If you’re like two-thirds of Americans with a gym membership, you won’t use it, according to figures from Statistic Brain. And even if you do, most only go to the gym on average twice a week which doesn’t cut it. The physical activity guidelines for adults call for 150 minutes or more of aerobic activity that is spread throughout the week.
The Benefits of a Home Gym
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One way you can stay active is to have gym equipment at home and build a home gym. No more excuses about not having time to go to the gym. With exercise equipment in your home, you can work out any time that suits your schedule. A home gym offers several benefits.
- Cost savings over a gym membership that averages $58 a month or $696 a year
- Time savings to travel to a gym
- Health benefits of regular exercise like reduced risk of heart disease
- Weight loss with regular exercise
- Improved self-esteem and confidence
- Customized workout area that matches your training goals
- A huge reminder or trigger to workout so it becomes a habit
The last benefit is huge when it comes to working out. With gym equipment at home, you are creating a trigger to remind you to exercise. And with a setup that fits your needs, you have the perfect setting for making regular exercise a habit.
The three things you need to change a habit—or add one in this case—are a means to make a change, repetition, and a set context. Your home gym serves each of these conditions nicely. Gym equipment at home set the stage to repeat your workouts in a familiar place,
There are several things to think about when considering how to build a home gym. Of course, your budget will be a significant factor. However, you also should give some thought to creating an atmosphere that makes working out enjoyable and safe. You have to consider your ROI.
Home Gym Flooring
If you’re going to have weights and other heavy equipment in your home gym, you’ll need some protective home gym flooring. Otherwise, you’ll end up damaging your existing floor after a set of barbells have hit it a few times. You also need to consider your own comfort.
Cushioned flooring will reduce the impact of weightlifting on your knees and joints. A couple of options you have are rubber or cork floor tiles. They’re not expensive. They’re also a smart choice if you have limited space or one with an odd shape so you can cover the area you need.
You can also use thick rubber mats like they use at the gym if you want a less permanent solution. The advantage they offer is a surface that will take the impact of weights without worrying about damaging the mat itself. All of these options are easy to clean.
You can also opt for interlocking foam flooring. It has the advantages of a rubber mat, but also gives you the flexibility to create the type of space you want. If you go this route, make sure and choose commercial grade rather than EVA foam tiles that may not handle heavy weights.
Plywood or a wood floor can work well too. However, a protective surface will still be necessary if just to absorb the sounds of weights hitting the floor. A barbell loaded with weight makes a loud bang. There’s the long-term condition of a wooden floor to consider as well.
While carpeting may absorb some sound, it has the disadvantage of not being about to absorb the impact of weight over the long haul and will likely show signs of wear. Then, there is the problem of cleaning it. A smooth surface is much easier to clean than shampooing an entire carpet.
The things to keep in mind are a durable surface that will handle the punishment of regular, heavy-duty workouts without breaking the bank. It is an investment that will not only protect your home but the other gym equipment you’ll add to your home gym as well.
A power rack is essential if you’re going to do some heavy lifting. It’s one thing in your gym equipment at home for which you shouldn’t cut corners. A power rack is an investment in safety, especially when you’re moving on to heavier squats and presses. A power rack will help you get into position to do these exercises.
A power rack called resembles an open frame cage with adjustable horizontal bars for free weights. Catches keep you from dropping a weight on yourself. If you’re lifting to build strength, you’re exercising your muscles to the point of fatigue. Without a spotter, that’s risky business.
Since it’s going to be a bigger investment than other equipment for your home gym, take the time to look for one that can help with a broad range of positions. You can add attachments to some models so you can change up your workouts with several exercises. And that’s essential for keeping your workouts fun.
You’ll find power racks that include other options like a lat pull-down station or pulleys for cables. Some racks may include extra storage pegs to keep your weight plates or a chin-up bar to increase the variety of your workouts. As you may expect, the more features you add, the greater will be your cost.
Your power rack should have safety pins or other similar features to protect you when working out. You can’t skimp on these options, especially if you’re working out alone without a spotter. And finally, it should be able to handle a lot of weight so you can keep increasing the intensity of your workouts.
Investing in a high-quality barbell is also a sound investment since it’s going to do the heavy lifting in your home gym. With a barbell, you can do a wide range of exercises that target several areas, including your shoulders, chest, arms, and legs. It’ll probably be the one thing you use most.
