You don’t have to be a workout junkie to understand the benefits of a home gym. Having a dedicated fitness regimen has a huge positive effect on mental and physical health, so it’s no wonder that more and more people are building a home gym for their daily workouts or as a complement to their standard gym membership. If you’re thinking about taking the leap and carving out a fitness-specific space in your home, here are some recommendations for essential items that you’ll need.
The kettlebell is a unique piece of workout equipment that allows you to build incredible strength and cardiovascular endurance. You can do any exercise that calls for a dumbbell with a kettlebell and more effectively develop stabilizer muscles and core strength. Plus, there are many dynamic, total body exercises perfectly designed for the kettlebell that are not as well-suited to a dumbbell. Kettlebell training strengthens tendons and ligaments, which in turn makes you less susceptible to injury. If you’re looking to improve your conditioning and body composition, kettlebells target your entire body with explosive exercises that build lean muscle mass. If you’re pressed for time, don’t be – you can get a great workout with kettlebells in just 20-30 minutes.
Power Rack and the Standard 45-Lb Barbell
The power rack is an ideal piece of equipment that allows you to perform a wide variety of compound lifts. If you’re looking to increase muscle mass, you’ll want to do squats, deadlifts, cleans, and other exercises that engage the major muscle groups in the body. Power racks allow you to perform free weight exercises, which encourage the development of stabilizer muscles and doesn’t limit movement to an isolated range in the same way that a Smith machine does. We’ve specified a 45 lb. barbell because it’s the calibrated standard across most gyms and provides an excellent baseline to start with.
Plates of varying weights are essential as you progress and start to build more strength, especially if you own a power rack. Lighter plates can be used to perform cleans, and upper body exercises. Heavier plates will be necessary for lower body lifts and those that incorporate the major muscle groups, such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press.
A bench is an integral piece of equipment that can be paired with your power rack and used for a wide range of exercises. Along with the standard bench press, you can use the bench to perform dips, rows, and core exercises. If you purchase an adjustable bench, you can use the bench to perform overhead press and incline bench exercises.
Dumbbells are great for specific isolation exercises that focus on one muscle group. While the equipment discussed above is excellent for compound lifts that target more than one muscle group at a time, dumbbells can be more effective in targeting smaller muscle groups. Use dumbbells to perform shrugs that target the trapezius muscles, flys that develop the pectorals, or front raises that work the deltoids. You can also incorporate dumbbells into lower body workouts like weighted lunges and squat variations. Begin with a range of dumbbells between 15-50 pounds and work your way up as you build strength.
Weighted Jump Rope
The jump rope is a great tool for cardiovascular conditioning that does not take up any space. With regards to calorie burn, 10 minutes of jumping rope is equivalent to running an eight-minute mile. Even if you’re not up for a full 10 minutes, jumping rope one to two minutes at a time is a great way to warm up your muscles before moving on to other activities. We recommend a weighted jump rope to increase coordination and develop stabilizer muscles, agility, and overall endurance.
Plyometric boxes are utilized for exercises to improve conditioning, develop power, and enhance reflexes. Box jumps require explosive bursts of energy from your muscles, which builds power and joint efficiency. Box jumps require a high level of cardiovascular capacity, which enhances the body’s ability to process oxygen and developing endurance. Performing box jumps and other explosive exercises using plyometric boxes nicely complements the strength built by lifting weights.
The stationary bike is a great tool for incorporating cardio into your workouts. Stationary bikes are often smaller than traditional cardio machines like treadmills or stairmasters, so they can fit more easily into a home gym. Stationary bikes carry a low risk of injury since they are non-impact and give the rider the ability to choose their resistance and tension. As you increase tension, you also build leg strength, which helps in lifts like squats and deadlifts. Thus, stationary bikes have the dual benefit of developing both cardiovascular endurance and strength.
A foam roller might not seem as useful as a kettlebell or squat rack but remember that your workout is only as good as your recovery. Foam rollers enable you to do self-massage and relieve muscle soreness. Using a foam roller at the end of your workout can mitigate the lactic acid build up in muscles and connective tissue that leads to reduced mobility. Foam rollers also increase blood flow, which aids in recovery. Muscle recovery and mobility work should be prioritized to avoid injuries and get the most out of your workouts.