Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The $50 home gym

I recently read a post on Gimundo about building a $50 home gym, which I found to be.... well, utter crap. I guess the suggestions are ok for someone looking to just start moving, but I personally can't imagine anyone achieving anything beyond mediocre fitness with a suggestion of exercise videos, balance ball, and 3 lb hand weights (really, 3lbs?!? Are we so weak that we shoot for weights lighter than some of my textbooks?). Here's what I suggest for a $50 home gym.

  1. Bodyweight (absolutely free!) - You can do plenty of resistance training, running, calisthenics, yoga, etc. with just your own bodyweight. Pushups, pullups, situps, dips, inverted rows, hand walkouts, planks, side planks, lunges, squats, burpees, etc. are all easily done with no gear or just stuff around the house. If you get serious about getting strong, start getting exotic with handstand pushups, pistol squats, planches, and variety of lever static holds.

  2. Jump Rope ($5-$15) - If you've never skipped rope, you don't know just how bad your cardio conditioning really is. A basic speed rope (and a good pair of padded shoes if you're jumping on a hard surface like concrete) is all you need for one awesome cardio workout that hits most muscles of your body. Of course, it might take a couple of weeks of practice to get the rhythm and coordination. Add a few months if you want to learn fancy rope turning tricks.

  3. Furniture Sliders ($10 for a 4-pack) - If you've got carpet, you can do a ton of bodyweight exercises with these bad boys. If you've got hardwood or linoleum, go even cheaper and use towels as your sliders.

  4. Exercise Bands ($15-$30) - You wouldn't think that big rubber bands would give you a good workout, but you would be oh so wrong in your assessment. You won't need too many to start with. The heavy duty bands can give a lot of resistance (like 200+ lbs of resistance). Ebay a set of basic bands. It'll open up a lot of resistance and conditioning exercises that you can do during your workouts.

  5. Foam Roller (~$20) - Most of us have crap soft tissue quality. Loosen up your upper back, glutes, IT band, etc. with a foam roller. Your IT band will probably hurt like hell the first time you roll, but you'll feel better in the long run. Look at it as a poor man's massage. If you're super-cheap (and masochistic), just use a tennis ball or lacrosse ball and skip the foam roller.

    Start a love-hate relationship with your roller.

There you go. You could theoretically get everything for under $50 if you shop smart. Drop the exercise bands, and you can definitely stay under $50. Skip the workout videos suggested in the Gimundo post. You can learn to use your cheap home gym effectively with youtube videos and save the cash for something else.


Unknown said...

Great ideas; I especially like the furniture pad workout.

It would break your $50 budget, but I recommend upgrading your foam roller to a RumbleRoller ( It's a better investment - lasts longer and does a better job of restoring tissue quality.

jkuo said...

The RumbleRoller looks neat, but you're right. It would totally destroy the $50 budget. A dense foam roller, lacrosse ball, and a rolling pin should get you most of the myofascial release effects while staying in the cheap budget range.