Best Home Gym Gear

You have no doubt seen the home-gyms that sell for upwards of $500 and provide an array of fixed exercises. They look great on paper and seem reasonably priced, but they’re not quite what they seem. The levers and mechanisms tend to be slow and prone to sticking. The parts are often made from cheap plastics and the wires are not capable of handling heavy weights. You get what you pay for.

The bad news is that high quality fixed weight machines cost a lot of money and are better left in commercial gyms. The good news is that you don’t need these machines or their flimsier, cheaper counterparts in order to create your own home gym. With a couple hundred bucks and a little free space in your home you can create a home gym that will help you to achieve your fitness goals with ease.

6. Cardio Essentials

If jogging isn’t your thing and you would rather do your cardio workout at home, then you will need some equipment to make your life easier. There are plenty of aerobic exercises and even CrossFit programs that you can do, but boxing or mixed martial arts equipment is usually more effective. It’ll give you a complete cardio workout while also helping to strengthen your wrists, triceps, shoulders and back.

Hitting a heavy bag is also a great way to relieve stress and because it’s fun it means you won’t dread those cardio days.

If you have a strong support on which to hang a chain, then opt for the heavy bag and maybe a speed bag. If not, then you can get a free-standing bag that has a hollow base which you fill with sand or water. This will provide the resistance needed to stand up to the force of your punches without threatening to rip a hole in your ceiling.

For an even cheaper cardio workout, get a jump rope instead. It will improve your hand-eye coordination, increase your heart-rate and give you a full-body workout—ideal whether you’re warming up or performing cardio.

5. Medicine Ball 

Medicine balls are cheap and don’t require a great deal of space, but they can add an extra dimension to any warm-up or cardio session. Medicine balls are often misused by beginners who see them as a replacement for dumbbells and use them to perform overhead presses, bench presses and tricep extensions. But if a dumbbell can do it better, then you should be using a dumbbell.

Medicine balls should be used for explosive movements, whether you’re throwing the ball to the ground or tossing it into the air. The best way to use medicine ball is to incorporate it into a complete, full-body movement that culminates with you tossing the ball as high and as hard as you can into the air.

Just don’t try to catch it. The goal is to force some explosive tension into your muscles, not to break your nose.

4. Pull-Up Bar

You can purchase a readymade pull-up bar that locks into your doorframe, either as a permanent fixture that is screwed and bolted into place, or a temporary one that locks in but can be easily removed.

Pull-ups, just like push-ups and sit-ups, are often ignored by beginners in favor of fixed weight exercises. But an effective workout is built on compound exercises and maximum tension—it’s not the result of using the most expensive machine in the gym. So don’t dismiss pull-ups entirely and find a way to work them into your split.

Simply by changing the positioning of your hands, opting for close grips, wide grips, palms facing and palms away, you can activate all major muscles in your upper body. It’s not an easy exercise to perform if you’re carrying around extra weight and/or have yet to strengthen your upper body, but it’s worth putting in the effort to get to a point where you can perform several sets at different positions without issue.

3. Resistance Bands

Elasticated bands are cheap, but they make for a great addition to a warm-up, a bodyweight exercise and even a cardio session. They work by providing that extra bit of resistance, which means your muscles are put under even more tension, forcing them to work harder and ensuring they breakdown and rebuild faster and bigger as a result.

You don’t need a full set of fancy bands. A simple piece of stretch tubing with handles on either side will suffice. It can be used to hook around door frames and even pull-up bars, allowing you to perform exercises that would otherwise be out of reach for home gym enthusiasts, including certain upper body presses, raises and extensions.

2. A Bench

A bench that can be placed at different inclines and declines is an essential piece of equipment for weight lifters. If you have the room and budget for a power rack to stand above it then even better, but the bench is the most important thing. It doesn’t need to have a barbell rack, it doesn’t need to have leg extenders. These are useful extras, but if your budget won’t allow for them then you can live without.

You can pickup a basic workout bench for under $20 if you buy secondhand and it will serve as the basis for countless dumbbell and bodyweight exercises. The different angles provided by the incline and decline will help to target key muscles during compound exercises, allowing you to switch-up those bench presses, flys and other key exercises.

  1. Dumbbells ($50 to $400)

Whether you’re looking to add muscle or lose weight, a set of dumbbells is essential. They can be used to complete a wide range of exercises, all of which can be scaled up or down by adding and removing weights. A complete set of dumbbells shouldn’t cost you more than $100, but you can scale up to make life easier for yourself.

If you’re on a budget or have limited space then avoid fixed-weight dumbbells. A complete set will cost you a small fortune and your home gym likely won’t be big enough to store them all. Instead, opt for adjustable dumbbells that allow you to add and remove plates or, if you have the budget for it, a set of selectorized dumbbells, such as those made by Bodymax and Powerblock. 

These high-tech dumbbells will cost you upwards of $400 but are more convenient and easier to store.

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