Home Gyms and Muscle Building
I have said this before on this site and I will say it again. The marketers want to make you believe home gyms are an answer to all of your fitness-related problems. Be it fat loss or packing some new muscle, the home gym will help you with that! So the manufacturers like to say, but is this really true? They are not outright lying – rather, the marketing men are leaving some important things out from their message. In this article, I will concentrate on the claim that home gyms can build muscle.
While it is certainly true that putting some new muscle on your body can happen with a home fitness machine, it is not always the case. There are a few potential problems that arise sooner or later with home gyms. The problems are limited weight and selection of exercises. Those both can be dealbreakers if you’re looking for muscle gains at your home.
Now, home gyms come in all shapes and sizes, but what is common for all of them? You can’t load the home machines like you could load free weights and professional machines in a real gym. This is not a problem at all when you are starting out. But once you progress to a certain level, the problem of not enough resistance comes into play. You see, to build more and more muscle you need to give it resistance. And what happens when you don’t give enough challenge for your muscles? They stop growing. Uh oh.
Limited selection of exercises
It is true that many home gyms are real All-in-One machines. They allow you to perform a lot of exercises. But perhaps still, some exercise options are missing? You should hardly ever skip pull ups, yet many home gyms don’t actually have a pull-up bar. Another thing they often lack is the support for leg presses. You probably don’t want to neglect your lower body either. These are few examples that are common, but there are many more moves you can’t do with home gym when you start digging.
What is the common thing for these two problems? Well, they can both be fixed with a commercial gym, of course. What else? They are only applicable for more advanced trainers. If you are a newcomer to resistance training you really don’t have to care about weight limits. Also, what exercises you do is not that strict because you are probably under-muscled and need only a few lifts to get that initial muscle going on. The takeaway here is, home gyms have problems, but for beginners they are not very relevant.
Maximizing muscle gains at home
So, how can you then make sure that your home fitness station gives you the best muscle mass, even though the aforementioned problems exist? To be honest, it’s the same things that apply to working out at any venue you want to build muscle in – be it your home, a commercial gym or your local park.
This is something that Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about. You need to activate the muscle in your mind. Mentally. Then, when working out, you need to squeeze that muscle. For example, when pulling yourself up on the pull-up bar, squeeze your lats (the upper back). When you are using the muscle it will grow. Rather simple when you think about it, right?
Exercises done correctly
This is largely connected to the previous point. You want to think and squeeze the muscle, but it doesn’t stop there. You also want to do the workouts correctly. This includes full range of motion, no cheating and moving the weight not too fast. Now, all of this sounds like common knowledge again. In fact, when you are starting out, all will be well – you will move the weight up and down nice and slowly. However, when you progress and add weight, you can become hungry and add weight at the expense of your form. Just don’t do that, ditch your ego!
In the light of what I said earlier about home gym problems, using too much weight so exercises are done incorrectly is not so big threat for home gyms. Remember, I said that with home gyms you can’t use much weight anyway, right? So the chances are you find the worst violations of form not in your home, but in the commercial gym. There, the race to lift the biggest weight (and disregarding correct technique) runs rampant!
Right kind of diet
It doesn’t help much to work out at home if you don’t eat well. For starters, you need enough protein. I recommend 1.5-2 grams of protein per bodyweight (lbs). In addition, you probably need to eat more fats than you are currently eating. That is, the good kind of fats, like extra virgin olive oil, cheeses and nuts. The rest of your diet can be filled with carbohydrates. The best, of course, are things like vegetables and oatmeals. It’s not a crime to eat potatoes, white bread or rice, just know that they also contain a lot of calories. Yes, you need more calories than you consume when building muscle, but if you eat too much, they will just turn to fat!
The gist of this is, your body uses protein to build muscles. Fat and carbohydrates it uses to perform its daily functions, so don’t neglect them either. Low carbohydrate diets make you angry and tired. I tried it once and will never go back there again.
Wrapping it up
Now you know better how home gym can help you in your muscle building efforts. The essential thing is, if you are only a beginner, home gym is all you need. It offers enough resistance for you and you don’t really have to hit a commercial gym. Just concentrate on actually using the muscles and having good-to-perfect form.
But the situation changes the further you get in your fitness journey. When you feel you have outgrown your home gym, do not be afraid to change to a real gym. Your progression can be continued there. Anyway, for starters, I can definitely recommend home workout equipment to get you on the right track!