Training Secrets

Garage Days Revisited – Setting Up the Home Gym

A friend of mine recently decided to embark on a fitness quest with his wife. They had joined a gym the previous yeargarage days revisited - setting up the home gym but it was too difficult of a commitment for them because they have two young children. It ended up that either one of them or the other could go to the gym but not both at the same time. That meant they basically traded gym time for quality time together.

That is a situation that many couples face in this hectic world. With only so much time available how can both people get in a workout and still have personal time to spend together? Well if you are lucky enough to have a garage or an extra room then a home gym is the perfect solution.

Some people might think that a home gym is too expensive, but if you look at the numbers and your overall goal for fitness, the cost is very reasonable. At best you pay $35 a month for a gym membership (unless you have special deal of maybe $20-25 per month). So for yourself that is $240 to $420 per year of costs. Double that if you have a spouse. Ideally keeping in shape is something you would like to do year after year. If you take a 5 year gym commitment at the bare minimum you are looking at $1200 up to $4200 for 2 people at an average gym cost.

That is not to say you need to put in a $2000 gym but you can easily see how money could be saved over the long run. Added to that is the convenience factor of having a gym at home and the time saved in traveling to and from the gym.

So What Do You Need?

Space is the first order of business. A garage is absolutely ideal because it is typically cooler and has more space to hold equipment. When it is time to train just back the car out of the garage and you have your work space. A spare bedroom is also workable but less ideal due to space and the ability to store items.

Here is a list of equipment pieces for a home gym and why you would want them:

  • Cardio Machine – A treadmill, elliptical machine, row machine, or stationary cycle are all great home gym options. If you have the space and money I would recommend mixing either a treadmill/elliptical with a rowing machine for variety and getting an upper/lower body workout.
  • Dumbbells – Sets of nested dumbbells like SmartFits Hornets Nest system is an absolute must for a home gym these days. They take up the least amount of space and provide a great range of weight. The bigger and stronger you plan on getting means the higher set of weight you should buy.
  • Barbells – It would be nice to have some type of barbell and free weight plates for variety and doing big exercises. But this will depend on your level of space, dedication, and available money. Ideally a 45-pound bar and a 300 pound weight set can be picked up at a lot of sporting good stores. It is relatively easy to place in an out of the way spot.
  • Bench/Cage – In a perfect world your home gym would have ample space for a workout cage and benches. If you have the space then a cage and adjustable bench is perfect. If you don’t have the space then an adjustable bench is still highly recommended to increase the number of exercises you can do. Personally I don’t see the point of buying a ‘bench press’ station with the ability to do squats, leg extensions, and leg curls because most them are very cheaply made and provide a horrible workout. If you have that much room buy a cage instead – it’s safer and more useful.
  • Pull-up Bar – You can buy a bar for about $20 that hangs or attaches to a door frame. This is a great way to get some back work in as well as hanging leg raises for abs.
  • Punching Bags – Bags are a great way to get in a good cardio and toning workout as well as relieve frustration. The nice thing about a bag is that you can take it down and move it to the corner when not in use.
  • TV/DVD – This is great for people who want to do any sort of video series to get in shape like Insanity or RushFit. When you have a room dedicated to working out it makes it easier to follow these types of programs because everything you need is right there to put a session in.
  • Floor Mat – If you are in a garage or on a hardwood floor then you will want a mat to put down for exercises.
  • Jump Rope – This classic and simple piece of equipment is not used often enough. It can give you a great cardio workout as well as working on agility and can be used rather easily in many places.

There are plenty of other options but these are some of the best as well as most common. Having your own home gym is a pretty big step but at the same time it can help with motivation. There are very few excuses not to workout when your gym is only a few feet away and you put a bit of money into it.