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ESSENTIAL Gym Equipment

On facebook recently I’ve seen a few coaches talking about what they considered to be essential equipment for their gyms. Naturally I was interested in reading these posts as these lists give an insight into people’s training methods. Since I make a living out of training people, it’s always nice to see how others do the same.

A thing that really stood out about these posts was the amount of kit and the sheer expense involved in putting together the gear. It got me thinking about how I’d create a list.

Like any shopping list lets start with the essentials:

  1. My body

  2. Floor Space

Yup, that’s it. That’s all I need to get a great workout and many’s the time I’ve gone through a training phase using nothing but my own body for resistance. Admittedly these training phases coincided with times of travel or injury, but sometimes through choice. If you look over any of my training logs or the programmes I create for my clients then you’ll see a huge emphasis on bodyweight exercise.

Is bodyweight enough? For most people, most of the time, yes. Now obviously we’re talking general fitness (GPP) here, not sports specific work, although for many team sports learning how to train with bodyweight would be a huge bonus to their training efficiency.

The only drawbacks with bodyweight only training is a lack of load for maximal training and the difficulty of working the upper back. The upper back problem can be easily fixed with the purchase of a pull up bar or scouting out anything sturdy enough for you hang from and do pull up. I can often be found in the park walking the dog and doing pull ups from the goal posts as we wander round. As for maximal strength, how many of you have a good level of proficiency in the unilateral lifts? We’re talking single leg squats, one arm push ups, handstand push ups, even one arm pull ups? Very few I’d guess, so you’ve plenty of room to build your max strength before needing to add any kit.

Even still, once a relatively high degree of proficiency with the basis has been achieved try adding in plyometric or rest-pause versions. Plyo’s will involve getting airborne, think of the clapping push up as the most common example. Try clapping pull ups. Try jumping and swapping hands during one arm push ups. Do jump squats, broad jumps, hops etc for lower body. Rest-Pause involve stopping moving. Lower into a push up and stop, actually rest on the floor for the count of 4 seconds then explosively push up. Hang at the bottom of a pull up for a few seconds before lifting. Try swapping hands during one arm push ups or one leg squats, either at the top, or for a real challenge, at the bottom.

If you do want to add gear try the following:

  1. Interval timer or stopwatch

  2. Pull Up bar

  3. Rings (hang these from the pull up bar)

  4. Kettlebells

  5. Barbell & Plates

  6. Punch Bag

  7. Skipping rope

  8. Matted floor

None of that will cost you the earth and if it still looks like too much expense (a barbell set can be pricey) but you need something there is one simple solution. A sandbag, which can be homemade for around €20.

The day you find yourself relying on expensive equipment like Smith Machines, GHR’s, Vibration Plates etc. Step back and really have a think about what you’re trying to achieve.


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