For the purposes of this article I will describe the equipment I purchased and why, obviously this may be different to your requirements however I feel this combined will be enough for almost everyone.
From the hundreds of different machines and equipment you may have encountered in a commercial gym facility alot tend to be isolation specific exercises taking up a large amount of space.
The truth is you need only be able to activate each muscle group to its point of failure and have the weight capacity to reach what your limit will be.
The best for building all round strength gravitate generally to the big 3 –
Bench Press (Incline, Flat, Decline)
As you can see these compound exercises (activating more than one muscle group to complete the movement) activates almost every major muscle in your body needed for strength, some people find this is the only exercises they will ever need! however isolation exercises (single muscle groups such as biceps, triceps etc) doing these exercises as a man will also greatly increase testosterone production which in turn improves your ability to gain muscle mass all over your body with the correct diet.
These exercises can be best performed with the following equipment –
- 7ft Olympic Bar (you can get as small as 5ft however) – This is not an item to cut corners on, a good bar will serve you well for decades, cheap bars are known to deform and wear very quickly over time.
- Deadlift Platform (you can use rubber matting or even large cushions at a push for makeshift ideas anything that will soften the impact to the floor)
- Squat Rack (WITH SPOTTER BARS! you will thank me for this later…)
- Bench (again something more premium and structurally sound is safer)
- 2″ Olympic weights (Weight is weight… I would advise at current times to just get the cheapest plates you can find, please look up my other articles about this)
Obviously depending on your capabilities you may decide to use less serious equipment for the job such as 1″ standard barbells (which generally have a low maximum weight capacity of around 75 – 120KG and use concrete filled weights, which are generally bulky and awkward, also they take a lot of room up on the bar reducing what you will inevitably be able to fit on and use, slim cast iron or rubberised plates are better.
For people who may be more focused on mobility and lower weight exercises you can perform most of these with kettlebells or dumbbells which may be a space saving cost efficient option.
Dumbbells can be used for almost all exercises both isolation and compound, however if you have plates already you need not go out and by another expensive piece of equipment as you can buy handles and locks for both 1″ and 2″ plates which may be rather bulky especially with Olympic plates! but you can be quite innovative and experimental with these.
For a bit of everything along with a great way to do almost all isolation exercises is to invest in a pulley system or better a full multigym.
With one of these you can do most pressing and pulling movements as well as using the high and low pulley for isolation curls, tricep pushdowns, leg extensions, with this particular model you can also do chest fly’s and use the pressing arms for lateral pulls.
See below a guide provided with the model for some but not all of the exercises you can do with this machine, for the novice to experienced bodybuilder this may be all you ever need.
Again you can see the muscle groups highlighted in this chart.
Finally for cardiovascular training your options range from treadmills, cross-trainers, static bikes and more advanced equipment such as ski-erg’s
I would not personally advise spending a lot of money on cardiovascular equipment, one piece of kit to exercise your heart well on a rainy day will suffice, unless you are an endurance athlete to which you will be running / cycling on the street or up hills anyway, which is still allowed under all lockdown conditions at the time of writing this article.