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How to Start a Home Gym

How to start a home gym

In this article, I will show you how to start your very own home gym!  By the time you are done reading this first paragraph, you WILL have a home gym.  All you need to start is You and a 1×1 square meter space.

Tada, home gym.  Ready to go. No more excuses.  

Home Gym Evolution

You might be picturing a replica of a commercial gym, but at home.  Unless you are very wealthy, a home gym doesn’t just appear out of nowhere.  Same principle as the money tree. It would be nice, but it just doesn’t exist.

You should think of starting a home gym as something organic that grows with you.  An organic being that forms to you and your abilities and keeps evolving with you.  Is that too deep?

Seriously though, I want you to really think about it.  If you know anyone with a home gym, they are all different and personalized.  You customize it to your style of training and as you build it you will mold the environment to your personal style and character.  

For me, my garage gym turned into my own personal Sanctuary.   That’s how Barbell Sanctuary was born and keeps evolving to this day.  To me it’s way more than a gym, it’s a Sanctuary (yea yea, corny, whatever). 

A home gym is for your mind and body.  It will evolve into your place of refuge, a place of comfort and safety.

So where and how do you start this beautiful process?  You start with you. Then depending on your budget, you jump into one of the stages and go from there.

Different Stages of a Home Gym

Stage 1 Home Gym

So all you need is yourself and a small space to be able to move in.  This is what we would call a Stage 1 Gym.  

Your first step is to start today.  Don’t wait until you have the “perfect” piece of equipment.  You don’t need it.

There are hundreds of body weight exercises you can do with no equipment.  Add in a simple chair or bench and you’ve just doubled your exercise possibilities.  

Here’s a link to a simple home workout that can keep you busy for a few months until you start picking up equipment.  

Barbell Sanctuary Home Workout

motivation for starting home gym

Stage 2 Home Gym

Now we move into some home gym basics.  You don’t have to spend too much money right away as there is lots you can do with smaller pieces of gear that you are going to use anyway. 

A stage 2 home gym is when you start picking up small pieces of equipment like dumbbells, kettle-bells, a skipping rope and maybe a foam roller and ab wheel.  Things like that.

These Items can all be had for a great price on Kijiji/Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace.  If you are patient enough and can wait. And you should be able to wait, since you have body weight workout options already.  

If you don’t want to wait and want to buy new I’d recommend starting with 1 or two kettle-bells or a couple of pairs of dumbbells.  

If you don’t have a dedicated area to keep big equipment, then this would be a good place to stay.  You’ll be able to store your kettle-bells/dumbbells under your bed or in a closet when not in use.  

At least at this stage you’d always have an option to workout at home.

Stage 3 Home Gym

Finally we move on to the final stage.  This is when you get yourself a grungy old bench and a bunch of mismatched standard weights and maybe a used cardio machine.  

Olympic weights are nice but hard to come by on the cheap.  I trained a good year with just the standard 1” weight plates.  100 lbs weighs 100 lbs.  

used gear for home gym

Most people would be fine just staying at this level.  And I even considered it. 1” standard plates are so cheap when you find them used!  I keep buying them when I see them for under 50 cents a pound, and then I resell them for 80 cents/lb.  More on this later.

So now you’ll really have a good set up.  Think adjustable dumbbell handles, bench, weights, pull up bar and lets say a treadmill.  

Gym’s looking good!  Now you’re all set. Where should you go from here? Nowhere really. You can just keep improving what you have.

And here’s how to do it without breaking the bank.

Home Gym Buy and Sell

What you have to do is keep looking for those online deals and pick them up when you can.  A Lot of people selling gym equipment haven’t used it in years and just want it out of the house.

Always try and get a deal. Then you bring it home.  Clean it up. If it’s better than what you have you keep it and sell your old piece of gear. Either for the same as what you paid or more, because you fixed it up. 

By fixing it up I mean cleaning, painting and repairing torn materials.  If weights are rusty, clean and spray paint. Treadmills can be cleaned, lubed and made to look new.  For benches, clean off rust and paint. Any torn vinyl can be patched up nice with Gorilla Tape. Simple little things.

