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Everything you need for a basic home gym

Your goals with home exercising

Your goals with home exercising

Consider what you're trying to achieve.

  • If your goal is general health and well-being, a pleasant stroll is sufficient.
  • If you want to lift heavy weights, there isn't a minimalist setup that can replicate a barbell. While a barbell and weight plates would let you do almost everything, you need quite a bit of room to use them, ideally an outdoor area or a garage.

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Everything you need for a basic home gym

Everything you need for a basic home gym

https://www.popsci.com/story/diy/set-up-basic-home-gym/

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Key Ideas

Your goals with home exercising

Consider what you're trying to achieve.

  • If your goal is general health and well-being, a pleasant stroll is sufficient.
  • If you want to lift heavy weights, there isn't a minimalist setup that can replicate a barbell. While a barbell and weight plates would let you do almost everything, you need quite a bit of room to use them, ideally an outdoor area or a garage.

Heavy kettlebells

Two heavy kettlebells are the next best thing to a bar and plates. A weight of between 20 and 24 kilograms (45 to 52 pounds) is recommended.

By using the kettlebells individually or together, you can focus on almost every muscle group by squatting, swinging, pressing, pulling, or pushing them.**

Resistance bands and a stick

Two kettlebells might not be enough resistance for movements like squats and deadlifts. Some resistance or pull-up bands can increase resistance when you do "sumo-style" squats and deadlifts by looping one band around your wide-spread feet and through the handles of the kettlebells.

Add a wooden broom handle, and you have a wide range of new exercises. With a stick and a band, you can do many pulling exercises.

Gymnastic rings

Gymnastic rings or suspension straps can be used to do pull-ups and rows. They are also used for some ab exercises.

Both gymnastic rings and suspension straps can be mounted to a sturdy door.

Expanding your gym

There are always pieces you can add to your gym, depending on your goals.

  • If you have space, a barbell is the best thing you can buy. Up to 225 pounds is suitable for an average person.
  • For cardio, you can run outside, add a jump rope, or use a bicycle.
  • Sandbags and slam balls allow for more high-intensity workouts outdoors.
  • A yoga mat makes the floor movements more comfortable.
  • More kettlebells or a set of dumbbells can also be added.

Workouts inspiration

Gear will only be as good as your knowledge of how to use it safely and effectively.

  • Reddit's Bodyweight Fitness community has put together a fully-scalable bodyweight routine.
  • Online personal training can give you direction, accountability, and easy access to an expert coach.
  • Other services, like 8fit and NEOU, have many workouts to try out.

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Home exercises can help

It's tough to build a lot of strength or otherwise make progress without the incremental weights you find at a gym, but a few inexpensive home tools and specific movements can go a long way.

It is important to ensure that you prioritize compound movements that work muscle systems, not individual muscles. You'll get a lot more done in less time if you focus on bigger movements - squat, bench, deadlift, row, overhead press.

Lower and upper body movements

Goblet squats and squat jumps are great for your lower body when you only have dumbbells. You could also try lunge variations, split squats, step-ups, and deadlift variations.

For your upper body, you could do some chest presses, pushups, row variations, curls, tricep extensions or pullups (if you have a pullup bar installed in a doorway.)

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The barbells

Bars come in a variety of weights, from 15 to 45 pounds, and those giant plates are available in sizes going down to 10 pounds. 

That means the barbell has about the same shape and size no matter how heavy it is.

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