|THE HOME GYM, AND WHAT YOU NEED
You don't actually have to buy a "Home
Gym", although you certainly could. However, these are not cheap. The
most common type of machines, such as home gyms, (sold practically
everywhere), that rely on cables and pulleys to move a weight stack up
and down, are excellent. The Total Gym and the Bowflex are really just
variations on this same concept, using body weight and flexible
"resistance rods", respectively, in place of a weight stack. All
machines have one good point in common, they allow you to lift with a
higher degree of stability and safety, due to the fact that they keep
the weight moving in the proper plane and basically keep you in good
form, allowing you to focus on, and really emphasise the muscle you are
Ironically, the drawback is that they
keep the weight moving in the proper plane and basically keep you in
good form. With free weights you must move the weight properly on your
own, using other muscles to stabilize and assist the body parts that
are working directly, similar to the way your body works in everyday
In my my opinion well known,
established fitness systems such as the Total Gym and the Bowflex are
very good, but if possible should be used in conjunction with free
The most important thing above all else
is consistency! We can discuss the pros and cons of all the little
details in the world, but actually lifting regularly with good form and
consistency will provide good results, no matter if you have the best
equipment in the world, or some cheap second hand stuff. With all of
this in mind, I believe that you would be best served by purchasing a
few basic pieces of equipment, such as;
You can find surprisingly good and
inexpensive weight benches at department stores, and/or sporting goods
stores. Look for a sturdy bench that will support a barbell at various
heights. The back of the bench should be adjustable to at least 1 or 2
angles of incline, (a declined angle is nice, but not imperative). A
leg development attachment is very important, and highly recommended.
Other optional attachments are a pull down tower, preacher curl pad,
and a butterfly attachment.
Start off with a 110 or 160 lb. barbell
set, comprised of steel weights, not plastic covered concrete. Concrete
weights break and crumble, and most importantly, they take up too much
room on the bar, which is important when your strength goes up! You can
easily add more steel plates and another straight bar to your set as
needed, and if you follow my guidelines, you will need more
weight. Most weight sets also come with dumbbell handles, which will
come in very "handy", (sorry). You might also consider purchasing an
E-Z curl bar, which I like to use for biceps work (curls), triceps work
(french presses and overhead extensions), and shoulder work (upright
You might want some weightlifting gloves to reinforce your grip. Those bars can get a little slippery with sweat.
Some people use weightlifting belts, others think that if you utilize Proper Form
, then you will be fine and the added support of a weightlifting belt
could actually be counter-productive. Personally I think if you are at
all prone to back pain or injuries, you should utilize a belt
especially on moves such as Squats and Dead Lifts.
Weightlifting hooks are
useful when performing movements such as Dead Lifts, or when holding a
heavy barbell and doing calf raises. Often times during such exercises,
the forearm grip will give out before the targeted muscle does, which
is very counterproductive. Hooks allow the weight to be held and the
exercise to be taken all the way to completion.
Spring Exercisers are
often sold as "Chest Expanders" or "Chest Developers", but that is
misleading as the movement and resistance using this piece of equipment
targets the upper back and rear deltoids.
An inclined sit-up board for abdominal work is nice, and it can also be used as a declined bench for dumbbell
An exercise mat can help protect your back and tailbone when doing crunches on the floor.
Ankle weights come in handy for light-weight leg work and are available virtually anywhere.
A pair of spring
loaded, plastic handled hand-grips are good for working on your grip
strength. There are also small rubber balls made for this same purpose.
On the Aerobic
side of the home gym, you might want to get a treadmill, but that does
not mean that you need to spend $1000.00 in doing so. I believe that a
non-motorized treadmill will benefit you more than the motorized
variety, because you use your own power, and that equals burning
calories! It also equals a lot less cost!
On the other end of the
cost spectrum, you can get a good jump-rope for less than $10.00, and
you might be surprised at the cardiovascular benefits that a jump-rope
All of this, not counting the
treadmill, can be purchased for less than the price of a home gym, and
average deparment stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Sears or K-Mart
probably can supply it all. (This is not an endorsement, just