Getting into shape hurts. It’s hard work. You sweat. Your muscles ache. There’s no way to avoid the pain. That’s not what they say on the commercials, of course. An entire industry of scam artists is on the air every day offering magic solutions for losing weight and building muscle with no pain.
Shake these weights, eat these herbs, climb into this expensive contraption… and you’ll grow muscle without hurting. Forget the scammers. Getting in shape is hard work, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are four basic accessories that will allow you to transform your home into a practical mini-gym.
1. A Door-Frame Pull-up Bar
You can install a pull-up bar in about 10 seconds – and take it down in the same time, whenever you need to. It’s a super-inexpensive way to transform any doorway into a removable exercise zone.
Use your bar for pull-ups, German hangs, tick-tocks, front and back levers, and more. If you install it in a high-traffic doorway you’ll be encouraged to do a bit of exercise as you pass from room to room. These bars are inexpensive and surprisingly sturdy. The best ones offer a variety of grips so you can do a wider range of exercises.
You can use gymnastic rings with a pull-up bar or any vertical bar you happen to find at the gym, on the playground, or at the athletic field.
Gymnastic rings allow you to master the exercises you start on the bar. They offer an added challenge, as they require you to stabilize the rings with your own strength. This helps you build stabilizing muscle groups that give you more control.
Rings also allow you to do advanced exercises like the iron cross and the muscle-up. And if you pick up a cheap set of straps, your investment in rings will be multiplied. Rings are effective, inexpensive, and fun.
Free-weights are an essential part of many workout programs. Yes, you could improvise – people do entire workouts with buckets of water or bags of rocks.
But the ergonomics of real weights can make exercising more effective and more pleasurable. Free-weights are relatively inexpensive, and they’ll cut the risk of workout injuries.
Bar-bells have been popular forever. Or consider kettle-bells for making your workouts a few percentage points more effective.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on weights, but aim for something that’s not going to break if you drop it. Your weights are a lifetime investment.
4. A Piece of Rope
Bust your budget on designer free-weights? No problem. The last item you need to transform you home to a mini-gym is a piece of rope. Seriously. Buy yourself 10 feet of strong, soft, 1.5-inch-thick nylon rope and learn some reliable knots.
Rope costs next to nothing and it can add variety and power to your workout.
Hanging from a vertical rope is entirely different from hanging from a bar or ring, and it will stress new muscle groups in your forearms and shoulders. Rope can also stand in for a vertical bar in many exercises. And if it’s anchored to something solid, you can swing on it and yodel – and feel, for a moment, like Tarzan.
It’s hard to put a price on that kind of happiness.