Finally! Summer is almost here and you have decided to wave goodbye to your flabby tummy and say hello to 6-pack abs!
You are even motivated enough to take classes with a personal trainer to help you shed your excess kilos and get back that slim and slender figure on which you built your reputation during those sunny summer volleyball sessions – not a bad idea at all!
Getting back into shape, or the muscle exercises necessary for toning the upper body (pectoral, dorsal and abdominal muscles and biceps) and the lower body (thighs, gluts and calves), can be done by simply using one’s own body weight and everyday objects.
Nevertheless, depending on the targeted area, investing in certain bodybuilding and fitness equipment is still recommended. Rest assured, we are not talking about huge sums of money here, just exercise equipment that is basic enough to help optimize your weight loss and training program.
Whether you have an online personal trainer or a private personal trainer at home (with their Certificate in Fitness Instructing – Gym, or Diploma in Health, Fitness, and Exercise Instruction to hand) it is sometimes still necessary to purchase home fitness equipment to help with strength training.
The idea behind this is not to make you go out and purchase all the same gruesome torture machines that are available in the weight room of your favorite gym, but just suggest a few fitness products essential for a regular and quality workout (dumbbell weights, skipping rope, yoga mat, exercise bench, etc.) .
Here is a selection of articles recommended by your future personal trainer…
Personal trainers and fitness equipment– what is a good middle ground?
Weight equipment like dumbbells allows you to complete an upper body workout that will tone and build upper body muscles effectively.
Following that, you can strengthen the pectorals, shoulders and biceps, which will not only let you stick your chest out with pride during your next swimming session, but also engage your thighs and glutes. Don’t forget that a nice bum can turn a lot of heads – true for men as much as it is for women!
Generally speaking, try not to spend more than 45 minutes per session with dumbbells. Otherwise, you end up with a workout that makes you burn fat and destroy muscle fibre, which will need to be rebuilt during recovery and rehabilitation. You will naturally slim down and your upper body muscles will already be more visible after ten or so regularly spaced out weight training sessions.
Think about alternating muscle groups during a workout session or between sessions when using dumbbells or a barbell to make sure you don’t overwork a particular muscle.
Appropriate use of a kettlebell will ensure that you don’t hurt yourself; it is worth enlisting a competent personal trainer to avoid injury! (Source: Visual Hunt)
If you do functional training – better known as CrossFit – you will probably already know about kettlebells, which are free weights and a kind of dumbbell with a handle that can be used for lifting. Used by the Russian military Special Forces for their routine physical training and by MMA fighters during circuit training, these dumbbell weights encourage the user to work on their muscles whilst doing aerobic exercise (cardio), improving strength, endurance, stamina and flexibility and allowing for a lot of fat to be burnt. That is if one knows how to use them properly!!!
Huffington Post published this article on weight lifting techniques and muscle and movement exercises that personal trainers advise against and it includes a section on kettlebells.
“You should only complete American kettlebell swings if you have proper core stabilization at the top of the lift, as well as solid shoulder mobility. If done improperly, this can lead to back and shoulder injuries.” –Collette Stohler, author of The Intuitive Athlete, and HuffPost blogger
In terms of fitness products, many home gym and bodybuilding websites specialize in increasing muscle mass through the use of free weights, such as dumbbells. Among some of the best value fitness products out there are those sold by Sports Direct who is selling dumbbell sets at between £4.99 and £17.99 a pair at 2 x 0.5kg and 2 x 5kg. If you are pretty fit and one of your fitness goals is to gain more muscle mass, a pair of dumbbell weights at 15kg will cost you about forty quid. The heavier the weights are, the more expensive they get!
Domyos by Decathlon has uploaded 8 videos about muscle exercises so that you can learn how to properly use your dumbbells. These exercises for increasing strength cover different movements:
Domyos is the go-to brand for personal trainers, sports professionals and gym and health and fitness centre graduates.
You can also find out more about low impact exercise and how to build muscle with a personal trainer.
If you want to get in shape and work on your abdominal muscles, a good private personal trainer in your own home will explain the following golden rule to you. When it comes to getting amazing, well-sculpted abs and reducing fatty mass around the stomach, it is not about the quantity or intensity of the abdominal home workout sessions that you do, but rather the regularity.
The abs crunch machine will encourage you to contract your abs as you return back to the original position. The advantage of this? It ensures that you do the movement properly! (Source: Visual Hunt)
Of course, you have the opportunity to enhance your abs without any fitness equipment at all, just with a carpet or foam gym mat and perhaps a cushion to support your head as you do some sit-ups. However, with an abs exercise machine, you have the peace of mind that you are working all the inner, upper and lower abdominal muscles and the oblique muscles. This kind of training equipment will especially enable you to avoid injury and dorsal muscle pain by helping you to complete each movement properly
Before purchasing this sort of home exercise equipment though, it is worth taking into consideration the following two questions:
The abs crunch bench: usually flexible enough to fold up and a small compact size, this exercise machine can be transported without a problem. It has an inclined surface where you can nestle in your feet and bring your chest forwards to work the rectus abdominis muscle and the obliques as part of the intended movements.
