Sometimes, its hard to make it to the gym, sometimes, we CANT go to the gym, like with the last Covid 19 lockdown. My own home personal gym was my saviour during lockdown, allowing me to continue training relatively uninterrupted and now lockdowns over, if i dont make it to the gym for whatever reason, my home training space gives me a space to exercise without having to leave home, so no excuses for missing workouts.
Some or most of us also have relatively limited space, so each piece of equipment we have at home should have multiple uses. I was blessed with an old rundown shed to turn into my gym, but a room inside your home should be just as good. it can even be a room which ultimately has another purpose, such as a living room, that you commandeer to get your workout in, which isn’t ideal, but much better than absolutely nothing. I will give a detailed list of different types of equipment for different levels of space. Going from limited/no space to UNRESTRAINED AS MUCH SPACE AS YOU LIKE territory.
Training Space 1: Working Out in the Living Room
This type of training space doesn’t have to be limited to an actual living room, the title just represents a room with a pre ordained function, that we can steal for about an hour or so. Due to the fact that it is a room with another purpose, probably one that it will be used for most of the time, it is of utmost imperative that the equipment you buy for these rooms is minimal and takes up as little space as possible, so no barbells, bench presses or squat racks.
Strength Training Equipment:
Instead of big bulky weight machines or barbells, for this type of space try to focus on equipment like Kettlebells and Dumbbells, these will allow you to get in all sorts of strength exercises: floor presses, pistol squats, dumbbell press, rows and many more, allowing you to put more variety into your training as well as giving you the ability to single out and work on individual muscle groups, that bodyweight training doesn’t hit as completely as the isolation exercises that dumbbells can offer
Interestingly enough you can still fit some cardio equipment in this kind of space, one that takes up almost no room, that you can fit in your pocket when your done with it, A SKIPPING ROPE, what I would consider to be the smallest form of cardio equipment, also happens to be one of the best, you burn more calories skipping minute for minute than running, cycling etc just make sure you have a high enough ceiling to allow for skipping.
Nice and simple this one, just equipment that assists and makes your workouts easier, for this smaller type of space, the only auxiliary equipment that I would try to use would be some sort of yoga mat, to make some of the bodyweight work easier and some resistance bands. The reason why I haven’t put bands in the strength training category is due to the fact that ive always hated using them for anything other than recovery work, they’ve just never felt right to me and don’t scratch the right itch for me personally. However for warming up and recovery work, I find them very useful.
Training Space 2: Stealing the office
If you are blessed enough to have a room that you use as an office, then there are some things that you can add into there to make it an office/gym, as its YOUR personal space that means that you can have some equipment in there that doesn’t have to be as compact, so as well as being able to have the other equipment from the first training space, you can also a have some items in there that you don’t need to pack away after using.
Strength Training Equipment:
For this type of space you probably wouldn’t have much problem fitting a barbell in here, not an Olympic one, as the weights for those tend to take up a lot of space, but a spinlock barbell should fit, in this type of space, you could probably get away with keeping around 50 kg worth of weights if you include the weights for your dumbbells, provided they are spinlock dumbbells as well, a good thing about spinlock weight sets is that they’re quite cost effective, especially if you aren’t above buying them pre-owned, at the time of writing this blog post ive seen multiple sets of weights for around 50 to 60 pounds, that’s dumbbells and a barbell and an assorted number of vinyl weights.
Another nice piece of equipment you could add is actually a piece of strongman equipment, a sandbag, I currently have one and use it for a variety of exercises. Due to its relatively compact nature it fits underneath one of the shelves in my room, mine currently weighs 30kg but can actually hold a 100kg of sand. In case you were wondering, the sandbag I use is the Radien Sports sandbag, it has great robust durability and has so many handles on it, ive used it as a kettle bell as well as a medicine ball too, truly a versatile piece of kit.
Luckily for this space you can probably go bigger than a skipping rope for your cardio and actually go for a small cardio station, something like a foldable treadmill if you need to save some space or an exercise bike if you do have the space to have it, depending on the size of the room, you could even have a freestanding punch bag, although the room would have to be quite big. Any of these can add a dose of cardio on those days when its rainy outside or icy, realistically though you could just go out and run in the rain. Be like Dido, feel the rain on your skin you filthy little gremlin.
In a space like an office you could definitely fit in a multi angled bench, something that could really bring some HEAT to your chest training, as well as give you a stable platform to do Bulgarian split squats with or triceps dips if your feeling particularly fruity. if you do have a fairly big office you could also fit in a squat stand, which is like a squat rack, but for the suicidal. Attempts to put yourself in the forever box aside, a pair of squat stands is a great space saver as they can normally be placed on top of each other so you can sequester them to a corner of the room. It should also be mentioned that in this type of space, you might not have space for all of these things, so you may still have to be relatively mercenary with your equipment, sort the wheat from the chaff, Lord of the Flies type vibes.
