Building a Home Gym and Workouts in Five Easy Steps
From just moving the coffee table for a video, to dedicating an entire room for fitness, home gyms run the gamut. Just ask ORA Orthopedics’ Sports Medicine Surgeon, Dr. Andrew Bries, who as a physician, recent hip replacement patient, and team doctor will attest that his home gym has evolved with his lifestyle.
“A home gym is an investment in our family health. My wife is a physical therapist and prioritizes exercise, and our kids have really started using the gym as they’ve gotten older. It’s a win-win.”
Dr. Bries’ home gym is impressive and one he has built over time, picking up exercise equipment over the years and gradually transforming it into a space that works for his family. “Fitness is definitely a priority for all of us, but I tell my patients, anyone can start small, cheap and grow over time.”
Step 1: Go to the Mat
“Dedicating a space is really your first step,” advises Dr. Bries. He says you don’t have to call in a contractor for a new wing, just make sure it’s a somewhat separate area, free from life’s distractions. He says it’s easy to overcommit with the best of intentions and buy an expensive treadmill, weight equipment, or a workout subscription service, only to quit and use the treadmill to hang laundry.
Step 2: Ground, Gravity and Dumbbells
“As we age, our bodies demand different attention: strength, flexibility and balance become just as important as power lifting. So, don’t worry about investing in a lot of fancy workout equipment. Start small with affordable options. You’ll be using your bodyweight and gravity, so the first thing you need is floor space and a good workout mat.”
Dr. Bries says in addition to a good floor mat, start with an inexpensive set of resistance bands and dumbbells. “You can add more as you go, but you’ll be surprised how demanding a workout can be just using your body weight and gravity.”
Step 3: Build a Basic, Doable, Consistent Routine
With space, equipment and a dedicated mindset to better health, Dr. Bries suggests setting reasonable goals that are not only doable, but consistent. “Don’t set the bar so high you quit when you get frustrated. The key is consistency.”
Dr. Bries says start with just 10 minutes, 6 days a week with one day off. Focus on building a consistent routine of progress. See next steps for exercise recommendations.
Step 4: Build a Better, Basic Workout
Functional Exercise Example – Squat
Squats, lunges, farmer carries, and deadlifts stress the back and legs. Keep your weight centered to protect your knees.
Core Stability Example – Plank
A strong core keeps the body upright. The simplest and most effective exercise is the plank. Either start in an upright push-up position or down on your elbows. Keep your eyes forward and your back flat and straight, not sagging.
Isolated Body Exercise Example – Bicep Curl
These focus on muscle group at a time and include biceps and triceps. Either use your body weight or resistance bands.
Step 5: The Frequency Formula
How often should one work out? Dr. Bries advises that the goal is to move intentionally 5-6 days a week. Studies have shown that to build fitness, people aged 19-65+ should exercise 150 minutes a week.
To prevent burnout, alternate days and don’t work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Allow 48 hours for recovery. In between strength workouts, do two days of cardio by walking or jumping rope for example. Treat yourself to a video of yoga or Pilates to stretch and build flexibility for recovery.
“Overall, start with a mindset to lead a healthy life. Working out at home is a great time and money saver, but home is also full of distractions, including the fridge,” says Dr. Bries.
“A dedicated space to move for a healthy life is a recipe for longevity and reduced chance of chronic disease. Home gyms don’t have to be expensive, and importantly, they are a therapeutic way to reduce stress, improve your peace of mind and quality of life.”