To help you choose the right abs exercise machines, Domyos (a fitness brand by Decathlon), has published this very useful article written by their team of sports coaches.
Thanks to the pulling movement of the chest, the ab swing machine (crunch) enables the user to sculpt their abs (when working actively) and to tone the deeper muscles that support the viscera (when doing static muscular work).
Remember that, thanks to regular abdominal exercise sessions, you will be able to:
There are also a number of other abs exercise machines, such as double abs roller wheels, abs balls, abdo gains or abs crunch machines. The website primofitnessusa.com has compared the different terminology and targeted body parts. Don’t hesitate to have a browse through their gym equipment glossary!
For people suffering from back pain and those who have lordosis, kyphosis or scoliosis, be very careful when you work your abs to avoid adding excess pressure to the area. Ideally, consult your personal trainer either in the gym or at home, so that they can guide you through your first session and help you to develop good exercise habits.
A Power Plate machine is a great machine to work all the muscles in the body. Apart from its relatively high price tag, you’ll also find another drawback is that it is pretty hard to squeeze it into your small studio apartment or 2-bed!
To train effectively and re-sculpt ones figure all whilst having plenty of fun, make these types of fitness machine your go-to:
Choose exercise machines that can be folded up or are easily transportable, so that you don’t turn your muscle exercise sessions into a right mission! (Source: Visual Hunt)
Resistance bands are another really great piece of home gym equipment that, similarly to a jump rope, are ideal for home fitness because they won’t break the bank and are easy to use. Unlike much bulkier exercise equipment like treadmills, benches and rowing machines, they can be tucked neatly away in a drawer somewhere.
They also are probably readily available from your nearest fitness store and come in a range of different (and usually bright) colours with a variety of grips and handles if you are a sucker for style!
A resistance band will help to develop strong leg muscles through the action of pushing by working to counteract the ‘pull’ force created by your hands as you grasp the band. While they won’t give you a full body workout, they are the best fitness equipment to use if you want to ease into exercise or have been advised by your physio to do some low impact activities following an ankle or knee injury.
An indoor cycling bike can be a good purchase if you want to burn calories, get your heart rate going, improve your cardio and thin down your hips and bum with a bit of indoor cycling. When picking up exercise bikes from the store though, remember that it would be better to have two people there on the day of purchase to help transport the exercise bike and install it in your home.
You could also think about putting a rug down to absorb any excesses water and so as not to stain your nice wooden flooring!
Sporting activities in the gym like indoor cycling or RPM (group cycling classes where you spin the wheels of a stationary bicycle to pumping music), zumba, body attack or even body pump are really great ways to raise your pulse, get a good cardio workout and burn fat all whilst building strength and helping with the promotion of muscle endurance.
Crossfit is also an activity ideal for muscling up and conditioning the body, but you should absolutely be supervised by a competent sports coach to avoid injury!
There is really no need to invest thousands of pounds in sophisticated commercial fitness equipment in order to get a dream body. As we explained in previous paragraphs, for those not too keen on financing a career in bodybuilding through the nose, you can always decide to invest only a very limited amount of money in your home workout or physical fitness training.
Some methods of bodybuilding, like the Lafay Method, propose 110 exercises (muscle training, weight loss, fitness and physical training) without any exercise equipment at all.
All you need in fact are everyday objects (a chair, a bed, a stool, etc.) for your bodybuilding-cardio sessions. These exercises have proven their worth with recommendations from both beginners and well established sportsmen. In this case, the material investment is almost nothing and all you need is motivation and a little bit of elbow grease!
The method requires some innovation, but you can have quite a lot of fun turning your house into an all purpose home gym without spending a dime!
Remember the monkey bars you used to play on in the school playground? You probably needed a ladder to climb up them rather than lift up your whole body weight using only your arms at the time, but pull up bars are essentially a kind of complex monkey bar (a chin-up bar) specially designed for fitness pros.
While they may seem basic they actually require the user to be incredibly athletic, developing a strong core and serious upper body strength with long-term use. Pull up bars are an essential piece of strength equipment that home gyms should not be without.
There are a wide range of pull up bars out there if you want to splash your cash. Prices can be as high as £400 for luxury pull up bars that boast features such as sweat resistant protective grip (to avoid the need for gloves), multi-purpose fold-up bars (can be used for additional fitness exercises, such as, elevated push-ups), adjustable lengths and attachments (so that they can be used anywhere, any time) and can be made to hold a variety of different body weights.
However, if you want to get creative and save on the cost of a pull-up bar and follow the Lafay Method, you could simply try pulling up on your bannisters or doing a chin-up or two in your doorway.
Make sure you have checked to see that the objects you choose are in fact strong enough to hold your body weight though, or you could end up in A&E instead of WWE!
It is absolutely possible to do strength training exercises without any equipment at all, simply by using the objects from around your house! (Source: Visual Hunt)
Generally speaking, you should remember to combine your workouts with a balanced diet and consult a qualified sports nutrition expert if you wish to gain muscle mass, lose weight or trim your figure.
