Getting fit at home is a great heath choice for any woman. Statistics show that people who train at home are more consistent with their workout programs, lose more weight and are able to better influence other members of their family positively toward their own health goals.
Yet, setting up a home gym may seem daunting. In this article we’re going break down the steps involved, show you what you’ll need and give some important buying guides to ensure that you get the right gear that you need for your home gym.
We are going to proceed on the assumption that you have a dedicated space for your home gym of at least 30 square feet and that you have the freedom to make minor adjustments to that space, such as by adding mirrors to the walls.
Know Your Goals
The type of ladies home gym that you will set up will depend upon what you want to achieve out of your workouts. So, the place to start is to consider the answers to these questions . . .
- Are you mainly interested in fat loss?
- Will you mainly be doing cardio exercise?
- Are you interested in doing weight training?
- Will you be doing heavy, bodybuilding type training?
- What is your budget - less than $500 / $500-1000 / $1000+
Regardless of the type of training that you’ll be doing, you will need the following basic gym items:
Having quality cushioning underfoot is probably the most important single consideration in setting up your home gym. You need to ensure that you are providing plenty of padding to absorb your foot impact. This will preserve your joints while you are performing plyometric moves.
You can pick up jigsaw style foam tile pieces that will do the job nicely. Look for tiles that are at least a half inch thick. Expect to pay around $1.25 per square foot.
Our recommended gym flooring is the ProS sẽource Puzzle Exercise Mat.
Gym mirrors are not there to allow muscle-heads to indulge their vanity. They are actually an essential training tool to help exercisers to check their training form. That’s the reason that you should have one in your training area.
You should put your mirror in the part of your dedicated gym area where you will be doing your resistance training, be it with weights or resistance bands.
Head down to your bathroom outfitting store and ask for a six by six foot mirror. Alternatively, you may find that you can pick up two 3 x 3 foot mirrors at a substantially cheaper price.
Here’s a very handy video that will walk you through the mirror installation process.
Your Gym Options
You clearly need to tailor your gym purchases to your exercise needs. In general, women spend 60% of their time on cardio equipment and 40% on resistance training.
If you are mainly interested in improving the fitness of your heart and lungs, along with burning off calories, then you will want to invest the majority of your budget on aerobic workout gear. You’ll want an exercycle and an elliptical machine.
You should also invest in a flat bench and a pair of adjustable dumbbells.
Strength Training Focus
If your focus is going to be on weight resistance training then 70% of your budget should be dedicated to that pursuit. You’ll want to invest in a power rack, an adjustable bench, a barbell and adjustable dumbbells.
Complement your resistance training gear with a single piece of a cardio equipment. We recommend that you make it an elliptical machine.
Your Gym Buying Checklist:
Yes, ladies can and should lift heavy weight. When you do it at home, you need to have the protection of a power rack. This is a cage within which you perform your big compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts. It provides safety bars to ensure that you don’t get into a nasty situation when training by yourself.
This will be one of your most expensive investments. You don’t want to skimp on quality here, but you can pick up very good budget racks around the $300-400 range.
Look for a rack that provides you with a walk-in area of around 4 x 4 feet. You’ll want a pull up bar at the top of the rack, a minimum of 2 inch square steel tubing and at least 14 gauge steel framing. The frame will have holes along the sides for you to adjust the height of the safety bars. Look for a unit that numbers the holes and your life will be a whole lot easier when adjusting for your exercises.
Here are our Power Rack recommendations . . .
You should have a minimum of one barbell bar, If you are going to be doing the ‘big’ exercises like squats and deadlifts, you will want to make this an Olympic bar. An Olympic bar is 7 feet in length and has a diameter of 2 inches. It requires Olympic plates that have 2 inch holes in their center. The bar weighs 44-pounds which is double that of a standard barbell (it is also twice the price).
You should look for a bundle package which gives you a bar, collars and weight plates. Look for quality collars that are of the quick lock variety to keep the weights firmly in place. You should be able to pick up a set that will get you started for around a hundred dollars.
If you are not planning on doing the big weight exercises, then you will be good to go with a standard 5 foot weight bar.
The best Olympic bars on the market are:
- Budget – Gold’s Gym 100 lb cement barbell set
- Mid Range – VTX 300 lb Olympic grip barbell set
- Premium – USA Sports 300 lb Olympic Weight Set
You will want several pairs of dumbbells to allow you to perform a full range of exercises to target the muscles of your body. We suggest buying fixed dumbbells as opposed to adjustable ones, which are notorious for coming apart half way through an exercise.
Another option is to invest in a pair of selectorised adjustable dumbbells. These are dumbbell handles that sit on a platform long with a selection of weight plates that you can select at will. This allows you to choose the precise weight that you want. In effect, it replaces a whole rack of dumbbells with a single pair. In the long run, this is the cheapest option.
Our recommended dumbbells in each category are:
- Budget (Adjustable) – CAP Barbell Adjustable Dumbbells
- Mid Range (Selectorized) – PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells
- Premium (Hexagonal) – CAP Barbell Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells
You will be doing a lot of work on an exercise bench, so you need to make sure that it is solid, secure and comfortable. However, you don’t want the padding to be too soft or you will not get enough stability. To test this out, simply press your thumb down on the bench pad. If your thumb goes all the way to the base, then the padding is too much.
The bench should be able to adjust to seven back angles and should also allow for the seat to adjust to atleast three positions. Buying a bench with wheels will also make your life easier.
- Budget – CAP Barbell Deluxe Utility Bench
- Mid Range – Bowflex Adjustable Bench
- Premium – Phoenix 99225 Mid Width Power Bench
An exercise bike should form the foundation of your cardio area. Here’s what to look out for . . .
- Resistance Type - your options are air resistance, magnetic frictionless or flywheel based. This latter will provide the most natural movement.
- Adjustability / Comfort - you should be able to adjust the seat both fore and aft, along with the handlebars.
- Monitor - you want readouts of your essential training diagnostics including, pulse, calories, speed, time and distance.
Recommended Stationary Bikes:
The elliptical is a great machine to work your butt while also burning calories. Look for one that has . . .
- A precision weighted flywheel of atleast 20 pounds
- Forward/backward motion
- Multi-directional arms
- Non-slip pedals
- Built in programs
Extras (if you can afford them)
If you can equip your home gym with all of the gear we’ve outlined in this article, you will have created an investment that will pay off big in terms of health benefits for your entire family. More than likely, however, it will take a period of months to build up your equipment inventory. Work down our list systematically and you will end up with a home gym to be proud of.
Image credit: tierraeste.com