Training Space 3: The Garden
If you are lucky enough to have garden that no one really cares about, i.e. its not your wife’s prize garden or your children’s play area, then provided on the size of the garden you no longer have to worry about how much space you have, my only real concern about having equipment outside is the effect that the elements would have on it, so no electrical equipment like treadmills and cross trainers. If your going for an outdoors space than you should also take into consider the fact that rain and sleet and snow happen and will effect your workouts. but if its all you’ve got than we’ll make it work.
Strength Training Equipment:
So for a larger outdoor space you could definitely fit a bunch of weights, an Olympic bar, maybe even some weight stations like a pulldown machine or a multi gym, you would definitely have space for a full size squat rack, you could even have space for some strongman training equipment like atlas stones, a sled or farmers walk frame, although that one can be achieved using a barbell or heavy dumbbells. You could even get a large tyre to do tyre flips.
One of the best things I could mention for equipment in the garden is that you would definitely have space for a pull up bar, now the reason why I haven’t mentioned these before is because the indoors ones that you put like in a doorframe, are fucking awful, they almost always slide or move about and the ones which you have to drill into the frame are pretty permanent.
Frankly the best type of pull up bar is one that you can make with just a piece of pipe that you drill into the side of your house, either that or most multi gyms come with a pull up bar on them.
Like I mentioned before, if your outside you probably shouldn’t put any complicated pieces outside, and definitely no electrical equipment, that being said you could still put some cardio stuff outside, equipment like a spinning bike or a rower. You could even add my favourite form of cardio, a heavy bag, you would definitely have space for one of these. A heavy bag rack should survive outside for a while, the bag however, might perish after a while. if you had the space for a tyre than you can even use that, all you’d need to do is go out and get a sledgehammer, use that for some HIIT. Battle ropes are another good thing to add for your training space, you can get a savage workout in with them if you know what your doing.
For outside auxiliary equipment you could have all manner of things, all of the things ive mentioned prior to this, one thing I would desperately try to find is some sort of cover for your equipment, even if that means knocking up some kind of make shift roof to keep the worst of the elements off of your equipment. Other than that, maybe some gymnast rings, a rope maybe, some plyometrics boxes if your that way inclined. As long as its not electrical, it should be ok outside for a while, it should be noted as well that if your keeping you gym equipment outside, it will rust and deteriorate, so either buy inexpensive equipment, or have it outside with plans to move it somewhere indoors, like a garage or shed.
Training Space 4: THE ELITE Garage or Shed Gym
Garage Gyms are perhaps synonymous with the term home gym, they’re normally spaces where all your junk gets thrown and where your car lives when its time for it to go nunnights. But your Garage can be such a good place to build a training space, you can fit so much in there and depending on how much money you spend on it, can have a real top of the line gym AT HOME.
You can have all the stuff mentioned beforehand as well as LITERALLY ANYTHING YOU WANT, you want to have a squat rack, a dedicated bench press and a multi gym? you can have that, you want a bicep curl machine and a little fridge that has all your workout snacks in. YOU CAN HAVE THAT, with a garage gym all that matters is cost. You can have whatever you want provided you have the space in there.
My recommendations for a solid garage gym would be an Olympic barbell, as many weight plates as you want, a squat rack, a bench press, dumbbells, kettlebells, a pullup bar, a sandbag, a cable multi gym and then one or two cardio machines.
I would say having one or two home cardio options is fine, you can have more, I would just want to save space for more weightlifting and combat sports equipment than I would cardio equipment. For the cardio equipment I would say have one piece that you are comfortable doing long steady state cardio on, whatever that may be, rowing machine, bike, treadmill etc and then I would have one piece for HIIT.
I don’t mean a piece that you can just use as part of HIIT, I mean a piece that you can complete a full HIIT workout on, an assault bike or stair-master are perfect for this, you can jump on one of these for 15 minutes and by the end, be a puddle of sweat. Of course it does go without saying that you can do HIIT on any form of cardio equipment, you don’t really need any equipment to do HIIT, equipment just keeps it fresh and exciting.
With regards to auxiliary equipment there really is so much stuff you can have in a garage gym, space providing. some equipment i think would be good for this sorta space would be a deadlift jack, as when your deadlift starts getting into multiple plates it really is a ballache lifting the bar to awkwardly shimmy the weight plate off the bar, a deadlift jack makes that so much easier.
Another piece that would be useful is a weight plate rack for hanging your weights on, it is incredibly useful when you have the space for it, just keeping all your weights in one place and stopping the pile of shame from accumulating.
some more auxiliary equipment I have is LOTS of combat sports equipment’s, a heavy bag, a double ended bag, head movement bag, slip line and a spar bar, I even have an old heavy bag all taped up to use for grappling training, your auxiliary equipment should solely facilitate and help you reach your training goals, whatever they may be, getting stronger, faster or learning to kill a man with one punch.
This list of equipment for home gyms has been built mainly from my experience building my own home gym, however you are the one that has to use your home gym, so get the equipment you want to use, as long as you keep training and getting better, your home gym is doing its job and your doing yours. Remember to train hard and stay civilized and i’ll see you again soon.