Selecting the proper gym equipment is critical as it is a big expenditure. If you make the right selection you will get years of satisfying training with great results, all in the convenience and comfort of your own home. If you get it wrong you will waste valuable training time and money.
Before buying a home gym you will need to consider the following points:
1) Functionality – will your home gym have the right exercises that get the best results?
2) Quality – will it go the distance with years of solid training?
3) Space – work out your footprint for your gym
Functionality for Home Gym Equipment.
In my opinion the most important aspect of buying a gym is that if you train hard on it, plus eat well and look after yourself, you will get results. If your gym does not allow you to do the major compound exercises like squats, bench press, lat pull downs, rows etc then you are not only wasting your money you are also wasting the time you have spent training. Isolation exercises are great for shaping existing muscle. But if you don’t have muscle there to begin with you need to concentrate on doing compound exercises to build your base strength and muscle mass.
You now have to work out whether you want to go the free weight or machine home gym path. When I refer to free weights I mean training the old fashioned way with a power rack, barbells and dumbbells. In regards to home gyms, you will have to choose between a traditional cable style gym or a leverage multi gym.
Before you decide on whether to go free weight or a machine, you will need to think about what you are trying to get out of your weight training. If you just want to be fit and healthy and are not too fussed with dramatically improving your muscle mass and strength a home gym will be the best option. If on the other hand you want build strength or bulk up then a power rack will be ideal. If you want to build strength and add muscle mass but can’t stand free weight movements then a leverage home gym is the best bet.
In recent years there has been a tidal wave of cheap cable home gyms hitting the market out of China. While certain exercises like lat pulldowns or seated rows are great in cable format most of the exercises, and in some cases all the exercises on these budget gym are just rubbish. Many times these gyms are just replicated from photographs by factories where the people building them don’t have any interest in weight training. It may look like a home gym, but the exercises feel weird and can sometimes been down right dangerous. Forget about cheap gyms, they are not worth the risk!
There are very good quality cable home gyms on the market but they are nearly always restricted to the weight stack that is on the gym. Some gyms only have 200lb or 90kg stacks. Many gyms have a mechanical advantage – the arrangement of the pulleys mean that you can lift 90kgs of weight with only 60kg of effort. That might impress your buddies when you show them how strong you are but sooner or later you will get on some proper gym equipment and look like a prize goose!
Good compound exercises are also absent from cable home gyms – even the higher end ones. In particular a flat bench press or squat. Upright presses, pec decs, leg extensions and leg curls are good but are no substitute for bench press and squats. Cable style home gyms are perfect for the person looking to save time with their weight training. You just pop the pin into the weight stack and away you go. Yeah it may save time but are you getting the results?
Home Gym Quality
Gym equipment needs to be rugged. If you are a devoted weight trainer you will be training up to 5 times a week and lifting heavy weight. Your gym equipment needs to reflect your commitment. A cheap and flimsy home gym will simply not last. More importantly it has that cheap feel which doesn’t beg you to train hard.
I have seen it so many times; people try and cut corners when buying gym equipment and the following happens:
1) The passion for training fades. Training on equipment with a cheap feel does not get you coming back for more. Good quality equipment will hammer you and have you coming back for more punishment.
2)They neglect key body parts like legs because they do not have satisfactory exercises to work those muscle groups effectively.
3)The gym falls to pieces and is used as a piece of contemporary art in the spare room.
4)The cheap gym is sold and a quality gym is purchased.
Although quality gym equipment seems expensive it is actually a good investment. Buy the right gym and it will give you a lifetime of training plus great results. Plus you will save a heap on gym fees.
A top quality leverage gym allow you to do many exercises safely like cable home gyms. The advantage that good quality leverage gyms have over cable gyms is that they are plate loaded and have decent weight capacities so they will accommodate your strength gains. Instead of growing out of the gym you will grow into it. They are not limited by a weight stack.
Unless you live in a mansion you are going to be limited by space. There are two factors that you need to consider when choosing your gym equipment.
Firstly you have to work out how much space you are willing to devote to your home gym. Once again you will have to determine how dedicated you are to your training. Remember that you will be training regularly so it might worth sacrificing your collection of crap in your garage/spare room that has not been touched in years.
Parking the car on the street may also be be considered. But in reality for most the amount of space will be determined by the missus. Once you have determined how much space you will have for your home gym you will need to work out what gym equipment you are going to purchase. The biggest mistake people make here is that they try and cram too much in and the weight training workout soon becomes an obstacle course. Sometimes less is more when fitting out your home gym. Take into consideration that you need to focus on your compound movements to get results.
I mentioned previously the investment aspect of buying a home gym. I hate using terms like that because everyone seems to use it these days. But as I have said many times before if you train with weights consistently you will get benefits. Training at home is much more convenient for most people so it will help with your consistency.
It is important to work out how much you will be spending on gym fees in the future to put your home gym expenditure into perspective.
As above you will most probably need approval from the wife or girlfriend – good luck.
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on your home gym. Take the time to have a good think about the direction you want to head with your weight training. If you plan your home gym right you will have years of great training ahead!
I started importing Powertec and Ironmaster gym equipment into Australia 5 years ago. I was looking at setting up a home gym because I got tired of waiting for equipment at my local gym.