Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tips for Building a Home Gym

                Weight training can be a lot of fun and a great way to sculpt your entire body but most people think they can’t weight train at home. The truth is you can, and sometimes being able to weight train from home keeps you on track with your program better than having to leave your house to do it. It’s easy and affordable to start your own home gym and most equipment can be stored under furniture or in closets so you don’t have to leave it out for all your visitors to see. All of the equipment listed below can be found in the Turbo Fit Store.
I like to exercise in the morning before my 16 month old even wakes up. It ensures a good workout without having to keep an extra eye on the little one. The only way I can work out while she’s asleep is to do it in my living room. Obviously I’m not going to store heavy duty equipment in my living room, but here are some tips on building a home gym that takes up very little space, yet gives you a great workout!

1. Weights: Weights are a must. Someday I plan on having a room in my house solely for the purpose of working out. A rack of weights would be ideal in a home gym. However, most people don’t have that option and if you don’t, a set of dumbbells with removable weights are the best way to go. You can do so much with just dumbbells which is why weights are number 1 on my list. Most dumbbells with removable weights can be adjusted to be anywhere from 5-20lbs or more which is perfect. If a cardio workout requires 2 lb. weights you can use the smallest weight plate which is usually around 2.5lbs.
2. Exercise Bands: Exercise bands are number 2 on my list because they are so versatile. It’s great to have some with handles and tubing, and also the wide, flat bands with no handles. I’ve found myself wishing I had both. There’s so much you can do with either. If you want to do a lat pull-down at home, for instance, you can tie a knot in the middle of your band, throw it over a door and pull it shut. Kneel down and grab hold of both ends of the band and viola! Lat pull-down! Stand up so your arms are at 90 degrees, lock in elbows, pull down, and there we have a tricep extension. Take a band and tie the ends together to form a giant rubber band, slide it over your knees and do side steps to work outer thighs, lay down to do leg lifts with the band and bam! Another exercise! See what I mean?
3. Core Balance Ball: I love my core ball. There are several exercise videos out there using core balls and they really make a difference in your workout. There are different sizes out there and mostly the size corresponds to your height. Check product details when buying a core ball and it should tell you what size to buy for your height. When people think core ball they think abs, which is true, but that’s not all it works. Your core is much more than your abs. It includes most all muscle of the trunk of your body. These core balls can also be used to work your legs and arms. I have another home gym must further down on the list that will help you use your core ball.
4. Mat: Yoga mats are not just for yoga. A mat can make a hardwood, tile, or unpadded carpet floor more comfortable to lay on. If you do have nice cushy carpet you don’t mind getting down on, a mat can help your carpet from getting worn where you workout every day.
5. Step: I know you probably think step aerobics are a thing of the past but an aerobic step workout can be amazing. There are tons of videos out there that help you achieve that. On the weight training side of it, a step is very useful. Get a step that has removable platforms so you can change the height of the step. You can stack that step as high as you can and use it as a plyometric step (be sure to stack your platforms securely for this) or you can raise one side and use it as an incline/decline bench. I’ve got some amazing toning and sculpting workouts you can do with a step that I’ll post in the near future!
6. Wrist and/or Ankle Weights: Wrist or ankle weights can add an extra element to your cardio workouts. Throw on a pair of ankle weights to boost a walk, add wrist weights to your kickboxing routine, wear both during a jog. There’s so much you can do with them to make things just a little harder and increase your calorie burn. I’ve used ankle weights to help tone my legs as well (an article with ankle weight exercises to follow…).
7. The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises: I bought this book while student teaching at a high school to help me come up with weight room exercises as well as toning exercises in my aerobics classes. This book is amazing! It is extremely helpful and is simple enough that a beginner can use it. Some exercises require equipment, some are done with body weight, and all have variations to make things easier, harder, or work a muscle slightly differently. Just because this is number 7 on my list doesn’t mean this is less important. I recommend this book as a must to help you build the workout you want and that you want to stick to.

I hope this was helpful and that you have some confidence in building your own home gym. It’s worth the money it takes if it keeps you motivated and makes it easier for you to work out. If you feel like buying it all at once is too much, buy the ones that sound the most appealing to you first. You can slowly build until you have all the equipment you need. There’s so much equipment out there, look around and see what you could use and start there. Have fun building your home gym and remember your health is worth it.

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