home gymThat may just be the question which some of you are asking. Although I happen to enjoy the social atmosphere of gyms, or health clubs, and feel they help motivate me to work out, I admit they are not for everyone. Some people who go to the gym for the first time may be intimidated by the many strange looking exercise contraptions and by all the sweating, grunting, and staring going on at the gym.

That is totally understandable. Getting a personal trainer will not only help motivate you to workout but you will also feel more comfortable at the gym because everything won’t be so foreign. Any uncertainties you may have can easily be answered by the personal fitness trainer. They will also teach proper exercise techniques and body bio-mechanics, and motivate you to continue on a life-long fitness program.

But some people just don’t have the time, inclination, or energy to travel all the way to a health club, change into gym clothes, work out for an hour or more, shower, change back into street clothes, then get back into their car for a twenty to thirty minute drive back home, and still have a life. Or even if you did have the time and inclination to do so, you may not have the money to be able to afford a personal trainer.

You don’t have to worry. There is another option which doesn’t have to mean sacrificing muscle gain. There are countless, very effective exercises you can do in the privacy of your home without paying dues to a health club. The fact is: seventy to eighty per cent of all people who buy memberships to health clubs don’t use them after the first few months. I hope that doesn’t mean they are no longer exercising!

Can you Make Progress?

Like most people who train at home, you may occasionally wonder whether or not you’re making enough progress. You worry that your modest home gym can’t provide the same benefit as a fully equipped fitness center with all its state-of-the-art machines. Not to mention the fact that without a spotter, you just don’t feel comfortable going heavy enough to really pack on the muscle mass.

Yet, despite these perceived setbacks you refuse to put up with the hassle of training in an overcrowded gym. The only question is: are you sacrificing results for convenience? Well, fear not. Limited resources don’t necessarily have to translate into limited gains. All it takes is the right equipment and a little bit of ingenuity.

Where is it written that you need a bunch of fancy machines to get a good workout anyway? The fact is some of the greatest physiques in history were built with minimal equipment and endless creativity, before the advent of today’s technological wizardry (such as Schwarzenegger and Reeves). That’s because back in the old days people understood that when it comes to gaining weight and building muscle, it doesn’t matter if you lift cinder blocks just as long as you’re providing a sufficient overload. Sadly, this is a fact that is often overlooked in the high-tech training atmosphere that permeates most of today’s gyms.

Nowadays it seems that in order for a workout to be considered effective it has to resemble some sort of science project rife with elaborate gizmos that enable you to blast your muscles from all sorts of peculiar angles. This is ironic, considering that most are no better than those simple exercises you used to do in your basement when you were a teenager.

Do your homework

If you are going to forgo the gym and train at home, there are certain things you’re going to need in terms of equipment. I’m not talking about a bunch of colored rubber bands, or one of those multi-purpose gadgets you see being hawked on those late night infomercials. Despite the outlandish claims made by their manufacturers, most can’t hold a candle to good old-fashioned free weights.

So do yourself a favor and keep things simple; start off with a barbell, a couple of dumbbells, and at least enough weight to challenge you on your major lifts. You could also use a bench, preferably one that’s adjustable so that you can train from a variety of angles. However, if financial or spacial considerations make this impossible, a swiss ball can serve as a viable alternative (more on this in a moment). If you have the room, some type of squat rack would also be helpful for performing exercises like squats and military presses. However, you could always get by with doing dumbbell versions of these and any other heavy, compound movements. Finally, having access to a chinning bar not only negates the need for an expensive, space consuming lat-pulldown, but it will help you build the kind of functional upper body strength that carries over to a variety of sports related skills.

What do you need?

Having the proper equipment setup is important, but it’s only half of the equation. One of the biggest complaints I have heard from people who train at home is that their workouts have become too stale and predictable. Well, duh!!! You’re workouts can get stale and predictable if you train in a million dollar gym with tons of equipment. When you train at home, with limited resources, it just means you have to be that much more imaginative.

Keep doing the same lifts for the same number of sets and reps and I don’t care how hard you train, sooner or later you’re going to hit a plateau. Perhaps your best defense against this happening to you is becoming well versed in the numerous training adaptations you have at your disposal. You’d be surprised at how many different ways there are to increase your training intensity without having to rely on going heavy all the time. Not that I have anything against using heavy weights for brief periods throughout the year, but why tempt fate and invite injury if it’s not necessary?

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