You want to build some muscle and get your beach body ready for the summer. Is a home gym effective for building muscle or do you get better results at a commercial gym? Here is what you need to know.
With access to free weights you can have the same results in a home gym as anywhere else. A multi-gym is effective for beginners but will limit development at some point. Training isn’t the only important factor for muscle growth however. Nutrition and recovery are important as well.
There are a lot of things that are important for growing muscle and building a better body. Exercise isn’t the only thing and not all training is created equal. Keep reading to gain a deeper understanding.
Building muscle at home
To answer the question if you can build muscle in a home gym, we have to look at a few things that go into building muscle and your personal situation. While most people are able to build some muscle with basic equipment, there are some caveats and situations that might make it different.
Building muscle at home is absolutely possible and doesn’t have to be any less effective than going to a commercial gym. There are some basics to understand. Here we go;
How to build muscle
Before I can say anything at home gyms and their effectiveness, we first have to look at what actually goes into building muscle.
Very simply put, to build muscle you need three things;
- Growth impulse (training)
- Nutrition (food)
- Recovery (sleep)
While all three points are important, the food and recovery part has nothing to do with working out in a home gym or not. So for this post we don’t have to look at those things.
What could be different in a home gym is the growth impulse. The growth impulse is the training that tells your body it needs to grow bigger muscles.
While there is a lot of discussion on what is the best for building muscle, there are a few factors that go into creating a growth impulse;
Which combination of those factors is optimal is hard to say and can fill may books. What’s important for this post are the differences between a home gym and a commercial gym. Provided you can do the same exercises at home as in the gym, are any of the other factors influenced by being at home?
In short: No. As long as you can do the same exercises and have enough weight, all the other factors just depend on yourself. Possibly in a home gym you’ll have less social pressure to exert more effort but that’s all in your mind. The flipside of that is that in a home gym all the equipment is always available so you don’t have any excuse to skip exercises.
Types of home gym/workout
A home gym is just a room where you work out in your house. The word doesn’t really say anything about which equipment is in there. While home gyms usually don’t have the amount and variety of commercial gyms, there can still be a ton of different home gym setups. That said, there are a few popular equipment setups we can look at.
- Multi gym (all in one machine). A popular option is the all in one machine. It’s attractive to many people since it’s a single piece of equipment that does almost everything. It takes out all the guesswork of putting together your own gym. Commercial gyms don’t have these types of machine however, they often have separate machines that can work out every muscle group.
While quite similar, the separate machines often are a bit more effective at building muscle. Separate machines aren’t trying to do everything at once so they’re more ‘focused’. Separate machines also have a weight stack that is tailored to the exercise. Multi gyms have one weight stack and often you’ll become too strong for that weight on some exercises.
So while multi gyms certainly can build muscle and you can build a decent body with one, the separate machines at the gym are more effective and for longer.
- Free weights. More advanced lifters will often have a free weight setup in their home gym. These setups are very flexible and can provide as much resistance as you can handle. The free weight equipment in a commercial gym might be more expensive, nicer and stronger than what you’ve got at home. All those things don’t actually matter for the training impulse you can create for your muscles. Since you’ll do the same thing with the free weights at home as in a commercial gym, there is no difference.
- Cardio equipment. There are people that just have cardio equipment at home. As the name suggests, this type of equipment is to improve your cardiovascular health. You might get a small growth impulse if you’re not well trained, but ultimately they’re not made to cause muscle growth. But again, there is no difference in muscle growth between a cardio machine in a commercial gym and your home gym.
If you’re wondering what you need for a home gym with free weights, click here to find out.
- Gimmick equipment. There is a whole section of exercise equipment are just gimmicks in my opinion. Think weights you have to shake, electric shock 6 pack trainers, things that look like torture machines from the middle ages, etc. Anything you won’t find in a commercial gym. There is a good reason you don’t find them in a commercial gym; they don’t work. Or at least they don’t work as well as just picking up a weight. So if your idea of a home gym consists of a collection of these gimmicks, it won’t be very effective.
Your level of development
To be very blunt, most people have very minimal muscular development. Look around you. How many people are in good shape and decently muscular? How much activity do they get during a week? Probably not much.
If you’re currently not very active, really anything you do will make you gain some muscle. Sure, it depends on what you do exactly how much you’ll develop but at least something will happen. That means you can use a multi gym or even some gimmicks and build some muscle.
People that already have some muscular development will need a stronger growth impulse. How you do that is different for everyone but it will involve changing one of the growth factors I’ve listed above. That often means a multi gym won’t be enough and you need to add on free weights.
If we look at top level body builders, they all use a combination of free weights and dedicated machines. None of them got where they are by using a multi gym.
As long as you’ve got the right equipment for the job, you can build as much muscle at home as in a commercial gym. Most of muscle growth depends on what you do with the equipment, your diet and your recovery. Provided you have equipment that can provide you with a wide variety of exercise options and provides enough resistance, it all depends on you and your mindset. Where you work out really doesn’t matter much.
The more developed you are, the more important it becomes that you have access to free weights since they provide more options for exercises and resistance.
So, for beginners, a multi gym is effective although free weights would be even more effective. With a multi gym you’ll only get so far and a commercial gym would be better. Once you become more advanced, having free weights becomes more necessary. Once you have free weights in your home gym, it’s just as effective as a commercial gym.
Favorite home gym tools
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.