Normally this blog is all about picking the right equipment for your home gym. Buy this, find this, choose between these, but always get something.
There are exceptions. The perfect example popped up in this thread on the Bodybuilding.com forum.
Instead of replying there and having my comments fall on deaf ears, I’m replying here as a blog post, and maybe I’ll reach a few folks who are in this kind of situation. This is very common, and I want to address his situation as the newbie archetype and not just him personally.
The question, and his follow-up comments, can be summarized as:
I’m 90 lbs overweight, no muscle, no experience working out. I have a 20’x10′ room for a gym. I want a bunch of weight equipment to tone up with and lose weight. I don’t want to go to a gym or hire a personal trainer. Never touched a weight before. I want to look like Christian Bale. I’ll pay anything. 10 grand, anything.(paraphrasing)
My first thought: Hey, nice big space. You can fully deck out a gym that size. A power rack, a rower, kettlebells, a functional trainer, and room to spare. Whatever you want.
Second thought… Did you do pushups today? Bodyweight squats? Did you go for a walk? Do yoga? Anything? How about yesterday? Also no thoughts on the bad diet that got you here?
No? What makes you think any amount of equipment will get you to do what you could have started on already? You’ll need to do some kind of bodyweight exercises anyway, for warm-ups and long-term conditioning and mobility, to get your body ready to better handle lifting weights or whatever kind of exercise you’re going to be focusing on.
No amount of equipment is going to change your life. You’ll start to use it, and then the novelty will wear off in 2 weeks. Just like the diets you didn’t stick with.
To his credit, he’s trying to do something about his problem. By focusing only on buying equipment and waving off all other suggestions, he’s approaching this from the same mindset that made him so overweight and out of shape in the first place. The mentality is: I’m going to gather a bunch of stuff to satiate myself and feel better.
He’s also willing to spend $10,000 on the equipment to prove how dedicated he is, but he isn’t willing to do some bodyweight exercises, go to a gym, or hire a personal trainer, because those things involve actually working out.
This kind of change requires a shift in your thinking. It’s not comfortable. Inertia makes you want to not move. Your body will protest. Only once you start getting used to it do you see how insane you were before when you hated moving. It’s all mental. Without a drill sergeant waking you up every morning and busting your ass, the foundation of working out and sticking with it is always mental. The inspiring magic of the gym equipment you’ve gathered wears off quickly.
It takes some time to figure out what kind of training routine is for you. Maybe after some time experimenting, you find that you would rather have different equipment than what you envisioned from a standpoint of never having done anything before.
At least he’s asking. He’s got an inkling that the equipment he was looking at filling up his room with is not going to be the appropriate way of going about his goals. He isn’t listening to the advice of the multiple posters there telling him he’s heading off track with his focus on buying all that equipment when he has zero experience using anything like that. They directed him to hold off on focus more on eating better. That’s good advice. Keep in mind that these forum members are in the Equipment sub-forum. For experienced lifters who are obsessed with buying and sharing new gym equipment to tell this particular kind of ultimate newbie to focus on other things first should be taken seriously. It would be so easy to tell him what equipment to buy, but they aren’t doing that, because they recognize that he needs to ease into it and learn a few things first.
A beginner should start with basic bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges and pushups. None of these require any equipment. After a little time doing that, getting the form down, and increasing the reps, it’s time to start adding resistance.
There are hundreds of videos on bodyweight exercises, stretching, and calisthenics on youtube. Here’s just one: