I grew up in the gym, doing the bodybuilding, isolation style exercises, you know back and bi’s days, then chest and back, then legs (which I never did because I hated them, so I just skipped that and did more biceps). Later, I progressed into combat style training, which then led to Crossfit, which then led to pain and injuries, and then finally I had a child and realized…I don’t have time to travel to the gym, nor pay $150/month for a gym membership. After all the numerous modalities of training I’ve been exposed to, I’ve distilled down three tools that every home gym should have at the bare minimum.
- Kettlebell: You gotta have a kettle bell. If you want to lose weight, do kettle bell swings. That’s it. That really is the only exercise you need to lose weight, but people love variety and “What’s the newest workout.” Kettlebell swings work your entire body and core. Start with 50 reps, then go to 75, then 100 non-stop.
You could do Farmer’s walks for grip/core strength, goblet squats for core/legs, snatches or cleans for metabolic conditioning, Turkish get-ups for mobility and core, deadlifts, etc, the list is endless. I’ve seen good prices on PowerSystems and Onnit, or even Amazon. Onnit has some good packages for multiple kettle bells as well as fun loving characters carved into the bell. I started off with a pair of kettle bells weighing 35lbs (or 16kg) each (so a total of 70 lbs), and I am decent shape weighing around 155 lbs. The 35lbs bells are great, because they right in the middle.
- Rings: So many people want a TRX, because it’s cool and trendy, but it’s two neoprene bands that cost $130. My set of gymnastic rings off Amazon cost me $34 and they work just amazing. I’m going static holds, muscle-ups, flys, german hangs, L-sits, dips, hinge rows, reverse rows, push-ups. I’ve found for whatever reason, that when I do dips on the rings, I don’t have any chest pain, which is what I was getting from doing bench press (in my left shoulder). The rings seem to place my shoulder in an optimal position, and I make sure that I am externally rotating at the top. Since stopping bench press, ring dips have been my go to move.
- Bands: I love bands for everything from warming-up to mobility type exercises, or actual resistance workouts. I will typically do band pull-parts and band shoulder dislocates to warm-up my upper body before a workout. I also like doing band good-mornings for the lower back and hamstrings. The thicker the band you buy, the more resistance, and you can get a pretty darn good workout as well. Another way I will increase the difficulty of the exercise is by doing eccentric style lifting. For example, if I’m doing a squat, I will focus on the descent of the squat, slowly designing for a five second count. This loads the muscles differently and recruits a lot more muscle activation. I like Rogue Fitness or IronWoodyFitness to buy your bands, both are reputable. If you have the money, I would personally purchase a package with a light, medium, and advanced band to give you options for your workouts/resistance level. You can even get them here on Amazon for a good price.
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