Then you take better photos and resell for more.   It can be a slow process but it works. Patience is key.

And of course, if you can afford it, skip this step and jump right into a decked out Final Stage Home Gym

Final Stage Upgraded Home Gym

This is where you will get to upgrade your big ticket items.  Such as a squat rack, pulley system and Olympic weights.  Other things you could consider at this point would be specialty equipment such as a GHD or reverse hyper.  

upgraded home gym set up

But in the end, you always need to consider your space.  Make sure you only buy equipment you will use.

Crowding your home gym with stuff you won’t use will be counterproductive.  You should try and stay as minimal as possible.  

Home Gym Conclusion

So in the end I hope that you realize that you don’t “need” anything to start a home gym. I’ve enjoyed every step of the journey so far and hope that you can as well.

If you learn how to train like a minimaliste then nothing will ever get in the way of your training. You will always have an option.

Have you started your home gym yet? If you have any advice to add to new home gym builders, leave them in the comments bellow.

Happy gym building!

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Home Workout Routine

Coronavirus home workout routine

So you’re stuck at home.  Anxiety and stress are high.  You need to try and conserve your food supply to minimize trips to the outside world.
What better time than now to start working on your health and fitness with a home workout routine.

I know there’s a lot of people posting quick little fitness routines on Instagram and Facebook right now and those are all amazing. But I wanted to design a simple program that you could use multiple times a week to start building strength and losing weight progressively.  

Before we get into the workout routine, let’s talk about why this is important, now more than ever.  

Anxiety and Cortisol

As a human, your body releases cortisol when it is under any stress.  It’s important for your body to deal with stressful situations.  But as your brain triggers this hormone, your body is designed to use it to fight or flight.  

However, in our new modern world cortisol is released and our reaction is to sit there and be anxious/depressed.   When cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps. You need to simulate the fight or flight to expend it, aka exercise.  

Exercise can help reduce these levels of cortisol. And it will stimulate the production of endorphins, a chemical in the brain that acts as the body’s natural painkiller and mood elevator.  So not only will it help you relax and fight off depression, you’ll help mask any little pains you had before exercising.

The Home Workout Routine  

You should try and dedicate the same time every day that is your fitness time, non-negotiable.  You need to remove all excuses and just get it done. Make sure everyone knows that this is your time and that you are not available. (If you have kids allow for multiple fights, snack emergencies, and potty disturbances)

Having a routine will make it more sustainable and will train your mind to mentally prepare itself for this time every day.  This way you will maximize your adherence which is a top priority and determining factor in your chances of success. 

The Home Workout

For strength training, we will start with bodyweight only.  Nice and simple and anyone can do this at home with 0 equipment.  

gym home workout pictogram

Ok, you do need a chair.  If you don’t have 1 chair, then maybe you should focus on your financial situation first… 

Monday Wednesday Friday Strength

You’ll repeat the same routine 3 times a week.  These will be full-body workouts that will help your muscles adjust to working out and slowly build up and tone.  

It might seem repetitive but you could easily do this workout and keep gaining muscle for a year.   

Hitting your whole body 3 x a week will give you some good progressive growth for a long time.  You can easily keep this workout routine until you eventually get some equipment and start building a home gym.  

For the first two weeks, only do 2 rounds.  On the third-week add a third-round as your body will be able to accept more volume. 

Barbell Sanctuary Coronavirus Quarantine Home Workout

2 to 3 Rounds 

Jumping Jacks  20 to 50 Use these for your warm-up set.

Push-Ups: 5 to 10 Modified movement is push-ups from the knees.  If you can’t do 10, try to equalize the sets, like do 3 sets of 6.  Then the next time you try and do 7,6,6 then 7,7,6 then 7,7,7 and so on as you move up.  

Air Squats:  5-10  Try and bring your upper leg parallel to the ground.  If you can’t, go as low as you can. Modified movement is to sit in a chair, and get up again.

