When it comes to getting in shape, there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work. But if you’re short on time and want to take your fitness routine up a notch, investing in some home gym equipment can make all the difference. In this article, we’ll outline the essentials of gym equipment and what you need to know before purchasing. From strength and conditioning machines to cardiovascular equipment, here’s everything you need to know about setting up your home gym.
A. Before you Buy Gym Equipment – First things first
Visit your physician for a check-up before you start training to ensure that you have no medical conditions that need to be addressed first. This will also help you set realistic goals and expectations for the future. Your physician may make recommendations or impose certain restrictions, depending on health challenges you may have, so it is important to be diagnosed with a clean bill of health before you start training.
B. Secondly, ask yourself a series of questions
These questions are touched on here but elaborated on in one of another other blogs. Click here to read.
- What Results Are You Hoping to Accomplish?
Either strength equipment or cardiovascular fitness equipment needs to be purchased if you are seeking to achieve a particular goal. Then decide on which strength and cardio fitness equipment you need based on your personal goals and how you want to accomplish them.
With our many years of experience in the fitness industry, we recommend doing a combination of strength and cardio training. We recommend a combination of cardio and resistance training equipment. The reason for this is that cardio equipment targets your heart and lung muscles while burning calories and improving your fitness level. The problem with just doing cardio however is that it does not change the shape of your body. Yes, you can burn calories and lose weight with cardio workouts but you can’t redefine the shape your body. If you were a pear-shaped person who lost weight performing cardio workouts only you will remain a pear-shaped person but just with less weight.
Ideally, you want to make use of multi-purpose strength gym equipment that enables you to perform upper body conditioning, mid-section conditioning as well as lower body conditioning. Strength training is good for improving your lean muscle mass, bone density, isolating specific muscle groups, and makes you stronger.
You may not be convinced that strength training is the way to go but did you know that your body burns calories much longer at rest after resistance training than cardiovascular training? The reason for this is that weight training engages more muscle groups so you end up burning calories more effectively for a longer period of time while at rest. Cardio does not work like that. Once you stop training you stop burning calories.
- What do you enjoy doing?
If you’re currently training in a gym or have before, or you’re training outdoors, then you need to decide what type of training you will enjoy doing on a consistent basis. If you enjoy cycling then consider investing in a stationary bike or if you enjoy walking or running then consider a treadmill.
When it comes to body conditioning or strength training then we recommend resistance training or weight-bearing exercises.
We will discuss the various cardio and strength training options below.
- What Is Your Current Level of Fitness and Commitment to Exercise?
The equipment within your home gym should depend on the training techniques that you are most skilled at or inclined towards.
In terms of your commitment to training, you need to think about training like brushing your teeth. You don’t get excited about it but you know you need to do it and so you do it religiously. Exercise should be the same. You’re not going to always feel like doing it but you need to do it as a habit. If you force yourself to train it will eventually become a habit like brushing your teeth. We always recommend doing something every day no matter how little it is and then build it up from there slowly. We believe that if you do not make time for exercise today then you will need to make time for disease later.
- What Are Your Likes and Dislikes?
We all have preferences so what are yours? You need to know which exercises you like doing and which equipment you do not like using. Rather purchase in line with your likes and not what’s on sale or what’s been recommended by a salesperson.
- How Much Space Do You Have Available For Your Home Gym Equipment?
If you’re always having to mission through the process of setting up your equipment in your home gym in order to train, you’re less likely to be consistent. So, rather than worry about your space, find equipment that is ready and convenient to use to optimise your time training.
C. Consider the Different Types of Gym Equipment
We’ve already mentioned that there are both strength training/body conditioning gym equipment, as well as cardio gym equipment to choose from.
1. Types of Strength Training Equipment: Cable motion machines like Multi Gyms and Cable Crossovers
- Multi Gyms
These are a great way to get a full body workout. They are an all-in-one machine, which covers all muscle groups in the body. They help you burn calories, tone your full body and/or build strength. Multi Gyms come in all different shapes and sizes so they are space-effective.They are also affordable and offer a variety of exercises that can be performed to target all muscle groups. They also have different levels of difficulty, so you can start off with an easier exercise and work your way up to a more difficult one.Multi Gyms are also adjustable, which means that you can change the height and angle of the machine to make it more comfortable and safer for you and your whole family. See our Multi Gym blog for more information.
- Cable Crossovers
Cable Crossover is an isolation movement that uses a cable stack and adjustable pulleys to target different parts of your muscle groups at different levels.It provides constant tension, the ability to quickly switch weights for drop sets, and it provides the ability to target specific muscles. Your muscles are placed under load when training which breaks down muscle fibres. After your workout (at rest) your body replaces/builds back the damaged muscle fibres increasing muscle size and strength. This leads to great muscle gain if that’s the goal of your training.
2. Selectorised Strength Training Machine (with weight stack)
- A selectorised machine targets a specific muscle or muscle group and has one or more weight stacks. When the machine is used the weight stack is lifted via a series of pulleys attached to the frame of the machine. By inserting a selector pin into the weight stack, users can customize the amount of weight for each exercise. Examples of such machines include Chest Press Machine, Leg Press Machine, Shoulder Press Machine, Biceps Curl Machine, etc.
3. Free Weight Equipment such as Power Racks, Squat Racks, Benches, Bars, Sand Bags, Kettlebells, Dumbbells, Slam Balls, etc.
The purpose of dumbbells is to strengthen the body and to tone the muscles, along with increasing their size. Bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other athletes often use them within their workouts or exercise routines. It allows the body to move in its natural range of motion.
