So far in my “How to use X” series I have tackled everything from how to use the treadmill to how to use cables.
I have — until now — shied away from a column on the “all-in-one gym.” Why? Breaking down how to use a home gym is slightly tricky. There is no set blueprint — models and brands differ. A home gym is just a generic term to describe a “mash-up” of all the most popular gym equipment. The more expensive and elaborate the home gym, the more pieces of equipment are included.
Now, tricky does not equal impossible — and I am not one to shy away from a challenge — hence today’s blog topic: a killer workout you can do in your home gym.
The exercises are selected based on my experiences sampling home gyms — i.e., I have only included pieces that most (if not all) home gyms actually have. I have also offered substitutions, so if your model doesn’t happen to have something (for example a leg press) you are armed with a substitution (squats). As an added bonus, if you belong to a gym or work out when you travel, the workout is easily transferable to any gym; a gym will have all the different pieces of equipment, just not all in one place.
The workout is a full-body circuit. That means you do all the exercises back-to-back without resting. Only rest once the full circuit is complete. Rest for 1 minute, then repeat the circuit.
Do the workout 2 to 3 times a week on non-consecutive days.
If you are a newbie “lifter,” do the circuit twice through. If you are more advanced, complete it three to four times through.
If your goal is muscle hypertrophy (girth) aim for 8 to 12 reps and more weight. Work towards 4 sets through of the circuit.
If your goal is muscular endurance, muscle tone, all-over strength, etc, then aim for 12 to 15 reps and 3 sets.
Click here for more info on how to pick appropriate reps and sets.
Warm-up for 5 to 8 minutes. For more information on how to warm-up, click here.
Exercise 1. Chest press, pec deck, or flys.
Most home gyms have a chest press, a pec deck, or chest flys. All work your chest and shoulders and involve a pressing out motion. Usually, the exercise will be done seated. For all, press the weight out with control. Then, SLOWLY return the weight. Don’t let your shoulders round forward when you press.
Substitutions: push-ups or bench press with dumbbells. For more ideas on how to use the dumbbell, click here.
Exercise 2. Leg press.
Most full-body gyms have a leg press — where you sit and press a plate out. When you press make sure to engage your bum and core. Control the weight on the way back. Keep your knees tracking over your middles toes and breathe.
Substitutions: squats. With squats make sure to bend at your knees, hips, and ankles and sit backwards like you are sitting into a chair.
Exercise 3 (and possibly 3B). Rows and/or lat pull-downs. If you are concerned about your posture do both exercises.
Lat pull-downs: This uses the long bar attached high on the machine. Sit facing the machine. Hold the bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lean back roughly five degrees. Engage core so you do not arch your lower back. Pull the bar to just below your collar bone. Initiate the motion with your upper back.
Rows: If your machine has the ability to do a row — either standing or sitting — use that. Make sure you engage your core and pull with your upper back.
Substitution: bent-over rows with dumbbells. Start standing holding a dumbbell in each hand. Chest out. Hinge forward at your hips. Engage your core. Don’t round your back. Pull the weights up initiating with your upper back. Slowly return the weights back down.
Exercise 4. Lunges and biceps curls.
Hold a free weight in each hand. Step one leg behind you into a lunge. Engage the bum of the front leg to stand back up. As you stand do a biceps curl. Alternate the leg you step back with each time. The biceps stay constant.
Exercise 5. Triceps press-downs.
Face the machine holding the long lat pull-down bar, a rope, or the short bar. Elbows at your sides. Knees micro-bent. Chest out. Use your triceps to press the weight down. Then control on the way up. Keep your elbows at your sides.
Exercise 6. A core exercise of your choice.
Think front plank, side plank, or V hold. Hold for 20+ seconds. Work up to 1 minute.
Between circuits, do 100s.
At the end of your first time through the circuit do 100 jumping jacks. (To challenge yourself further add a press with a LIGHT weight or medicine ball. As you jump your legs out press the weight up.)
At the end of the second time through the circuit do 100 high knees. (Staying in one spot, “run” your knees up towards your chest. For a low-impact version simply alternate lifting a knee, but don’t run.)
At the end of your third time through the circuit do 100 mountain runs. (In a plank alternate bringing one knee into your chest.) Another option is 100 step-ups. Face a stair and alternate running up and down that stair 100 times. Make sure to do either 50 starting with one foot and then 50 with the other or to alternate sides.
Don’t want to do “100s”? No problem! Do 3 minutes on a cardio machine of your choice, skip, or dance around your home gym.