How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Gym

TV is packed with ads that tout the latest and greatest hi-tech fitness innovations. But your home gym doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate to be effective, says physical therapist Tony Wiland.

“You can spend a lot or you can spend a little,” Wiland says. “But what’s really important about your home gym is whether or not it meets your fitness goals.

If you’re a marathon runner, for example, it isn’t super important to buy equipment that is going to strengthen your chest or shoulders. But you will probably want a treadmill, he says.

Home Gym Ideas

In general, a good home gym should include equipment that will provide a balanced workout that includes strength training, flexibility and cardio fitness during the cold winter when outdoor exercise is not a desirable option, Mr. Wiland says.

“Barbells and dumbbells are relatively inexpensive, and they can provide the same benefits as an expensive weight machine,” he says. “You can use them in a lot of different ways to strengthen your upper and lower body. Plus, they are easier to manage. They don’t take up a lot of room and you can take small ones with you on vacation or on a business trip.”

Elastic resistance bands, he says, are another good, inexpensive purchase.

“They can be used to strengthen your core and upper body,” Wiland says.

A squat rack, which supports barbells and weights at various levels, is also a good safety precaution that helps a lifter to maintain control of free weights, he says.

“Safety is the most important thing about any gym equipment,” Wiland says.

Cardio equipment, like treadmills and elliptical machines, can be expensive purchases, but are good to have during cold, blustery Northeast Ohio winters as an option to running outside.

“Having a home gym can be a convenient option to a fitness center,” Wiland says. “You may not get the large assortment of equipment a fitness center offers, but you can have enough to get a good workout.”

Do Research Before Purchasing Gym Equipment

Before purchasing home gym equipment, do your homework to be sure you get the best value for your money.

“Look at Consumer Reports, read online reviews and talk to people about what equipment they’re happy with,” he says. “Look for products that are durable enough to last, yet are affordable. If you’re a novice to working out, you can start with less expensive equipment and work your way up to a more elaborate system if you choose to.”

Along with affordability, space is another consideration in buying home gym equipment.

“Some types of equipment overlap with others as to what they do,” he says. “Getting two machines to do what one machine can cover can be unnecessarily redundant, especially if you don’t have a lot of space.”

A personal trainer or a physical therapist can help you get the most out of your home gym, Wiland says.

“We can help you to design a routine that meets your particular goals and help to be sure that you’re using the equipment in the most productive way,” he says.

Tony Wiland, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at University Hospitals Rehabilitation Services at UH Portage Medical Center.

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