Optimize Your Small Home Gym For Gains!
Working Out At Home... You Don't Need Much
Progressive overload and caloric manipulation are the key to building muscle, getting shredded and achieving the body of your dreams. I remember using every single piece of equipment in the gym during every single workout during my first few months in the gym - I was under the impression that radical amounts of volume and hitting my muscles from every conceivable angle with every available machine was the answer to getting big.
That my work ethic was better than everyone else's, and that's why I was circling the gym while everyone else hovered around one or two pieces of equipment.
Preacher curl machines, seated hamstring curls... all those machines are bullshit. You don't need 'em.
What you do need is a means to perform basic compound exercises... the squat, the bench press, the overhead press, deadlifts and pull-ups...
The Key To Selecting The Right Equipment
A Spartan yet effective home gym can be created in a spare bedroom or a garage. It won't be luxurious but it will be enough to get you results regardless of how weak, strong, shredded or overweight you currently are.
When real estate is precious we can't afford to waste any floor or wall space with ineffective, useless machines or apparatuses that're going to cost a fortune and provide very little return on investment if at all.
A preacher curl machine, despite the fact they're expensive serves only 1 purpose. You can't do anything other than isolate your biceps on it, that's a waste.
The 3 staple pieces of exercise equipment for a small home gym I recommend are all extremely versatile, they can be used for training almost any body part effectively with both compound movements, isolation and core/plyometric work too!
Staple Home Gym Equipment #1 - A Pull-Up Bar
A pull-up bar is in my opinion the most important piece of home gym equipment.
If you've only got the space or funds for 1 piece of equipment make sure it's a sturdy pull-up bar.
The pull-up bar can be used to train the back, biceps, traps, shoulders and core via bodyweight exercises. Should you wish to delve into more functional style training a good pull-up bar like the one pictured above by Rogue Fitness will also support rings.
- Hanging leg raise variations
- Skin the cat (shoulder mobility)
- Hanging shrugs
Staple Home Gym Equipment #2 - Adjustable Dumbbells
Dumbbells can be used to train literally every single muscle group, however the biggest issue encountered with dumbbells in home gyms (from my experience) is that they never seen to be heavy enough. Buying multiple sets of dumbbells is a waste of money and space. I recommend purchasing a heavy, quick to adjust pair of dumbbells, or otherwise save yourself a bit of money (at the cost of it taking longer to adjust the weight) and pick up a 200lbs dumbbell set.
- Dumbbell chest press
- Incline dumbbell chest press
- Dumbbell flies
- Push-ups (on dumbbell handles)
- One arm dumbbell row
- Bent over dumbbell row
- Renegade rows
- Seated dumbbell shoulder press
- One arm standing unilateral dumbbell press
- Dumbbell side lateral raises
- Dumbbell front raises
- Dumbbell rear deltoid flys
- Dumbbell curls
- Dumbbell hammer curls
- Concentration curls
- Dumbbell skull crushers
- Dumbbell overhead triceps extension
- Dumbbell one arm French press
- Goblet squat
- Dumbbell front squat
- Straight leg dumbbell deadlift
- Dumbbell lunges
Dumbbells can even be used for core training too! a heavy dumbbell can be utilized as an anchor point for exercises such as the dragon flag or held onto in front of your torso for added resistance when performing sit-ups or Russian twists.
Staple Home Gym Equipment #3 - A Bench
If you're getting a bench for your home gym ensure you get an adjustable (incline) bench.
The easy adjust-ability of these benches open up a whole new array of exercises we can perform. The upper, middle and lower chest can now be honed in on with slight adjustments in the angle during our dumbbell chest press.
Arm exercises such as the over bench concentration curl and seated incline hammer curl are now an option too.
The bench isn't only versatile in terms of dumbbell paired exercises, we're also able to perform laying leg raises, dragon flags for unbreakable abdominal strength and can also jump onto, over and lunge up on the bench during leg training, cardio and plyometric based workouts.
There's Literally NO Excuses
If you've got a few spare square metres at home and you don't have the time, funds or desire to make it to a gym you can set up a killer workout space with just a pull-up bar, a dumbbell set and an adjustable bench.
A power cage is without a doubt the 1 piece of equipment I'd choose if both cost and amount of space it would consume were not a factor... however if you're like me you don't have quite enough space to install one in your apartment and you want a few pieces of equipment that are equally as versatile while still allowing them to be moved and stored away as necessary then the above will serve you well.