Browse By

Ex-Commando outlines the essentials for your at home/flat gym – for all budgets and space limitations

As we approach spring, you may be thinking about getting your body summer ready. One option is to work out in the comfort of your home.

Space restrictions and budgets put people off buying home workout equipment. But there are ways around this. Whether you live in a home or flat, Thibo David ex-Commando and performance specialist (to A-listers and professional athletes) outlines everything that you need to consider for your home gym investment.

The ideal home/flat gym would resemble a small PT studio and would be very functional, putting a lot of emphasis on space-saving:

What space do you have to work with?
The first thing to consider is what space you have to work with as this will determine what kind of gym you can create. Can you designate space for your gym or will equipment need to be put away? Also, whether you live in a flat or home will affect your set up. If you have a garage then this tends to be the most popular space for at home gyms.

When selecting up your at home gym space, make sure that you have enough electrical outlets as you’ll need these points for your equipment as well as a stereo system and a fan. If you’re training in a garage (that is not insulated correctly) then it’s worth plugging in an indoor heater. Did you know that this can also be a great training tool, as heat adaptation is an excellent way of increasing Vo2Max over time?

For both safety and noise reasons, it would be advisable to install rubber mats to cover wooden floors, carpet or concrete.

A wall mounted mirror

Consider installing a wall mounted mirror to aid good form and to minimise injury. This is important for when you’re working out on your own and don’t have someone correcting your form.

Maximising your workout with a weighted vest
If space is tight then it’s worth investing in a weighted vest. These are ideal for making a workout significantly harder. Plus, you can minimise the amount of weight you hold in the gym by working out with these vests. If you live in a flat then bodyweight exercises combined with a weighted vest is a good option. The key thing is to avoid jumping and other plyo exercises in a flat. But do take advantage of the communal stairs for running and building lower body strength.

Equipment checklist:
Choosing the best home gym equipment will come down to how much space you have and what your budget is. The key thing is to plan the space carefully, prioritising exactly what kit you need so that you don’t overcrowd the room.

Here are some suggested items which cover a range of budgets. You don’t need everything on this list, just pick the items that work best for the types of workouts you’re doing:

Ab roller
A cheap piece of equipment that is great for building a solid core and perfect for small spaces.

Resistance bands
Resistance bands are multipurpose. They are great for warmups, stretches, powerlifting or even to superset some exercises.

Skipping rope
Skipping is a great way to exercise – but not if you live in a flat. It’s good for warming up or getting in a quick cardio workout when you’re strapped for time. Just make sure you have the reasonably high ceilings for this exercise.

TRX is an excellent tool to build upper body strength through rows and other exercises like squat jumps, one-legged squats and planks. Virtually no space is required for this tool and it can be hooked on a door.

Adjustable dumbbells
From snatches, shoulder presses, biceps curls and shoulder flies, the list of exercises that one can do with the dumbbells is endless. Moreover, the adjustable ones have an added benefit in that they are economical in space.

Adjustable kettlebell
Kettlebells are excellent for building strength and balance and can be used to focus on building a lean physique more than bulk. Kettlebells can take up space so if this is an issue, it’s worth getting adjustable ones so that you have access to a range of weights in a single piece of equipment.

Barbell with two 10/15kg plates + insert wall
Essential for all exercises involving Barbell deadlifts, Olympic lifts and squats. Look for options that come with their own racks or storage systems to keep your gym organised.

Door frame pull up bar
A classic tool to build whole-body strength and it takes up minimal space.

Adjustable bench
Great for bench presses and rows. A sturdy one can also double up as a jump box. These can be folded away after your training session.

Boxing bag
Excellent at building upper body strength and a lean body. This can constitute a workout on its own. If there is no access to a beam, a freestanding boxing bag can be bought instead. They’re durable and don’t take up much space. It will help to get the heart rate up and burn fat.

Heavy slam ball 20/30kg
Excellent at building raw strength. This piece of strongman equipment can be used as a workout on its own, targeting the main muscle groups such as legs, glutes, lower back, shoulder and core. To be avoided if you live in a flat.

Heavy battle ropes
A killer exercise can be used on its own or incorporated into a longer workout. Heavy on the shoulder, arms, core and legs, this exercise is a must for any home gym for its many benefits: low cost, versatility, complete body workout. The pounding on the floors makes this a difficult piece of equipment for a flat. It works better in rooms where you don’t have space restrictions.

Wall-mounted squat rack
The wall-mounted frame is excellent for any space restricted home gym as it can be folded away. This piece of equipment can get noisy when in use so it should be avoided in a flat.

Peloton treadmill
If floorspace and budget isn’t a consideration then it’s worth investing in a treadmill. If you purchase a Peloton treadmill then this doubles up as a whole workout system with yoga classes, walks, sprints workout and full-body strength sessions. With a top incline of 12.5% and a top speed of 12.5 MPH, even top runners will have a hard time. Treadmills create noise, so this equipment is not recommended if you live in a flat – unless you want to annoy your neighbours downstairs.

Thibo David, Ex-commando and Performance Specialist commented: “Some of us have already been considering a home gym setup as a way to get fit without the expense of a gym membership. But before you dash off to buy the equipment, take some time to consider what kinds of exercises you want to do. Then buy according to these needs. Gym equipment can range from cheap to costing hundreds of pounds so keep costs low by starting with the basics and then adding one at a time. Find bargains in discount stores and also consider buying second hand.”