48 Days with a Home Gym – A honest assessment
Somewhere mid lockdown, I ponied up some money and set up a home gym. I’m formerly OK at lifting, and to be brutally honesty, never really ‘tried’ since the first lockdown (ie, 2020).
I would say its been a positive, but much harder than I thought. I’ll take you through wins and losses and what I think helps.
For context I purchased
1. Half rack
2. Comp Bar
3. 100kg HG bumper pack
All your stuff is at home. Everything, your couch, your TV, your Netflix account, your work laptop. At times I’ve considered myself a quite disciplined person, but I learnt three things
- I have to treat it like a actual workout, that means phone off and I physically lock my door so I’m outside till its done
- Night time was actually too hard mentally – I just couldn’t get going
- Routine is better
I simply can not ‘pop’ in to do a work email, or to watch 10 minutes of youtube, or go near my ever so comfortable couch.
In the first three weeks, I don’t think I finished a programmed workout. I’m weak, I’m out of shape, more so mentally that physically.
Its all at your house, and you make the rules. I wrote a new program, which I can put here:
Andos get back to it workout
- Walk outside with a triple espresso and a bottle of water – 7am
- Bar only complex – stiff legs 10, row 10, press 10, squat 10, curl 10 x 3-5
- 10 a side – put on squat shoes. 10 reps sets, 10 second pause at the bottom – 3 sets
- Day A – work up to a hardish 6 reps on shoulder press
- Day B – work up to a hardish 10 reps on squats
- Day A – Dips
- Day B – Chins
- Everyday, curls in the sun until 8.45am (usually about 10 minutes)
Nobody thinks this is the hardest workout, but I put around 8kg back on doing this (and look a bit leaner).
I try to do this every weekday, and likely miss a day once a week. Its still 1 hours 45 mins outside everyday, which I assume is good for you.
The best value
Easily the hex dumbbells. There are still days where the idea of squatting heavy is a bit much, and I’ll just do shoulder press and laterals until I feel motivated.
People use them all the time when they pop over.
The unexpected upside
People really like to come over and train, they will come to your house at 7am. I did not see this coming, and its been quite nice.
I haven’t had a complaint yet, and its all quite silent. I’ve learned you have to rack quietly. The biggest issue is deadlifts, which is why I haven’t been doing them early in the mornings. I can use mats from Bunnings that make it silent, but they are really thick and its annoying its not full range. I think I’ll get double mats and some sort of stand so its proper form shortly.
The accessories you need
If you have it outside like me, you need a leaf blower. Dirt and dust gets literally everywhere. I didn’t really pay that much attention, and was forced to get the carpets cleaned when my apartment was inspected. Lesson learned.
I also used rust spray in the photo, and despite the fact everything sits in the weather (and we’ve had lots of storms) nothing is rusted or has issues.
Hurdles you didn’t expect
I’m a child, and I can’t trust myself with a phone, I’ll get distracted. I guess in a gym, I just look at people between sets, or zone out, that’s hard in your backyard.
I put up this fingerboard (used by rockclimbers) and I do it between heavy sets of squats, just for something to do while I recover, and it’s a good way to build finger strength.
Did I return to a commercial gym
I somewhat expected to have a gym membership and the backyard setup. I really do think this is a short term issue, but my social anxiety was through the roof returning to a commercial gym (it’s a total globo gym).
I’m too old to pretend I’m young, and the ‘vibe’ is quite testosterone driven and insta female. I don’t care if its seen as odd or weak, but its weird to be around nobody for 4 months, then next minute, be shoulder to shoulder in a gym full of people desperate for attention and social interactions.
The ‘nail’ in the coffin for myself was when I asked about cancellation, the speech about fees, timelines, having to sit down with the manager, the whole thing annoyed my and I closed the membership.
I need to buy more weights and figure out how to put a flat bench in the backyard. I think I’m already pushing my luck with have a gym there in a rental. We’ve had a few Sundays where people have come over and BBQ’ed while we did deadlifts, and its feasibly the closest I’ve ever felt to Arny and his heyday.
I’m no different that people reading this, I’m waiting on the next batch of HG plates (I got the 100kg pack, I probably should have got more).
I’m just getting into the swing of training, I’m squatting the 120 I have for solid sets of 10.
For anyone thinking about making a ‘comeback’ I’m actually really happy when I step back. I was quite annoyed with myself the entire time about how ‘weak and lame’ I am, but I could barely squat 100 for a single at the start, now I’m squatting 120 for a bunch of 10s. I could barely chin at the start, now I’m up to 11. I know I’m not near as strong as I once was, but I’m happy to be back on the path.
Its not for everyone, and I would say its actually (for me anyway) much harder than going to a gym. If I had a preference, I’d train at a powerlifting gym, but given there are zero of those within 30 minutes of me, I’d take a home gym over a commercial gym.