In 2012, I was the only Crossfit competitor at regionals who didn’t have a gym affiliation. When I was called to the floor, the announcer, very confused, called out, “Ashley Nowe, Unattaché .” He was utterly baffled and botched the pronunciation of both my name (everyone does that!) and the word “unattached.” I think he thought it was some cool Crossfit gym name.
One of the reasons I fell in love with Crossfit and that style of exercise more than 8 years ago was because the entire premise was that you didn’t need fancy equipment or weird-ass machines. You didn’t need hours upon hours of gym time or hamster wheel cardio. It was quick and to the point, yet it could always be perfected and improved–quite similar to my life philosophy.
For years, I trained in my good friends’ garage. That’s where it all started for me nearly a decade ago, and where we still go to workout on the weekends. And by workout, I mean do a little workout and then drink some beer or tequila with good friends. It’s my roots!
My husband and I bought a house with the most bad-ass RV garage about six years ago that we use as our primary gym. We literally bought the house because the garage was so epic. Overtime we have built up our home gym, but honestly, you don’t need much equipment, space, or even time to get solid training accomplished! AND… The perks of a home workout space are many–
- You can dance like a weirdo.
- You can workout in your pajamas.
- No one cares if you fart.
- You can cuss, or sing, or sing songs with cussing.
- It is convenient–no driving or prep time.
- Membership is cheap once you face the initial cost.
- Your kiddos will watch, learn and get involved (but also annoy you, too–disclaimer)
Here’s all you REALLY need. My top 10 items for a functionally bad-ass home gym! (And frankly, all you REALLY NEED is your own bodyweight!)
Resistance bands are the freaking best. They are versatile, portable, and the exercises you can do are literally endless. You can make any exercise a little more challenging with the help of bands. And did you know that studies have shown that muscle activity and peak load during elastic-resistance exercise is similar to free-weight resistance exercise? Resistance bands also allow you can train in a horizontal plane, making them incredible useful in training total body movements and applying these movements to sport. Bands are the cheapest, most awesome home workout tool. I use mine EVERY DAY!
Dumbbells are a necessity for unilateral weight training. Machines limit you to one motion–one plane in which to move–whereas dumbbells allow for limitless options and total body movements.
Olympic Weight Set:
Power. Power. Power. Olympic and power lifts like the clean and jerk, deadlift, squat, snatch, bench press–these should be the skeleton of any training program. I like bumper plates because you can drop them if needed.
Obviously if you have olympic weights, you need a stinking bar! I’m biased. I can’t live without this fancy women’s bar by Rogue. Here’s a link. I much prefer the women’s bars. They weigh 35 pounds, instead of 45 pounds like a men’s bar, but the major difference is that the women’s bar is more narrow in diameter, making it much easier to grip the bar.
Pull Up Bar:
Get one that mounts that way you can use bands and have the ability for greater movement. Try this.
Rings or TRX:
I am a sweaty monster and prefer the wooden rings all day, everyday to the plastic ones! Tricep dips, ring rows, ring push ups, and the list goes on. Having the instability of the rings challenges the core and all those stabilizer muscles!
Whichever weight you choose, be sure to get one that is soft so it can double for ball slams and not bounce back and hit you in your pretty face!
Kettlebells are so versatile and compact, making them a must-have for your home gym.
If you plan on lifting heavier weights at some point, get yourself a rack. Bench press, squats, and the likes are much more efficient.
Fancy/more sturdy version:
Less expensive, but not quite as sturdy…
And how cool is this one. Great…especially if you have limited space, because it can double as a pull up station.