In the new day and age of at-home workouts, creating a home gym has been top of mind for many of us. I know I've spent my fair share of time assessing the differences between Powerblock and Bowflex adjustable dumbbells.
The stock market is the most volatile that it's ever been, the unemployment rate is skyrocketing and fitness is just about the last thing that people want to be spending money on, understandably so. Finding a way to create a training environment that mirrors a gym with a constricted budget can be a gains-saver.
The following are some ideas on creating a training environment to achieve a desired adaptation while on a strict budget.
Option 1 - Assess Current Equipment
Lifting weights at home comes with unique challenges. Floor space may be an issue, along with having enough support to withstand the beating that comes from training with dumbbells and barbells. There's a reason why gyms generally have rubber or cement flooring, lifting chews them up!
We need to find a way to achieve strength and hypertrophy, most lifter's goals, without challenging the floorboards or using any machines, unless you're one of those heroes who has a Nautilus Leg Extension machine from the '80's. In that case, you probably don't need to be reading this article.
Step One - Assess Exercise Selection
What do we usually do at the gym? Olympic lifters may need to take a step back from their training if they're planning to be lifting in the living room. Powerlifters may struggle as well. If we fall into one of those categories, we need to plan what exercises are going to be taking the place of these common gym moves. Below are a few ideas.
- Barbell Back Squat - Dumbbell Goblet Squat
- Power Clean - Hanging Dumbbell Snatch
- Bench Press - Partner Resisted Push Up
The key is to think about the stimulus that we're going for. For the Bench Press, using a Partner-Resisted Push-Up can help train strength in the press while also giving your roommate or significant other a laugh as they push you back into the floor.
The Dumbbell Snatch can replace the Power Clean if the desired stimulus is explosive hip extension. An easy substitution that does require adequate ceiling height.
The Dumbbell Goblet Squat will struggle to replace the heavy loading capability of the Barbell Back Squat so utilizing single-leg variations can present a solid strength stimulus without the aid of bounce plates and barbells.
Step Two - Get the Equipment Together
Once we have assessed exercise selection, it's time to get some equipment. Adjustable dumbbells used to range from $300 to well over $1,000. With the recent spike in demand, they are tough to find now and are priced 150%-200% above what they were three weeks ago. It's important to understand what we need vs. what's available. Generally speaking, if we can be intelligent with exercise selection, we shouldn't need anything more than a baseline set of Powerblocks, which are selling for upwards of $800 on Ebay and sold out on Amazon for the foreseeable future.
The cold hard truth is equipment isn't coming. $500 used to get us dumbbells, yoga balls and mats, a bluetooth speaker and some new training shoes. With current options during this pandemic, those aren't there anymore and those that are may not be shipped safely until everything settles. So what's the best way to spend that $500?
Step Three - Adjust Our Thinking
Remember earlier when we were looking at our desired stimulus? How can we recreate what a Barbell Back Squat does for us? How do we simulate a Bench Press without a bench, barbell, plates or spotter? What's the best way to improve our explosive vertical power if we can't Power Clean?
These are questions every fitness professional in America is thinking about today. I've had countless conversations with colleagues about exercise substitutions, programming adjustments and ways to achieve progress in the midst of this no-equipment, no-time and no-end-in-sight environment we are living through together.
What this means is that there are trainers and coaches in your area who are out of work today. The unemployment that will be created from this pandemic could reach as high as 32% from a recent Fed opinion. The same people who helped coach you through your first Deadlift at the local health club are spending their days trying to find the best way to help others through this time.
Step Four - Invest in a Program
Good programming and bad equipment forever beats bad programming and good equipment. Picture the rusty powerlifting gym with unmatched dumbbells or the local CrossFit box with chalk all over the floor. A shiny new pair of adjustable dumbbells aren't going to make our fitness goals come true. A program, a plan and strong effort will keep us moving in the right direction. These programs and accountability measures have and will continue to come from our local fitness professionals.
Before we take that $500 and spend it on a pair of overpriced dumbbells that may not ship until we can head back to the gym, let's think about what that $500 could do for us and the trainer living down the street battling through this as well. Every fitness professional that I've talked to wants to continue to help change lives for the better. They just need the chance. This goes for health and fitness professionals too. There has never been a better time to trade programs with other trainers and build out our network.
I promise, when this pandemic comes to an end and we can return to our daily lives, I'll write an article outlining the best way to spend $500 for at-home gym equipment. At that point the prices will be right, the trainers will have people to train and it will be the best decision for everybody. If we are looking for equipment now though, it means that at one point we enjoyed going to the gym and training with others. This is a fine time to recreate those connections.
For now, we can best train ourselves by utilizing the valuable insight of others. Reach out to local trainers and ask for help. Not only will it improve our at-home training far more than waiting six weeks for a pair of dumbbells, it can help keep our local gyms in a solid financial position to better serve us in the future.
Photo Credit: gorodenkoff/iStock
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