We’ve built up our home gym’s equipment over many years. When we started, it was a bench and some dumbbells; now I’d say we’re well-equipped to allow us to do almost any exercise (barring ones requiring specific equipment or a field’s worth of space).
There’s a lot of truth to the adage, “you get what you pay for.” My first bench was an inexpensive one that I found online when I was starting out; it more than did the trick and held up over the years tremendously. Since then I’ve invested a few more dollars in this one by Northern Lights: it can adjust for decline, flat, and several incline levels, and I added-on the leg hold-down attachment and leg extension/curl attachment.
These Stairmaster Adjustable Dumbbells were a steal of a deal that Costco (Canada) used to carry online. They adjust from 5lbs to 50lbs and take up very little room. One of the greatest features is they vary in width as you adjust so you’re not stuck with an awkward fixed-length axle (like other adjustable sets). I’d love for these to extend beyond 50lbs but, at higher weights, specific pairs of dumbbells are likely a better option.
Simple and straightforward, we have three olympic bars that take 2″ plates:
EZ Curl Olympic Bar – 18lbs
5-foot Olympic Bar – 25lbs
7-foot Olympic Bar – 45lbs
I’ve found having 4 of each plate size means less time to load up a bar (like for squats and deadlifts). It also gives you greater flexibility to have multiple bars loaded at one time (e.g. the 7-foot bar for squats and the 5-foot bar for standing shoulder press). Shown on the weight tree, we have 530lbs of weight plates:
2.5lbs x 4
5lbs x 4
10lbs x 8
25lbs x 4
35lbs x 4
45lbs x 4
Functional Trainer, Smith Machine, and Squat Rack
This is one piece of equipment (the Inspire Fitness Smith Cage System) that I absolutely love and am fortunate to have. I can hit all of my muscles in a variety of ways because it has two adjustable high/low pulleys, fixed high pulleys (great for lat pulldowns), fixed low pulleys (great for back rows), a rack for squats and chest press, handles and grips for pull-ups, and a smith machine for focusing you in on driving weight. We looked at a number of systems and this one came out on top.
Various Cable Attachments
Having a variety of handles/attachments with the pulley system provides you with a number of options to hit your muscles. We have these (not all are shown in the picture):
D-handle (short strap)
D-handle (long strap)
Pull-down lat bar
Short straight bar
This belt is essential if you’re looking to pull up or dip more than just your body weight (which is a feat in itself). This belt has a spring-clip (as opposed to a carabiner) that I find makes it easier to unclip from the ring (not by a lot, but I prefer it).
Max Trainer M5
I will be the first to admit I am not a cardio person. I used to run while I was training for a half-marathon but I’m not training for any races at the moment. We used to own an elliptical but I found that boring (and my feet would sometimes fall asleep after 30+ mins). Enter the M5. A machine that blends elliptical with stairclimber and provides 9 different workout programs. The one I enjoy the most is the Max Interval – 14 minutes of high intensity interval training. Tack on a 2-minute warmup and a 2-minute cooldown and I get 18 minutes of calorie burning that carries on after I’ve stepped off.
I made this 24″x20″x16″ plyobox out of a sheet of plywood, wood glue, and about 34 screws for approximately $50. It’s ideal for different heights of box jumps and step-ups, Bulgarian split squats, and as your back support (with a mat on top) for hip thrusts.
While it isn’t the brand name “Bosu” ball (MD Buddy makes this one), it certainly fits the bill. It works well as a seat for low rows, as a dynamic platform for core work, and as uneven terrain to add a balance challenge to lower-weight exercises (squats, shoulder press, bicep curls, etc.).