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					         Exercise Equipment Expert's Home
                Gym Selection Guide
If you've been trying to find the right home gym and have been scratching your
head trying to tell the difference between single stack gyms, leverage equipment,
multi-user gyms and glide boards - don't worry - I'm going to make your life a lot
easier in just a few minutes.
The Exercise Equipment Expert's guide to finding the best home gym was put
together by a Nationally Certified Personal Trainer to help answer all your
questions about home gyms banging around inside your head, and even some
that you haven't thought of yet.
We'll start off covering the basics of home gym design, and then jump into some
more advanced topics.
Then when you're up to speed, I'll show you which gyms are the right fit for
anyone from beginners to body builders.
Are you ready to get your home gym degree in 15 minutes flat? Good! Let's get
started by covering the basics first…

Establish Your Needs and Goals
To help you understand what type of gym is right for your needs, you have to
establish some basic parameters about what you're goals and needs are, or
you'll start to get overwhelmed looking through piles of specifications and
features - not knowing what they mean or if they're relevant to you.
This first step is the most important. If you take only one lesson from my
guide, let this be the one you remember. If you just skim over it quickly without
putting some thought into it you'll pay for it in the long run by wasting your money
on the wrong equipment and end up discouraged.
*** Take out a piece of paper and clearly define the following items
    •   Goals: Are you trying to lose weight? Gain muscle? Tone Up? Enter a
        body building show? Look good at the beach or pool?

    •   Number of Users: How many people will be using the gym? Do you want
        to workout with another family member or friend at the same time? How
        many people will use the gym on a daily basis?

    •   Space Requirements: How much space do you have for a home gym?
        Can you make more space? Are you planning on the future if the gym
        grows in size or scope or you add an attachment like a leg press?

    •   Special Needs: Do you have a physical limitation or injury? Are you
        training for a sport? Do you live in a home where noise is a concern?

    •   Budget: What is your budget? Is your budget realistic and in line with
        your goals? How soon will the gym pay for itself as opposed to health
        club membership?

Types of Home Gyms
The blessing, and the curse of the home gym shopper is the overwhelming
variety of home gym models on the market. If there were only two kinds of gyms
your choice would be easy.
Unfortunately that's not the case, there's a constant supply of new equipment on
the market every year that claims to be bigger, better and badder. So what's the
average person to do?
The first step is to get yourself educated about what you’re investing in so you
can focus on a gym that will deliver the results you want. And if haven't done so
already, go back and establish your needs and goals (above) before moving on.
Here are the basic types of home gyms you have to choose from, along with a
picture and short description of each so you can put a name with a face (so to

                           Single Stack Home Gym
A single stack home gym like the Bodycraft Xpress Pro is a compact single
station home gym. The "stack" part of the name comes from the built-in 200
lb. Weight stack that's adjustable in 10 lb. Increments.

Who It's Good For: One or two person household, beginners to advanced.
Also found in many corporate gyms and hotels because of it's versatility
and small size.

Category: General strength training, sports training (depending on model).

                           Glide Board Gym

The glide board gym was made famous by Total Gym on their late night
infomercials. The gym pictured here is the Total Trainer Power Pro with
attachments. Resistance is supplied from gravity and 5-70% of the users
own bodyweight as the glide board is raised or lowered on the rear tower

Some models can use standard weight plates on a built-in weight bar for
additional resistance of about 100 pounds.

Who It's Good For: Single user only, beginners to advanced. Also found in
some clinical settings because of its' rehabilitation applications.

Category: General conditioning, light to moderate strength training,
                             Leverage Gym

Leverage gyms like this Body Solid Leverage System are a newer form of
strength and power training machine. All leverage machines are plate
loaded and use Olympic style plates (2" hole diameter).

Leverage gyms have high weight ratings for power training and body
building applications or any form of home muscle building application.

Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users for power training, body
building or serious muscle building. Safe for single user home use because
of the self spotting design.

Category: Muscle building, power training, body building.

                           Resistance Bands

Resistance bands like the Bodylastics shown here are a compact portable
home gym with adjustable resistance supplied by surgical grade tubing.
Useful for full range of motion exercises by themselves or adjunct training
along with a traditional home gym.

Who It's Good For: Single user only. Good for home use, travelers, road
warriors and trainers with extremely limited space and budget. Additional
uses include post injury training and rehabilitation due to the smooth

Category: Light strength training, sports training, stretching.
                             Smith Machine

Traditionally used for hardcore muscle building, the Smith Machine has
found its' way into thousands of homes for general strength training and
muscle building. It can be outfitted with attachments like a lat tower, cable
crossover and low pulleys for almost unlimited applications including core
and sports training.

Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users from beginner to advanced for
muscle building, body building, sports training and power development.

Category: Strength training, body building, power training.

                           Multi-Station Gym

When most people think of a home gym this is what they think of. Multiple,
dedicated workout stations for circuit training, muscle building and general

Multi-gyms offer almost unlimited exercise variety with club style features
and great ergonomics for single or multiple users at the same time.
Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users from beginner to advanced for
muscle building, body building, sports training and core training.

