3 ideas on how to accommodate weights at home
Few lucky people have enough space in which to set up a home gym or a fitness studio. Most people considering training at home are limited by the size of their apartment – and this is most often the primary argument against training with weights. However, there are a few foolproof ways to flex the space a bit and squeeze out the most of it:
- adjustable dumbbells – as the name suggests, you can adjust their weight with the appropriate number of plates put on the barbell. You can purchase a ready-made set packaged in a handy carrying case, or complete your own basic set of weights necessary for the planned exercises. Both options provide considerable workout possibilities and save space in the apartment;
- folding bench – if you want to be able to do some serious strength training, buying a bench becomes a necessity. It’s worth looking around for flat-folding models that are easy to put, for example, in the wardrobe or under the bed;
- gradual progression – it’s a good idea to start building a home gym with lighter, and therefore smaller, weights. The time for bigger and heavier ones will come as our capabilities – physical, financial and spatial – grow. It’s not worth buying equipment that we won’t use for a long time – and it will need to be stored somewhere.
What else is worth considering before you start exercising with weights?
Training with weights can be hard. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s not all too heavy right from the start – at which point you risk injury, discouragement and wasted money for equipment that proves useless. Therefore, before buying weights, it is worth thinking about a few issues that will allow you to focus on choosing the most important elements for your home gym:
- what is your fitness level – beginners in strength training have different needs than strong, advanced bodybuilders. The same applies to all kinds of body firming and shaping exercises – beginners usually need fewer, lighter weights;
- what your training will consist of – this refers to the style of exercising and its purpose. Body shaping with dynamic interval sessions? Lightweight soft weights not exceeding 5 kg. Working with small, isolated muscle groups? Up to 10 kg is enough to start with. Strength training on a bench? Here it is worth thinking about heavier weights, because it implies working with large, strong muscle groups;
- how quickly do you plan to make progress – this question applies primarily to strength training of beginners, in whom at the start strength gains are seen almost from session to session. In this case, the best choice will be adjustable dumbbells, which will allow you to adjust the intensity of your workouts accordingly.
Physical conditions and training goals are always an individual issue. That’s why it would be a good idea to visit a gym and consult with a trainer who will competently assess your capabilities and suggest specific types of exercises. This will allow you to choose home weights in a more informed way, so they will serve you better and longer.
What should you know about dumbbells?
Dumbbells are what they are – you can see at a glance that they differ from one another. While much can be written about the details of their design, we will focus on their most important practical features, determining their successful purchase and usefulness at home.
- One-piece dumbbells can most often be found at the gym. Their barbell is permanently fused to the weights and forms a single unit with them. In a home environment, they work best where the load is in addition to the actual training (fitness, HIIT, etc.) or working with smaller muscle groups. Progress in training requires buying more pairs of dumbbells – and therefore additional funds and storage space for the weights.
- Adjustable dumbbells consist of barbells on which weights in the form of plates are placed – according to the needs and type of exercise. They are probably the best choice for the home because of their wide range of uses and the relatively small amount of space needed to store them. The higher initial cost of the set is offset by not having to buy more components for a long time.
- Round dumbbells have weights in the form of plates, which unfortunately causes them to roll freely on the floor – a disadvantage of most adjustable dumbbells, mainly available in this shape. This problem does not occur with dumbbells with hexagonal or square weights.
- Soft dumbbells are weights of compact size and light weight, coated with a pleasant to the touch coating made of vinyl or neoprene. Due to their purpose (dynamic exercises, many fast repetitions), they primarily provide a firm grip on the hand and safety for the user and the surroundings.
- Hard dumbbells are made of cast iron, steel or plastic. Metal versions are the classics known in every gym – the greatest durability and the heaviest weight at the smallest size. However, these advantages come at a higher price and the risk of scratching the apartment floor. Therefore, rubberized or bituminous dumbbells may be a better choice. For the latter, the size of the weights can become a problem – larger weights do not always fit on the barbells.
Which is better – dumbbells or kettlebells?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, to which there is no clear answer. These weights are designed for various uses. Traditional dumbbells are used to work with simple, symmetrical movements performed in a given plane. Their typical use is for classic strength training of specific muscle parts. Training with kettlebells focuses on position stabilisation and exercise dynamics. So the choice between the two depends primarily on your preferred style and training goal.
In favour of kettlebells is the initial space saving – a typical set is one large kettlebell for performing exercises with both hands and one “half” for each hand. The problem may be the progression, which in the case of kettlebells goes by leaps and bounds (2 kg more on the “halves” gives 4 kg on a two-handed kettle) and requires the purchase of another set. Some exercises with kettlebells can be performed with dumbbells (and vice versa) – but it will be less natural and comfortable.
6 health and safety rules for exercising with weights
When you train at home, no one can see your shortcomings. This is not a gym where the trainer points out errors in technique and inappropriate behaviour. You have to take care of it yourself to make sure that home training with weights does not pose a danger to you and a nuisance to the surroundings.
Here are 6 rules to follow:
- Remember about sportswear. This is the basis of your comfort and safety. When you exercise with weights, be sure to wear athletic shoes. Contact between dumbbells and unprotected toes is nothing pleasant.
- Take care of your hands. It’s great that you’re making progress and reaching for more and more load. However, hands injured by barbells will certainly not make your training easier. So consider buying gloves designed for weight training.
- First the technique, then the load. The reverse order can risk serious injury, and then the next opportunity to learn the technique will have to wait a long time.
- Do you exercise with adjustable dumbbells? Check the safety clips of the weights. Regardless of their type and design, loose clips are a good way to have a close encounter with flying plates. You probably don’t want them to land on you, right?
- Keep things in order. The best home gym is the one that doesn’t interfere with you or your household members’ daily activities. Therefore, clean up the bench and weights after every workout. Also remember to clean the equipment regularly with antibacterial agent – otherwise it can become a source of bad odour, which will be difficult to get rid of.
- Exercise in silence. Too loud music, the rumble of dumbbells thrown on the floor, motivational shouts... Give it up, because the household members and neighbours won’t forgive you. And if something has to fall – let it fall on a soft mat that dampens noise and protects the floor from damage.
There’s no place like home? There is some truth in the popular saying about exercising with weights. For many people, a home set of dumbbells will be the ideal way to work on their figure, strength and fitness. We especially recommend it when you have no possibility or time for regular training at the gym.