For some reason, people tend to associate home gyms with extra closet space. You’ve seen it: stopping by a friend’s house to drop something off, and there’s their home gym in the corner, folded clothes on the flat bench and dry cleaning bags hanging from the chin-up bar. News flash: that’s not the home gym’s fault – whether a hi tech resistance style or one that uses weight stacks. The truth is, somewhere along the line, your friend quit their workout program and decided they could stay in some respectable shape just with the occasional run and push-ups session.
The fact of the matter is that home gyms can be a fantastic way to not just get in shape, but build copious amounts of muscle. Yes, your genetics limit what amount you can add, but that’s beyond your control. What IS in your control is how you maximize those genetics, and there’s simply no better or more convenient way to do this than the home gym. Sure, you could get a gym membership, but just how often are you really going to go out of your way to drive over, park your car, check in, go to your locker, work out, go back to your locker, shower, change, walk back to your car, and drive off? As studies show, not that often.
Building muscle is really simple: you tear it down, and when it recovers after some rest, it comes back just a bit bigger and stronger. There’s no reason your home gym can’t help you do that. Even on a tight budget, you can reach some surprising results with just a little ingenuity.
For legs (quadriceps and hamstrings), many of the mid-range home gyms come with a leg extension / leg curl attachment that goes on the end of the flat bench. Higher-end home gyms come with leg press stations and full-on squat racks to help you push your legs beyond fatigue and into real muscle growth. The amount of your home gym the factory dedicates to your legs is almost directly proportional to cost, so if you are on a tight budget, get creative. Perform some dumbbell squats and lunges to hit your entire quadriceps area, and do some stiff-legged dumbbell lifts to work your hamstrings. Use your imagination and you can take your legs to all new head-turning heights.
For your chest (pecs), most home gyms have got you covered. Even the basic sets have an adjustable bench you can tilt to an angle for incline presses that work the upper portion of your chest. Beyond this, though, any other chest accessories besides a dip bar are just there for show. From that aforementioned adjustable bench, you can do barbell flat and inline presses, dumbbell presses and flies, and even the dreaded dumbbell pullover, which is great for your lower chest and rib cage.
“What about my arms and back?” No problem. Most home gyms have a chin-up bar of some sort, and nothing outside of the compound deadlift (which requires a full-length barbell) is better at building back muscles than the chin-up. It hits your latissimus dorsi (lats), rear deltoids (shoulders), and biceps (inside upper arms) all with a single motion that is easy on your joints. Mastering the chin-up is absolutely key to developing that wonderful “V” shape figure of having wide shoulders and a narrow waist. Also, the flat bench is great for bent over dumbbell rows for your back, and triceps pushdowns for adding muscle mass to the back of your upper arms.
Resistance style home gyms which do not use barbells or chin up bars can also provide impressive muscle growth in concentrated areas. In fact, many people prefer these resistance style machines (the Bowflex PR3000 is a perfect example), because they do not require heavy weigh stacks. Instead relying on convenient no change pulley systems all designed with resistance technology in mind. If interested in learning more about these gyms, check out our review of the Bowflex PR 3000.
And when it comes to cardiovascular fitness, people are under the impression a home gym does them no good without accessorizing it with elliptical machines and treadmills. That’s not so, as merely upping the intensity of your workout will drastically increase your heart rate AND help you build muscle at the same time.
So you see, home gyms are really just that: complete gyms at your house. They vary in their offerings, but you can easily build muscle using any of the wide varieties out there without any problems.
Now stop making excuses, and get to work!