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Setting Up A Home Gym On A Budget

Copyright Pete Kautz

The other day a friend of mine asked about setting up a workout area in his new home. He wanted to know about what kind of equipment to get while not taking up a lot of space or costing a fortune. As we spoke, I realized our conversation would make a great Training Tip so here's what I told him!

He already had an old heavy bag from his days in Tae Kwon Do and a boxer's speed bag he picked up at a yard sale, so I suggested he watch Mr. Keating's Panantukan video for inspiration on using the speed bag with trapping, elbows, knives, and sticks in addition to his hands.

Next, I said to look on Craigslist in your area and find the following:

* Pullup / dip tower

* Mats to cover a small area for pushups, situps, etc.

* Quality elliptical machine or other cardio machine (treadmill, stair climber, etc.)

* Foam roller and a lacrosse ball

If you spend some time searching Craigslist, you should be able to find all these items cheaply. People buy exercise equipment just like they buy vegetables - with all the best intentions - but then the vegetables rot in the fridge and the exercise machines get covered in dust and they want to get rid of them.

Often they sell machines quite cheaply, perhaps out of a subconscious sense of guilt. I got a $400 elliptical for $25 after the original owner used it literally 3 times and gave up. The receipt from Sears was still with the manual!

When it comes to cardio machines, the biggest thing to look for is durability. There is a lot of cheap junk out there. Look for one that has a large flywheel - all that energy / force you are generating has to go somewhere! Of course it's easy to search reviews online for any specific piece you see.

Be sure to test a used machine out and make sure there's no grinding or other signs of mechanical default before buying. These things are heavy and bulky to transport so if they look in any way sketchy it's better to move on and wait for another than to buy one and end up with something that's useless and hard to get rid of.

If you can't get an elliptical machine for some reason the simplest alternative is a mini trampoline, sometimes called a rebounder. These will let you get in low impact cardio just fine. And when it comes to doing Tabata sets and other sprints I like the rebounder over the machines anyhow.

With this set up, you'll be able to do both cardio and strength conditioning anytime you want, no need to go anywhere. This means you can complete a workout faster than the time it takes to drive to the gym. And today, with our busy schedules, that extra 30 to 60 minutes can make all the difference when it comes to getting your training in every week.

Of course you need to know how to set up a routine, how to do the various exercises like pullups and how to foam roll afterward, but this is where YouTube can be a great resource. There's a lot of crap videos on exercise to be sure, but if you take some time you'll be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and get the info you need.

(If there is interest, perhaps in a future article we can delve into specific calisthenics for the martial arts how we do them here.)

To help with the foam rolling, I'd suggest looking up Kelly Starrett. In addition to his YT channel, his book "Becoming a Supple Leopard" covers both exercise form and use of the foam roller and lacrosse ball. If you've never done this before you'll swear at it (it hurts at first!) but then you'll swear by it.

All my very best to you,

Pete Kautz

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