Chair Dips:  5-10 Modified movement is to bend the knees and bring your feet in to help with the weight.

Reverse Lunge:  8-12 Each leg, so a set is 16 to 24.  Try and touch your knee to the ground.  Modified is to go halfway. 

Plank Hold: 30 sec to 1 min  Modified movement is to put your knees on the ground and build up strength from there.  

Rest 1 min between each set.  Once you are done, do another round.

Video Demonstrations of home workout

 If you want to see how to do each exercises, I demonstrate all of them in the video bellow. It’s less than 10 minutes and I even give you the modified demos as well.

Keeping a Log Book

Since you will be doing this routine 3 times a week, it’s very important to keep a logbook.  If you track what you did last time, then you will know what to try and beat during your current workout.  

It’s You VS You

it's you vs you

It’s also nice to look back and see your progress over time.

Time For Cardio

On the days that you are not strength training, you should do some light cardio.  I recommend just walking.  

The reason for this is that walking is not very taxing on the body and it won’t spike your hunger.  Walking will actually help you recover by improving blood flow through your muscles.  

If you have a treadmill, you can do this while watching Youtube or Netflix and time just flies by.  Try and work up to an incline of at least 4 degrees to simulate walking outdoors.

If not, then a simple 30 to 40-minute walk outside will do the trick.  As long as you are not walking into crowds of people, then you should be fine to just walk outside alone.  

Also, it’s great for your heart and lungs.  So try and be active every day if you can. Keeping it light on non-strength training days.

Conclusion

I know this might feel like a lot but try to think of it as just 20 or 30 minutes out of your day.  If you can get into the routine of doing it, you will see progress. I promise you that.  

So give this a try.  If you like the program or have any questions, ask me in the comments.  

If you want to progress to a more detailed program I  also do 1 on 1 online coaching.  You can also email me at [email protected]

Once you start seeing the results the motivation will come!

Here are a few more reference videos to help.

Meal Prep Video

Calorie Counting Video

Setting Goals Video

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How to stay motivated for weight loss

Staying motivated for weight loss

Lets talk about staying motivated for weight loss. Ever try to start losing weight and only make it a couple days and completely give up because you had one slip up?

Or make it a few weeks and stop because it’s not going as fast as you thought? Or make it even longer but you get comfortable and get right back to where you were? 

In this article, you will learn exactly why you will inevitably end up feeling and thinking this way, so you have the power to fight against your own self-doubt.

The Rule of 3

For some reason, the 3rd day, 3rd week and 3rd month are all key milestones for any habit you are trying to instill or quit for that matter.  If you can make it past these markers you will be successful.

So mark these days down on your fitness calendar (if you don’t have one, get one).  It will be a visual reminder that you have to get past these points to stay motivated for weight loss. If you know that you will have doubts around these points in advance, they won’t hit you as hard.  

Knowing the why will also help you get past them.  So let’s get into it. 

Day 3 Motivational Roadblock

At the very beginning of your journey, the first 3 days will usually decide if you keep going or not.  Usually, if you can “force” yourself to make it past 3 days, you’ll get over the mental block of starting and keep it going.

Ever “start” a diet and immediately have a set back that day?  Then you decide that you’ll start Monday instead. Then Monday comes but it’s not a good day so you should probably start on the 1st of the month so it’s more “official”.  But then you have company coming for the weekend and you had to work overtime that week so you might as well wait till after the holidays anyway.  Then it’s close to new years….

Pretty sure we’ve all been there.  It’s not just you. It’s a repeating pattern that we humans tend to repeat.  Well enough is enough. Power through and keep going. Start today. Not tomorrow.  

motivation for weight loss

Today is a good day to start.  Not tomorrow. Tomorrow is never going to be better than today.  There will always be obstacles and Life will always get in the way.  

You want to be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.  So get to it.

Once you make it past that first hump, you will start feeling better about yourself.  You’ll start seeing and feeling small changes and that will give you some motivation.

You don’t wait for motivation, you create it.

