Want to lose weight but are not sure if doing it at home is going to be effective? Are home gyms just as effective for losing weight as a commercial gym? Let’s find out.
A well set up home gym can just be as effective creating a calorie deficit as going to a commercial gym although you might have to change your workout to fit the different equipment. A home gym makes it easier to be consistent with your workouts which is very important for success.
Weight loss is a complicated topic let’s dive in a little bit deeper into it and how it works in a home gym.
Losing weight at home
Losing weight is a pretty hot topic. It’s simple in theory but difficult in practice. People are looking for shortcuts, cheats and everything that can give them a benefit and make things a bit easier for them. Of course you want to optimize your weight loss progress and you want to know if a home gym is effective in that regard.
Before giving the results, it’s important to understand a few things.
How does exercise make you lose weight?
The most important part of losing weight is your energy balance.
Very simply put; if you eat more calories than you expend during the day, you’ll gain weight and vice versa. E.g. You eat 1800 Kcal worth of foods and use 2000 Kcal of energy during the day, you have a 200 Kcal deficit. Fat is stored energy. 1 kg of body fat contains about 7700 kcal.
7700/200=38.5. That means with a 200 kcal deficit you would lose 1 kg of body fat in about 39 days.
Now, when you exercise, you use energy. Let’s say you do a workout that costs 300 kcal but your diet stays the same at 1800 kcal. Suddenly, you have ((2000+300)-1800)=500 kcal energy deficit.
7700/500=15.4. Now, by adding a 300 kcal daily workout, you lose a kg of body weight in 16 days, much faster than without exercise.
Of course things are never as black and white as that but that’s the most important thing to understand about weight loss. There are many more factors that play into weight loss like;
- Food choices
- Macro ratios
- Muscle mass
However, the energy balance is the most important part to understand and track since that’s where it all starts. The other parts are optimization. More exercise means more energy is used. If your kcal intake stays the same more exercise means you’re going to lose more body fat.
As a result of exercise, you’ll probably also gain some muscle. That’s a good thing for losing weight since muscle takes more energy to maintain than body fat. That means when you gain some muscle, your daily energy expenditure might go up from 2000 to 2100 meaning you burn an extra 100 kcal without doing anything extra.
Home gym equipment for fat loss
So, now we know the basics of weight loss and what exercise’s role in fat loss is, what would be a good setup to lose body fat?
Let’s look at the two roles of exercise again;
- Burn calories
- Build muscle (to increase base energy expenditure/use more energy in the long run
That means we need a combination of equipment that is good for cardio exercise and also builds some muscle.
While some cardio machines might build a very moderate amount of muscle if you’re completely untrained, this is not going to be anything spectacular. If you want to have a good physique, just a low bodyfat percentage isn’t going to do it. You will need some weight training to build muscle as well.
So, that means a basic home gym setup for losing weight looks like this;
- Cardio machine: Pick one you like the best and want to use regularly. Getting a machine you don’t like just because it activates more muscle isn’t going to be effective.
- Set of dumbbells: A basic set of weights to move around.
- Bench: A weightlifting bench will dramatically increase the amount of exercises you can perform with the dumbbells.
Suggested post: 9 Things you should know before buying dumbbells
Suggested post: What you need to know before buying a gym bench.
The dumbbells and bench will be used to grow muscle. If you have now idea how, click here for a starters guide. While the main focus is building muscle, weightlifting does of course also burn calories.
The cardio machine is mainly used to create a bigger energy deficit. Cardio exercise also helps with endurance and cardiovascular health which in turn can improve the weight training.
The basic dumbbell setup is effective although if you want to get bigger and stronger, I highly recommend getting a barbell, weight plates and power cage.
All in one home gym
If you don’t like the idea of working out with dumbbells and prefer the safety of a machine, there is another option. Gym machines usually only have one purpose so you would need a very big home gym to fit them all. Luckily there is a good alternative for the home gym; the multi-gym.
You might be wondering if an all in one home gym is just as effective as single gym machines. All in one machines are a compromise. They give up some functionality but are much smaller than all the separate machines you’d see in a commercial gym.
While energy expenditure is probably similar between the two as long as you put in the same effort, over the long run there can be some differences.
Not all in one home gyms and commercial machines are created equal but, in general the machines in a commercial gym are probably a bit more efficient at building muscle because of better movement patterns. Because the machine in a commercial gym only have one purpose, they can be tailored especially for that movement.
While my personal preference is with the dumbbell setup, I can completely understand if you prefer a machine. In that case the setup would look like this;
- Cardio machine
- All-in-one multi-gym
Differences outside of exercise
So there aren’t any big differences in the exercises and how much energy they burn between a home gym and a commercial gym. There are some other factors that might impact your weight loss;
Pros of home gym
- It’s easier to be consistent. Consistency is one of the keys to weight loss. There is no excuse not to go to your home gym.
- No travel time. You’ll spend less time going to and coming from the gym. This helps with consistency again. You can fit in another workout in a time slot where you couldn’t otherwise
- All the machines are always free. You can have a great workout program but if the machine isn’t available, it won’t do much good.
- There are no temptations on your way home. If you’re on your way home from the gym and you see some fast food joint, it can be very tempting to just pop in and completely erase all the work you’ve just done in the gym. If you’re already at home, you won’t have that problem.
What do you need for a home gym? Click here to find 10 home gym essentials.
Pros of commercial gyms
- Personal trainers are often available that can help you.
- More social support from other gym-goers
- You can use the commute to and from the gym to burn more energy. Go by bike or walk and use your time efficiently.
So as you can see there are few benefits to both the home and commercial gym. For weight loss, the home gym actually has a few more benefits than a commercial gym. For some people the social support is a big plus of commercial gyms but definitely not every commercial gym has that kind of atmosphere.
People have their personal preferences but you can be sure that a home gym isn’t going to impede your weight loss journey. It all depends on your motivation, effort and consistency.
Which exercise machine is best for losing belly fat? Sadly, it’s not possible to reduce fat in specific spots on your body. Weight loss occurs everywhere in your body. In some body parts you’ll lose weight quicker than others. Where depends mostly on your genetics. You can make your belly appear flatter by doing the stomach vacuum exercise.
Does weight training cause body fat loss? To lose fat you have to consume fewer kcal than you use during the day. Weight training uses energy so can help burn fat. Weight training also builds muscle which will help you burn more energy even while not doing exercise.
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.