Having a blog is an amazing thing for me because I can now reach more people than I have ever dreamed of. Connecting with you has pushed me to be more flexible and creative with my fitness advice. After all, you guys come from all walks of life (and so many different places), so what works for my personal clients isn’t always a viable solution for my readers. Even going to the gym is not an option for many so in this article, I am giving you my top tips for building one in the comfort of your home. Read on to find why you need a home gym, how to choose the space, and what equipment to get(including a recommendation for my all-time favourite home exercise bike)!

Everybody Needs A Home Gym

Home workout equipment can be pricey and complicated but building your own home gym doesn’t have to be. In fact, most of the time all you need is some space for bodyweight exercises. When busy clients ask me about incorporating exercise into their schedule, I tell them it doesn’t take more than an empty corner (whether it’s in their living room or in a hotel that they are staying in) and 20 minutes. You can get an awesome workout with basic exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges, and planks.

If you can only buy one thing for your home gym make it a thick, high-quality yoga mat. This gives you the grip and support to perform so many different floor exercises. Besides, you can replace weights with random objects but nothing can prevent the dreaded crunch-induced friction burn.

How About Cardio?

Great question. You can’t fit many cardio machines in a small home gym space. You could do bodyweight interval training but people often aim at a higher intensity than that. If you have been following me for a while, you know how much I love high-intensity interval training. Here are just a few of its benefits:

  • It’s quick and efficient. 15 minutes of HIIT, three times a week give you better results than an hour on the treadmill every day. I have personally witnessed it plus there is science to back it.
  • A HIIT workout burns more calories both during and after the session. For the 24 hours after you have done HIIT cardio, your metabolism speeds up and the fat melts off.
  • It can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, even in people who already struggle with cardiovascular problems. In other words, HIIT not only prevents future problems but it actually makes your heart healthier.
  • HIIT exercise reduces insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when your cells don’t respond to the insulin telling them to use up blood sugar. It’s a risk factor for type 2 diabetes plus it makes losing weight essentially impossible (you can’t burn fat when insulin is up).

In the gym, I love putting clients on the rowing machine and on the bikes for some HIIT cardio. Then there comes the air bike, which essentially combines the two. It is efficient, it doesn’t take much space, and it gives you a five-star HIIT workout. My personal favourite home exercise bike is the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 because it’s easy to set up, sturdy, and it gives you a lot of options to monitor your workout.

But What Makes A Home Exercise Bike Great, Anyway?

I get asked a lot about the best cardio machines to have at home and my usual response is which one do you think your laundry will look best hanging on?! As sadly this is what usually happens to so many home gyms. If however you are serious about setting up a training space at home then read on… There are so many different stationary bikes available on the market that choosing one gets quite confusing, even for gym rats like me. The basic difference between the various types is simply the resistance. Exercise bikes use either friction, weights, magnets, or a fan to give you resistance.

On most bikes, you set up a certain resistance much like you would set up a treadmill to a certain speed. On my particular favourite, the air bike, has a fan in the front (where a wheel would usually be) and the faster you spin, the more friction between the fan and the air. Essentially, the harder you pedal, the harder it gets, which allows bikes like the Schwinn Airdyne to have infinite resistance levels.

Another major pro of the air bike is that it engages both arms and legs. It’s a full-body exercise machine that adjusts to your level and in turn gives you a higher calorie burn. Plus, this form of cardio removes the impact of hitting the ground (or the treadmill) so your joints and ligaments get a break. A home exercise bike is probably the safest and most effective form of cardio you can do by yourself.

The Perfect Home Gym Workout

Over the years I have seen so many people with good intentions of improving their fitness levels but sadly with no plan whatsoever to actually make this happen. As a result they see no changes and usually quit within a few weeks.

If you want to see change, you can’t just spend 20 minutes doing random exercises and call it a day. You need a program that fits your level and fitness goals. This is where I come in to help build and adjust a program. There is a lot that goes into it, but here are my basic tips for building a home gym workout that will give you actual results:

  • Figure out your goals and be honest about them. ‘I want to be healthier.’ will not get you out of bed if a flat stomach and a toned backside are what you are really after!
  • Don’t fear weights. For every workout, aim to spend at least 70% of the time doing strength training exercises. Squats, lunges, push-ups pull-ups and twists should be a part of every training programme.
  • Don’t just stick to the standard 3 sets of 10. As you’ve read in previous blog posts I’m a big fan of Time Under Tension Training. Slow things down and aim to push yourself to the limit. I would suggest that you pick 5-6 body weight moves (that you know how to do properly) and perform each of them slowly for time or until failure.
  • You can choose your own intervals during HIIT cardio. My favourite is 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off. During the on time, you need to go all out and earn your rest period! The air bike is great for that because you can really push yourself and there is no limit. Then during the rest period, you just bike at whatever speed is comfortable. Don’t stop but don’t worry about the speed or rpm.
  • Avoid doing HIIT on consecutive days. Three times per enough, if you are really pushing yourself.

Finally, I thought I would share how my own home gym looks like!

I would love to hear your questions and thoughts in the comments down below! And if you have a home gym space that you are proud of, share a pic on Instagram and don’t forget to tag me @davidosgathorp.

Let’s get inspired together!