Body Building Resources

Ten Things to Know About Body Building At Home
By Jean Lam

There are plenty of advantages to building your own home gym. No waiting in line for machines; no wiping off benches someone else just sweated on; no more listening to that one noisy guy grunt and curse his way through another set of reps. If you're that noisy guy, no more watching what you say at the gym. Even better, your commute is nonexistent.

But setting up a home gym isn't as easy as you'd think-and even with the convenience of a gym at home, you can still fall out of the workout habit. Here are ten things you should know about setting up your own body building workout area at home.

Know what you want. What type of workout are you looking for? Are you a serious body builder, or do you just want to get a little more toned? Are you interested in cardio, strength training, or a combination of the two? Most people don't have a lot of room for their home gyms, so you'll have to be focused when buying equipment. Know exactly what you want from your home gym, and you'll be better able to choose the right equipment for your space.

Buy equipment with caution. Don't pull out your credit card for every exercise fad that comes along. Many of the exercise machines and gadgets you see advertised on television are not effective. Choose equipment from a vendor you trust-preferably someone who will allow you to try it out in-store before you buy. Talk to trainers, other body builders, and even gym owners about the equipment they use and recommend.

Hire a trainer. When you're working out at a gym, you can always ask the in-house pros if you have a question. When you're on your own, you're in a vacuum. You don't have to hire a trainer for every workout, but it can help your workout a great deal if you consult a trainer intermittently-to get you started, to help you design a new routine, or to help you break through a plateau.

Stick to a routine. When your gym's in the house, it's much more convenient-but that doesn't mean working out will be any easier. It still takes willpower to stick with a workout. When you have a home gym, it's crucial to develop a routine and stick to it so you don't lose interest and let your workout go. Work out at the same time every day, and you're much more likely to stay with your workout routine.

Make sure your floor can support your equipment. Workout equipment is heavy. Consider where you plan to have your home gym. Can you carry that equipment up three flights of stairs? Once it's up there, can the floor support the weight? Many experts recommend that home gyms be set up in the basement or garage; the cement floor is sturdy enough to support any amount of weight, and you won't damage a hardwood floor if you drop a weight accidentally.

Know your space. It should go without saying, but measure your space before you go shopping. If you have a tiny space, consider buying equipment that folds up for easy storage. Make sure you know the equipment you buy will fit in your workout space before taking anything home.

Take the others in your home into account. Are there young children in your home? If so, you'll need to make sure your home gym is safe for them. Are you sharing the space with a significant other? If so, discuss your plans for a home gym with them before bringing your weights home. If you don't, you could be setting yourself up for a major conflict as soon as you start moving your barbells into the house.

Buy the basics. Most home gyms for body builders include a weight bench-not too narrow, or it won't provide adequate support-along with a squat rack, a cast-iron weight set, a calf block or stair step, and a chin-up bar. You may want a set of dumbbells, or you may need to buy a multi-exercise machine to save space. Talk to your local retailer or your trainer about the types of equipment you should consider based on your fitness goals, budget and space.

Consider the hassle factor. How difficult is that new machine to set up? Sure, the commercial said you could change the machine for different exercises-but does making adjustments involve unscrewing anything? When buying equipment, make sure the hassle factor is something you're willing to deal with. A machine that's difficult to change can add hours to your workout time, and a machine you can't set up on your own won't help you get fit. Be sure you can handle the challenges presented by a particular machine before buying it.

Make the space appealing. Chances are, you won't stick with your workout routine if you hate being in your home gym. Make an effort to create a place where you feel relaxed and happy. Whether that means picking up the clutter in your basement, installing a mini-fridge stocked with cold water, or even hanging curtains and laying down a rug-make sure your workout area is a place where you enjoy spending time. If you do, you'll be surprised at how much easier it is to stick with your workout.

A home gym can be convenient, easy, and perfect for serious body builders. But to get that way, you'll need to set it up right. Follow these tips, and you're sure to be able to get the most from your home gym.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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