Why setting up your own home gym is a great idea
In these days of sudden lockdowns, soaring gym membership fees and hectic lifestyles that leave us too time-crunched to drive to the gym, having a dedicated space in your home where all your workout gear is quickly accessible makes it easy for you to stick to your fitness routine.
If you are lucky enough to have a spare room or garage to convert to a home gym, that is perfect; but even without the luxury of a whole room, it is surprising how little space a few pieces of equipment will take up. So find a quiet corner of your house and start making it into your personal fitness studio!
How to set up your own home gym
It need not be too expensive to launch into at-home workouts - you can often find bargain priced second-hand equipment on your local classifieds site. And you can also create a wonderfully effective workout routine using minimal equipment, with just your body weight for resistance. Many pieces of equipment can also be substituted with items you already have in your home, such as filled water bottles instead of light dumbbells, or a chair instead of a weight bench/step.
You might also wish to consider getting a treadmill, rower or exercise bike, if you have the space, although we don't think anything can beat getting out in the fresh air to walk, run or cycle! But these larger items are ideal for warming up your muscles before doing your strength training.
Equipment you'll need
The equipment you buy depends on the type of training you wish to do, and how much space you have available.
- If you want to focus on body building, investing in a few sets of hand weights, barbells or even a free standing home gym would be the best option, along with a weight bench. If you have never used this type of equipment before, it would be wise to consult with a gym instructor or personal trainer for a couple of sessions so that they can show you how to lift weights safely and effectively. If you have a workout buddy, you can act as a spotter for each other to minimise the risk of injury, and add more fun to your sessions.
- For general strength training to support a running or cycling program, you definitely don't need a whole rack of different weights. One or two kettlebells, a medicine ball and your own bodyweight are all you need to provide plenty of workout options. If you are a runner or cyclist with a high-volume training load, it is vital to incorporate this type of training into your program to avoid injury.
- A bench or adjustable aerobics step are useful for many different exercises and provide a stable surface for strength training.
- Resistance bands are equally as effective as weights for building strength and lean muscle, and are much more portable so you can bring them with you when you travel. For a simple workout, you could choose two or three bands in different grades of resistance, or consider investing in the tube type with handles and perhaps a door anchor to allow you to perform upper body exercises without the need for cumbersome equipment.
- Don't neglect exercises that help improve your stability and balance, especially if you are a keen runner! The Swiss ball and Bosu ball are two great pieces of equipment that will provide an unstable surface to develop your core stability and balance.
- Even if you don't do yoga, a yoga mat is awesome if you do lots of bodyweight floor exercises such as push-ups, and provides a nice soft surface to lie down and do your stretches. But we highly recommend yoga for general well-being — it can be a great stress reliever and a lovely way to recover from those hard runs and rides.
- Foam roller, spiky ball - far from being instruments of torture, these are great weapons to have in your arsenal against injury and tight muscles. Starting with just a few minutes a day at low intensity, consistent use of these myofascial release tools will help ease all the knots and and tension that can contribute to inflexibility.
You can find follow along workouts from pro runner and Bix founder Vlad Ixel here