Category: Strength training, muscle building, general fitness, sports

                     Individual Workout Station

When you're ready to step up to a full home gym experience, home gym
stations are the way to go. Each separate station (like the lat machine
pictured above) has a dedicated purpose and function for working one
muscle group only.

Combine multiple stations like a leg press, bench press, lat machine,
weight bench, seated row and a dumbbell set for a home gym that rivals
any health club.

Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users from beginner to advanced.
People looking for the health club experience at home.

Category: Strength training, muscle building, general fitness, sports
training, power lifting, stretching (all categories).
          Cable Crossover Machine (Functional Trainer)

With the advent of core and functional training, the compact cable
crossover machine like the Bodycraft Functional Trainer pictured here have
become much more prevalent in home gyms across the country.

Cable crossover machines come outfitted with a plate loaded or
selectorized stack weight carriage and multi-position pulley points for tons
of exercise variety with accessories like a stability ball or exercise ball.

Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users from beginner to advanced.
Ideal for high and low pulley workouts, core training and functional training
with an exercise or stability ball.

Category: Strength training, muscle building, general fitness, sports
training, power lifting, stretching (all categories).

                       Squat Rack / Power Rack
   As muscle building and home strength training have become more
   accepted in recent years, squat racks and power cages have emerged from
   the muscle head dungeons of years gone by, and into traditional family
   home gyms.

   Built around a solid steel frame with adjustable racking points and safety
   catches, a squat rack like the Body Solid pictured above are a safe and
   effective home gym for strength trainers, body builders and power athletes

   You can turn a squat rack or power cage into a complete home gym by
   outfitting yours with a lat attachment, cable crossover, low pulley, arm slings
   and an adjustable weight bench.

   Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users with some free weight training
   experience will get the most benefit.

   Category: Strength training, muscle building, general fitness, sports
   training, power lifting, stretching (all categories).

                    Body Weight Training (TRX System)

Body weight training on the TRX Suspension Trainer pictured above has gained
a whole new loyal following of fitness enthusiasts that are bored with cheap
home gyms and prefer a functional training system they can use at home, on the
road and even pack along for vacations.

One of the best overall tools for golf strength and conditioning I've ever come
across when used in conjunction with the Titleist DVD. (click here for a chance to
win TRX Gym).

Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users. Good for home use, travelers,
road warriors and trainers with extremely limited space and budget. Great for
functional training and core strength development.
Category: Golf strength training, light muscle building, general fitness, sports
training, stretching (all categories).

                                 Weight Bench

   You wouldn't think of an adjustable weight bench as a home gym, but I
   would disagree. A good weight bench is a great way to start your home gym
   if you're on a budget or short on space.

   Use an adjustable bench with flat/incline/decline capabilities and a pair of
   dumbbells to perform base strength training exercises like bench presses,
   shoulder presses, bicep curls, tricep extensions and preacher curls or leg
   extensions with optional attachments.

   When you're ready to expand your home gym, you can still use your bench
   with a squat rack, smith machine or as an additional training option to a
   single station of multi-user gym.

   Who It's Good For: Single or multiple users. Great for beginners for home
   strength training. Versatile for advanced trainers with more equipment.

   Category: Strength training, muscle building, general fitness, sports
   training, power lifting, stretching (all categories).

To find out which type of gym is the right fit for you, keep reading and learn about
the pros and cons of resistance types, ergonomics, number of exercises and of
course the price.

Gym Resistance Type and Operation
All home gyms operate with a specific form of resistance against your muscles.
The (3) primary types of resistance are:
   •   Weight Plates: including adjustable weight stacks, standard weight
       plates, Olympic weight plates
   •   Resistance Bands
   •   Body Weight Resistance

The type, and amount, of resistance you need will vary according to your goals
and budget. Here's a breakdown of each type of resistance and where you'll find
them on different home gym types.
Weight Plate Gyms
Plate Loaded Gyms such as single or multi-station machines, smith machines
and squat racks are often thought of for only serious power lifting and body
building. The truth of the matter is, plate loaded machines are good for both men
and women of all abilities whose primary goal is to add strength and muscle. The
advantage of plate loaded machines is you can add or subtract weight easily, and
the resistance amount isn't fixed at 200 pounds.
Plate loaded gyms have a lower price than a similar fixed stack gym because you
don't have to pay for the weight stack itself (you supply your own plates), or the
additional shipping costs because of a higher shipping weight.
Fixed Stack Gyms (a.k.a. selectorized home gyms) are a good option for users
who prefer a smaller gym that's similar in function to the health club machines.
Most fixed stack machines come with a built-in metal weight stack between 150
and 200 pounds and are adjustable in 10 pound increments.
Although fixed stack gyms are more expensive than plate loaded gyms initially
(you're paying for the weight stack and shipping costs) they're easier to adjust
and you don't have to buy additional weights or a weight tree to store your
weights (plate storage takes up floor space).
Leverage Plate Loaded Gyms like the Body Solid Leverage Gym are a newer
option and are similar to traditional plate loaded machines, but are much safer.
The big appeal of these machines is for heavy weight training where a spotter is
not needed because of the fixed plane of movement.
Resistance Bands
Resistance bands (tubing) like the Bodylastics gym are a good option for people
with limited space, people who travel, or an add on to a traditional home gym.
They have the advantage of a free range of motion, compact size and
rehabilitation applications.
The amount of resistance is adjustable from just a few pounds to over a hundred
pounds depending on how many bands you use for each exercise. And unlike
free weights and some machines, resistance bands don't allow you cheat at the
top of an exercise because gravity is no longer working against you.
Body Weight Resistance
Body weight resistance gyms are the least common variety of strength training
machine. Gyms like the Total Trainer and TRX System are good for general
strength and conditioning, but not a good option for building tons of muscle.
With body weight resistance you get the benefit of more control and a good
stretch with each movement. The amount of resistance for each exercise is
determined by adjusting the angle of resistance (larger angle on a glide board =
more resistance).
The actual amount of resistance on a glide board gym is typically 4-70% of your
body weight, plus on some gyms you can add standard weight plates for another
100 pounds of resistance bringing the total weight used for each exercise enough
for all but the strongest users.

