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How to Equip Your Home Gym

Transform unused space at home into a gym by equipping it with some basic gear. Having a well-equipped home gym is convenient if you're on a tight schedule and could be an incentive to maintain an exercise program.

Here's some equipment you might want for your home gym:

  • Exercise mat: Some mats are 3/4-inch thick, some are thinner. "Sticky” mats have a one-sided surface that clings to the floor to prevent slipping and are sold as yoga accessories. Regardless of what type of mat you select, just make sure that it’s comfortable.

    For an inexpensive alternative, spread out a towel.

  • Dumbbells: These weights consist of a short bar with a weight on each end. They can be round or hexagonal in shape (to prevent rolling around out of control). Dumbbells are sold in pairs and made out of several different materials.

    If possible, purchase a full set. Women starting out should acquire weights of 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, and 15 pounds. Men starting out should purchase weights that weigh 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, and 30 pounds. They cost around $1 or $2 a pound.

    Objects from home can be used as an inexpensive alternative. For example, soup cans or water bottles work fine.

  • Workout bench: A bench is a good investment if you are serious about toning up. Get one that 's adjustable so that you can use it in a flat or inclined position to work your muscles at varying angles. Check out the doohickey pin that holds the incline in place to make sure it’s secure and easy to adjust. Try out the bench for size before buying.

    Look in local classified section, or on eBay or Yahoo! Auctions. Plenty of people buy benches in that first flush of excitement and then discard them when they fall off their routine.

  • Barbell: Barbells themselves sell for about $1 or $2 a pound, and the weights are extra. To begin, one barbell is enough. You can invest in more as you progress.

    A broomstick works as an inexpensive alternative to the barbell. To increase the weight, attach gallon water jugs that have handles. The handles can easily slip over the broomstick. You can adjust the amount of weight by filling them with water or sand. Place them a third of the way down from each end of the broom to help keep them secure. If they're too close to the end, they may slip off.

  • Step bench: The step bench resembles a miniature workout bench only it is smaller and inches away from the ground. Models sell from $15 to $100.

    If you don’t have a step bench, a raised platform will do. Just be sure that it is sturdy and at a height that is comfortable for you. You can even use the first step on your staircase for some of the moves.

  • Exercise bands: These bands made out of latex rubber are perfect for toning up quickly. They are inexpensive (about $10), offer resistance, and travel easy. These stretching pieces come in different styles and are usually color-coded by the manufacturers to determine the resistance level.

Once you gather your equipment, use these hints to make a good home gym:

  • Find your workout corner: Every home exerciser needs a designated workout area, whether it’s the foot of your bed, the spare bedroom, or the guest house outside your mansion.

  • Define your needs: When setting up a home gym, make sure you define your needs. For reaching your goals with ten minute tone-ups, very little space or equipment is needed.

  • Purchase a multigym: This isn't necessary for exercising, but it can certainly enhance your workout. A multigym has several exercise stations built into one piece of equipment. They usually run upwards of $1,000 for a good one. Try out each station to make sure it’s comfortable.

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