This brings us to the next point.  Many people will wait till they are motivated or use a lack of motivation as an excuse.  Here’s your wake up call. Motivation doesn’t appear out of thin air, you have to create it.  

How do you create motivation?  It’s actually quite simple. Action = Results = Motivation.  See, easy peasy.  

You need to grind through that first little bit until you start getting results. 

The results will give you a boost of motivation and that will make you create more action that will get you more results which will give you another boost of motivation and more action and …. I could go on for awhile here.  You see how this works? Good, let’s move on.

Third Week Wall of the Grind

So you’ve been on a diet and exercising for about 3 weeks now.  The excitement is settling down. Your quick results are starting to taper away and stall.  You’re starting to wonder if this is all worth it? Nothing is changing? It’s not worth it.  I just can’t get results….

Sound familiar?  Yea, happens to everyone.  This self-doubt is normal. Now give your head a shake and get over it.  

It might not be exactly at the third week mark, but these thoughts are going to happen, and you need to be ready for them.

This is when the “honeymoon” phase of working out starts to dwindle down.  So you know it’s coming, how do you prepare for it?

You need to know that this is why 90% of people quit or fail.  They just stop at this point. If you know this, then all you need to do is grind past this point.  Just keep going. The results will happen, guaranteed. 

Think of all the reasons you started this journey and where you envisioned yourself in a year.  You’re not going to get there if you stop. Consistency is key. Just keep going and you will get there. 

Too many people stop right before they really start seeing results.  If you push past this point this is where people around you will start noticing changes.  Keep grinding away. It will be worth it, I promise.

Third Month Mountain of Overconfidence

You’re three months in, results are amazing.  You feel great. People are complimenting you!  You’ve worked so hard to get at this point. “Oh, I deserve a break” ……… DANGER.

Yes, you probably deserve a break.  But it should be controlled. Many get to this point and “take a break” and end up losing all their progress.  Gaining weight is a hell of a lot easier than losing it, we all know that.

So when you get 12 weeks in and you want to take a “diet” break.  Do it, but go to maintenance calories for a few weeks. It’ll be good for your metabolism and sanity without gaining all your weight back.

Personally I don’t like completely stopping my workouts.  A good idea would be to do a deload week or two. Basically cut your reps and sets and use lighter weights.  

Your muscles will still get some stimulus but your joints and ligaments will thank you.

Why throw away 12 weeks of progress for a couple of weeks off?  It doesn’t seem fair that your body can regain all that you’ve lost in only 2 weeks…  But that’s reality. It creeps on you fast and hard. Be careful. You worked hard for it, hold on to it.  

Staying Motivated for Weight loss Conclusion

The reason I know all this?  I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was in high school.  I’ve visited all 3 of these steps countless times over the last 25 years. Staying motivated for weight loss has been an unbreakable code for years.  

I was finally able to crack the code 2 years ago and see where I had gone wrong all these years.  

I just want to pass on this information so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

So bookmark this article.  And everytime you feel like giving up or taking a “break”, come back and read it.  Then give your head a shake and keep grinding away.

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How to Lose Fat at Home

So you’re here because you want to lose some excess body fat?

Well, you need to know something right from the get go. Fat loss is very very SIMPLE….  but it is also very very HARD.  Achieving real fat loss that is.  Not the gimmicky “cleanses” that promise 10 lbs in a week.  

Realistically you can look at .5 to 1% of bodyweight per week fat loss.  If you want to do it the real, effective and sustainable way.  This is what you will learn in this article.  So if this is the type of results you were looking for, stick around till the end, I promise that it will be worth the read.    

You just want a quick fix with zero effort? Here, I’ll save you some time.   Go boil some lemon juice in water and drink it. I hear it will give you a slim waist in seven days.  Saw it on Facebook, seemed legit. 

Now onto the stuff that actually works. 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need expensive gym memberships or fancy equipment to start your fitness journey.  If you can read and move, then you have all that you need to start.    

