Tired of scheduling your day around gym hours? Tired of fighting rush-hour traffic just to get to the gym to find that someone who's yapping their trap and taking their sweet time on every-single piece of equipment you need? That makes about three hours spent in the gym for about 30 to 45 minutes of actual workout time!
Guess what! For an initial investment, you can have your own personal gym without even leaving your house (or your apartment)... and you set the gym hours! You'll find that in the long run, you've saved yourself thousands of dollars by owning your own equipment instead of wasting it on an overpriced gym membership.
To get the most effective workouts for building muscle, you don't need that costly high-profile gym equipment. All you need are some good old, wallet-friendly home equipment.
BARBELL AND WEIGHTS SET
This is the most basic and ideal equipment package for building muscle. You'd be surprised at the many exercises you can do with just a barbell and some weights. You can do core exercises including, floor presses, shoulder presses, bicep curls, close-grip floor presses, power cleans, deadlifts, snatches, and good mornings, just to name a few. A barbell, about 300 pounds worth of weight plates, and some eight-count-bodybuilders and your set for building muscle. For those of you with bad backs, like myself, get a Hex bar for your deadlifts and heavy shrugs. Your back will thank you for it.
RUSSIAN KETTLEBELLS (KB)
These are my favorite! In my opinion, kettlebells are the single-best workout tools for building muscle when used correctly. Go to Dragondoor.com and open an account for the Strength and Conditioning forum and learn from the experts for free and develop your own workout routines based on your physical fitness objectives. There are tons of DVDs and YouTube videos on KB workouts and correct form. You can even be certified by the man who's credited for bringing kettlebells to the U.S., Pavel Tsatsouline. When I was deployed, all I brought with me was a 24kg kettlebell and pull-up bar and I was set. If I were trapped on a desert island and I could only have one piece of fitness equipment, it'd be a kettlebell, bar none. A couple of swings, snatches, cleans and presses and you're good to go!
Probably the most expensive (but extremely useful) pieces of equipment you can use, assuming you have the money and the space is a power rack. You don't want to try barbell squats without one of these. If you do, then you might want to consider making friends with your local chiropractor. I got lucky with my power rack and was able to get it relatively cheap. You can do pull-ups, stretches, and band work with it as well.
BOWFLEX SELECTTECH(TM) DUMBBELLS
I specifically mention these for many reasons. They save you a tremendous amount of space and money, they're easy to use, and they don't shred your palms like traditional dumbbell sets. Like, the barbell, you can do full-body workouts for building muscle. And if you don't want to go extremely heavy on your squats, presses, and deadlifts, you can still gain some serious muscle with these. Working out with dumbbells is also great for building your stabilizers. I got my SelectTechs about six years ago and I've had them ever since. Great investment!
PULL-UP BAR (or any bar you can do pull and chin ups with)
I believe pull ups are VERY underrated and you can develop some serious muscle and strength by doing pull ups. Since I started doing pull ups seriously, I haven't touched a lat. machine in years. Pull ups will also impress people when you can perform a high volume of strict pull ups. There are many variations of pull-up bars and handles you can buy for basically nothing. If you have a strong door and invest in some pull-up handles, there's no excuse not being able to work those lats. If you really want to impress the masses and join the athletic elite, work on achieving the one-arm pullup.
While not really a necessity, these are still good to have around for arm-blasting and some shoulder exercises. If you have a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells, then you're good to go, but an EZ bar is good to have around for building muscle and are relatively inexpensive.
You think exercise balls or only for Pilates, yoga, and aerobics class? Think again. An exercise ball is a great substitute for a flat or adjustable bench. You can do dumbbell presses, flyes, and incline presses and flys for building serious muscle. And with a ball, you're engaging your core more than with a flat bench. You can find a ball dirt cheap pretty much anywhere.
RESISTANCE BANDS OR TRX(TM) SUSPENSION SYSTEM
Resistance bands and the TRX, a great substitutions for dumbbells, or if you're rehabbing and don't want to lose your strength. With the TRX, you can amplify your bodyweight exercises, like modified pushups and rows. There are also workout programs that can be done with either bands or the TRX. If you're a frequent traveler, then these are your best bet. You can use these in your hotel room or wherever you're staying and stay in shape on the go. I know a lot of Soldiers and Airmen who have deployed and the TRX was their only strength-training tool. Most of them like their results and the portability of the TRX. NFL great and fitness phenom Terrell Owens has his own line of resistance bands that have an enormous amount of resistance. Like the kettlebell, you can go to YouTube for tutorials and workouts.
Now that you know what equipment to buy, where can I get these for the most bang for my buck, you ask? Well the obvious places you should start with are Craigslist and eBay. There are a lot of people selling equipment, and some will even negotiate a price just to get rid of them. For trademark equipment, such as the SelectTechs and TRX system, you can go to the Bowflex and TRX websites. Just Bing or Google the terms and there are your results. You'll also find by doing a search, you may find a website and/or dealer who will sell equipment at discount or wholesale prices.
There you have it. Many options of home fitness equipment at bargain prices. Now there's no excuse not building muscle and getting rid of the holiday gut!
*As with any exercise program and when working out without a spotter, consult your physician first.