No doubt you’ve seen all the cheesy TV ads for home gym equipment. Most of them are just companies making money and ripping off the average working person who wants to get in shape. I’ve seen all sorts of things from multi gyms to electric ab toners. Those of you who have read my article on cutting fat know that no matter how many times you contract your abs with electricity or even manually you will not see any results if your diet is not on point. Some of these multi gyms I have seen can cost anywhere from £150/$215 up to the thousands!
Buying into these advertisements is very easy. I’m guilty of this myself. I once bought a home gym many years ago as a teenager and used it for about a month. It sat in my attic afterwards collecting dust. This was mainly due to the fact that the distance between the bench press handles was in a fixed position; unfortunately, this position wasn’t correct for my arm span.
What companies don’t tell you is that you can build muscle and lose fat using next to no money at all. Just look at people who train in calisthenics (body weight exercises) and we can go back even further to the ancient times.
Soldiers of the ancient times in most eras would wear heavy chain mail armour and carry swords and shields around with them. To do this they would defiantly need a lot of strength and muscle. Do you think they spent money on multi gyms and ab toners? As the times have gone on I think TV and advertising have drilled a lot of crap into our heads making us believe we need certain equipment to get stronger, build muscle or lose fat.
There are a few things the beginner needs to know about training that will aid them in getting stronger, building muscle or lose fat depending on their goal.
1) The frequency of training
This comes down to the split routine that we use to train. The general information out there is to train your muscles once a week using a common 4-day body part split routine like – Chest and triceps, back and biceps, shoulders and legs. I did this for many years with not much improvement at all.
Now in this routine, you will train your chest and triceps on a Monday. The next time they will be exercised is one week away on the following Monday.
Protein synthesis is the window in which our muscles build. Research shows that protein synthesis increases by 50% the following 4 hours after heavy resistance training. It then increases to 109% after 24hours. It returns back to baseline after around 36hours. (1)
So what does this research shows us? Answer: Train our muscles more frequently.
The research shows that our bodies are not actually building any more muscle than on non-training days after about a 2 day period. Everything returns back to normal. So why the heck would a person wait 1 whole week to train the muscle again? It doesn’t make any sense.
We need to train our muscles more frequently. I’ve found optimum results for me happen when I train a muscle group twice a week. This can be done by using an Upper and lower 4-day split. This is where you train the major muscle groups in the upper body together in one session.
Then train the lower body muscles together in one session. This enables us to train our muscle groups twice a week and add size and strength. Another way this can be done is with a full body workout 3 times a week. These are the best ways for beginners to train.
2) Rest and recovery
We need optimal rest in-between our training days for our bodies to build and recover as explained above. When we train a muscle group we need at least 2 days off for our bodies to build and repair.
3) Compound movements
This is the key for beginners. Compound movements use more than one joint in the exercise. These are exercises like squats, bench press, overhead press, deadlift, barbell rows etc. These exercises recruit more muscle fibres for a lift, therefore, increasing our strength which can lead to an increase in size. As soon as I focused on compound movements my muscle size and strength increased more in one year than several years at the gym using isolation exercises and machines. You can sign up to the Modest Dragon Newsletter and download your free eBook explaining compound movements here.
4) Nutrition and diet
How much and what we choose to eat is 80% of building muscle or losing fat. If you are serious about training for aesthetics you will need to put a lot of focus on this. You cannot expect to reach your goal eating whatever you like and how much you like. The 3 main factors of our nutrition when it comes to training are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I will be writing an article next going into detail about these macronutrients and how you can choose and use them wisely.
So what do I use for an effective home gym?
I use 4 pieces of equipment for my home gym.
1) Adjustable Squat Stands
That’s it! That’s all you will need for an effective home gym. You can actually use nothing at all and get great results through calisthenics, but for weight training, these are the key things. These 4 things enable you to perform the key compound movement that train the whole body. You can train legs, chest, back and all muscles in-between.
The squat stands you can use for squats (obviously), overhead press and then you can adjust them lower for a bench press stand. I got mine for £40/$60 from eBay. They are easily the best investment I have made when it comes to training. I have saved hundreds from using this equipment instead of paying for a monthly gym membership. A barbell and weights you can pick up second hand for cheap. The barbell can be used to train the back via barbell rows and deadlifts.
You can use a standard barbell and weights set and then invest in an Olympic version once you get stronger and your weights increase. The bench press you can buy for cheap off eBay also. The squat stands come with safety pegs, the downside is the ones I bought are quite short.
I’m not complaining as they were very cheap considering the use I get out of them. They are still useable; I used the safety pegs a few times before I made a safety rack. When your lifts increase you can think about buying a safety rack or cage or you can make your own like I did.
NOTE: I do not have my bench press in the photo, as I took the picture on the lower body day when I was performing squats.
If you’re tired of wasting time driving to a gym and waiting for equipment to be free (like me) try investing in this equipment. It will be very beneficial and you will certainly get a quality workout!
Do you use any other sorts of equipment at home? If you want any more information on the stuff mentioned above you can leave a comment or email me. I will be happy to help!