So you're now seriously thinking about a home gym. From the constraints of space and budget to the need to have a sufficient variety of equipment to make your workouts varied and effective, what's next to think about?
The best piece of advice we can give you is to start by thinking about what you enjoy doing and will use but as importantly what is practical in the space you have. That water rower may look amazing but will you use it enough to make it cost effective? You may love a treadmill but will it end up taking up too much space? So consider what you need and the space that you have available. To help your thought process we would suggest that the following are often seen as good essential gym equipment but as we have said this is dependent on your individual needs.
The correct flooring is the absolute starting point. If you have the wrong flooring you could damage the floor, damage your equipment, annoy your neighbours with noise but also not provide enough protection for yourself. Before you look at flooring do check out what exactly is underneath you, for example you don’t want to try and put a dumbbell rack between two floor joists.
The type of flooring you choose is dependent on the workout you are doing. If you are working out high impact then you will need a good rubber floor. Machines like treadmills however absorb much of the impact but you will still need to protect the floor with rubber or foam mats. There are three types of floors; rubber mats, interlocking tiles and rolled rubber. What you choose is dependent on the floor you already have and exactly what you are planning to do on it.
For many this is essential as it will allow you to perform a vast array of exercises. Covering all areas of the body from legs, back, shoulders, chest and arms. A key thing to remember is that working from home you won’t have a spotter. With this in mind if you can afford it then some bumper plates can be useful if you need to drop your weights, much kinder on a home floor. Another consideration here is to also purchase a rack, this allows for even more exercises but again allows you greater safety when training alone.
This again is a pretty fundamental piece of kit so that you can use your free weights (barbells and plates) as well as using for dips, push ups and more. We would advise buying a bench that has incline and decline options as this will allow for greater usage.
The simplest option for free weights is probably dumbbells – with just a couple of different weights of dumbbells – or some adjustable dumbbells with a variety of plates – you can perform a huge range of exercises for the whole body. Dumbbells are particularly effective because you have to work both sides of the body independently, so you will soon uncover – and rehabilitate – any weaknesses.
If you have a little more space, you can use an Olympic bar, which allows you to work with much heavier weights.
You can also opt here for kettlebells, the advantage of kettlebells is that they can allow you to also bring momentum and functional training into your workouts.
Most people who are planning a home gym build it around one piece of cardio equipment. Cardio equipment tends to be the biggest, most expensive part of a home gym, and therefore requires serious thought and planning.
There are at least six cardio machines worth considering – treadmills, rowers, stationary bikes (upright or recumbent), steppers, cross-trainers, and climbing machines. They each have their merits – rowers, cross-trainers, and climbers, for example, give the best al around workout, because they work both the upper and lower body.
However, what should ultimately help make your decision is quite simply which do most enjoy using? When you go to the gym or health club, which cardio machine do you naturally head for? If you choose the machine you most enjoy, chances are you will keep on using it, and it won’t become an expensive, dusty clothes rack.
Of course, you may be seriously constrained by price or space. If space is your issue, look for models that can fold up when not in use – for example many treadmills do this – or that can easily be rolled away, like a stationary bike.
If you need cardio equipment then consider a rowing machine as they will give you a great workout and many can be stored upright, so again good for home gyms. Alternatively, consider a stationary bike, some of which can be linked in to local cycling classes. A cross trainer is also a popular choice here if you are looking for low impact but maximum calorie burn.
Mirrors may seem a bit of a luxury but they do play a vital role. They are an essential way for you to check on your form and also to motivate yourself. They can also be a clever way to make a small space at home look larger. So consider looking for bespoke gym mirror companies, or you can also look for mirrored perspex as a lightweight alternative that works well with stud walls.
Other items worth mentioning which are relatively cheap and take up little room include items like a skipping rope and exercise bands. A skipping rope is a cheap way to get your cardio in and exercise bands provide great resistance to any workouts. An exercise ball or a BOSU, will also allow you to really work your core muscles. A suspension system, like the TRX, can also be great for home gyms and take up little space.
In addition to flooring, a floor mat is also a good idea for that extra support when performing floor workouts.
If you are just buying some weights then you may not need to consider huge "design" issues. But if you are buying a number of different pieces of kit then yes you will need to consider where everything goes, the weight your floor will need to take and how equipment will work toether,so that you can move seamlessly through your routine.
A number of issues we would suggest you need to consider include what space you have. If you want to swing a kettlebell for example this may be difficult in a smaller space. Consider how high your ceiling is as this may preclude lifting weights. How will you store all equipment? Poor storage could lead to damage to equipment but also provide s safety issue. If you have small children, then should the equipment be locked or at least stored safely away. Finally, do consider lighting and music or even a TV, to give you that extra motivation often needed when you are working out alone.
If you're worried about the final outcome of your home gym, why not call us for some free design and equipment advice?