A barbell is a piece of exercise equipment that is commonly used in weight training, bodybuilding, weight lifting and powerlifting. It consists of a long bar (with varying diameters) usually with weight plates attached to each end. They are used by anyone looking to build strength. The barbells range in length from 1.2 to 2.4 meters. Handling the barbell correctly is very important however so if you’re unfamiliar with this form of lifting then it is advisable to speak to one of our trained and experienced fitness consultants before you get going with your workout.
Unlike dumbbells, a kettlebell’s weight is extended beyond your hand. The kettlebell allows for swing movements and release moves with added safety and added grip, wrist, arm and core strengthening. The weight of a kettlebell is not distributed evenly. The unique shape of a kettlebell provides the “unstable force” for handling. Your body needs to work harder in order to stabilize.
Sandbags are a great way to work on your functional fitness.
- Slam Ball
These are great for developing power and strength. The faster and more powerful you throw the ball, the better your muscles respond to the exercise.
- Gym Bench
A gym bench is a diverse piece of equipment. It is used for performing various weight training exercises and even for working on the core. An adjustable backrest allows you to move from a flat position to an incline position.
- Squat Rack
The squat rack aids spotting for free weight barbell exercises. It will keep you from falling, dropping the barbell on your head or legs, and help you achieve the right form. This is a great tool to add to your gym equipment to help beginners to advanced athletes with their squat workouts.
Tips for getting the most out of your strength training equipment
- Plan your exercise program for the week ahead
- Train 3 times a week. You can do strength training up to 5 times a week.
- Work on split routines. This means that you work certain muscle groups on certain days. An example of this is Monday is legs, Wednesday is arms and Friday is back and core.
- Do your cardio before resistance training as a warm-up. However, if you’re doing serious strength training then you don’t want to be tired before you start your strength training. In that case, we recommend doing your cardio as a cool down after your strength training.
- Be mindful of your mind and muscle connection while doing strength training. You need to have your mind engaged to get the blood flowing to the muscles that you are training. Watch this video to find out more about being mindful of the muscle and mind connection.
4. Types of Cardio Equipment
A treadmill is a great form of cardio exercise for beginners hoping to get fit and lose some weight. Choose an Internationally branded treadmill and try to avoid “in-house” brands which are notoriously unreliable and of inferior quality. Find a trusted supplier that can provide you with the best advice and ensure they keep a comprehensive range of parts and spares. Here are the benefits of using a treadmill.
- Elliptical Trainers
Elliptical trainers are used to stair climb, walk, or run without causing excessive pressure to the joints. They, therefore, decrease the risk of impact injuries. They can also be adjusted to offer light to high-intensity workouts based on the speed of the exercise and the resistance set.
- Stationary Bikes
A stationary bike also provides a low-impact way to get the heart rate elevated. There are a number of Stationary Bike options, which you will select from based on the goals you’re hoping to achieve.
Airbikes are a cross between a traditional exercise bike and an elliptical trainer. With an airbike, you work both the upper and lower parts of the body while getting your heart rate up.
- Upright Bike
An Upright Bike is a device used for indoor cycling. It includes a saddle, pedals, and some form of handlebar arranged as on a bicycle. An Upright Bike is usually a special-purpose exercise machine resembling a bicycle without wheels.Riding an Upright Bike can help build strength in your legs and lower body, especially if you use a higher resistance. The pedalling action can help strengthen your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Additionally, it can work the muscles in your core, back, and glutes.
- Spinning Bike
A spin bike has an external flywheel with a fixed cog which means that you can’t “freewheel” like you could on an upright bike. The pedals, seat and resistance options also differ.If you are not a cyclist and looking to spend a lot of time in the saddle then an upright bike will be best suited for you. But, if you want to simulate being on a road bike, then a spin bike is the best option. Upright bikes are not designed to stand and cycle.
- Recumbent Bike
A recumbent exercise bike is a stationary bicycle that allows the user to recline back against a backrest. The inclined shape will serve to keep the user closer to ground level even while exercising.A recumbent bike has a larger seat than a stationary bike, cushioned back support, and pedals located in front rather than in line with the body. The laid-back position allows users to multitask while exercising. This helps people stay active without causing fatigue while working for longer.
- Rowing Machine
Rowing isn’t just for the outdoors. A rowing machine lets you reap the benefits of a rowing workout indoors. Rowing has many benefits, such as helping you build endurance and strengthen your body. Research even shows that it can improve heart health.Indoor rowing promotes improvements to muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. When your muscles are put under repeated physical stress, physiological adaptations occur to make them stronger – i.e. your muscle fibres will grow stronger and you will have an improved ability to utilise oxygen.Unlike the upright bike and the treadmill, the rower activates a heightened array of key muscle groups, including the thighs, core, and upper body. This low-impact exercise also helps burn a ton of calories.
Tips for getting the most out of your cardio equipment
- Do it at least 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. You can however do it every day. One rest day is recommended though. If you miss a session don’t be despondent, try to schedule your workouts in your diary…. make an appointment with yourself. Consistency means to be consistently consistent!
- If you don’t have time to do cardio you can do a 10 min HIIT program.
- Remember the five P’s – PROPER PLANNING PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE so plan a week in advance. Determine your schedule for the week and diarise that. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Try to stick to your training routine. If you miss a session don’t be despondent simply “get back on the horse” and you will be surprised by the results you deserve. Stay strong!
- Eat well and rest well.
In conclusion, home gym equipment can be a great way to improve your fitness routine. Not only does it save you time, but it can also be more affordable than joining a gym. So if you’re looking for a way to get in shape, consider investing in some home gym equipment. When buying home gym equipment we always recommend that you stick to well-known international brands.
We also recommend buying from an international brands supplier that has a longstanding good reputation for delivering exceptional service like Fitness Breakthru. We ensure that your equipment is always in good working order so that your workout routines do not get interrupted by equipment issues. We also have showrooms to allow you to see the gym equipment before you buy it so come on in and let’s get your training where it should be.