Our body is divided into pushing, pulling and leg muscles. As well as front (anterior) and back (posterior) muscles. You may have heard the terms 'anterior' and 'posterior chains' respectively.
In our daily lives our muscles at the back are often neglected or weakened due to lifestyle factors such as a desk job. This becomes more pronounced in people who train but don’t really know what they’re doing so they spend way too much time on bicep curls and bench pressing, leading to rounded shoulders, imbalances, chronic pain and injury.
Most experts will say that we need to spend twice as much time on working our posterior chain (muscles at the back) compared to our muscles at the front and for good reason too.
When it comes to training at home. Training our muscles at the back can be a real problem since it is easy to work the muscles at the front, by simply pushing against the ground, a wall or any other object; but without some aids it can be very difficult to work our posterior chain muscles.
The ones that need the most attention. Therefore, for a balanced and effective home workout you will need some equipment. You can begin with just a set of inexpensive bands.
Alternatively, you can get really creative and use tables, doorways and things like that but honestly it’s much more difficult and you don’t get a full range of motion.
I find it a disservice when I see so many workouts claiming to be a full body home workouts and there isn’t a single pulling exercise in there.
Most importantly, this further exacerbates our already poor posture that has been acquired from our daily lives of sitting hunched over at the desk all day, over the steering wheel or staring down at our phones.
Therefore if any client of mine wants to train at home the following is what I recommend. You don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on squat racks, benches, dumbbells, barbells and a ton of weights (although they do help) especially for fat loss training.
The things I’ve listed below will give you the most bang for your buck and will probably be the best money you’ve ever spent. I really can’t emphasise how versatile they are and how much you can do with them. I grouped what you might need to get a brilliant workout at home in to levels.
Home Level 1 - Bands, TRX, Pullup Bar Suspension Trainer
Few gadgets that come out in the fitness industry that are ever worth buying. However this one is a rare unicorn. If there is one piece of equipment that has revolutionised training then this is it. The suspension trainer. Better known by the brand name TRX but you don’t have to fork out $200 there are cheaper alternatives that do exactly the same thing.
Consequently, out of all the fitness and health equipment I can not think of one that will give you the most return on investment for your money than this, if you have three stones or less to lose and/or you can pull your bodyweight.
There is no competition. I wrote another blog post on the suspension trainer which you can read here. Another great benefit is that you can perform exercises in a manner you can’t do with anything else and without spending thousands of pounds
Forget all the gimmicks for sculpting your abs that are sold on late night infomercials when your defenses are down, which are a pile of garbage.
If you are under a BMI of 35 and safely move your bodyweight then this is the first piece of equipment I would recommend, if your budget is tight then this one piece of equipment with a cheap pull up bar is enough for now. One the other hand if you are very large and are not able to exercise safely using your bodyweight then grab some bands instead.
The one I recommend here is more robust and has rubber handle that can handle exercises that will require resting your full body weight on them. The ones cheaper than this price point have rubbish handles.
If you can’t afford nothing else get a suspension trainer
Next we have resistance bands. Resistance bands started their life in the world of rehabilitation until sports coaches discovered how effective they can be for training.
Bands are fantastic, in combination with dumbbells and barbells (which you don’t need just yet) you can alter the strength curve hit muscles in a completely different way to stimulate new growth. Even on their own they can provide a great workout. All bands are coloured according to their resistance levels start off with something light..
As a beginner, with bands you can work your whole body, they’re cheap, easy to store and won’t damage your floor.
There are three main types of bands. Loop bands also known as mini bands. They are the small bands that people put around their legs. They're great for working the glute medius which is responsible for external rotation of the legs. The glute medius is often weak in a lot of people, as a result their knees cave in when performing squats.
Then you have the tube bands which come with handles that are very useful, it's easy to get a full body workout with these. Instead of buying the loop bands and tube bands separately I'd recommend this set here. The great thing about these bands is, as you get stronger you can just hook up another band to add more resistance.
Finally you have bands that are popular with crossfitters, I'm not sure what they are really called but they look like this.
Whenever you buy these types of bands buy them in pairs. I’ve bought the same colour band at different times from the same company but they’ve not been the same resistance.
Get my recommended bands here. I’d recommend getting two sets. Trust me they’re worth it and they’ll come in good use. I’ll show you lots of tips and tricks.
If you can’t perform a pull up yet, they can be used to help you learn with assisted pull ups, you’ll need the green one for that. You can use them to help you learn the front lever too, basically they have a ton of uses and they’re worth every penny.
If you can’t afford the full set then start off with a pair or red and black, but then you might find yourself having to buy the others very soon after anyway.
As your strength develops rapidly in the first few weeks the red and black bands may not provide enough resistance, so you’ll be having to do sets of 30reps or more to fatigue the muscle which is a very time consuming inefficient way of working out.
Valslide are a great tool for adding variety to your training presenting a new stimulus and being able to to perform some otherwise difficult to do without machines isolation work such as hamstring curls
Pull Up Bar
You need a pull up bar to get your vertical pulling in, pull ups are arguably the best upper body exercise.
They’re not just limited to pull ups either, you can use them to for chin ups to work your biceps, for practising isometric holds like the front lever to strengthen your core, holds and weighted holds strengthen your forearms and grip strength, and hanging leg raises to build abs, to name just a few.
Here is a very basic pull up bar that will do the trick.
If you want to get ones with a variety of grips, which are definitely better for things like mechanical advantage drop sets, as you get more advanced. However, make sure you have space on both sides of your doorway
That’s enough for level 1 home training. You can do a fair amount with just these and your bodyweight. The next step up would be what I call level 2 Home which would include all of the above and a dumbbell and barbell set or just the dumbbell would be a good idea.
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