Hitting the gym is part of a daily routine for a lot of people. But just because something’s part of a routine doesn’t mean it’s convenient.
Getting up and going out of your way to go to a gym early on a morning isn’t ideal. It makes it a lot easier to abandon your lofty workout goals and just go back to bed. Especially in some areas, recent events might mean that the gyms are closed altogether.
The most obvious and convenient solution is to take that spare room (garage, basement, extra bedroom, whatever) and turn it into your home gym.
Then there’ll be no excuses to skip leg day.
Before we look at our products recos, 1 trick we can’t stress enough is: if your garage isn’t well isolated, you might find it super cold during winter. An easy way to know if it’s isolated is to use a thermal camera to look “inside” your walls to see if it’s “leaking” heat or not. You can find one relatively inexpensively these days, here a good guide to get you started.
You might now be thinking about selecting hugely expensive equipment available at the gym and all the equipment you consider essential to your workout routine. You crunch the numbers in your head and sadly decide that you can’t afford it.
That doesn’t need to be the case. Some people do spend thousands on home gyms, but that doesn’t mean you need to.
There are plenty of different bits of equipment that we’re told are “necessary” to a home gym, but you only need about four or five essential items to start.
1. Squat Rack
It is usually the most critical piece of equipment in anyone’s home gym. This is where you’ll do your squats, of course, but also pull-ups, press-ups, and so on.
You might be a little worried about buying “cheap” since this is a piece of equipment that needs to be sturdy.
Fortunately, most squat racks today are designed to be reliable and durable. Depending on your budget, you could start with a basic squat rack to add attachments to later on.
For a reasonably priced squat rack, try the Fitness Reality 810XLT. Depending on what you need, you can choose from several different attachments and options.
It also comes with free shipping, which is always lovely.
If you’re interested in something more high-tech, a hack squat machine might be ideal for you. It provides much more stability than free-weight options, and many of the machines come with different features, which means you can work out the way you want.
Reda Elmardi from Strong Chap wrote a great guide on choosing a squat rack which might be handy.
It is one piece of equipment that you do need to beware of buying cheap. There’s a big difference between a durable, high-quality barbell and a cheap barbell that’s essentially just a metal stick.
You might not be able to pay for the most expensive barbell on the market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good one.
There are different options for barbells. For example, the knurling (cross-hatching pattern) on barbells tends to be different depending on what you’re going to use it for, where you’ll grip the barbell, and whether or not it’ll rub against your skin as you lift.
Also, pay attention to the sleeves of the barbell. They can be connected by either snap rings or bolts – and bolts tend to break.
Now you need to determine what kind of strength you want from your barbell. The higher its tensile strength, the better. If you’re going to be lifting very heavy weights, consider the yield strength, or how much it can lift without permanently bending.
3. Flat Bench
A good flat bench needs to be reliable and comfortable. Depending on what you prefer, you can try incline benches or flat benches. It’s a versatile piece of equipment, and you’ll probably find plenty of uses for it in your new home gym.
There are plenty of flat benches available; you can choose to go cheaper or more expensive, depending on how your budget is doing. Ideally, it will be about 17″ high and provide a firm (not too soft) surface.
4. Weight Plates
You might be able to get a decent set of second-hand weight plates. If you’ve bought a good quality barbell, you have a little wiggle room on the quality of your weight plates. They can cost a few hundred pounds or thousands; it all depends.
If you’re looking for new weight plates, you’ll need to decide what you’re planning to use them for (aside from putting them on your barbell). This will affect whether you choose bumper plates or iron plates.
This is just the basics for a home gym. Once you’ve got started, you can add new bits of equipment, like dumbbells, kettlebells, and so on. The sky’s the limit, really.