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Setting Up Your Home Gym

Home Gym Idea #1: Bodyweight only exercises

You say you don’t have any money (or very little) to buy equipment? Who needs it!

You can do bodyweight only exercises in your home gym and still get a decent workout with very little gym fitness equipment.

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Chest/shoulders/triceps: Pushups. Do these with your hands shoulder width apart, with a wide grip or close grip and work your whole chest and triceps. When these get easy, try the Perfect Pushup

Back/biceps: Pull-ups are probably the best exercise…period! Do these with a wide grip, palms facing away from you; an underhand, shoulder width grip (palms facing towards you); and if you use a close grip (with one palm facing left and one right, hands close together) you’ll hit the middle muscles of your back.

Now to do pull-ups, you’re going to need a bar. If you’re handy, you can make one for under $20. Check this homemade pull-up bar out. Scroll down to the middle of the page.

Or, spend the money and buy a new pullup bar

Legs: To work your legs, do bodyweight squats. Squat till your thighs are parallel to the floor or just below. Make sure your knees don’t go past your toes. Do 100 non stop and see if your legs hurt the next day. When this gets easy, do them one leg at a time.

Lunges: step forward with your right leg, and almost touch the ground with your left knee, repeat on the other side.

Calf raises on a stair. Do them one leg at a time or two.

Abdominals: Floor crunches or leg lifts. Hang from your pull-up bar and do straight leg lifts.

Cardio: Walk at a brisk pace, non-stop. For me, 3.5 mph is a brisk walk, and at 4.0 mph, I have to start jogging. Even better, running intervals, or sprints with intermittent rest periods, burns three times as much fat as running at slow, consistent speeds, according to new research from the University of New South Wales, in Australia.

Jumping rope is another inexpensive way.

Every muscle in your body can be worked with bodyweight only exercises. Eventually, your body will adapt to lifting only it’s own weight and you’ll have to increase the resistance.

Home Gym Idea #2: Dumbbells and a Bench

Nothing tops a simple set of dumbbells for convenience, reliability, and versatility when you are trying to build muscle and get in shape.

They don’t take up much space, especially if you get the quick-lock adjustable kind such as Ironmaster, which I highly recommend. Adjustable dumbbells are one of the best investments you can make in your home gym.

You can work every body part with them separately, meaning the stronger side can’t compensate for the weaker, as can happen with barbells. You have to use more muscles (stabilizing muscles) to help support the weight and exercise with proper form.

Dumbbells are also versatile; this book, Ultimate Dumbbell Guide, will show you more than 21,000 moves!

Pair dumbbells with a bench for even more versatility.

The Ironmaster super bench gets really good reviews. This poster from the Ironmaster website, gives you two complete training programs using nothing but dumbbells.

Here's another dumbbell routine you can try.


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Home Gym Idea #3: Power rack and Olympic barbell set

Combining bodyweight exercises and dumbbell exercises will get you pretty far in achieving your fitness and bodybuilding goals.

But if you’re looking to build mass, you need to lift heavy. A power rack will allow you to lift heavy barbells in complete safety. The power rack will take up space in your gym, but it’s the most important piece of equipment you’ll buy.

Get a power rack with a high/low pulley attachment, (like this one) and you can do 90% of the same exercises that you can do in a commercial gym.

Of course you’ll need weights to go with your power rack. Olympic plates are the way to go. You can buy cast iron ones, or rubber coated which are more expensive, but what ever you buy, buy the Olympic grip plates that are easier to handle.

A Troy VTX Olympic 300 lb Weight Set Goss-300V will get you off to a good start.

Eventually you’ll need more weight, which is why machines that have a set number of weight plates are useless and a waste of money.

A FID (Flat/Incline/Decline) bench should be your next purchase. If you haven’t purchased the Ironmaster super bench, the Body Solid GFID31 is also a decent buy.

Build your home gym slowly. If you can’t afford a new piece of equipment, see if you can make your own.

Additional items you should consider:

  • Calf raise block. Make your own.
  • Lifting belt
  • Lifting gloves
  • Training Log
  • Accessories such as an assortment of handles for the high/low pulley
  • Full Length Mirrors
  • Easy Curl Bar
  • Leg Press Machine(Body Solid makes a good, affordable one)

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