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Designing a Home Gym

Home gyms and weight loss

If you would like to lose weight by exercising in the privacy of your own home at any time that suits you, then you should think about setting up a home gym.

Whether your want a simple dumbbell set and fitness ball, an exercise bike, elliptical trainer or treadmill and a piece of resistance equipment or two, or a mini professional gym, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to ensure you get the most out of it.

The broad options

Generally speaking, exercise equipment falls into two broad categories:

  • Aerobic fitness equipment, and
  • Resistance training equipment.

The ideal home gym should contain both types if you goal is to maximize weight loss.

Aerobic equipment is designed to help you improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn of excess calories. The most popular pieces of aerobic exercise equipment include treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical trainers and rowers.

Resistance training equipment is designed to help you increase the tone, strength and size of muscles. These benefits are equally useful to those of us trying to lose weight because bigger muscles help increase our base metabolism and therefore burn more calories.

The range of strength equipment is wide, starting with dumbbells, barbells, benches of all kinds and an array of single and multi station machines.

The importance of planning

Because they want great results without real effort and act impulsively to TV ads and infomercials, there are many people who have had bad experiences buying home exercise equipment.

Chances are you know someone who has, I certainly do. Hiding in their spare room, being used as a clothes rack or dust collector, they have abdominal rollers, mini steppers or some electronic muscle stimulator gismo.

This scenario typically occurs because the equipment is useless, poor quality or quickly loses its appeal because it doesn't work, doesn't allow for progressive fitness or becomes boring and stale quickly.

To avoid having a house full of collectively expensive dust-collecting equipment, do some planning and invest in good quality, proven equipment.

What's the cost?

The quality of any home gym can usually be measured in terms of what it cost to set up. But you don't need to spend a fortune to begin working out successfully at home.

Here are some suggestions for a variety of budgets:

Budget of zero:

Don't have any money at all? No problem! You can still exercise at home.

All you need is the motivation and a small amount of space at home and you can perform exercises using your own body weight as resistance.

For example, you can do push-ups or half push-ups, triceps dips using a kitchen chair, body weight squats and calf raises on the front steps of your house using anything around the house that weighs a kilo or two.

For aerobic exercise, try jogging on the spot, performing star-jumps, skipping, or following along with your favourite aerobics video.

Budget of $50 to $500:

If your budget is between $50 and $500, consider these low cost yet effective options:

  • Fitness Ball
  • Set of adjustable or a few sets of fixed weight dumbbells
  • Skipping rope
  • Weighted medicine ball
  • Step bench
  • Bench press
  • Set of variable resistance bands
  • Punching Bag and boxing gloves

If your budget is really limited and you can only afford one inexpensive piece of equipment, consider buying a Fitness Ball. With the right sized fitness ball you can get a great upper body and lower body workout.

If you are after great abs, a fitness ball will be a much more versatile and effective tool than any of the infomercial type abdominal rollers and the like. If that weren't enough, a fitness ball can also perform an effective stretching/flexibility workout, all for between $50 and $100.

Budget of $1,000:

If you want to create a gym that will provide you with a total body workout (cardio, strength and flexibility) and you have a budget of up to $1000, you'll be able to afford:

  • a moderate quality treadmill or stationary bike with a fair range of features
  • a moderate quality multi-exercise workout station, or
  • good quality free-weights bench, barbell and dumbbell set.

Budget up to $2,500:

If your budget extends to between $1,000 and $2,500, you'll be able to get one relatively good piece of equipment (treadmill or stationery bike for example) or a couple of pieces of reasonable quality items (stationery bike and multi-gym for example).

Budget up to $5,000:

Between $2,500 and $5,000 will buy you the same amount of equipment as above, but you'll have a greater quality choice and be able to afford equipment with a high degree of features.

If you have this sort of budget available, it may be tempting to buy lots of pieces of equipment (assuming you have the space), but try not to get carried away and prioritize quality over quantity. If you limit your purchases you should end up with good quality stuff that will be a pleasure to use and will provide you with years of safe and effective exercise.

Budget of $5,000 or more:

If have $5,000 or more to spend on your home gym (which isn't too many of us), you are going to be relatively spoilt for choice.

