Home gyms seem like the perfect solution. You get to work out from home, don’t have to commute or deal with opening hours. You can walk straight to the kitchen after a hard workout and grab a delicious, healthy meal. But do home gyms build muscle?
You can definitely build muscle using your home gym. As long as you get some good equipment, follow a routine, and eat properly, you can build muscle using your home gym just like at a commercial gym.
I’ll take you through some introductory tips on building muscle, rules to follow, and equipment you should purchase to get the best home gym out there. We’ll also look at some of the traps for beginners and why so many people don’t get the results they want.
Does Working Out At Home Get Results?
Working out at home can bring with it many advantages that translate into results for you.
As getting to your workout is a lot easier, you’re more likely to achieve your workout goals. You’ll be on track by not missing workouts and eating properly.
If you’re trying to squeeze a gym session in before work, you may end up grabbing food from a store that is not healthy or conducive to your workout goals. If you’re working out at home, it’s a short walk to the kitchen where you will have nutritious food waiting.
Keeping up motivation is difficult, particularly given the long term nature of building muscle. A home gym is great because it is a visible reminder that you should do some exercise.
A gym in your house will also take away so many excuses to not workout. A home gym means no need to work your schedule around gym opening times, your own lack of time, or whatever other excuse you come up with.
How Do You Build Muscle?
Gaining muscle is not an easy process. Many people are scared to even look at a barbell because they think they’ll suddenly look like Mr. Olympia. The fact is that building muscle won’t just happen by accident. You need to work at it and you need to be smart.
If you’re a total beginner, you will notice some muscle growth when you start working out. If you’re diligent about eating, exercising, and sleeping, then you can expect to get about 12-15lbs of muscle in 4 months.
This would require you to do your research and follow some kind of exercise program. After this initial burst, muscle gain will be much slower. This type of growth pattern applies to basically any healthy person and excuses like ‘genetics’ or similar are just that, excuses.
Once you have got over this 4 month growth phase, you can expect to drop down to about 2lbs of muscle gained every year.
Most people will equate muscle growth to success when considering gym results. Fat loss or body recomposition may be your actual fitness goal, but the increasing lean muscle and fixing your diet will help with weight loss anyway.
Muscle growth works on the principle of damage and repair. As you lift heavier weights or put more resistance on your muscles, this causes tearing of muscle fibers which are then repaired. When they’re repaired they tend to be bigger than before.
This process of growing muscle is referred to as hypertrophy. Your muscles don’t know or care where hypertrophy happens, as long as it happens. This means that as long as you workout effectively and eat well, you will get hypertrophy.
While lifting the weights or doing the exercise is necessary, you also need to consider nutrition.
Muscle growth is mainly controlled through the caloric intake. You can have perfect form and follow the best hypertrophy program, but you won’t get results or muscle growth if you are not feeding your growing muscles properly.
Another key is what is referred to as progressive overload. This is the idea that you increase aspects of your workout program in a controlled way, slowly building up your muscle growth over time. This can be via doing more repetitions, sets, or bumping up the weight slightly.
To properly do this, you will want to research what type of progressive overload system works for your fitness goals and current fitness levels. It is good to keep a notebook with the routine you’re following and also keeping track of your numbers.
There are even apps specifically designed to help you follow a progressive overload program. Some people use spreadsheets. No matter what you do, you must follow the progression and track your own improvements to get the most out of it.
Initially, you want to get your schedule correct. This means you want to ensure you’re getting enough sleep to enable your body to repair itself and thus build muscle.
You want to be using your home gym three times per week for 60 minutes. Generally, you are doing low volume workouts. This means that when you multiply the weight you are lifting per repetition, i.e. lift the weight up and down once, by the weight itself, it is not too high.
For example, if you do 10 repetitions of bicep curls at 10lbs, your volume would be 100lbs.
This is a much harder section to cover as there are so many good workouts to choose from. Your main goal when gaining muscle should be to work for large muscle groups with compound exercises.
This means that you should be looking at equipping your home gym for many types of compound exercises. A home gym with a bench press, chin up bar and a barbell will enable great exercises like the bench press, deadlift, chin ups, and many others.
No surprise here but you will need to ensure you’re getting enough protein.
