Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Hipster's Guide to Building a Home Gym

I've mentioned a couple times now my home gym (I think I called it ghetto gym before, but I'm realizing now hipster might be more accurate) and promised I would feature it in an upcoming post. Well, you are all in luck; this is that post.

I need to make very clear that this is not a pretty gym. There is no pink. There is no comfy, ergonomically correct machines guiding your limbs across perfect planes of motion. Nothing is new in my gym. Its all bought used, or built from scratch. 

If you like shiny, stop reading now, this is not the gym you are looking for. 
Yes, that is some sort of pipe elbow. 
When I first decided I wanted to work out at home, I knew I wanted a hardcore gym. My inspiration was my brothers gym. Well, his first gym, he's since upgraded to something much shinier. I remember seeing he had chains hanging from the rafters in his basement and was so impressed with the toughness of it all. Who needs fancy equipment? This is more authentic. 

So I set to work over a couple of weeks to gather the most authentic gym equipment I could find. Also, incidentally, the cheapest...I didn't want to spend the ten grand it could easily cost to put a new one in.

The Hipster's Guide to Building a Home Gym

1. Know someone handy enough to build you a power rack. 
My power rack was going to be the biggest piece of equipment in my gym. I did some research and sent my father the specs I was looking for. He came over one weekend and we had it set up in an hour or two. The bars on the side I use for pull-ups and chin-ups, so it does double duty. Love love love my power rack. 

Another blog post to cover the building of the power rack.

 2. Scour the classifieds for used gym equipment. Bonus points for finding bright red vinyl with cigarette burns. Your husband must freak out a little bit at this, but you tell him although this weight bench might be old, its tougher than any old WalMart weight bench. This is the granddaddy of weight benches.

3. Cracked weights with cement dust dripping out of it is also an important part of any gym collection.

4. A homemade ply box made of pallets add a fun twist. See the post: How to Build a Plyo Box in Five Easy Steps for instructions.

5. Rusty equipment adds that extra bit of toughness. (Also makes it look like you've been working out for years...)

5. All lightbulbs must be bare, and ceiling rafters visible. No fancy light fixtures or ceilings for us.  If they could flicker a bit and buzz a little, that would be cool too. This all adds to the authenticity.

6. The only two things I bought new: the foam mats, and the yellow 10 pound kettle pictured below. And really, my husband bought me the kettle as a surprise, so it might not even count. The foam mats were a necessity for me though...that cement floor is hard on the joints.

And that is how a hipster builds a gym. Recycled gym equipment. Homemade power racks. Ceiling rafters. Rusted metal bars. Throw in some obscure music and you have yourself a gym.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Upper Body Workout That Left Me in a Puddle on the Floor

Five weeks until Tough Mudder. My last week of training went not too bad. Skipped a workout, but fit another run in on another day, so it works out right? Switched a terrain run for a 5K race, and managed to squeeze it out in 27 minutes, which I was happy with.

So this week my goal was to spend some more time on my upper body strength, as it is not my favorite area to deal with (see my previous post Why I Love Leg Day), and thus sorely lacking. I enlisted the help of my husband to come up with a set that focused on upper body, and also featured mostly body-weight moves.

What he came up with was probably the toughest workout I've ever had. I was a panting, sweating mess about halfway through. If he wasn't there talking me through it I never would have made it. And I get to do it again the day after tomorrow.

Do this circuit five times, with no rest:

  • Chin ups x 5
  • Push ups x 10 (hold for 5-7 seconds halfway down, then raise)
  • Plank 60 seconds
  • Clean and Press x 12

And that's it. It doesn't look like much now. Four little itty bitty bullet points. But there was times in between exercises that I couldn't have uttered a complete sentence to save my life. I dropped to the floor after those 60 second planks and didn't think I would make it back up. Today, my upper body feels good, no pain or DOMS, just pleasantly achy.

Normally I wouldn't do core work on an upper body day, but figured might as well. And my husband definitely assisted on the last few chin ups, so I can't take credit for all of them.

And that's it! The first upper body workout that I didn't hate but still kicked the crap out of me.

Happy training!

Monday, 4 June 2012

TM Countdown: Six Weeks

Six weeks to go until Tough Mudder

Its time to buckle down and focus on strength, mobility and nutrition. 

Monkey bars, here I come.