Gym pyramid showing how to start losing fat at home

Nutrition First for Fat Loss at Home

First things first, you will need to get your nutrition in order.  Even though it helps, you don’t need to exercise to lose fat. The only thing needed is a calorie deficit.  Say it again; all you need is a calorie deficit.  That’s where the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” comes from.  90% of fat loss will come from what you eat, or more specifically, what you don’t eat.  It is way easier to just not eat 500 calories than it is to burn 500 calories. Repeat after me;  You Cannot Out-Train A Bad Diet. No mater how hard you try.

My favorite method to accomplish this is Flexible dieting. Because if you restrict yourself too much, well it becomes soul-sucking and adherence will be a problem.  Basically all you do is figure out how many calories you need to be in a caloric deficit, then you eat whatever you want, as long as you stay within your calories.  You will quickly learn what is worth indulging for and what is not.      

Nutritious meal for losing fat at home

Calorie Tracking for Fat Loss

First step is to download My fitness pal onto your phone.  There are other calorie trackers, but this is the most popular one.  Next, take your body weight and multiply it by 12. This will give you a rough calorie deficit.  If you are over 200 lbs, then I would just use a goal weight of 200 to start. Once you get to 200 you can recalculate every 10 lbs you lose.

This will make it a slow and steady weight loss that is sustainable.  90% of the time, this formula works. If you are not losing weight at bodyweight times 12, then subtract 200 calories a week until you are losing.  Consistency is key here.  As long as you keep under your calorie target, you will start losing weight.  Make sure you track everything and accurately. 

You don’t need to be perfect at the beginning either.  The fact that you start tracking everything you eat will make you more conscious of what you put in your body and changes will start happening. This is a learning tool that will pay dividends down the road. That’s it. Nice and simple. No gimmicks. Just gotta do it.

Cardio for Fat Loss

Once your nutrition is in check, you can simply add walking.  Either outside or on a treadmill if you have one. Start with 20 min walks 3 times a week for the first month and then progress to 25, then 30 and 40 minutes up to an hour. If you have a treadmill you can start adding some incline as well. 

treadmill for fat loss at home

I enjoy walking on my treadmill and watching Netflix or YouTube. Makes the time go by and you barely even notice you are doing cardio.

An hour of incline walking with moderate effort (slightly out of breath but can still hold a conversation) should burn about 500 calories.  It takes 3500 calories to burn a pound of fat. So if you do this 12 times a month, you’ll theoretically burn an extra 1.71 lbs of fat. It might not seem like much, but in a year that’s an extra 20 lbs of fat burn while watching Netflix. Can you say Netflix and Burn?  

Strength Training 

What working out will do for you is build definition under that layer of fat. So you actually look good once you start burning it off.  And you’ll burn extra calories working out as well. My point was just that the main component will be your nutrition. So no fancy equipment needed to get started.  Zero excuses to not start immediately. Start with body weight exercises until you can start picking up some equipment for your home gym.   

Used weights for home gym

Here is an at-home routine I use with most of my clients when they are just starting out with no equipment.

Barbell Sanctuary Strength Routine

Repeat 3 times a week for maximum fat loss at home.

1 min rest in between sets.

On the knees push-ups, hands positioned shoulder-width.  3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.  Once you can do 3 sets of 10, progress to normal push-ups.

Air squats, 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Go as low as you can.  Try and get your quads parallel to the ground. 

Chair dips. 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.  If too hard you can bend the knees.

Reverse lunge.  3 sets of 8 to 12 each leg.

Plank.  3 sets of up to a minute.  If too hard you can start on your knees.

Conclusion

Fat loss is SIMPLE.   But it is also very HARD.  If someone tells you it is easy, they are lying to you and probably trying to sell you something.

Some days will be easier than others but you have to continuously put in the work, day after day.  And that is why most people fail. They are not willing to put in the work.

Pictogram of you vs you

But not you! You got this! Now you know how to lose fat at home. No excuses.

This is a great way to start, and if you stick to your calories and do the workouts, you will see results, I promise.  

Consistency is key.  You gotta fight for it. Fight for it everyday and don’t stop.