Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
How long gym doors will remain closed for is out of our control. The capacity at which gyms will be able to operate at when they reopen is also out of our control.
What's not out of our control is our perspective. See this lockdown as an opportunity. You can still train and work on your health, your fitness and your mindset. Chances are you're not going to be able to do max effort lifting or hit a new PB on the bench press! But compared to what? Not doing anything at all?
When the economy does reopen and when things do get back to normal, you don't want to be looking back at yet another lockdown with regret saying 'I should've started in January.' Getting started is the hardest part (even if you're lacking in motivation) and I promise you, after the first 2-3 sessions you'll build momentum and when you do, it's just a matter of sustaining it.
A great way to keep motivation high and to work on yourself is to start investing into a home gym and gradually add to it over time. Never in a million years could I have imagined that by the end of 2020, I'd have a mini little gym setup with most of the essential pieces of equipment. Below, I'll provide you with some of the best pieces of equipment you can invest in to give you ‘full bang for your buck.' I took into consideration budget, space and the essentials to get started.
1. Gymnastic Rings
It wasn't until I recently invested in suspension rings that I realised how versatile & effective they are in getting a good training stimulus without taking up any additional space.
The problem? You need something solid to hang them off. But if you do have a bracket or even better some form of a rack, these are a must. And I should also add, are very humbling. Doing chin ups or dips for example off rings compared to a standard bar requires much more stability and taxes the core much more. Some fantastic exercises which can be done include:
A pair of suspension rings cost about €35 on average. If you have something to hang them off, these are fantastic.
2. Resistant Bands
I’m a huge fan of resistant bands and suspension trainers when it comes to doing any kind of strength or mobility work. Bands are so versatile and can be used to work literally every muscle in the body.
That is a full body workout there alone! So as I’ve shown, there are endless opportunities for using resistant bands to get stronger and also to help with your mobility. Resistant bands can be bought online for €6-€20 depending on the thickness of them and the amount of resistance they provide. I always buy resistant bands in pairs so that if I ever want to do a band resisted barbell exercise, I’ll have two bands that are exactly the same.
3. TRX/SUspension Trainer
If you can’t get your hands on a set of Olympic Rings or if it’s not possible for you to have a rack or bracket to hang them off, I would suggest investing in a suspension trainer. You can clip them onto your door and get working on a range of exercises. Like the rings, they are so versatile and offer endless opportunities for new exercises.
Some of the best exercises include:
And many, many more! A Suspension trainer would set you back about €35 also and is a worthwhile investment.
4. Weight Vest
Fed up of doing countless reps of push ups or squats to feel the ‘burn?’ Investing in a weight vest is a simple way to make basic bodyweight exercises significantly more difficult. The thing I like most about weight vests is there is no change in your body position when performing any of the exercises – it remains the same.
For example, compare doing a Goblet squat where you hold a dumbbell at your chest and squat down to a bodyweight squat wearing a vest. For the goblet squat, the load/weight is mainly at the front of your body whereas with a vest it, the load/weight is evenly distributed around your body. This means wearing a weighted vest will not alter your technique in anyway, the exercise just gets more difficult.
If you want to add a conditioning element, you could set a target for yourself to wear the weight vest for the entire duration of your session and perform a full body circuit. Start off by just wearing it in your warm up, and gradually build it up. The first time I wore a weighted vest, I intended on wearing it for a full hour not realising how difficult it would be. I lasted 10 minutes before my traps and upper back gave way. However, I built it up over time to last an entire 75 minute session with a 30Kg vest on and have definitely noticed an improvement in my conditioning.
So not only will wearing a weight vest increase your strength, it will also improve your conditioning. An alternative to investing in a weight vest is to fill a bag up with books and wear it. While you don’t have the luxury of strapping the bag around your waist so it’s tight and secure, it certainly will make things more difficult. A 10Kg weighted vest can be bought for €20-€30.
5. Dumbbells & Kettlebells
I purposefully left weights and strength equipment towards the end because this will be entirely down to your budget. I do think that investing in a light pair of dumbbells at the very least is essential so you can incorporate the dumbbell lifts into your program. I also love kettlebells for the variety as well as the unique loading stimulus they provide to challenge your body.
On average, €3.50 - €4 per Kg of weight is the average price of dumbbells and kettlebells. So for a pair of 5Kg Dumbbells, that would cost about €35.
6. Chin Up Bar
If you can't get your hands on suspension rings, I would recommend getting a Chin Up Bar alongside a Suspension Trainer.
Chin ups and all variations of it are an indicator lift in almost all of my programs. They are a great way to measure your strength in relation to your own bodyweight. Not only will the chin up bar allow you to perform chin ups with different grips – overhand, underhand, wide etc., you can also perform a number of core exercises such as leg raises and even bar hangs. If you can’t perform a full chin up, you could loop the resistant bands you bought into the bar & this will make the exercise easier.
Just a word of warning about chin ups, while they are a great exercise, they internally rotate your shoulders (just like push ups do) meaning they can contribute to giving you rounded shoulders. So to counteract this, make sure you’re doing some external rotation work such as band pull aparts to keep your posture and shoulders healthy.
Chin up bars can be bought online for €20-€30.
7. Cable Pulley System
This has been a new addition to my home gym and I’ve been enjoying the endless possibilities of incorporating new exercises into my program. Investing in a cable pulley will be dependant a lot on space and also equipment. For instance, like the suspension rings, you do need to have something (like a rack) to hold the pulley and you also need to have weight plates to add resistance to it.
However, if you do have adequate space (especially if you’re setting something up in your home garage) and the equipment to go with, a cable pulley system is a brilliant investment. You can loop the cable around the top of a bar or rack and literally perform endless exercises! It is a worthwhile investment to get lots of attachments to go with it such as various handles and a rope. This opens up new opportunities to do different exercises.
Some exercises include:
The list is endless. A cable pulley can be bought online for as little as €25-€50.
8. Fat Gripz
As a bonus, you could invest in a pair of fat gripz which you wrap around the handles of the dumbbells or kettlebells. These really tax your grip strength and are a great way of literally making the lighter weights feel heavy and challenging yourself with limited equipment.
Fat gripz can be bought online for €25-€40.
9. Additional Options
If you have the space and it’s within your budget, these are some additional investments you could make over time:
Where to Buy
Putting it All Together
My top recommendations:
And finally, don’t let this pandemic be the reason you don’t take ownership and control of your health and fitness. You can still make progress training from home with limited resources.
Don’t believe me? Checkout some of my online clients who managed to get results with as little as 2x 5Kg dumbbells! I understand that for some, training from home is not as appealing as going to the gym.
But, compared to what? Not training at all? Or telling yourself you’ll start when….gyms open? Doing something is certainly better than nothing.
There’s never gonna be a perfect time. Don’t put your success “on hold” for anyone or anything. If you truly want something, stop making excuses and procrastinating and start right now.
And as a bonus, I launched a new version of my Lean 4 Life Transformation Program for people who want to:
Contact me today if you’re interesting in learning more.
After you contact me, we’ll talk through your goals & aspirations and see if we’re a good fit for each other.
Contact me today to learn more.
Adrian McDonnell -
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