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    A Buying Guide for Your Home Gym

    Home gymAs the percentage of adults who are overweight grows, and who suffer from all the health problems that go along with that, exercising is becoming more important. It can be intimidating to get started. Getting into shape is hard enough, and all the differing advice on how to do it doesn’t make things any easier. Going to the gym, and making all of your mistakes and missteps in public, can make it even harder.

    A home gym can make the whole thing a lot easier. Having a dedicated place to workout in your home means it’s there for you to use whenever it is convenient. It is comfortable, private, and harder to make excuses when you just have to go to your basement or garage, instead of to some expensive gym. A home gym is a great investment, and might be the best way to get, and stay in shape.

    Starting Out

    The first few steps in any new endeavor always take the most effort. You’re never quite sure if you’re doing things right, and there is always an excuse to put off starting until another day, or until you’re just a little bit more ready. Starting a regular workout schedule can be one of the harder things you do, as it may seem like it requires buying new equipment and clothes. Even more difficult, it requires getting up and moving around, which is something many modern adults don’t have the opportunity to do on a regular basis.

    The reality is, starting small can make things easier, and is probably best when beginning to work out in any case. Starting with a heavy workout cannot only be hard work, but it can cause injuries that will delay future workouts. More likely, it will just make you very sore, which can have a similar effect.

    Stretching is the best way to start any workout, and any workout schedule, and will help to avoid soreness. Simply stretching can often be a good workout all in itself.  There is actually a great deal of discussion in the fitness community and among medical professionals about the effectiveness and necessity of stretching. However, a good stretch, using good form, can’t hurt. The consensus seems to be that stretches that involve motion or dynamic stretches are the best for warming up. Static stretches are best used for the cool down when the body is bettered prepared.

    Other than stretches, a good exercise schedule will include two main types of workout. One workout will focus on aerobics and cardio, with the goal of upping your heart rate and increase your overall stamina. These sorts of workouts can improve heart health and flexibility. Cardio workouts also improve your metabolism, boosting the rate at which your body burns fats and sugars. These exercises can also reduce the recovery time needed for each exercise, and aid in recovering from workouts as a whole. A good basic cardio exercise can be as simple as taking a walk, or if you’re a little more ambitious you can jog. Switching off between jogging and walking can also be a good strategy. Another good cardio exercise that requires very little equipment is jumping rope. It seems simple, but few pieces of equipment can match the jump rope’s ratio of positive impact versus cost

    The other component of any good workout routine is strength training. Strength training can have a few different goals. Some might focus on building muscle mass. Other workouts will focus on greater muscle tone. Some exercises are better at building functional muscle strength, which is not as attractive as gaining mass or tone, but might be healthier and more useful on a daily basis. When starting out, though, muscle building exercises can be as simple as pushups, squats, lunges, and sit-ups. These may seem simple, but they remain popular because of their effectiveness. Invest in a couple of hand barbells, and you can add exercises like bicep curls, shoulder presses, squats with weight, and tricep kickbacks. These are straightforward exercises. More complex ones can allow you to use the weights to work your whole body.

    If you decide to invest in a home gym machine, the number of exercises you can do increases a great deal. Each machine is designed to be used for a number of different exercises. The machine will often come with information detailing how to do each exercise, and also a suggest workout routine.

    All that is really required for a starter home gym is an open space with some headroom. If you really want to go big, add a jump rope and a few hand weights. 

    Workouts

    Every workout consists of a few basic parts. Some you can take or leave. Others are vital, and should not be ignored.

    The parts of a workout are:

    • Warm Up. A warm up is a gentle way to prepare your body for a workout. Like metal that is heated too quickly, a body that is put to hard work without a chance to prepare itself can crack or snap in unpleasant ways. As mentioned above, dynamic stretching is often the best warm up. These should be done before any sort of workout, from jogging to weight lifting. Some examples of dynamic stretching include making circles with your arms, walking lunges, and high knees.
    • Workout. Once you’ve warmed up, you’re ready to workout. Exercises come in many different forms, and usually focus on one type of workout or one area of the body. Doing an exercise over and over again (multiple pushups, for example) is doing multiple repetitions or reps. Reps are done in groups of sets. For example, you might do 1 set of 8 pushups or 8 reps. You might do several more sets, each consisting of 8 reps.
    • Cool Down. A cool down is equally as important for keeping yourself healthy and injury free. You can do either static or dynamic stretches for the cool down. Static stretches are things like touching your toes and butterfly stretches. Anything you hold a stretch without moving is a static stretch.

    Workouts can be targeted for various goals, from a general improvement in fitness to muscle building, prepping for a marathon, and so on. Identifying what your goals are, and putting together a list of workouts that will advance you toward that goal, is a good way forward.

    Equipment Required

    The equipment necessary to put together your own home gym is going to depend on your own particular wants and needs. An open space and a mat might be enough if you’re interested in doing yoga or similar exercises. A jump rope and some hand weights can add a lot to the range of potential workouts available to you.

    Home gym machines can come in a variety of sizes and prices. The number of exercises with any particular machine can vary widely. If there is an area that you’re particularly interested in working on, you can probably find a machine that will provide exercises for improving. Most home gym machines will focus primarily on muscle building and toning. They might use weights, rods, or resistance bands along with a series of pulleys and handles that will allow you to work just about every muscle group. Other machines, such as elliptical machines and treadmills can provide cardio workouts as well.

    Read Our Reviews of the Best Home Gym Systems

    Benefits of a Home Gym

    The benefits of exercising are, of course, many. From improving general health to increasing stamina and strength, a minimum level of exercise is becoming increasingly necessary for many people.

    The reasons to have a gym in your own home are many.

    • While a home gym may require a little more of an investment up front, over the long term it can be quite a bit less expensive. Buying equipment is a one-time cost, while joining a gym will be a financial drain for as long as you’re a member. Gyms can often have hidden costs, or charge extra for classes and other additional services. In addition, many people often join a gym, pay their dues, while never going or going only rarely.
    • A home gym is, obviously, right in your home. You can go whenever you want simply by walking from your living room and office to wherever you keep your equipment.
    • It’s your home, and you can arrange it however you please. More than that, it’s a private place. There are no rules but the ones you set, and no one can watch you in the awkward poses many exercises require.

    For these, and many other reasons, a home gym is a great idea.

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