The Experts Guide to Staying Fit at Home: Home Gym Set Up and Workout Essentials

AUTHOR: Pushkraj Shirke, Director – Project Battlefit

A good home gym combined with good home workout routine can go a long way in not just keeping you fit, but also getting you fitter and better. The diversity of diversity of training as well as equipment profiling available today can make it seem like a daunting task. But with the right guidance, especially for buying home gym equipment online, it can be absolutely simplified.

Having professionally consulted Home Gyms and Well as Commercial Gym set ups, I got well versed at customising the set up to the absolute minimum essentials of what is required for the individual or in the case of commercial gyms, for the broadest variety.
This article is written specifically for those who fall in the first segment – our home gym warriors looking to buy gym equipment for home.

A home gym set up depends on 3 things:
1. Goals
2. Space
3. Budget

A fourth factor that I would include here is your preferred module of training or your coach – since that determines the kind of equipment or space management priorities for your home gym.

For the sake of convenience, I will build up this article based on the equipments rather than complexity and training modules.

If your goal is just to stay fit and mobile at a very basic level, floor workouts, animal flow, yoga, Zumba, Aerobics, combat drills etc can be extremely good. The equipment requirement for the same is also not too high. But if your goals changes to adding strength and musculature, building power, or developing specific skill based performance, then the equipment requirement changes quite diversely. Remember, that for optimal results, the best option is still to join a well equipped gym with good coaches and a positive environment. A home gym, unless you’re a millionaire whose home gym is as well equipped as a commercial one, is mostly for thrashing out through maintenance mode or for going through a lockdown or to compensate for the days that you missed the gym.

1. Sneakers

Sound trivial, but it’s a fact. Gym, Home, Garden, Running Track – Good shoes allow a better grip on the floor everywhere and keep you from slipping and having an accident. Especially when doing dancercizes, callisthenics, or aerobics on your home flooring. But, which shoes you choose depends on the activity you choose for your training.

As a rule of thumb, any activity that will have you landing down on your heel hard and over and over again, is best done in a GEL CUSHIONED shoe like ASICS, or SOFT SOLED shoes like NIKE‘s LUNAR GLIDE.

“For Zumba we have our own range of shoes called Zumbawear which are cross-trainers with ankle support and less grooves for easier movement and reducing chances of Injury.”

Sucheta pal,
Zumba Ambassador and Lead coach

2. Yoga Mat

I use the term yoga mat as a generic term to convey a portable mat that gives you mild cushioning, and keeps you from slipping when sweaty. TEGO Stance Mats and TEGO Raise Pads are something i highly recommend to homes and commercial gyms alike. Lying down on a hard floor to do crunches can injure your tail bone and slipping on tiles while doing push ups can break your face – that apart, being able to wash and clean the mat with ease after your workout, is priceless in keeping your home and yourself hygenic and infection free.

(Full Disclosure – I have been a brand consultant to TEGO and I personally love the brand for the amount of thought and research they put into each product, so this is not a shameless plug-in)

“A yoga mat should have a good grip on the floor and not let you slip when sweaty.
This is the basic requirement of keeping you focused on your workouts and postures or else the efficiency of the workout will drop tremendously.”

Jui Inamdar
Celebrity Trainer, Strength Coach and Pilates Expert

3. Speed Rope / Skipping Rope

The most effective, time tested cardio tool across the world, is a simple speed rope.
Amazing for developing cardio, simple to use and so portable that it can fit in your pocket. Any Fitness loving individual is incomplete without a good speed rope.

Featured on the left is Bodybuilder Gaurav Balraj Sharma, who uses his speed rope skills daily as part of his cardio routine.
When it comes to the number of calories that you burn, the jump rope comes out on top with around 900 calories per hour compared to about 810 calories per hour for the treadmill.

4. Resistance Bands

Therabands or Resistance Bands, were primarily used for physiotherapy, but their use as an exercise tool has grown over time. They vary in reisistance and are universally color coded. And you can bunch them together to create much higher resistances.
By themselves or to add more resistance to other weight training tools, resistance bands are an asset to any home gym.

“Working out at home, usually means working out without weights. Which is not good for maintaining the muscle you have gained. So Resistance bands allow you at add atleast a little external resistance to your movements – making even simple exercises like isometric holds and basic movements add much more load on the muscles. Even when training with weights, resistance bands help maintain a continuous isometric strain on the muscles or add rising load to the weights from the ground up.”

Tejal Kadam,
IFBB BIKINI Competitor and Trainer

5. Pull Up Bar

The biggest hindrance to home training is the lack of resistance training for the back muscles / pulling muscles. A good doorframe or wall attached pullup bar is a must for a home gym. Owing to the accidents on home pullup bars, I suggest you invest in a good one and install it correctly, lest you end up hurting yourself.

This detailed guide by FITNESS VERVE can help you pick out the best home / Doorway pull-up bars.

“The potential possibilities of working out with a well installed pull up bar is only limited by your imagination.”

Shahrukh Parkour
Parkour, Caliisthenics and Gymnastics Athlete

“Even something as simple as doing 50 pull ups, 50 toes to bar, 50 push ups and 100 squats daily can give you an incredible physique when combined with the right nutrition.”

– Vinayak Patil
Fitness Model

6. Kettlebells

A good set of kettlebells allow for great strength and conditioning training at home. Historically speaking, originating from kettles and canon balls, kettlebells have been used for training on the go since ancient army days. A good kettlebell routine can work on your strength, flexibility, mobility, muscular and cardivascular endurance, agility and motor control and reaction time as well.
Its always a great idea to go for Kettlebells in Pairs rather than solo so that you can work both sides of your body unilaterally – which is a benefit that is unique to kettlebells and dumbells in strength training.

