Why should I build a home gym?
There are a bunch of reasons to create your own place to work out:
- Save travel time driving to and from the gym.
- Guarantee you will get access to the gym equipment you want, when you want. No more waiting for noob’s to finish curling in the power rack!
- Peace to work out on your own, listen to your own music and rest between sets for as long as you need.
- There are huge health benefits to maintaining a physically able body.
There are a few drawbacks as well.
- Working out at home requires great self motivation. There is no guilt hanging over you if you skip a day so some can lose their momentum and give up.
- No access to human assistance like a spotter or a personal trainer, although there can be ways around this.
- Less choice of equipment.
Lets address these negatives:
How to stay motivated when working out at home?
There is no easy answer to this. I keep motivated by seeing improvements in my physique and in my strength as I progressively increase the weight I can lift. A few points I try and focus on to keep my spirits high:
- Use the time to relax and unwind after work. I like to stick my headphones in and de-stress in the squat rack.
- When you feel like slipping remind yourself why you work out. Be it for strength, looks or health. Imagine how happy you will be when you look in the mirror and see your abs showing through or the satisfaction when you can lift an entire 300lb Olympic weight set!
- If you are really struggling do a workout with fewer sets – by the time you are a couple of exercises in you will be pumped again.
Keeping safe when working out
Without personal trainers or people to spot you, you’re more likely to hurt yourself through poor form or dangerous practice. As with most risks, these can be mitigated to acceptable levels by implementing a few controls:
- If you are a beginner or intermediate lifter, follow a recognised routine. Do not alter it. Do not tweak it! Over training is risky and exhaustion will put you at risk, don’t introduce it into your workouts!
- Poor form will damage your body, so please be careful. When exercising I like to keep an iPad/phone handy to check YouTube videos for form guides. These are useful even if you think you know the exercise as it’s a great reminder on points to watch out for. I usually check out a guide once a month or so for each core lift.
- Fill your gym space with equipment that can help you stay safe – for example a power rack can help you lift weights in safety as the spotter bars act like an extra pair of hands to catch the bar on any failures.
Of course you could invite your friend(s) round to keep an eye on form/spot/motivate you as well.
What equipment do I need to lift weights?
I focus on strength training therefore I like to have access to core weight equipment:
- A power cage is a near essential piece of equipment to build muscle.
- A good quality weight bench will be hugely useful for working out in the power rack and out with. If you buy an adjustable weight bench you can hit all sorts of muscle groups with access to a few cheap weights.
- A range of weight bars and plates. I use an Olympic bar for workouts utilising my power rack and core and I have a couple of standard bars and plates at home that I use for lighter exercises. I also have adjustable dumbbells.
To make sure I get enough cardio, I usually play sports and go out cycling as I don’t think there is a true substitute for actually covering ground outside. If you aren’t in a position to perform cardio outside however, a few additions to your equipment can add this balance into your routine:
- A good quality but cheap treadmill.
- A spin bike or exercise bike.
We will cover the various core pieces of equipment for your home area on the other pages of this site in more detail, but hopefully the above is a nice introduction for you.