If the Pandemic has taught me anything it’s that I know a lot of conspiracy theorists and soap box politicians. But it has also taught me that we should be prepared for the possibility that the gym may not always be there and so we need to start thinking of making our own sanctuary of fitness.
In this article I want to discuss what I believe will make the perfect home gym and what you can use for alternatives in the short term or if your struggling to justify buying a new shiny new set of dumbbells or a running machine when you have mouths to feed and bills to pay.
Let’s begin to talk around kit you can find alternatives for and are super-efficient to begin your kit buying experience with then at the end well talk the gear that is more of a luxury and for those that wan to take their home gym game to pro.
Suspension trainer / Rings / Pull up bar
I thought I would start with the best bit of kit you can buy right now for minimal cost and get maximal use out of.
Suspension trainers are awesome. They are versatile, don’t take up much room and if you buy a decent version will last you a long time.
The fact is you need to be able to load your pulling muscles and so having this bit of kit will allow you to row and pull up to your hearts content. Add in all the pushing, abdominal and leg movements that are possible and you have a home gum at your disposal for less than £100. Make sure you have a sturdy frame to hang from or buy a wall bracket to ensure you can use it safely.
Gymnastic rings are even better value and will usually be better quality for the long term. Again, you will not have to break the bank at around £30.
The only disadvantage compared to a suspension trainer is comfort. The rings are a little hard compared to the soft handles of the Suspension trainer but that is a little price to pay for the savings and overall quality
Pull up bar
Now this item can be a little of a mine field but really you just want to make sure you buy a bar that allows you to pull yourself up without becoming the next workout blooper video on You’ve Been Framed (that £250 will only heal your pride so much).
You can get super cheap versions that go in your door frame or if your feeling super flash can buy a full on pull up frame. If you read on to the kit without alternatives later, then a squat rack is a efficient alternative that may save you a few ££
Alternative – Bed Sheet and anchor point
If you have a strong sheet and something to use as an anchor point you can do a lot of the pulling movements from the kit above. The most important advice I can give you though is – just buy a suspension trainer/Gymnastic rings as It will remove a lot of potential accidents and damage to your linen.
Now let’s make it clear, I am not an owner of a kettlebell manufacturing company so when I say that the Kettlebell is by far the Greatest piece of training gear ever invented, I can understand your suspicions. Truth Is though the Kettlebell is one of the easiest bits of kit to teach someone to use and can train all areas of fitness without too much worry of form breakdown and potential injury.
The biggest problem with them is space and expense. Buying the top end Kettlebells will cost you £30 to £300 depending on the weights you want. But you can by a decent quality of kettlebell for £10 to £100.
If you buy the weights you can use and put a little away each month you will find that your collection can become quite impressive in 6 to 12 months.
Alternative – Rucksack
If you are still contemplating buying a kettlebell, then your rucksack can be a decent alternative. Loading up your bag with books, bottles or any weighted item can be a good short-term fix whilst you save up but remember this key thing – make sure it’s a sturdy rucksack.
With home made kit you always have a risk to reward ratio, but when your swinging and throwing around your bag it can be pretty risky if your using your kids mini mouse rucksack made in a sweatshop in Asia.
Dumbbells are again a sound investment in any home gym environment. Like kettlebells they are versatile but arguably even more simple to learn the appropriate techniques to more complex movements.
In terms of expense a decent pair of adjustable dumbbells can cost you as little as £30 but the more expensive ones can range up to £400+ which is crazy money!
They are also easier to store away and take up less space than your kettlebells so if space is an issue then the Dumbbell may be a good choice for you.
Alternative – Water Bottles with handle
Though this wont be an exact alternative due to where the handle sits compared to the weight it can be a good short term fix. Any water bottle with a decent handle will do and it will allow you to empty or fill up with water to match your strength and experience.
The biggest problem comes from more dynamic movements. The water in the bottle will make it more difficult to operate but that can be considered an additional skill that you will have to learn. But like with all alternative equipment you need to weigh up the pros and cons overtime.