This will allow you to better select the necessary diet and meals for during and after your body workout sessions and to follow good nutritional advice.
Finally, hydration is very important for your overall wellness and should always be a part of any workout routine.
Drink regularly during and after your workout sessions to eliminate toxins and enable your muscles to recover faster. A light cooling down and stretching session after your workout where you stretch out all your muscles will help release a bit of muscular tension.
If you are considering trading in your gym membership, you can also discover all there is to know about the fitness classes online and health and fitness apps to complement your home workout.
In the meantime, you can begin kitting out your home gym with some essential fitness equipment! Try some of these exercise machines and gadgets for starters…
|Type of Equipment||Brand||Price||Pros||Cons|
|Hexagonal Dumbbells (2.5kg)||Everlast||£4.99||- Low cost ideal for newbies not looking to invest too much.|
- Small and compact for easy storage
- Easily transportable to and from your home gym
- Hexagonal shape means it won’t roll away
- Lightweight – great for doing reps!
|- Too light for more serious bodybuilders looking to increase muscle mass through increased strength training.|
- Don’t be caught out when purchasing – the small print confirms that you’ll only be taking home one weight, not two!
- You get what you pay for – the rubber ends can get worn down more easily than fully metal weights.
- Rubber ends arguably not as sleek as their silver competitors!
|Chrome Dumbbell Set (5kg)||Addidas||£42.21||- Adidas quality is definitely the one here; these robust weights will see you through many months and years of training!|
- Sleek chrome design looks better in your front room!
- Suited to both beginners and more experienced weight users
- Requires increased strength compared to smaller weights, builds muscle mass faster
- The spin-lock collar safely locks weight discs in and can be adjusted to change between sets
|- At more than forty quid on Amazon, these weights will definitely set you back a bit!|
- The metal handles may leave you reaching for a pair of gloves after 10 minutes of lifting!
|Kettlebell (8kg)||Domyos by Decathlon||£14.99||- Excellent value for money|
- Great for CrossFit and exercises combining cardio
- Better for higher intensity and faster reps compared to dumbbells
- Handle has soft rubbery feel, won’t leave your hands searching for plasters
- Ideal for increasing grip strength
|- Not the weight of choice for low reps (better stick with your dumbbells!)|
- Easy to injure oneself if used incorrectly – a session with a personal trainer is a must, unlike with lighter weight dumbbells
-Smaller than other kettlebell handles, which can inhibit your range of movement
- Bottom of the weight may become worn down over long term usage
|Collapsible Abs (Crunch) Bench||We R Sports||£34.99||- Won’t break the bank at under forty quid on Amazon!|
- Soft padded base provides comfort during your otherwise strenuous abs routine!
- Can be folded away, so your home gym doesn’t become your life!
- Maximum user weight of 100kg
|- Padding not the highest quality and can become worn down over time – depending on how often you manage to get yourself off the sofa to actually train that is!|
- Size of leg support means this is more suited to those with a more petite frame!
- Can be folded away to save space, but still on the bulkier side in terms of abs machines!
|Abs Swing 6 in 1 Smart Machine||Aureole||£24.99||- Relatively low cost|
- Comes with a DVD, so ideal for home use
- Easy to assemble
- Great for home gyms due to its size and light weight
- Ideal way to workout whilst watching Eastenders!
- Independent spring settings to adjust the pace of your workout according to your level
- Soft handles mean finger blisters won’t be the cost of your 6-pack!
|- Slightly flimsier than similar abs machines on the market|
- Plastic adjuster holder easily broken
|Power Plate Machine (Pro-10: Tri plane Vibration Plate)||JTX||£999.99||- Sturdy and robust, this is possibly the best machine on the market for quality |
- Adjustable settings to tailor your workout according to your level
- Extremely powerful, vibrations make for a high intensity workout
- Accompanying DVD great for home training
|- At this price it is not for the faint hearted! Better suited to regular trainers looking to heavily invest in their home gyms.|
|Resistance Bands (Set of 3）||CKB||£4.99||- Excellent value for money|
- Set of 3 bands, comes with a range of colours and thicknesses
- Great for low impact resistance and mobility exercises
- Small and compact, come in a drawstring bag for easy storage
|- Suitable for occasional use, may be vulnerable to snapping during more intense or frequent workouts|
|Onyx Folding Exercise Bike||Viavito||£89.99||- Cheaper than similar models on the market|
- Folds easily away, so perfect for discrete home gyms
- 8 levels of manually-controlled magnetic resistance
- LCD console will displays live session feedback during your workout
- Cast iron flywheel is friction free to enable smoother cycling
|- Magnetic resistance means control may become more easily broken than its electric competitors |
- Monitor is quite small, so best to put your contact lenses in before working out!
|Pull Up Bar with Punch Bag & Bag Mitts||RDX Sports||£30.99||- This pull up bar comes with a punch bag and gloves so you can combine your pull ups with a boxing session!|
- High-grade 16 gauge powder coated pull up bar and bag bracket
|- Not ideal for smaller homes due to its bulky size!|