When it comes to a home gym, there are a lot of different options to choose from in terms of equipment.
It can almost seem like there are endless possibilities. So what options do you go with?
Well first off, do not purchase any machines. For the sake of both your wallet and your fitness.
What’s so bad about machines you ask?
- Bad for your mobility
- Provide less range of motion
- Fail to work your stabilizer muscles
Home Gym Heroes wants you to get the most out of your home gym as you possibly can - and the truth is that machines will not do that for you.
The advantages, my friends, lie with free weights. And guess what?
There are only 3 pieces of free weight equipment that you really need for your home gym!
These THREE (yes, only THREE!) pieces of equipment will allow you to get just about any workout in at home! You’ll be able to perform almost any exercise with just these 3 essentials - including these top 3 compound movements for your routine. And you can get most of your auxiliary sets in too!
So what are these 3 essentials? They are...
1. The Power Rack With Olympic Bar & Weights
The power rack is the beast that’s going to allow you to do just about any exercise. That’s right: This ONE piece of equipment will allow you to do nearly any compound lift.
With just a power rack, Olympic bar and weights, you’ll be able to:
- Squat (preferably with a spotter if possible – if not, go light!)
- Shoulder press
- Bent over row
You can get some great auxiliary lifts in as well, such as:
- Rack pulls (the upper portion of the deadlift)
- Romanian deadlifts (RDLs)
- Weighted stationary lunges
- Good mornings
- Upright rows
Some power racks even come with a built-in pull-up bar for you to get some pull-ups or chin-ups in too!
Now, a power rack (along with the bar and weights) can be a bit of an investment. But as with any investment, a home gym pays itself off.
However, it can be difficult to invest in both a power rack, Olympic bar, and weights all at once. Which is why we recommend starting with an Olympic weight set, which is perfect to start out. Although you won't have a power rack right away, you can still get some solid workouts in with your bar and weights. (Click here for an example of a great starter Olympic set)
All that being said, the power rack (along with the Olympic bar and weights) is the most important piece of equipment out of the 3 essentials.
But the other two are still important!
Looking for a power rack? Check out our Body-Solid Premium Power Rack!
2. The Adjustable Bench
I know you noticed I didn’t say anything about bench pressing with your power rack.
That’s because you need a bench to be able to lie on! Preferably an adjustable one, so you can hit your incline too.
And yes, that’s right. You don’t actually need a bench press to perform the exercise (though it does make for a great upgrade).
With the power rack + adjustable bench combo, you can do bench press and incline press inside the rack! But you want more auxiliary workouts? Pull out the 5, 10, or 25-pound plates for some:
- Shoulder raises
- Lateral flies
- Pectoral flies
- Reverse flies
- Incline shrugs
- And more!
You know what the best part is? There’s so much more you can use your adjustable bench for than just working out your pecs!
- Want to get a quick HIIT workout in? Hit some box jumps or plyometric runners using the bench!
- Ever done one-legged squats balancing on a bench? It’s brutal! (Note: This is a body-weight exercise – please don’t try with weights)
- Try some seated shoulder/military press to put more strain on your shoulders (but less on your abs and stabilizers)
- Remain seated while doing auxiliary exercises such as lateral flies, shoulder raises, bicep curls, etc.
Take a look at our Body-Solid Flat/Incline Adjustable Bench.
And now, for the last of the 3 essentials…
3. The Treadmill
Okay, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a treadmill. It can be an elliptical. Or a stationary bike. Or a Stairmaster. Hell, it can even be a jump rope! You just want some piece of cardio equipment that you are likely to use!
Here, I use the example of a treadmill because it’s the #1 preferred cardio machine by most Americans.
What’s great about the treadmill is:
- You are in charge of your body’s mechanics and movement
- You get a natural range of motion
- You can perform a variety of different workouts on a treadmill, such as:
- Sprinting (HIIT)
- Walking lunges
- Side lunges
- Or a mix and match!
You can get a nice morning walk in to wake yourself up and feel refreshed.
Need a quick 5-10 minute workout in before work? (Just 5-10 minutes is enough to get your blood pumping to your brain for a mental boost and mood boost. The act of just starting exercise is also enough to jump-start lipolysis!)
At the end of the day, you’ll be more likely to hit cardio with a treadmill (or any cardio equipment) sitting in your home gym! After hitting the weights, you’re much more likely to hop on that treadmill you paid for than leave your house to go for a run.
Ultimately, the cardio you do will raise your energy levels throughout the day by pumping your nutrient-containing blood better throughout your body! And not to mention burn some calories.
By all means, get the cardio machine that you are most likely to use consistently. You want to use this equipment to get your cardio in on a weekly, routinely basis.
You also want to get some cardio in consistently because, aside from weight loss, it has amazing health and brain benefits. It's been shown to decrease the risk of disease, uplift mood, ease depression, improve sleep quality, and more.
Well, there you have it! Those are the 3 Essentials for getting your home gym up and running! And these 3 pieces of equipment alone are all you need to be healthy, productive, and energetic.
Ready to Build Your Home Gym and Make Fitness a Habit?
Download our Home Gym Handbook (it's much smaller than it sounds - I promise). We've done the hours of research for you so you don't have to. Everything you need to know about building a home gym is in here, every step of the way.