Article by Christian Monson
When you think of weightlifting, you might imagine bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Olympians like Paul Anderson. You don’t have to go pro to benefit from weightlifting, though. Just utilizing weights in your workout a few days a week can help build calorie-burning muscle mass, increase strength and tone your physique. It’s also a lot of fun.
If you’ve been considering taking up weightlifting, there’s no better way to do it than with a home gym. To get started, you’ll need the basic equipment required to do a range of exercises targeting the whole body. We’ve compiled a list of recommended equipment that will get you off on the right foot at a great value.
Benefits of a home gym
First, let’s dive into the advantages of building your own home gym.
A home gym saves a lot of time. You can fit your workout in whenever you want, and you don’t have to worry about transportation. Plus, it never closes.
When you have your gym all to yourself, you can get the best workout possible. You don’t have to wait for equipment, and you don’t have to walk across an entire fitness center to do supersets. More importantly, you can tailor your gym exactly to your needs.
A home gym saves you money in the long run over gym membership fees. That’s why our recommendations are quality durable equipment at a high value. They’ll last a long time and won’t break the bank.
Things to consider
Creating your own home gym is an empowering experience, but it does come with its obstacles. To build a comfortable workout space that still gets you an all-body workout, you’ll have to keep a few things in mind.
First and foremost you’re going to have to figure out how much room you have. Measure whatever area you’ve set aside for your gym and keep it in mind while you’re shopping for equipment.
A lot of standard gym equipment can be bulky, but luckily you can find compact designs especially made for home use like the ones we’ve put on our list. Plus, if you get the right products, you can maximize space in three dimensions and still make sure you hit every muscle group.
If you’re getting into weightlifting, it might be intimidating looking at all the different machines, bars and plates used to create a well-rounded physique. You can actually get a great full-body workout without having to shell out for all those specialized machines, though.
For a home gym, you should try for equipment that you can use for multiple exercises and muscle groups. Not only does it save space, but it keeps your workout streamlined and efficient.
Convenience probably isn’t the only reason you’re going for a home gym instead of forking over a monthly fee to attend a local gym. Although a large investment up front, a home gym can be a great way to save money in the long run over expensive gyms.
If you stick to the above advice, you can also keep costs down on your home gym. For example, finding multi-use equipment means you only have to buy one product instead of multiple. Compact weights and bars can also be cheaper than their bulkier cousins.
When it comes to shopping for equipment, you want to find a great value. The best products get you the most bang for your buck. They’re durable, versatile and long lasting, all at a good price.
Best equipment for beginners
A squat cage is absolutely the first piece of equipment you should buy for your home gym. As a beginner, this piece of equipment allows you to do almost all the basic exercises to get a full-body workout: squats, bench press, military press, etc.
Look for a cage that has pin pipe safeties. These give you maximum security along with easy adjustability. A dedicated pullup bar gets you even more use from the equipment.
Olympic bar and weight plates
Of course, you need weights to go with your squat cage or to use stand alone for exercises like deadlifts. An olympic bar is 20 kg (45 lbs) and the standard for weightlifting. More importantly, it’s more stable than lighter bars, so you’re home gym will be safe.
Get several plates in increments: 5 kg (10 lbs), 10 kg (25 lbs) and 20 kg (45 lbs). As a beginner you won’t need too many, but go for at least two of the lighter plates so you can lift different combinations of weights.
For exercises like bench press you’ll need a bench you can use in the squat cage. Get an adjustable one so you can do lifts at different inclinations: bench press, incline bench press, military press, etc.
You can get a basic full-body workout with just a squat cage and barbell weights, but if you want something a little more advanced, dumbbells will let you isolate one arm at a time to do things like curls and shoulder press. Find a set that goes in increments up to 20 kg (50 lbs).
If you want to add an even greater variety of exercises to your home gym, a cable crossover station is the next step. With this you can isolate more muscles and do more exercises like triceps pushdowns and flies. With the bench you already have, you can do cable rows too.
Cable machines come in a range of sizes. For a home gym, you’ll probably need a more compact one. Just make sure it’s adjustable so you can do as many exercises as possible.
One of the great things about weightlifting is that you can add as you go. Once you master the basic exercises on the basic equipment, there are a lot more exercises and plenty more equipment to add to your gym.
You can invest a little up front, and if you do turn into a full-blown gym rat, there’s a whole weightlifting world to explore. The first step is covering your basics with this quality equipment.