Conditioning is a massively important aspect of our training. With Realfit Online training we try to find a balance between strength, muscle and conditioning to ensure that we limit our weaknesses within health and fitness. of course, the major problem with cardio equipment is expense and the space that the equipment takes up.
a decent running machine, exercise bike or rowing machine could end up costing you anything up to £1000 and take up large portions of a room. But if you know in the long term this is something that you want to have then that expense again could be a massive investment long term for you and your family. But as always there is alternatives we can use that will allow you to get the conditioning required without the massive expense of buying equipment or using a your local swimming pool.
alternative – On the spot conditioning
of course, cardio does not need to be done on machines. There is an array of movements and exercises you can do that will raise your heart rate get you breathing heavy, sweating and getting your overall conditioning in without spending any money. One solution is of course to run or bike outside using the great outdoors as our exercise equipment, this is a great way of ensuring that you get your cardio in at minimal expense… But the biggest problem with that can come with the cooler months of the year. Cold dark days and nights, icy or wet conditions can put damper on to anybody’s enthusiasm to get outside and sweat.
All this can be avoided though with the use of on the spot cardio. movements like jumping jacks, High Knees, Mountain Climbers and Burpees (I had to say that word) are all great alternatives to cardio equipment and will cost you nothing but your effort. With Realfit Online workouts we try to use as much on the spot conditioning work as we can to save you time and space. but for those of you that have cardio equipment we will look to create specialist workouts with those bits of kit to allow you opportunities to build them into your routine.
And now the kit you just can’t skimp on
Some kit just has no alternative. the following pieces of kit can be considered a luxury or a bonus down the line once you have constructed your home gym and have all the basic equipment at your disposal. you may find these items will be out of your budget or you may just not be interested in using these bits of kit which is cool. But if you want a fully functioning home gym that you can do all of the workouts available on real fit online then these will be the extra bits of kit you may need in future.
Though bands are not essential to building a fitter stronger body they are an excellent piece of kit to have in your Arsenal. Not only are they excellent for Warmups, Activation work, Rehab and Core-based movements they can be added two resistance exercises to enhance the muscle activation and results in the long run.
Decent power bands can cost you as little as £10 and give you an array of exercise choices but it would be always advisable to buy bands of different resistances as you progress and get stronger. As you’ll see through the Realfit online workouts when we use the bands for Warmups we would generally use a red band which is pretty universal across all suppliers as being the lightest resistance band. if you buy two or three of those then obviously you can progress the resistance by adding an extra band each time which is a smart way of saving money and ensuring you have plenty of options for exercises in the future.
A sturdy exercise bench is again not essential to being fit and healthy but will give you plenty of opportunities to try new movements and have I solid support for various exercises we will do in these online programmes.
Buying a decent adjustable bench will cost you around £100 which again isn’t cheap but if you buy quality it will last you a lifetime. Of course, there are cheaper alternatives out there, but you then have the risk to reward of the bench eventually breaking and the added expense of buying another bench in the future. If it’s a financial issue, then go with what you feel comfortable paying.
Barbells & Plates
as your experience grows within the fitness industry barbells become much of a love hate thing. Learning how to properly use a barbell for all the movements available to you can be a very rewarding and efficient way of getting stronger and fitter and allow you the opportunity to build a body that you desire but overtime the wear and tear of using the barbell can sometimes outweigh any benefits that you may receive from it.
If you’re interested in going into competitive sports like Weightlifting, Powerlifting or CrossFit then barbell skills are an essential piece of your success within that sport. But in terms of Health & fitness it is not a necessity to Use barbells and plates.
If you do fancy buying barbells and plates you have plenty of options available to you at differing expenses. I would always suggest buying decent quality Olympic barbell with Bumper Plates but for the casual lifter a standard barbell and cast iron plates will suffice, again you need to ensure you work towards your budget and goals.
Once you have a bench, barbells and plates the last piece of equipment you may want to purchase will be a squat rack. This will ensure you have a sturdy safe lifting platform for things like squats and presses and also if you purchase the correct type of squat rack you can also get added features like dip bars pull up bars and cable extensions which are super-efficient and allow you to add tonnes of exercise variety do your workouts.
It’s always better to buy a rack that you can attach to a wall or have bolted to the floor to ensure that is safe to add load to and won’t rock around whilst you’re performing body weight exercises on it.
Is there no cheaper alternative?
As with any exercise equipment you can buy from sell on or marketplace type sites at a cheaper rate. When you do this you must always ensure that what you’re purchasing is safe to use and have a decent quality as the little you may save at the start could come back to cost you more in the future if the item is broken or causes injury.
So, there you have it, a list of kit you need to be more awesome and some alternatives that will make you feel like Rocky training to survive a fist swinging contest with Ivan Drago in the snowy mountains of Russia.
You will find that a little investment consistently over the months and years will add up to a lot of awesome tools to help sculpt the Greek god/goddess within us all.
So, go fill up a water bottle and go get the day!!