One of the questions I often get asked from someone new to home fitness is “What equipment should I put in my home gym?”
I have been in the fitness industry for over 20 years and tried many different pieces of equipment. Some I still use today, and others are collecting dust in the corner. In this article I am going to recommend my favorite fitness gear specifically for home gyms that are just starting out.
Keeping space restraints and budget in mind here are my top 10 picks for the Punch Fit or any fitness program done at home.
It is important to note that resistance is resistance. Many movements that require a kettlebell will work great with a dumbbell. A sandbag is an idea substitute for a barbell. Kettlebells and dumbbells can replace a barbell.
While each modality has a uniqueness about them, don’t avoid doing movements or skip workouts because you don’t have a particular piece of equipment.
For example, one of my favorite moves is the power clean that can be done with virtually any weighted object.
So, let’s get started:
1 YOUR BODY!
My first recommendation cost nothing, takes up very little space, and you don’t have to wait for Rouge to deliver it; your BODY! Did you know that when you do a push-up you are lifting 70% of your body weight??? Are you looking for flat and toned belly?? Almost every calisthenic movement requires core activation. Running, burpees, air squats, lunges… the list goes on. So, don’t wait for that Amazon order to come in, get started now!
2 PULL-UP BAR
The pull-up bare is a minimal investment, takes up little space, and can be easily stored when not in use. Just by changing the position of your hands you can target the muscles in your posterior chain differently. In addition, working your pulling muscles of the back the pull-up bar offers a wide variety of core exercises that you can add to your fitness programing such as knees to elbow and toes to bar.
If pull-ups and toes to bar are currently outside your fitness level, skip two (for now) and checkout my pick number four for suspension trainers.
3 HEAVY BAG
Of course if you are part of the Punch Fit community and working out with us you will need a boxing bag. I have yet to find any other piece of equipment that will challenge you more, burn an insane number of calories, build strength, reduce stress, and increase confidence like hitting a bag. There is just something about punching an object that feels great.
Generally speaking, there are two main styles of boxing bags; a hanging heavy bag and a free-standing bag. Both have advantages and disadvantages that I will cover in future blogs but for now here is a high-level overview.
If you are new to striking, have limited space, or don’t have a strong mounting surface to hang a 120-pound bag start with a free-standing bag. The plus is the bags are often softer, can be moved, and relocated when not in use.
The downside is they tend to slide when hit hard and don’t swing back at you when striking providing a fun workout but not a realistic battle.
If you have access to a strong rafter to hand a heavy bag, I highly recommend a 100 plus pound heavy bag. The heavier bag will force you to hit harder and build endurance in the fist and wrist when punching. As the bag moves you will be forced to move and cut angles to avoid being hit from the bag.
The downside is it is difficult to move the bag when not needed and if you don’t hit the bag properly you increase your chance of injury.
4 SUSPENSION TRAINER
Suspension trainers are an amazing to tool that I absolutely LOVE!!! The cost is usually below $250 and most suspension trainers can be folded up, placed in a bag, and easily stored out of sight.
I am a huge fan of the TRX system that was created by retired Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick while deployed overseas. All you need to do anchor the TRX to a strong surface such as a door jam or stud in the wall.
You can simply progress or regress any movement by adjusting your feet in relation to the anchor point. Struggling with a push-up? TRX Can’t do a pull-up? TRX Can’t go low in an air squat without losing your balance? TRX
The TRX will also make movements like push-ups, planks, and even burpees more challenging if you are looking to make your workouts more intense.
If you want to see the TRX in action CLICK HERE and checkout our YouTube video we took in a class filled with people of various ages, sizes and fitness level.
While you are there hit that subscribe button and smash the bell so that you don’t miss a single video!
I hate waiting for the number five spot to recommend the kettlebell and the only reason this piece of equipment comes in the middle instead of number is cost.
What makes the kettlebell unique are the movements challenge the neurological response to the constant changing of gravity. Many movements using the kettlebell are dynamic in nature and require most if not all of the muscles in the body to work synergistically together.