Home Gym Ergonomics
The ergonomics of a home gym are often overlooked, as most people focus in on
cost, number of exercises and size without giving a second thought to whether
they'll be comfortable using their gym on a daily basis.
Cheaper home gyms are typically lacking in adjustment points and padding,
that's how they keep some of the costs down. It cost more to make a gym with a
height and depth adjustable seat, multi height leg extension and thick padding
with heavy duty vinyl.
Even if you find a cheaper non-adjustable gym that fits you perfect, if you have
another user who plans to use it like a spouse, young adult, parent or a friend,
the chances of them being able to use the gym are slim to none.
You may not think it's a big deal if you're just a little bit out of alignment or
uncomfortable when exercising, but you'll sing a different tune if you wind up
hurting yourself. All it takes is one repetition on a poorly designed machine to
wash away all your hard work because you're out of commission for 6 months
with a torn rotator cuff.
If you're thinking about buying a single station gym (a gym with one workout
position) that claims you can do 100 exercises on it, you'll be sorely disappointed
in the performance and execution of about 75% of the exercises on it.
There's an old saying, "You can't be all things to all people." That statement
couldn't be more true with regards to home gym ergonomics and design.
If a gym tries to be all things to all people, there will be sacrifices made on the
execution for some (or all) exercises. That's just the way it is.
Make sure the gym you're thinking about getting lets you perform the base lifts
(chest press, lat pull, bicep curls, leg extensions or squats, leg curls and tricep
extensions) with no compromise in form.
If it can't cut the mustard on the base lifts, cross the gym off your list and move
on to something better.
Number of Exercises
Generally speaking, the more you spend on a home gym, the more quality
exercise options you'll have - and machines are more limited in delivering
exercise options than free weights are by nature of their design.
For example a smith machine with a gun rack and full weight stack has almost
unlimited exercise variety, where a smaller fixed stack machine like the Bodycraft
Xpress Pro or Bodysolid exm3000s will have about 20 exercises that can be
performed effectively because they're made well with multiple adjustment points.
No matter what some gyms claim as the number of exercises you can perform on
them, nothing replaces free weights and dumbbells for the ultimate in variety and
We'd like to stress this point again, look for a gym where you can comfortably
perform the base lifts (chest press, lat pull, bicep curls, leg extensions or squats,
leg curls and tricep extensions) with no compromise in form.

The number one mistake people make when shopping for a home gym is to shop
purely by price, and neglect the items we covered in the "Establishing You Goals
and Needs" section at the beginning of this guide (you did answer those
questions already, right?)
Getting the right home gym for your needs isn't rocket science, and it doesn't
have to cost a fortune, but you do need to take a number of factors into account
before you even look at a price tag.
For example, if your budget is under $100 bucks and you buy the Bodylastics
Resistance Bands (which is a great gym by the way), and your goal is to be a
body builder you're wasting your money.
You're also being totally unrealistic about what you're expecting from your
equipment for the price. If $100 bucks is all you have for a home gym and you
want to get a body building gym with Olympic free weights, a bench and a power
rack or smith machine you're kidding yourself.
Instead of wasting your money on equipment that isn't in line with your needs,
you're better off saving it until you can afford the proper equipment to reach your
I know I’ve drawn a rather extreme example above, but I did it to make a point.
DO NOT shop for a home gym based strictly on price alone or chances are you'll
make a costly mistake.
It's always less expensive to do things right the first time and not have any
regrets later because you tried to save a few bucks without doing your homework
Congratulations! You made it through the Home Gym Selection Guide - you're
now more informed about home gyms than 99.5% of the entire population!

If you're ready to get your own home gym now, come visit me on the web at
ExerciseEquipmentExpert.com and checkout my best home gyms page where I
give recommendations for every need and budget.

If you have questions, comments or concerns that were not addressed in this
guide, please contact me on my blog for further assistance.

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