Did you lose all your strength gains due to covid-19 pandemic shutdowns? I hope not!
I’ve been strength training for many years by going to the gym. However, because the covid-19 pandemic caused the gyms in Ireland to close I was forced to train at home. I believe that I managed to make a pretty nice setup for myself, where I can do the majority of the exercises I would like to do, without breaking the bank and cluttering my space.
In this article I will share with you some tips how to setup your home for strength training without turning your house into an actual gym based on my experiences. My assumptions are that you have:
- limited space or just don’t want to clutter it
- you will try to minimize your cost
I will focus on essentials, if you want more cool gear, go for it. I live in a city in a 2 bed apartment. I don’t have a dedicated gym room and I don’t want to clutter my living room with huge pieces of equipment. I guess a squat rack would be nice, but every time I mention buying a squat rack to my partner I hear a decisive no.
I hope that my tips can be useful for some of you who maybe are thinking about starting a home gym.
Btw, I’ve also created a video on this topic that you can watch instead of reading!
Home gym essentials
My top 3 pieces of a equipment that every home gym should have are:
- Heavy things (dumbbells)
- thing to pull up on
- resistance bands
Heavy things: adjustable dumbbells
My favorite piece of gear are adjustable dumbbells. I guess in an actual gym, the fixed weight dumbbells are more convenient, but I believe that the adjustable dumbbells are the best home option.
What I have at home are Iron Cast dumbbells from the company called york. They seem to be a cheaper option than the rubber ones, but I guess you have to be more careful with them. Especially around dropping them on the floor.
With the adjustable dumbbell you can easily adjust their weight, anywhere from 2 to 30kg per dumbbell. This is enough to facilitate any sort of progression and also for any type of exercises.
What is annoying about this type of dumbbell is that you screw and unscrew them to adjust the weight. What I would often do to simplify my workout is to have a heavy and lighter dumbbell so I don’t have to adjust the dumbbells between the exercises that much. Alternatively if you have a bigger budget and more space, you can get yourself a set of fixed weight dumbbells ranging from lightweight to very heavy. This will be more convenient, but also will take about 10 times more space and money.
I keep my dumbbells in the storage cube boxes in the corner of my living room. This way they take a tiny amount of space.
I also bought additional plates, 4 times 5kg that allow me to add more weight per dumbbell.
Another cool thing about adjustable dumbbells is that you can use the weight plates on their own. For example I often do weighted calisthenics exercises with a backpack.
What about kettlebells? Well, in my opinion they are just like fixed weight dumbbells with a different grip type. You would probably need multiple of them or you would be quite limited with having just one or two.
You should be able to get yourself adjustable dumbbells similar to mine for 80 euro from amazon.
My second recommendation for a home gym would be to get a pull up bar or if you are into climbing like me a hangboard.
Pulling is such a fundamental movement and it’s hard to beat pullups when it comes to exercising your upper body.
Usually people put a pullup bar in a doorway. If you live in a rental apartment it might be a bit tricky not to damage the wall or doorframe, but also get a pullup bar that doesn’t fall. You might want to do some research of what works best for you. Here is a good video that explores the topic of the pullup bars.
When you mount a pullup bar in your place you should think carefully where to put it. For example would you like to close that door regularly or not? The pullup bar might make that impossible.
As a bonus you can also attach rings or trx to the pull up bar for more possible exercises.
I think that resistance bands can really complement the weights and a pull up bar in your home gym. I personally wouldn’t use them as your main tool for strength training - I find them very awkward for that. However they are perfect for warmup and some exercises, especially when it comes to strengthening hips, knees and shoulders. Many physiotherapist recommend bad exercises to prevent or treat certain injuries. I have been using resistance bands to increase my ankle mobility.
Be careful buying resistance bands or during exercising with them, they sometimes snap. Buy some thicker more expensive ones, they will hopefully last you for longer.
Alright, those were my tips. Please share them if you found them useful. What can’t you leave without in the context of the home gym?