“The beauty of kettlebells if that we can train for different goals – strength, explosive power, hypertrophy & cardio conditioning all in a single session or can program them on different days. Ballistic lifts like swings & snatches are great for power & conditioning while high tension lifts like squats , deadlifts, rows and presses are great for Hypertrophy & strength.”

– Abhinav Malhotra,
Elite Master Trainer, Fitness First UAE
International Kettlebell Coach and Athlete
Founder, ABHIFIT & BALLISTIC KETTLEBELL ACADEMY

7. Dumbells

The most home fitness equipment, with the highest top of mind recall, is the dumbell. But where people go wrong is in choosing a pair of dumbells for the home vs choosing one for the gym. A Dumbell for home gym usage should always be in a rubber encased body and have a good grip to prevent injury, floor breakage and slippage.

DUMBELL CHOOSING PRO TIP:
It is advisable to buy dumbells in pairs, where the weights are calculated by the number of times you can do a bicep curl by them:

  1. a pair that you can do only 3 curls with (heavy)
  2. a pair you can do 8-12 curls with (medium)
  3. a pair you can do 25-30 curls with (lightest)

Anything heavier or lighter than this is not appropriate for a home gym as you compound the chance of injury/floor breakage if you go heavier and also redundancy if you go lighter.

“This quirky video made during the lockdown with a series of Indian fitness influencers working out at home with dumbells goes to show the popularity of dumbells as a home workout tool. Almost anyone and everyone who is serious about fitness has got at least one pair at home – no matter whether it is heavy or light.”

Arunava Bhattacharya
Fitness Trainer and Transformation Specialist

8. TRX Bands / Parallel Rings / Gymnastic Rings

Another great tool for training at home but that requires a little learning, is TRX or Gymnastic Rings.
Its suspension system makes it a great way to train for shoulder stability, core control and isometrics while doing movements. Though the downside is that you have no way of training/strengthening legs if you only rely on TRX/Gymnastics rings as it relies on suspension and not resistance off the floor or loading weight. Which btw is also a reason why even pro gymnasts so often suffer shin fractures on landings. So make sure this is not the only tool you rely on.

indian olympic gymnast aditya rana performing a T hold on the gymnastics rings shot by Fitness Photographer Pushkaraj Shirke for the pro gytmnastics leaague of the NSA

“Gymnastics is called the mother of all sports. And the Gymnastics rings alone can allow you a variety of workouts even if it’s just as a workout tool at home. “

Aditya Rana
Indian National Champion Gymnast

9. Heavy bag / Punching Bag

Combat skills are not just a great life skill and good sport, but also an extremely good way to stay fit. Though shadow boxing itself is great, it lacks the power development that punching and kicking a bag adds. So if you’re into combat sports or are looking to add some cardio and power work that helps you add a life skill, a good punching bag / Heavy bag is a great start to a home gym set up. Though free standing bags are decent, they dont provide as much stability and impact capacity as a hanging bag. As a beginner, you can go for the free standing ones, but if you pack a punch/kick hard, you will need a hanging model.
I recommend learning a few basics and drills from a legitimate MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing, Striking coach before you move on to training by yourself on the bag.

Pro Tip: Always wear gloves when working the bag to protect your skin on your hands from tearing and use hand wraps to avoid breaking the bones in your hand and wrist.

jitendra khare mma head coach tem relentless boxing muay thai on heavy bag shot by fitness photographer pushkraj shirke

“A heavy bag is a great addition to any workout. It can enhance aerobic fitness, core stability, coordination, power, stamina, and endurance.
It can also strengthen bones and ligaments besides enhancing punching and kicking technique.
In addition to the physical benefits, training on a heavy bag is also a great way to reduce anxiety and stress.”

-Jitendra Khare
Head MMA Coach, Team Relentless

10. Lifting Station Set Up

Now this is what separates the pups from the big dogs. If you have the space and are into building serious, quality strength, A LIFTING STATION is a shrine. Literally.

  1. A good power cage
  2. a non-slip wooden platform base
  3. a good rubberized olympic set of barbells and plates
  4. A steady bench with or without the option of an incline & decline

These 4 things the GOLD STANDARD of a professionally set up home gym/garage gym. This completes your set up to workout almost every major musculature in your body.
Infact, if you have the space and the money to set this up, every other thing on this list is just another add on option to accessorise your main lifts/training.

NOTE: I will be writing a detailed article regarding building a home strength station ranging from high to low budget, in coordination with my coach and India’s top most Strength Expert – Kaizzad Capadia, and linking it here later.

“A SquatRack/PowerCage is the heart of a gym – home or commercial. You can always tell how good or bad a gym is by the sheer presence or absence of a SquatRack/PowerCage”

Kaizzad Capadia
Co-Founder, K11 School of Fitness Sciences

http://www.keleven.com

A Quick recap of the 10 Best Home Gym Equipments:

  1. Sneakers/Shoes
  2. Yoga Mat
  3. Speed Rope
  4. Resistance bands
  5. Pull Up Bar
  6. Kettlebells
  7. Dumbells
  8. TRX Bands / Gymnastic Rings
  9. Heavy Bag / Punching Bag
  10. Lifting Station

Hope this article was helpful for you to create your personalised home gym set up.
Do write to us in the comments if it did and if you think we missed out on somethings that you found very worth while and we could update to our list.
Check out the various home training workout videos we have on the Project Battlefit page and feel free to reach out to us if you have any queries.

Author:
Pushkraj Shikre
Director, Project Battlefit
K11 Trained Fitness Consultant
Performance Coach to Olympians
Gym Set Up Consultant to Performance Centre India
Krav Maga coach with Krav Maga Global India
MMA Practitioner with Team Relentless and Warriors Cove MMA

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