra-workout efforts, perception is not always reality.  Assessing your resting heart rate upon waking is a great way to find out if today should be a training day or a rest day.  

Tracking heart rate during steady state exercise or high intensity interval training will give you valuable feedback about effort, rest periods, time to recovery, distance covered, speed, etc.  

 

Polar Heart Rate Monitors

Garmin Heart Rate Monitors

Suunto Heart Rate Monitors

Fit Bit Heart Rate Monitors

Tools to make you heavier, naturally…

Weight Vests

Looking to increase the challenge of bodyweight training?  Add a weight vest!  The weight vest leverages the foundational fitness principle of progressive loading.  Weight vests the a hands-free, natural way to add load to exercises.  Best paired with:  squat variations, vertical pulling, horizontal pulling, push-ups, lunges, long-distance walking.

MIR (short weightvest)

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MIR Short Weight Vest

MIR (long vests)

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MIR Long Weight Vest

MIR (air flow vests-NEW)

Hyperwear Weight Vest (10lbs- best for running, etc)

Tools to improve your cardio conditioning…

Air bikes

Air bikes are a slam dunk piece of cardio equipment, and one of the “Cardio Triad” best cardio conditioning tools known to man. a slam dunk training apparatus.

Air bikes are a low-impact, high reward cardio conditioning tool.  Whether you riding for recovery or performance, the workout variations are nearly limitless.  Current generation air bikes have experienced vast improvements in design, material composition and workout tracking technology.  The following bikes are commercial-grade, yet priced for home ownership.  

As I write this, these are the 3 top choices for air bikes (Xebex, LifeCore and Schwinn).  If this changes, revisions will be made.  I’ve included all 3 so you can keep an eye on discounts, as they do fluctuate throughout the year.  While there are subtle design differences, they are merely to avoid patent infringements. 

Make your purchase based on best price 

The LifeCore Assault Bike was discounted to $799 w/ free Prime 2-day Shipping during Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  

*** While you could find older models of the original Schwinn Airdyne on Craigslist for $150-$200 a bike, I will caution you from experience these bikes will break in time.  Nothing against Schwinn, but the older bikes were not designed for abuse. My old Airdyne lasted several years before it died, literally.  Finding repair parts, repair instructions is a hassle, I decided it was time to move on.  RIP. 

Current generation bikes underwent key revisions design and material choice, which drastically improved durability while keeping the torturous training effect.  God bless innovation.

LifeCore Assault Bike (I own)

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$799

Xebex Airbike

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$599-$999

Schwinn ADPro Airdyne

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$900

 

Rowing Machines

3 years ago, the rowing ergometer peaked my curiosity but was foreign to my own training.  Now, rowing is a mainstay cardio activity for me.

The rowing ergometer is also on the coveted “Cardio Triad” equipment list.

If you’ve never owned a rower, you’re in for a treat.  Concept 2’s Model D (and Model E) rowers are the go to for collegiate and professional rowing programs, so you can bet they are built to be abused.

Concept 2 Rower Model D

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$900

Xebex Rower

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$900

Concept 2 Skierg 

The skierg is the final piece of equipment in the “Cardio Triad”.

The day I started looking at cardio equipment with a creative 

 

Yoga Mats/Accessories

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Manduka Pro Mat

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Yogi Toes Mat-Size Yoga Towel

Workout Timers

Staying strict with your rest periods might be a lesson in how much time can be wasted in the gym.  When the timer sounds, work commences.

Of course you could use your Appe iWatch to keep time, but you’ll cry in your cheerios if you forget you’re wearing it and blast it with a kettelbell.  iWatches and other smart watches either have no apps for interval training, or poorly designed apps for interval training.

The GymBoss interval timer is the simplest interval timer available, I’ve used it for years.  Set your work, rest periods, rounds, alarm volume/length and start your workout.

 

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Gymboss Interval Timer

 

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