A short while ago, I provided a list of the top 10 home gym must haves. That list was for those who are budget conscious and looking to get fit in a traditional sense. Now we’re providing a list for the heavy hitters or those who want to build muscle mass.
This list is comprised of tools that will help the average person get mass provided you commit yourself and remain consistent. Some of the equipment listed here are a bit on the pricey side but I strongly suggest you don’t skimp on these equipment or you’ll find yourself replacing them in a few years.
The very first item on the list and probably the most important are the weights or plates. I know that this sounds pretty obvious and should go without saying but I wanted to give them a mention as there are various types to choose from: standard, olympic , and bumper plates. They’re also made from different materials: cement, metal, rubber, or a combination of metal with rubber lining. Although there are no real advantages between the weights in terms of muscle development, focusing on metal or rubber would be the best choice for durability. A preference for most lifters are olympic size metal or rubber weights because of the bars. Olympic size bars tend to be more durable and hold more weight in addition to having slightly thicker handles which allows for better grip.
Olympic barbells are a must have for compound exercises and any heavy workout program. Squats, dead lifts, and presses are all performed with barbells and are considered to be more practical over dumbbells within a power rack for obvious reasons. In addition to allowing you to go extremely heavy it doesn’t require unilateral balance as the weights are fixed and stable.
Also known as power cages, power racks are fantastic pieces of equipment with multiple functions to help those of all fitness levels. It will probably be one of the best investments you make. It’s one of the most helpful pieces of equipment in your home gym arsenal, not just for its ability to handle heavy weights or its multiple uses but more importantly, its safety features. As you progress into heavier weights, you may find yourself trying to push each set to failure and without a spotter, you’ll inevitably end up dropping the weights and/or fall over possibly injuring yourself. The cage is designed to capture the barbells with safety arms/rods helping prevent such injuries from occurring.
A variety of exercises can be performed with a power rack including bench press, deadlifts, military/shoulder press, squats, and if the attachments are included you can also perform lat pulldowns and dips. If your budget allows, try to get the racks with the attachments, you’ll definitely want those helpful additions … trust me.
Dumbbells were mentioned in our “Top Ten Must Haves Article” as the single most important piece of equipment. Whether it’s adjustable or a regular set of dumbbells, they are a definite must have and with its versatility, you’ll be able to target various muscle groups effectively. I recommend going with adjustable dumbbells for a number of reasons. You can read more about them in our post covering the best adjustable dumbbells.
Focus on purchasing an incline bench and maybe one with a preacher and leg attachments. It doesn’t have to be an olympic style if you have the power rack since you’ll be using the rack itself to sustain the weight. Don’t try to go too cheap on the bench. You want strength and durability so it’ll last you during your years of training.
Creatine supplements have been around for decades and are probably the most popular among athletes. It’s readily available for purchase over the counter which makes it popular and some studies have shown that those who have taken the supplement resulted in an increase in muscle mass. Now, I’m not a strong advocate of consuming anything “non-organic”, especially those energy powders they sell at fitness/nutrition stores but since creatine is naturally produced in our bodies and also comes from natural sources such as fish and meat, I use it and can honestly say that it works. There was a period of about a year and a half where I stopped and during that time I had an inconsistent work out schedule which resulted in a loss of strength. I tried to get back to my “peak” but couldn’t seem to reach my goal. I thought perhaps my age was a factor but I decided to start with creatine again and within a couple of weeks, there were noticeable gains in both strength and muscle.
Please take note, however, because of the potential for side effects for any supplement, I always recommend consulting with a health care professional. Please be careful with what you put in your body, sometimes “going natural” is best.
I love punching bags. They’re a great way to throw in a little cardio during your lifting routines. It also helps increase your balance and strength but I personally use it to help with my cardio and increase my punching power. When you make contact with the bag, your wrists may tend to bend so just make sure to tape or wrap your wrists and/or knuckles or you might end up injuring yourself. I’m not a professional fighter but it’s always nice to know that I have some power behind my legs and fists … just in case.
Some people may tell you not to bother with leverage machines but I have to tell you that I know plenty of people, myself included, that use leverage machines in addition to free weights. As long as you don’t rely on it, it’s a great addition to your training. Technique and some variations in weight are the only real significant difference between free weights and leverage machines. Free weights force you to stabilize and maintain proper form while leverage machines provide the added safety factor. If you’re asking as to whether you can “bulk up” using leverage machines, the answer is yes but you’ll still want to target your stabilizer muscles somehow.
I personally don’t like to use curl bars as I have a preference for barbells but generally speaking, curl bars are a good piece of equipment to have, especially if you’ve had a previous elbow or wrist injury. They provide a safer and more comfortable method for arm exercises due to the various angles bent into the bar. You’ll also find yourself lifting a bit more weight with curl bars.
Last but not least on the list is music. I don’t have to tell you that the right kind of music can get your body stimulated and bring a rush of adrenaline. Use your phone or get an mp3 or ipod with some decent earplugs or headset and start pumping!