The “Essential Essentials” of the Basic Home Gym

When arguing the “ditch the commercial gym” angle, oftentimes the counterpoint of “a full home gym is really expensive and I don’t have the money up-front” comes up.

It’s a fair point. I totally get it.

I would implore you to rethink the definition of “essential”.

Invest slowly. You can make a ton of progress with a single piece of equipment, if you’re smart about it. It might take a few years to get a ton of gear.

If I may “phone-a-friend”, the world-famous Coach Dan John, “In fact, I think it is a mistake to equip your gym too well in the beginning. You want your gym to “grow” as you know you can commit to more and more work. Having a perfect home gym from the start will look pretty when you give tours, but you might never use anything. When it is coming out of your pocket, it helps to “know” that you are going to use a piece of equipment.”

Ok, here’s my list:

  1. A kettlebell (duh)
  2. A pullup bar (in a perfect world a pull-up bar with dip station, but for the sake of sticking to absolute essentials, a doorway pullup bar)
  3. Ab wheel
  4. Jump Rope

With the 4 aforementioned pieces of equipment you can create a nearly endless variety of programs designed to fit any goal.

The kettlebell will be the biggest investment and probably most difficult to find (at the time I’m writing this there is a literal shortage of kettlebells).
However, it is the anchor of your home gym. You need the flexibility of the kettlebell to add muscle mass, increase conditioning, and shed fat. The kettlebell alone can do just about anything.

Pull up bar – Though you can get a great back workout with a kettlebell, nothing beats the pullup/chinup in terms of raw back strength. Not only will the pull up bar allow you to throw on slabs of muscle, but hanging from a bar is essential to shoulder health. Start taking care of your joints now so to avoid issues later in life. You’ll be using your kettlebell build extremely strong shoulders with all the overhead pressing, so it’s smart to balance things out with some vertical pulling.

Ab wheel – . The ab wheel is the absolute king of full body tension and it can help your pull up power and counter the effects of lots of hinging. You can grab one for $10-15 off Amazon.

Jump rope. A jump rope is a fantastic tool for conditioning, coordination, and fat loss. When I’m in a cycle of training with a ton of kettlebell swings and deadlifts (which is often), it helps to have something unweighted to get your blood pumping.

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