On top of that, you may need to also bump up your caloric intake as building muscle takes energy in two ways. The first is the energy expended in the workout, the other is the biological process in building muscle also takes a lot of energy.
It’s not necessary to go out and buy expensive supplements. Everything you need to build muscle can be found in your supermarket. There are many guides that will get you started on what types of foods to eat and what types to avoid.
What Kind Of Equipment Should You Have In A Home Gym?
With home gyms, you will have certain limitations. For most people, these will be your budget and space.
Workout equipment is expensive. Setting up your perfect gym with all your most wanted pieces of equipment is going to be hard. Even finding a large commercial gym with every piece of desired equipment can be a challenge.
One way to assemble many useful pieces is to buy a multi gym. A multi gym is designed to take the aspects of several gym machines, combined together to make a single machine. There are many different configurations of multi gyms.
The benefit of multi gyms is that they give you the ability to perform many different exercises on a single machine. If you’ve got limited space, this is obviously the best way to get the most advantages from it.
Keep in mind that these multi gyms are large, cannot be moved, and they can be quite expensive. You’ll need to be aware that multi gyms can be tall, particularly if they come with a chin up bar.
Investigate how many different exercises you can do on a multi gym before you buy it. Make sure that you can get a full body workout done or at least hit a lot of muscle groups.
A good example of what you’re looking for is the Marcy Pro Deluxe Cage System that you can get on Amazon. This comes with a removable bench and cage which would allow you at a minimum to do bench press, squats, various cable exercises, and chin ups.
You would have to look at purchasing the barbell and weights as these are not included. Barbells come in many different sizes and styles, and those designed for the competition are going to be quite expensive.
A good standard barbell should weigh about 45 pounds and be about seven feet long. There are many different circumferences that you can choose from, with 28mm being one of the most common.
Some barbells are referred to as Olympic barbells. This means that they tend to be a bit more flexible, sometimes referred to as being ‘whippy’, whereas other barbells will be a lot stiffer.
Make sure the barbell you get has decent knurling, the crisscrossing that improves grip. There can also be variations on the sleeves on the end of a barbell, which is what the hole of the weight plate goes through, so check compatibility before you buy.
Given the forces a barbell has to put up with, a decent one is going to be pricey. A barbell has to be made of metal and also made to be durable, both of which will push the price up.
LIONSCOOL’s 7 foot Olympic Bar would be a good choice and this will last for years.
Building up a free weight set is not easy. Some exercises only require small weights, such as for shoulder work. However, other exercises will need large weight plates and a barbell, like deadlifts.
In the end, you will need a variety of weights to effectively train and these can take up a lot of space as well as being expensive.
Dumbbells and barbells are going to be your key to get a lot of flexibility for your workouts.
Dumbbells come in adjustable sets or plate sets. This gives you more flexibility to change from different weights as appropriate. Constantly changing weights can get a bit annoying at times.
Adjustable dumbbells allow you to add or remove weights in set amounts. They are much more expensive than a plate set but far more convenient.
If you’re looking to be thrifty, different materials will be cheaper. Sometimes referred to as studio dumbbells, they are often bright colored and are made from neoprene or rubber. These will cover the lower range of dumbbells that you need.
At a minimum, it would be good to have three sets of dumbbells.
Organize a light, medium, and heavy set to cover the vast majority of usages. Single-arm exercise variations are great and save you from having to buy a pair of dumbbells.
How Soon Until I See Results From Working Out?
Given that muscle growth and weight loss are slow, it is very easy to lose motivation. Fitness and exercise don’t show results until weeks or more likely months and years down the track.
Instead, you need to realign your expectations so they’re closer to this biological reality. Frame your workout goals in terms of months and years.
Understand that if you persist in your exercise, take care of your body, and continue to research thoroughly, you’ll get the results.
This means that you need to make sure your home gym has a range of weights and flexibility to suit your current level.
Invest in resistance bands and make sure your home gym effectively utilizes gravity, and your own bodyweight to provide the resistance.
This means you won’t be hitting plateaus, or be in a situation where your equipment is not good enough to get your body going through the process of hypertrophy.
If you have heavy weights that you can’t lift with one arm only, use two hands and include a huge, slow negative to the repetition. For example, you can use two hands to curl up a dumbbell, but then use one hand to slowly lower the weight, stressing the muscle.