Equipment

There’s never been a greater opportunity to own a gym… at home, in your basement, garage or whatever free room you designate as the workout oasis.  

It’s mind-blowing to think about how easy it is to build a home gym right now.  10 years ago, piecing together a respectable home gym meant coughing up your life savings or headaches

Now, companies like Rogue Fitness or retail giant Amazon.com have removed most of the hurdles previous involved in building a gym customized to your preferences.

A person can click and order a squat rack from Rogue and have it show up on their doorstep in 3 days.  If you’ve got Amazon Prime, there are thousands of accessory tools that can be ordered with Free 2-day shipping.

 

By no means do I want to imply that training at home is “THE BEST”.  There is no “best”… doesn’t exist.  

Saving time, money and if your attitude is right, you’ll be more likely to remain

But, if you’ve got the right attitude, I do believe working out at home is superior to paying a monthly gym membership, which is essentially renting the equipment that the gym has chosen to stock.  

I’m conscious of the fact we all have unique financial situations.  Not everyone has an extra $3,000 sitting in the bank to throw at fitness equipment, so I recommend building up the inventory slowly if you’re unsure.  

I’ve been incrementally adding to my home gym for 8+ years.  Purchases have been influenced by interest, space, and financial reasoning.  Early in my working career, I didn’t feel comfortable throwing $950 at a Concept2 Rower.  Fast forward several years later, the rower shows up on my doorstep.  

Building slowly has major advantages.  You’ll learn to be resourceful with the equipment you do have, and also remove a common issue with public gym goers that have too many equipment decisions to make.  When you’ve only got kettlebells and a pull-up bar, your options are limited (not to be confused with 

Longevity-wise, investing in “iron” like dumbells, barbells, and kettlebells should last you a lifetime.  Even bulletproof cardio equipment is being built by a select few manufacturers, which should last a lifetime.  

I designed this page to be a guide of fitness equipment that I believe provides the most value

Kettlebells

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

If you wanted to practice a minimalist approach to fitness, you could organize an entire training program around body-weight training and two kettlebell drills:  

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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!)

Barbells

A barbell, much like a squat rack, is often a centerpiece of the gym.  Essentially, a barbell is a vehicle to allow for lifting a lot of weight.  

PowerBlock Dumbells

PowerBlock Dumbells are brilliant, and ironically I went to college with a guy who’s Dad invented PowerBlocks.  Space saving and EXTREMELY economic, PowerBlocks are perfect for the home gym.  

Brute Force Sandbags

Roughly 1 year ago, I pulled the trigger on some Brute Force Sandbags after heeing and hawing for months.  There is major value in sandbag training.  But I was apprehensive to buy a piece of equipmennt consistently reported to rip, tear or degrade in short time.  

The evolution of sandbags has been fantastic.  The materials used are now extremely wear resistant, increasing the durability significantly.  

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, I suggest buying “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

 

Equipment 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 increase resistance, 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

Cardio Equipment

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

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$799

Rowing Ergometer

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

 

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.

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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