Home Gym – starter pack
The article below contains most important information about building a home gym. I highly recommend reading it if you want to exercise and build your own gym or you already have one. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to loose some weight, build a beach body or improve your health and quality of life. Below you can find the most important things you should know. If you are an experienced person, you will probably find it quite basic. Anyway I hope even more advanced people can find this brief introduction helpful. Simple gym in your garage or attic can give you a lot of fun and satisfaction. It is worth understanding how to build it or expand it.
Benefits of exercising
Exercising have a lot of benefits
Read more in our article on 10 top benefits of exercise.
Let’s start with the most basic question: why exercise? Most of you probably have their reasons if you decided to google ‘home gym’ or ‘how to build a gym in a garage’. I bet however, that you are not aware of all the benefits regular exercise can bring to your life. This are just some of them:
- exercising makes us happier
- smaller risk of many serious diseases including diabetes, cancer and heart attack
- weight control
- stronger muscle and bones
- more energy and better mood
- better memory and more brain power
- improved relaxation and better sleep
- longer and better life
- your skin will look better
- you will be more self confident and determined
All of these benefits can be gained by weight lifting. If you add some cardio exercise you will get a few extra points on cardio vascular. This can be further aided with active recovery such as walking, cycling or hiking to get even more health benefits.
Weight training, cardio or both?
This is one of the oldest discussions still ongoing in fitness world: strength training or cardio? In my opinion both of them have benefits worth taking.
Cardio exercise is a low intensity exercise where our muscles get enough oxygen to sustain the effort for extended period of time. It is characterized by heart rate of 120-140 bits per minute. It is the effort level where we start sweating and tiring, but we can still have a normal conversation. We are not out of breath. Best examples are: walking, jogging, cycling. It has a lot of health benefits: helps controlling weight, reduces the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, some types of cancer, helps your cardiovascular system and a lot more. There is one serious downside: if you do not find a form of cardio, that you enjoy, it will become boring over time! Fortunately there is a lot of options to pick from, so there is a good chance everyone finds something compelling:
- stationary bike (watching you favorite Netflix show)
- rowing machine
Additional downside for many may be the fact, that this type of exercise usually take more time. It can also call for longer recovery or interfere with recovery after other exercises.
Weight training is aiming at improving overall strength by increasing muscle size. This one thing is often putting women off weight training, they are afraid of putting too much muscle on. There is no need to worry, due to hormonal differences it is a lot more difficult for female to gain muscle. Professional female bodybuilders look the way they look, because they sacrificed their entire life to exercise and diet (not to mention, the amount of extra pharmacological help they get…). It is nearly impossible to get result like that for a regular person.
Other than increasing muscle size and strength, weight training has so many other benefits, that it cannot be ignored if your plan is to stay healthy and good looking for as long as possible:
- it is very useful for controlling weight, lifting, similarly to interval training, is burning calories for many hours after workout is finished (as opposed to cardio, when fat burning after workout is a lot smaller)
- increases the strength of bones, joints and tendons in your body
- decreases the risk of injuries, by making your body stronger
- improves mood
- helps to build a better looking body, not only burning fat, but also building muscle
So how should we train? I recommend building your training program around weight training. It gives all the benefits of regular exercise and helps to build a better physique in more ways than cardio does. When the base of your exercise system is lifting weights, it makes sense to add some cardio to get extra benefits. It is important to not overdo it. With 3-4 sessions of proper weight lifting training a week, additional 1-3 cardio sessions should be fine. You need to listen to our body for any signs of increased fatigue or overtraining. If you notice them, we need to take it easier and get more rest.
Last type of training, worth mentioning is the interval training. It consists of periods of intensive effort interleaved with periods of low effort (for example 30 seconds of sprint, 60 seconds of jogging and so on 5 times). It helps to burn fat more efficiently than cardio. It also helps preserve muscle mass better and it is usually shorter. You can do it running, cycling, rowing, skipping and with any other activity where you can reach close to your maximum effort.
Home gym vs commercial gyms
During Covid-19 pandemic a lot of people cannot or does not want to go to gym. More and more people choose to exercise at home, but for many of us, this was always our first choice. Exercising at your own home gym, has a lot of advantages:
- we pick time and how we exercise
- no time wasting waiting for your slot at the squat rack
- no need to worry about having fancy gym clothes
- you can play any music you like
- you do not waste time for commuting, packing, unpacking etc.
- you avoid crowds in January…
- you spend your money once and can use the equipment for a long time
Simply put: nothing beats the convenience of exercising at your own gym in garage or attic. Of course, as with everything, there are some downsides:
- not everyone have space
- there are no professional coaches to help you with setting up your training program or to show you the correct form for exercises
- not everyone likes to train alone
- if you exercise alone there is no one to spot you and help
- one time cost of equipment can be significant
Which option is better from financial point of view depends on the time period we use for comparison. Well equipped home gym usually costs as much as gym membership for 2-3 years. There are other hidden savings: fuel and time for commuting, cost of expensive training shoes and clothes and so on.
If you think you may quit after a month (like every February in last 5 years…) go to a commercial gym. If you think you will stick to it long enough, it makes sense to build your own gym. It will serve you well for many years.
What do you need to start exercising at home?
To start you really need only 3 things: willingness to exercise, some space and regularity. This alone will let you move around, which is always better than sitting the whole day.
If you want to take it to a higher level and you want some serious results, you will need few extra things: training plan, diet plan and some equipment. Just so you know: there is a lot of people who get great results using their own body weight to exercise. I am a fan of more classic approach, where you use some external weight to make it a bit more efficient. And for that, home gym doesn’t have to be worse than commercial gyms.
What training programs can you use at home?
When it comes to weight training, all of the most popular training routines can be used at home with minimal equipment:
- Full Body Workout
- Push Pull Legs
- Bro Split
- and many others
Almost all training programs consist of the same basic exercise, just the schedule is different. What are these basic exercise? The biggest benefits can be obtained by doing big movements, that will engage as many muscles as possible:
- bench press
These three exercises alone will give us a good workout, but don’t worry most of training programs are more complex, so there is more variety.
Equipment selection needs to start with exercise we would like to do. As mentioned above, all good training programs should contain deadlifts, squats and bench presses, so at the very least you will need:
- barbell + weights
Additionally we would like to train smaller muscles, so we could use some dumbbells.
The last piece of equipment, that is not strictly speaking necessary, but definitely very useful is a pull up bar. It is not a coincidence that pull ups are a part of recruitment process for many service personnel: soldiers, firefighters and so on in many countries. It will help us with exercising back muscles, biceps and core.
When you start looking for equipment, you will be flooded with offers from amazon and other online retailer. Fitness is a big industry and it is easy to fall for marketers tricks. In exercising simpler usually means better. On this website I will try to help you in selecting good equipment and not overpaying for shiny things you do not need.
Where can I buy good equipment?
You can go to your local shop with sport equipment or… buy it where we buy everything nowadays: online. There is plenty of equipment out there on amazon and in other online stores. We will try to help in selecting the best.
I hope I managed to convince you, that exercising is good and that you can easily build your own gym in garage or attic. All you need to start, is some basic knowledge and equipment and build it up from there. Developing your body, is like developing any other area of your life: it requires time and dedication. You can start with basic equipment and build your home gym over time. Use menu on the right to access some of our guides on equipment [coming soon].