Many of those who are interested in putting together a home gym aren’t sure where to start when selecting gym equipment.  The first step should be to define what you want to accomplish by using your home gym.  If you are interested in building muscle, the best use of space in a home gym would be to focus on resistance equipment.  If your main concern is cardiovascular health, the opposite would be true.  Once you have defined your goals, selecting equipment will be easier. 

 Below are some of the most popular options in home workout equipment.

Cardio Gym Equipment Options:

  • Treadmill:  Treadmills are probably the most well known piece of workout equipment in existence.  Models can range from a simple setup of a motorized belt with a bar to hold on to all the way up to machines costing thousands of dollars with adjustable inclines, built-in heart rate monitoring systems and pre-programmed workouts that mimic natural terrain.  If you would rather spend your money on equipment rather than a gym membership, a treadmill is a great investment.  It can also be a good supplemental workout option for runners or walkers if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your workout or you are pressed for time and need to squeeze in exercise to your busy schedule. 
  • Elliptical:  Elliptical machines are designed to mimic the natural gait of walking or running, but unlike treadmills they do so while supporting the foot throughout the entire motion.  For this reason elliptical machines are great for those who are prone to injury or cannot tolerate the impact of running.  In addition to providing exercise it is also an excellent rehabilitation tool for those who have sustained injuries and need the added support of an elliptical throughout the entire gait cycle.
  • Exercise Bikes:  Exercise bike are similar to their outdoor counterparts in many respects, but differ in that they do not have gears and are made for stationary indoor use.  As a result, changes in the resistance of pedaling on an exercise bicycle are provided either by friction or magnetic force as opposed to gears and terrain.  There are a few different kinds of exercise bike varieties in addition to the standard upright stationary bike; there are also spin bikes, which are typically used in a group exercise class setting, and recumbent stationary bikes.  Recumbent bikes have the same pedaling motion but provide the user with a more relaxed recumbent position and back support.  The recumbent position is great for those who cannot use an upright bike because of back or neck pain or who find the upright position uncomfortable.
  • Stair Climbers:  What a treadmill is to walking or running a stair climber is to ascending stairs.  For anyone who has gone up multiple flights of stairs knows, stair climbing can be an excellent workout, and this machine is like having a never ending staircase.  Most stair machines have a resistance adjustment that will allow for increasing or decreasing the “speed” of the stairs.  While many find a stair climber to be easier than a treadmill or stationary bike at first, over time stair climbers will become more difficult due to the fact that climbing the stairs relies heavily on the gluteal muscles.  It is also because of this increased demand of these posterior muscles that stair climbing can build these muscles.

Resistance (Weight Lifting) Workout Equipment Options:

  • Dumbbells:  Dumbbells are one variety of free weight that is held in the hand and used for a multitude of resistance exercises.  While dumbbells are great for building upper body muscle, with a little creativity dumbbells can also be used to build lower body muscle.  The versatility of dumbbells makes them a great choice for a home gym.  Some varieties come with adjustable weight plates, giving them the ability to replace a whole rack of conventional dumbbells.
  •  Kettlebells:  Kettlebells are, in their most basic form, a weighted ball with an attached handle.  They are typically made of metal, but there are also some that are made of rubber or plastic and weighted with sand.  Some models allow weight adjustment, which saves you from having to buy a new kettlebell just to have a lighter or heavier weight.  Kettlebells are usually used with specialized workouts and moves and are great for building muscle.
  • Medicine Balls:  Medicine balls are thick rubber balls that are weighted with sand that are commonly used in sports training and rehabilitation.  For sports training, medicine balls allow for the use of fast, explosive upper body movements that can assist with building type I muscle fibers.  For rehabilitation, medicine balls allow for functional movements of the upper body to be performed while loaded with weight from the medicine ball.  This allows patients to do motions that mimic more closely motions that are needed for everyday activities.
  • Swiss Balls:  Swiss balls or stability balls are large inflatable balls that are made of a soft and pliable PVC material and range in diameters of 14 to 34 inches.  Swiss balls have many uses that include stretching, core and stability training, and even physical therapy.  A Swiss ball is a great multifunctional piece of workout equipment to have in a home gym.
  •  Home Multi Gym:  Home multi gyms provide an alternative to commercial gym equipment in a smaller package and have the benefits of convenience, privacy, and do not require a monthly fee.  Typically the multi gyms are one machine that has multiple attachments or “stations” where a user can workout different muscle groups.
  • Smith Machines:  Smith machines will be slightly different depending on the model, but almost all of them have a bar that is supported by a track and notches for the bar to rest on.  Resistance can be changed by adding or removing weights to the bar.  Smith machines provide a good way to do upper body resistance exercises and can also be used for squats or deadlifts.  The track provides stability to the bar and reduces that chances of accidentally dropping it.
  • Power Racks:  Power racks consist of a barbell that is surrounded by a large metal cage and adjustable rests for the barbell.  In addition to the cage there are adjustable safety bars that will stop the barbell once it reaches the safety bars.  Resistance is added to the barbell by adding or removing weights, and exercises are done inside the cage.  This is considered a safer option for lifting free weights when there is no spotter available, since any dropped weight will be stopped once it hits the safety bar.
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