How to choose equipment for a home gym
In order to choose equipment for a home gym, it is best to start with the exercises you want to do. In a home gym, as in any gym, large multi-joint exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and bench presses will work best. These exercises involve many muscles at the same time and are therefore the most effective. Additionally, they use natural movement patterns such as getting up or picking something up from the ground. The opposite is an isolated exercise where we only engage one muscle group, and the movement performed is often hard to compare with anything we would do in our daily life. The three basic exercises (deadlift, squat, bench press) will work out all the larger muscles (back, legs, chest), and also many smaller ones (triceps, biceps, shoulders).
The 4 most important equipment in a home gym
Assuming that we want to base our training on 3 basic and most important exercises, it is easy to indicate what equipment we need in the first place.
A barbell is an absolute must. It is used for all the exercises mentioned above and it is hard to imagine any gym without a barbell. Simple bar weighs around 20 pounds and you can get it for $60-$90. A good Olympic bar weighs around 40 pounds and is much more expensive. It can cost over $300, but you can buy good quality equipment for $200-$250.
2. Weight plates
When you already have a barbell, you must of course have something to put on it. A set of about 200 pounds, which can be recommended at the beginning, will cost from $150-$400 depending on the type you choose.
We can only do deadlifts with the barbell and the weights. It is great exercise, but it is not enough for us. By purchasing racks, we give ourselves the opportunity to place the bar in a higher starting position. This will allow us to do squats and overhead presses. Doing these exercises without the racks is possible only at the very beginning. The weight used is then relatively low. Trying to put more weight on your back before squatting, without using the stands is a really bad idea. This way we risk a serious head, back, or wrist injury. Regardless of whether we choose a full rack or a simpler half-rack, it will be a necessary purchase. You will pay about $100-$500 depending on your choice.
The last necessary element is the bench. By adding a bench to our set, we will do the bench press and develop our chest. The bench press is the least natural movement among the Big Three exercises. It’s hard to find a situation in everyday life where we put our backs on something and push the weight forward. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine a gym without a bench press. This is probably the most popular exercise in the world. And that is not a surprise! It is hard to build the chest without benching. Let’s try to buy an adjustable bench, it will allow you to do more exercises. A decent bench will cost us about $100-$200.
Two useful additions
Finally, two additional equipment that is not necessary but will help to diversify the training.
Dumbbells will be useful mainly for exercising smaller muscles such as the biceps and triceps. They will also help you diversify your training by replacing the barbell in some exercises. If we want a low price and we already have weights purchased for the barbell, we can buy only bars. If you chose an Olympic barbell, unfortunately, you will have to buy the whole set: bars + weight plates.
6. Pull-up bar
Pull-ups are a great exercise. Having a bar will allow you to better exercise your back, biceps, and abdominal muscles. It is not a coincidence that pull-ups are an important point of the exam in many uniformed services, such as the army or fire brigade. Besides developing muscles, it also gives us a good idea of how strong we are for our weight.
And that’s it?
Yes, that’s it! To start composing your home gym and to be able to do really decent training from the very beginning, all you need is a few basic pieces of equipment. Don’t be fooled by marketers who will tell you that you need a hundred different things. Or that you need to buy their great set where, next to 3 useful things, 5 completely unnecessary items have been crammed (because they are wasting storage space for the past 3 years), and a few necessary ones have been omitted. Strength training is very complicated and very simple at the same time. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, just apply what has been working for decades. Hope this article helped you choose your home gym equipment. Good luck!