Five thousand dollars will typically buy you a very good quality treadmill or exercise bike, and a reasonable quality free-weights bench and a good barbell and dumbbell set, or modest but good quality multi-exercise workout station.

Getting the most out of any budget:

As with most things in life, when it comes to exercise equipment, you get what you pay for. Good quality exercise equipment is now better value than ever, but the very best equipment with all the right features doesn't typically come cheap.

But you don't have to spend a small fortune setting up a home gym. If you're smart and do some homework, you can get a great setup for a very reasonable price.

If your budget is not unlimited, here are some tips to help you stretch it:

  • Consider multi-station strength training equipment - these machines can offer a wide variety of exercises at a reduced cost compared to individual machines.
  • Visit your local exercise equipment dealer before you purchase anything - explain your goals and your budget and ask lots of questions. An honest and experienced dealers will provide you with all the advice and help you need.
  • If you can't afford good quality new equipment, consider purchasing used commercial equipment or good quality second-hand home equipment. Just be sure you know what to look for in terms of defects and with anything second-hand, make sure you try before you buy.
  • Be patient. My home gym has taken me 15 years to build! Personally, I think it's better to have 1 great piece of equipment than 3 pieces of dubious quality. Be prepared to build you home gym up over time and buy the best equipment you can afford now and save up for other pieces later.

Other considerations when designing a home gym:

  • Who else besides you will be using your home gym?
  • How much space is available for your home gym?
  • Is the space available suitable for home gym equipment and exercising?
  • What are your specific goals and what exercises do you like?
  • What maintenance will your equipment need and who will perform it?
  • Should you consider hiring before you buy?
  • Can you try out the equipment you want in the store first?

Space Considerations:

The two most important considerations of all when setting up a home gym are your budget and the space you have available.

We've briefly discussed the budgetary considerations; now let's look at the space issue.

The best space for home gyms has:

  • Sufficient space to accommodate all pieces of equipment and allow you to move freely between them.
  • Enough power points in the right places for the equipment that uses electricity.
  • Air conditioning or a fan for when it hot and heating for when it's cold.
  • Dedicated purpose - gyms that share rooms with spare beds, wardrobes etc, aren't ideal.
  • Privacy for concentration and away from life's other distractions (family, phone, etc).
  • Has entertainment equipment like a radio or TV to help make workouts fun.

Home gym layout Tips

If you have a limited amount of space available for your gym, here are some tips for making best use of that space.

  1. De-clutter your workout space.
  2. Know exactly what space you have - measure the length, width and height of the space.
  3. Collect some brochures on the type of equipment you want noting the dimension details to get a feel for how much equipment will fit in your space.
  4. Make sure there are enough power outlets to accommodate your equipment, television and audio system.
  5. Make sure the space has sufficient lighting to allow you to workout night and day and create a positive workout environment.
  6. Make sure your workout space is not going to be too hot in summer or too cold in winter.
  7. Try to make your workout space as dust free as possible. Electronic equipment attracts dust, but like us, typically doesn't like the stuff.
  8. Leave plenty of space between your equipment and your walls to avoid damage to both.
  9. Make sure your workout space can be sufficiently isolated from your main living space - cardio equipment can be a little noisy and may disturb others.
  10. Take the dimensions of your designated space with you when you go to your exercise equipment dealer to make sure there are no surprises when you get your equipment home.

Conclusion

Home gyms are becoming more and more popular as the price of good quality equipment for the home comes down. For those trying to lose weight, a home gym may be just what is needed to help start or extend a regular exercise program.

If you are thinking about buying some exercise equipment for your home, there are some important things to consider.

Doing your homework up front and following the tips above will save you time, effort and frustration, and will ensure that your home gym meets your needs and helps you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.

If you don't know which exercises to do at home, or how to do them, you might find the weight loss workouts section of this website very helpful and a great place to start.

As always, good luck with your exercise and weight loss goals and thanks for visiting weightloss.com.au.

Copyright Ultimate Weightloss.

This article was written by Scott Haywood.

Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.

You can follow Scott on Google+ for more interesting articles.

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