Can Home Gyms Live Up to the Hype? Part 2

By Jeremy Carter

Getting Started

The biggest piece of advice is to not buy more than what you need. Are you simply doing body-weight exercises to prepare for most of the military fitness tests (excluding the newer versions)? If so, you need virtually no equipment for push-ups, sit-ups and crunches can be done by placing your feet under a sofa, bed rail or purchasing a doorway sit-up bar like the one here for around $15 at the time of writing. For push-ups one does not need the perfect push-up tool or even parallels just use a chair or counter-top to either raise your chest for incline pushups or the chair also for decline pushups. Additionally, one can use different hand placements for push-up variety. Running in some form is a staple of most military fitness tests, early morning trainings and a preferred exercise to simply increase aerobic capacity and improve heart health to some degree. Running can be done almost anywhere outdoors, however if your community/neighborhood isn’t safe or have appropriate sidewalks/walkways a treadmill might be in your best interest. But, before you run to the nearest sporting goods store, base exchange or an online retailer look to websites such as Facebook market place, and apps such as OfferUp or Letgo to find deals on these items. You will save hundreds of dollars by simply buying a used treadmill from someone who no longer requires its use. My family has personally purchased new treadmills (yes, more than once) only to sell it months later because they didn’t feel right or in favor of running outdoors after moving to a new location. Finally a doorway pull-up bar

Pure Fitness Multi-Purpose Doorway Pull-Up Bar, Size: 38, Silver

can be used to get better for the physical fitness test or just to start, maintain or increase your pull-up or chin-up numbers. Some, such as the one above have many other features besides just being used in the doorway.

Upgrading the Simplicity

Now that you have identified you want to exercise from your own home, you may also realize you need to add a little weight to your training. Sandbags are an excellent and inexpensive way to add resistance to your training. You can purchase a 50 pound bag of sand from a local hardware store for around $5.00 and then determine how you’d like to incorporate that into your training. Squatting? Split the bag into multiple bags for farmer’s walks or other carries? Place it in a heavier duty bag (like a sea bag or duffle bag) for more explosive exercises. Or simply stuff it into a backpack of some sort to take on a long walk or ruck-run. If adding dumbbells or kettlebells is more your style, look again on those local Facebook market place sites and the OfferUp and Letgo applications to find amazing deals on used equipment. Lastly, adding a TRX kit or similar suspension training system that can be used with a closed door or wall or ceiling mounted is perhaps one of the next steps of being able to get a lot of varied exercises out of a single piece of equipment and not breaking the bank.

All In on a Home Gym

If you’ve determined that you’re all in on your own home gym there are many options to chose from. If you are renting a home or in military housing, securing a squat rack to your garage floor (or other areas) may be out of the question. Companies such as PrX performance and RogueFitness make wall mounted squat racks that can even be folded up to save space if required. These racks can range in price from $300 up to $900, can come in a variety of colors and various attachments depending on what you prefer and your fitness goals. Some of these racks come with a pull-up bar cross attachment, which can save a few dollars by not needing to purchase a separate item. 

As stated above some of the companies offer “home-gym” packages, but tailor these to your specific needs initially to help offset the startup costs. There may be items in these packages you simply don’t need or don’t know how to use. Essentials for your home gym should include, but not limited to:

Barbell: Find a good barbell that will last. There are many types of knurling on a bar which are used for specific exercises. Some have knurling in the center and others do not while others have very deep knurls and others feel slightly rough; all dependent on your exercise of choice. A good beginner bar would be the XMark Lumberjack 7’ Olympic bar which is around $156.00. Best all-around and my personal choice is the Rogue Ohio Bar which is a higher price range at $285.00.

Weight plates: Users choice. If you are not going to be dropping weights, especially onto a hard surface there is nothing wrong with a set of Iron plates. Body Solid sells a 300lb set with bar for around $500. Rogue Fitness sells a wonderful set (260lb) of bumper plates for $405.00.

Dumbbells: You can purchase these individually based on your need or if you believe you will need a large variety and small space look no further than the Powerblock system of weights. These can be adjusted (or not depending on your choice) to range from 5lbs- 90 lbs and the price is $329.00 for 5-50lbs of weights all the way to $627.00 for the 5-90lbs set.

Bench: It is recommended to get an adjustable bench because most workout programs will call for some kind of angle on a bench or incline bench press. The Fitness Gear bench will do just that and it’s only $89.99, with removable leg restraints on the base. Others 

Final Thoughts

Home gyms are a wonderful idea if you desire to have flexibility in your exercise regimen. First you need to identify your goal or goals of what you want to achieve and then build your gym around those goals. I personally started with a pull-up bar, then suspension system and have since grown my home gym to include a full squat rack, multiple barbells with bumper and iron plates, a variety of dumbbells and kettlebells that were purchased based on progression, a rower, rings, a climbing rope and box for box jumps. Additionally we have a variety of exercise bands, a TV on the wall and a TRX system all placed on horse stall mats on one-half of our garage still allowing room for one car to comfortably fit while being able to work-out. Home gyms are affordable and can be scaled to you, the users’ desires. Look for deals in your local area to save some money, but ensure you get a quality product and nothing that is rusted out, or broken that could pose a risk while using.


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