How to make a Wholistic Home Gym
I love training. But sometimes I’m busy. Sometimes I’m travelling. Sometimes going outside is too hard for any number of reasons. And what then?
Normally, training goes out the window. You know, work and kids are more important than that double-bodyweight bench or front lever I wish I had. That exotic food and drink tastes too good pass up. And who’s going to go to the gym in that rain or snow?
These are all fair excuses if you let them be. We are all human, but if we have a backup at home, we always have access to a better option that not going. And the accumulation of good choices like a quick home session rather than not training over a long period can make a massive difference. Of course, missing a session here and there won’t be the end of the world, but making a session you might have missed here and there, the additional factor end up being huge.
Photo credit: @rpstrength, @james_clear, @foundr
Before we look at easy home solutions to ensure we get these gains, let’s examine what 365 missed sessions look like. It could be one whole year off, or close enough to. If you were to miss one session a month every month over 30 years would be the slow death variety. A month long holiday (assuming training 5 times per week) every year for 17 years has the same effect. So 365 missed workouts can happen quickly enough with a combination of these factors, as these potential results can go missing. Now option 1 is to buy an expensive home gym we might use this once-every-so-often. Or option 2- save yourself the money and have enough to get it done at home.
So what’s the quick fix?
To cover all our bases (without going crazy), we need to perform the following sets of movements with cheap enough equipment that we can keep at home:
1. Squat variation
2. Hip hinge variation
3. Horizontal pushing
4. Horizontal pulling
5. Vertical pulling
6. Vertical pushing
7. Trunk flexion-extension
8. Trunk rotation
To make sure we aren’t left coming up short on a rainy day, let’s tick these off one by one both as simply and with as much detail as possible.
Meeting these requirements as simply as possible we could:
1. Use bodyweight squats and squat variations
2. Weighted (for example a loaded backpack) or banded deadlift and goodmorning variations.
3. Push ups
4. Inverted rows (e.g. underneath a table, using chairs) or ring rows
5. Chin up and pull up and pull down variations (using a chin up bar or bands most likely)
6. Incline push ups and piked push ups.
7. Crunches, v-snaps, jack knives
8. Russian twists
In this scenario, as a base minimum, you need a chin up bar and some resistance bands.https://www.rubberbanditz.com/info-center/mobile-fitness-bands/ would go above and beyond for what you need here, and with a chin up bar, all the better.
If we go deeper than this bare minimum we end up doing two things, both of which are really handy. The first is that we stop you from going stir crazy from doing the same couple exercises at home (and let’s be honest, boredom stops you doing plain push ups and squats at home on the days you don’t turn up anyway) and the other is that we can add load to all your exercises. Keeping things interesting means that you are likely to do the workouts you say you’ll do at home more often, and adding load ensures that we create enough stimulus to grow and adapt to our workouts. This means we aren’t simply going to break even from training at home, but we can still get stronger from these workouts. Here’s a quick look at why.
To grow, we need to get to a point where our repetitions get hard (that is the speed slows because it isn’t easy enough to do it fast anymore as we can see below.
Photo Credit: Chris Beardsley
Following that, we need to be performing between about 6 and 30 repetitions in our set total, as discussed in depth here:https://www.strongerbyscience.com/hypertrophy-range-fact-fiction/, or better understood in meme format below, where anything in this range can create muscle growth, but 30 repetitions will give you more endurance, and 6 repetitions will better gear you towards strength.
Photo Credit: Greg Nuckols
With a few stimulating repetitions (which we can determine somewhat by slower bar speeds towards the end of a set), a rep range between 6-30 and adequate recovery and nutrition, we will grow and adapt from a workout rather than just having completed something. This is why having bands, a weighted backpack of harder exercise variations is essential to improving, especially if we are going to train and home semi-regularly.
Expanding our range then, to assuming we have bands, sliders, Olympic rings and enough to weight a backpack and are able to effectively perform the following exercises, we should be looking at:
1. Doing banded or backpack weighted back squats, front squats, Cossack squats and split squats on two legs. You might even consider using a broomstick (provided it won’t snap with the band you use) to give you some feedback as it you were using a barbell. On one leg you could look at pistol squatting, shrimp squats, dragon squats, or if you have too much time on your hands, mastering Jon Yuen’s “Wheels Without Steel” sequence.
2. Banded or backpacked good mornings, deadlifts, Nordic curls and bodyweight hamstring curl variations like body curls, suspended hamstring curls or slider curls.
3. Banded push ups, paralette push ups, pelican push ups, bent arm planche varieties and pseudo-planche push ups (or planche push ups if you are superhuman).
4. Ring rows, tuck front lever pull ups, straight arm pull downs and tuck front lever pulls.
5. Chin ups, pull ups, weighted chin ups, banded pull downs, banded chin ups, eccentric chin ups/pull ups, tempo pull ups/chin ups.
6. Pike push ups, incline push ups, banded overhead press, banded z-press, wall handstand push ups or freestanding handstand push ups, shoulder stand variations.
7. Slider tuck and pike variations, l-sit, crunches, banded sit ups and knee raises, hollow body variations.
8. Banded pallof presses, banded full contact twist, Russian twists, banded woodcutters
Need a few products to fill the gaps in your home arsenal? We’re fully stocked and got you covered!