Guide to Creating your own Home Gym

Sep 27, 2016

Step 1: Setting up your workout space

One of the best things about bodyweight training is that you can do it anywhere, with little or no equipment. However, and I can't stress how important this is, when exercising at home you need a dedicated workout area. A quiet area away from the distractions of kids' toys, Netflix or what to cook for dinner.

garage-door

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to convert their entire garage into a gym but a basement, spare bedroom or even a quiet corner of a room can become your gym. Make it a nice area that you want to spend time in. I have graffiti art on my garage door and cheesy wonder woman pictures on the walls. Every time you walk into that space you want to be inspired to move.

Step 2: Basic equipment

I can get a great workout without any equipment but for a well rounded bodyweight program I highly recommend investing in a pull-up bar, some soft flooring or mats, a foam roller and a lacrosse ball.

Pull-up Bar

I really believe that everyone needs something to hang on. Pulling strength is essential for shoulder health. Simply hanging on a bar can also be tremendously beneficial for the shoulders as well as for grip strength.

These are 3 options:

  1. Build one from basic plumbing pipes like I did. bar1
  2. Buy a bar that can hang in a door frame. These are cheap and really easy to setup.
  3. Buy a more elaborate standing pull-up bar. These can be great because they give you more height that the door frame option but they can bulky if you are dealing with a limited amount of space.

Soft flooring

To be comfortable in your gym make sure that you have a nice floor surface. I have been to Crossfit gyms where the mats make concrete seem like a good option. These tough mats do not inspire me to get down on the floor and do my bodyweight exercises!

Options:

  1. Carpet: If you already have carpet in your workout space then this is perfect and you may not need anything else.
  2. Jigsaw soft floor tiles: these are great because you can make your space as big or as small as you like. They are cheap and you can pick them up at most hardware stores.
  3. Yoga mat: a yoga mat is ok but I find that they are a bit narrow and I end up trying to piece multiple mats together.

Mobility tools

A basic foam roller and lacrosse ball can be super useful tools for your mobility and recovery work. They are not expensive and take up very little room. I have a rumble roller but a regular foam roller is great.

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Step 3: Nice to have items

Those of you who have seen my gym know that I have a lot more toys than the 3 essentials listed above. The following are some of my favourite luxury gym items:

Parallettes

Parallettes are great if you want to take your bodyweight training to the next level. You can perform push-ups, L-sits and inverted presses as well as more advanced moves like handstands, bent arm stands and V-sits. They also take up very little space.

pbarsThey are high quality wooden bars and one of the nicest pieces of equipment that you will ever use.

However, they are not the cheapest option. I have seen bars made out of PVC pipes which are very inexpensive to buy and make. I am not a big fan of the grip but they do the job. There are plenty of tutorials online for these.

Watch my parallettes compilation here.

Bands

I like to have a few bands to create a bit of extra resistance for bodyweight training. This is one of my favourite handstand drills.

Rings

Rings were one of the first things I bought when I started bodyweight training. I love the versatility of rings training as well as the shoulder strength and stability that they build.
Here are some ideas on where to hang your rings:

  1. From your pull-up bar. It may not be ideal height for skills like muscle-ups but it works.
  2. For those who are good with a drill you can make a couple of holes in the ceiling and hang them there. Use heavy duty eye bolts, TRX mounts, or other similar hardware meant to support heavy weights.
  3. If you are lucky enough to have a tree in your garden then just throw them over a branch. I like to use tree protectors to stop the straps from hurting nature ;)

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Floor sliders

These are so cheap and can be really useful for a lot of bodyweight training drills. This video shows an advanced drill using floor sliders.

Conclusions

When first creating your home gym keep it simple. The key to bodyweight training is learning to use your own body in different ways to build strength. By switching up the angles and progressions you can increase the load that you are lifting without requiring any external weight. This is the beauty of bodyweight training.