A home gym adds convenience and privacy to your workouts. When you exercise at home, you can save time, money, and the rush hour headaches (on the road and in line for the elliptical). Although you might be cautious due to budget and space limitations in your house, building a home gym isn’t as impractical as you might think. After all, gym memberships can occupy a large portion of your budget at several hundred dollars per year, and many aren’t family friendly either. Your gym can be as simple or complex as you want.
Consider the following pieces of equipment:
- Dumbbells (click here) will help you start a strength training routine. These are often made of metal, but can also be covered with a rubber material to keep them from slipping out of your hands. Expect to pay $15-$20 for a pair of 5-pound weights. Prices will increase as the weight goes up. Try looking around at yard or garage sales for bargain prices on free weights as you get stronger.
- Resistance bands (click here) are great because they are compact, portable, and allow for a wide range of motion. Resistance bands come in three or four different levels of resistance and usually run around $15 for one band. These can be used pretty much any way that a dumbbell can be used, so if you are in a budget crunch, these might be the better option. Plus, they’re great for kids, most of whom are able to lift light resistance but shouldn’t lift heavy weights.
- A Stability (Swiss, Balance, Physio) ball (click here), no matter which name it goes by, is simply an oversized inflatable ball. These are extremely versatile. You can sit, lie, and balance on them during almost any exercise, rather than investing in an exercise bench. Plus, this unstable surface targets your core muscles and improves your balance and coordination. The balls come in different sizes (based on your height and weight), and a rainbow of colors, and cost around $25 apiece. Another great choice for kids!
- An Exercise mat will allow you to stretch comfortably, cushion your body during floor exercises (from crunches to modified pushups), and prevent slipping while lifting weights. Plus, they can roll up out of the way for storage if your space is limited. For about $20 you can get a sticky mat (for Pilates and yoga), which is thin–but better than a hard floor. The price goes up for larger and thicker mats.
- Workout Mobile Personal Training can be great for the whole family, no matter what your goals. There are many workouts made specifically for men, children, pregnant or postpartum women, and even families. The iWellness Mobile Training programs are available right here online.
You can get a good set of everything described above for less than $200 dollars. Now that sure beats the gym!
Once you have a few pieces of equipment to help you along your way, you can start following a consistent training program just as if you were going to the gym. Time spent on strength training can literally help you turn back the clock and feel younger each day.
Here are some principles to remember when performing a program:
- Start by strength training 2 days/week, building up to 3 days/week for more of a challenge. Make sure you have at least one day of rest in between each session.
- Start with one set of each exercise (for prescribed number of repetitions- slow and steady), using light hand weights, resistance bands or your own body weight. As you progress, you can work up to 2 and then 3 sets.
- As you add additional sets, rest 30 seconds to a minute in between each one.
- Never hold your breath during the exercises. Always exhale when exerting force (on the hard part of the movement).
- Always warm up before and stretch before and after each session.
- Pay attention to proper form and technique, as they are very important for injury prevention and producing results.
- When selecting a weight, it should be heavy enough that you feel the muscle working and the difficulty increasing as you get to the last repetition. The weight should be light enough that you can do the prescribed number of repetitions without pain or breaking proper form.
- Strength training should never be painful! If you experience pain, stop the exercise immediately.
No matter what your age, you have a lot to gain from regular strength training. Just remember to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. It is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your independence for many years to come.