Barbells come in a range of sizes and styles. There isn’t a standard size, per se. However, you may find barbells labeled “Olympic-style” in reference to ones that conform to official international standards for powerlifting. You’ll often see barbells rated for weight. If you’re into heavy-duty weightlifting, that’s an essential feature.
You’ll also find barbells with or without revolving sleeves. Having them is important if you want to do Olympic lifts. You’ll also find a barbell easier to use with revolving sleeves than without them, something to consider if you are a beginner. A fixed bar will make lifting hard on your hands without extra protection.
Also, consider the weight of your barbell which can be hefty for thicker barbells suitable for powerlifting. Metal collars add to the weight of the barbell too. If you’re into serious lifting, muscle clamps might be a better choice than metal collars. The type of weightlifting you intend to do can guide your choice.
Of course, you can’t have a barbell without weights. Weight plates give you the flexibility to match the intensity of your workout with your fitness level. They also offer you the opportunity to customize your workout so you can match your need with the equipment.
Your training goals will play a big part in determining the kind of investment you need to make in weight plates. For example, if your goal is general fitness, the weight range of your plates will differ from someone who is doing fewer reps to gain strength.
Generally, you’ll want a range of plate weights beginning anywhere from 2.5 lbs to 50 lbs, depending on your training goals. Bear in mind that muscle groups vary in the amount of weight they can manage. You won’t be able to use the same weight for lat raises, for example, as you would for chest presses.
That’s the reason you need several plates to accommodate the varying weights you’ll need during a whole body workout. Generally, you’ll need a wider range of weights on the lower end of the scale than on the higher end. The smaller weights are necessary for muscle groups with a narrow range.
As you increase weight during training, you should make small additions. Moving from 20 lbs straight to 30 lbs is a lot harder and riskier than adding weight in smaller 5 or even 2.5 lb increments. It may not make much of a difference with larger leg muscles, but you’ll definitely feel it with smaller arm muscles.
Round, iron weight plates make an excellent addition to gym equipment at home. You’ll likely see weight plates with rubber coatings. If you have good quality home gym flooring, it is an unnecessary expense. The plain iron ones will suit you just fine.
Your barbell along with weight plates offer several advantages over strength training machines. When thinking about how to build a home gym, maximizing your investment is part of the equation. Free weights give you the flexibility of an effective workout without a large investment.
And perhaps one of the main advantages of using free weights is variety. Working out with the same strength training machines will likely get boring after a while. With free weights, you can mix things up to keep your workouts fun, so you’ll stick with your healthy habit. You have the added advantage of a workout customized to your needs and abilities.
A bench opens up an array of exercises for your home gym. Benches come in a variety of styles. The most common one is the flat horizontal model. Some benches are adjustable for a variety of uses. You’ll also come across specialized benches such as the design for doing preacher curls or abdominal benches for these targeted exercises.
You’ll find models with or without uprights on the sides for holding a barbell. If you’ve invested in a power rack, the uprights are unnecessary since the rack will do the same thing. You simply place the bench inside your power rack to serve the same function. And like barbells, you may also see Olympic benches which function almost like a piece of exercise equipment.
A bench offers a better choice for heavy lifting rather than an exercise ball. For one, it is more stable which is an important safety consideration if you’re lifting heavier weights. And if that is your style of lifting, an exercise ball may not be able to handle the extra weight.
Your number one consideration when buying a bench is choosing one that is sturdy and capable of handling the extra weight you’re going to be lifting. Likewise, you should pick a bench that has some cushioning, so you stay comfortable while lifting. A good bench offers other benefits.
To keep your choice of exercises open, be sure and pick a bench that has both incline and decline. These adjustable benches will allow you to change the angle of the bench and thus, give you the chance to vary your position for different exercises. The key to sticking with a workout plan is variety.
For example, while a chest press and an incline press seem like similar workouts, each exercise works your muscles differently. Both exercises target your chest and shoulders, but a chest press will also engage your arms more. And a decline chest press will ramp up the intensity and difficulty.
As you probably noticed, each of these components builds upon the others. A barbell leads to a set of weight plates, which makes a bench a smart addition as well as a power rack for powerlifting. And each part serves a unique function that can help you reach your training goals. With the added benefit of a home gym, you’ve taken an important step to good health.
When considering how to build a home gym, let safety and your training goals guide the process. Home gym flooring will protect your floors and joints. A high-quality power rack will make heavy lifting safe. And a good barbell, weight plates, and a bench will give you the right tools for an effective workout.