Get the right gear to workout in the backyard, the garage, or even in your office.
Nate Millado 1 / 18
You’ve thought about it. The idea of a home gym has crossed your mind each New Year, when the resolution-minded masses swarm your sports club, turning your hour-long workout into a two-hour workout. Each time your gym blares out Bieber, or a runny-nose lifter fails to wipe down the equipment, you’ve dreamed about owning your own gym. So why not now? “The biggest benefit is convenience,” says Michigan-based trainer Joe Stankowski, author of <em>The Ultimate Home Gym Guide</em> (available on Kindle). “A home gym is never closed. Plus, you don’t have to deal with commercial gyms’ restrictions about what footwear you can don or whether you can grunt during exercises. With a home gym, you can work out in your underwear if you want to—because you get the final call.”
Before you invest in a home gym, however, there are two drawbacks to consider. “The downside to a home gym is you lose that social aspect you get from a commercial gym,” says Stankowski, who recommends logging on to online forums, or training with a friend or neighbor, to help you stay on track. Second, a home gym is never a one-and-done thing. Because your training always evolves, you’ll inevitably need to add equipment, so expense and maintenance are definitely issues. One thing that isn’t an issue, though, is space, and this guide will help you choose what you need to maximize what you’ve got.
The Office Gym
Whether you live in a shoebox apartment or have a spare
office in your house, you might not realize that you actually do have the floor space for a serviceable gym. Stankowski’s rule of thumb: “As long as you can lie on the ground and do a snow angel, you’ll have enough room to push, pull, twist, bend, and squat to challenge your body in different planes without running into stuff or breaking things.” Make sure you can stand on our toes and reach your arms straight up without chopping
your fingers into a ceiling fan. That’ll give you enough vertical space to do jumping or overhead-type exercises.
Before outfitting your home gym, you’ll need a white board, calendar, or training log to <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/6-recovery-strategies-f... target="_blank">monitor your progress.</a> “Guys who train at home make the mistake of training instinctively, doing what ‘feels’ right,” Stankowski says. “But when you train randomly, you get random results.” Map out your program beforehand and pin it up so that your goals stare you in the face.
Another good (and inexpensive) investment is a countdown timer — like the GymBoss — to keep track of <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/importance-rest-periods" target="_blank">rest intervals.</a> The foundation of any home gym starts with adjustable dumbbells. “They’re safe, cost-effective, and space-effective,” Stankowski says. With a good pair of DBs, you can perform a wide range of exercises, from single-leg squats and military presses to lateral raises and bentover rows.
Moving your workouts out back gives you even more room to swing kettlebells around and throw medicine balls farther. Train like a strongman and flip tractor tires across the yard (you can get these for dirt cheap or—better yet, free—from a nearby tire yard). Channel your inner Paul Bunyan and chop wood. Of course, a sledgehammer from your local hardware store works in place of an axe, too. Get a little creative, utilizing everyday stuff you wouldn’t think of as gym equipment—“such as a beer keg,” Stankowski says. “Anything that can be done with a barbell can be done with a keg.” A standard-size keg weighs 29.7 pounds, plus 129 pounds when filled with water. (Of course, you’ll have to empty the keg first before you can use it; surely that will be an arm-twisting chore.)
Everlast NevaTear Heavy Bag
Hang a heavy bag from a tree branch and go to town. (You could also suspend the bag from your power rack.) A few rounds on this punching bag double as hard-hitting cardio—and effective anger management.
$80–$100; <a href="http://www.shopeverlast.com/">shopeverlast.com</a>
This sled can be dragged or pulled on grass, concrete, pavement, or artificial turf, making it the perfect outdoor conditioning tool for developing strength in your legs, hips, and arms.
$369; <a href="http://www.elitefts.com/">elitefts.com</a>