Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gym vs. Home Training - Jim Duggan

The age-old debate of whether it is better to train at home or in a commercial gym has been around for as long as there have been gyms, health clubs spas. Just about everybody who has wrapped their hands around a barbell has grappled with this question. Most of us are introduced to weight-training in the same fashion: Get a set of weights and find a place where you can train. For most people, it's a basement or a garage. For me, it was an enclosed porch in the house where I grew up. For most beginners, all that is needed is a set of weights, a desire to get bigger and stronger, and a sensible workout program. However, at some point, there will come a time when additional equipment is needed. More weights, and additional benches and/or machines will become necessary. The confines of space- not to mention the cost- will inevitably lead to that important decision: "Should I join a gym?"

For most people, the decision is simple. Limited training space at home, plus the fact that there are numerous commercial gyms available, make it a no-brainer. Since most gyms offer a wide variety of equipment, flexible membership options, and other amenities, joining a gym is an easy, economical decision. But is it always better to train at a gym as opposed to training at home? Does training at home produce the same results that can be obtained at a commercial gym? There are various reasons for training at home. Sometimes the hours of operation at a gym aren't compatible with a trainee's work/school schedule. Training at home allows you to train whenever you wish. Additionally, you'll save considerable time travelling back and forth. Basically, you can make your own hours and be your own boss.

There are several drawbacks to training at a professional gym. You are at the mercy of the gym when it comes down to the choice of equipment available. If a gym has lousy equipment, then you're pretty much stuck with having to train with inferior training products. There is also the issue of a crowded place where you might have to wait to use a particular piece of equipment. Certain days, at certain hours, you may have numerous people lined up to use a specific machine. Nobody likes to wait, especially if you are pressed for time. You are wasting valuable time if there is an excessive wait between exercises. How many times have you gone to the gym on a Monday night, and all the benches are being used? ( I don't know why, but it seems like EVERYBODY does bench presses on Monday nights.)

Another uncomfortable fact is that most commercial gyms do not really cater to people who really want to train hard and heavy. Many "health clubs" do not offer a dedicated area for heavy Deadlifts or Olympic lifting. There certainly aren't any lifting platforms where you can do heavy Deadlifts under contest conditions. And chalk is almost always anathema in just about every place that calls itself a gym. In fact, one of the easiest and quickest ways to determine if a gym is dedicated to serious strength-training is to ask the owner/manager if the use of chalk is allowed. Another good question would be to ask it the gym is equipped with a power rack. If they give look at you as if you have two heads, then you can reasonably expect the gym to be lacking in serious lifters.

Another inconvenient fact about training in a commercial gym is something that has been written about by numerous people, myself included. Quite simply, the atmosphere of most health clubs one that has been widely ridiculed. Those of us who have trained in commercial gyms know all too well that there are more then enough yo-yos populating commercial gyms throughout the land. Pumpers, toners, posers, screamers, and blowhards are just about everywhere. Then there are the ones who have to have headphones blaring at a level that surely must cause serious damage to their ears, not to mention their brains. I'll be charitable and not mention the people who take up space on a bench endlessly texting between sets. It takes a lot of focus to block these people out, especially the screamers, but you must try to ignore them if you wish to make progress.

The bottom line is to ask yourself: Can you make meaningful gains training at home? The answer is YES. It's up to the trainee to select a program for his/her benefit, and, more importantly, you must dedicate yourself to following that program. You must strive for poundage progression, along with allowing yourself sufficient rest and adequate nutrition. You can have access to the best equipment in the world, but if you don't put forth the effort you will never gain. Likewise, you can be stuck with primitive training conditions, but if you work hard, and consistently, you will become bigger and stronger.

If you prefer the privacy of a home gym, then you should equip your garage or basement and train hard and heavy on the basics. If I had a basement or garage, there are several pieces of equipment that I think are crucial for anybody who trains. The first- and most important- consideration for any gym is the barbell itself. To me, it starts and ends with the bar. Get yourself a quality bar. If you will be training the powerlifts, then get a good power bar. This is the one item where you should not spare any expense. Sure, a quality bar will cost you more, but isn't it worth it? A good bar will give you years of use. In lifting, as in life, you get what you pay for.

My second choice of equipment would be a heavy-duty power rack. With a sturdy rack, you can so Squats, Presses, and various pulls. More importantly, you can do these movements safely. If you acquire a bench ( either flat or adjustable) you can now do various Bench Presses inside the rack. Again, you can train safely without spotters. If you do not have a power rack, do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to Bench Press without a spotter. Heavy-duty loadable dumbbell bars and a Neck Harness would round out my top five gym necessities. With these five items, you would be able to build great strength and muscular size throughout your entire body.

When it comes down to it, it is really up to the individual. If you prefer the gym atmosphere and find you can make better progress there, then train in a commercial gym. If you prefer the privacy of a home gym, then train at home. It's an individual decision you must make for yourself. Just remember, you'll get from it only what you put in.
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Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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