The result is an increase in agility, power, and strength.
Plus, you feel like a fuck’n Spartan working out with a kettlebell.
Dumbbells are a great addition have some distinct differences that make them better for some movements such as chest press, flies, and deadlifts to name a few over kettlebells.
The dumbbell is a great alternative to the kettlebell if you are having issues hurting your forearms when doing snatches or cleans with kettlebells (this generally happens due to incorrect form and can be fixed with the help of a coach).
If you are limited on space there is an awesome company called Power Block that uses a unique system in which you can adjust the weight from 5-90 pounds with just one pair of dumbbells! When looking at the price of the Power Block it is important to note how many dumbbells you would have to purchase and the amount of space you would lose get the same amount of weight in a complete gym system. The Power Block was the first piece of equipment I bought when I started my fitness journey and absolutely loved them!
The sandbag is a very unstable piece of equipment due to the uneven weight and shifting of the sand as movements are performed. The result is a very functional workout that forces the core and neurological response to react to the movement of sand inside the bag as you work out.
Many movements that you can do with a barbell can be done with a sandbag as an alternative if you don’t have space for a six-foot bar and plates. What separates the sandbag from the barbell, however, is that nothing is evenly weighted in nature.
Whether you are picking up groceries, hitting the matts training in Ju Jitsu, or a first responder picking up an injured person the weight will not be evenly distributed making the sandbag a perfect addition to your home gym.
There are many companies that offer sandbags but I am a huge fan of the Rouge sandbags. I like the various grip set ups and I have put mine through a ton of abuse
8 WEIGHTED VEST
There is no other piece of equipment that will make you look and feel like a badass Tier One operator like a weighted vest!
I am a big fan of the plate carrier style of weighted vest and use my Uncommon Breed tactical carrier often.
A weighted vest will make any movement like hiking, running, TRX, push-ups, pull-ups, kettlebell swings or any exercise more challenging.
It is important to note that while brands like Uncommon Breed and 5.11 (used in the CrossFit Games) look cool there is, and should be, a level of discomfort when wearing a vest weighed down with heavy plates.
Part of the reason I really like training with a vest it forces you to callus the mind and endure the malaise that comes with the straps rubbing on your shoulders and the constant shifting of the weight as you move.
If you are a police officer or military, it is in my opinion, that every workout you do should include wearing a plate carrier to prepare for real word situations!
9 BARBELL AND PLATES
There is nothing more satisfying than completing a heavy deadlift and then letting go at the top of the movement dropping the weight with a huge thud! Completing a power clean and then dropping the bar from shoulder height and watching the plates bounce and the bar flex is a very empowering feeling.
Unlike a dumbbell or kettlebell, you will be able to target large muscle groups to complete compound movements using both (or all) extremities allowing you to lift more.
If you have the room and the budget, I highly recommend adding a barbell to your home gym even if you can’t get a squat rack right away.
One of the most brutal and fun workouts I love to do is combining power cleans and burpees over the bar.
Another great movement is doing push-ups on the barbell, to avoid the bar from rolling you really need to focus on keeping the core engaged. If you really want to challenge your entire core try doing roll outs using the barbell and some plates.
It is important to invest in a good bar don’t go cheap here! A good bar is pinned and not held together by bolts. You will also want to look at PSI Tinsel Strength and whip if you intend to drop on the floor. Plates should be covered in some type of protected rubber like coating and not have exposed iron or the equipment and floor will get damaged.
10 RIG FOR SQUATS AND BENCH PRESS
If you have the space and the budget every good home gym needs a rig. The Punch Fit gym uses a Monster Lite SML-2 Squat Stand. With a rig like this you can do pull-ups, squats, and bench press. By adding the wheel kit you can easily move the rig if needed.
There are also several versions in which the unit can be mounted to a wall and folds up easily for storage.
This list is not all inclusive and there are many other pieces of equipment out there that you
can use however this is a perfect list to get you started on building an awesome home gym on a limited budget.
What is the best piece of equipment that you would recommend for someone in the Punch Fit community?