You don’t need a boutique gym and a personal trainer to get strong. All you need is something heavy. No money? No problem – these home gym staples can be made for spare change. Unfortunately, making them is only half the challenge – you still have to lift them.
Everyone wants the ‘beach muscles’, but not everyone has the time, money or inclination to join a gym. Home gyms are a great option because they’re private, never crowded, and you can’t beat the location – but furnishing a home gym is a very pricey proposition. Never mind the machines – simple dumbbells can run a dollar per pound, and you’ll need several sets in various weights. Heaven forbid, you get into barbells, because a simple rack can cost about $500, and then you still have to shell out money for the weights themselves. It’s enough to turn you against exercise.
If you’re inventive, however, and don’t mind less-than-stylish equipment, you can make a pretty good facsimile of a gym with cheap material from a home improvement store. No, they’re not pretty, but they’re heavy and functional, and will help you get stronger and more ‘buff’ just the same.
Anything heavy can be a weight. Strongman competitors lift non-dumbbell objects in competition all the time, so there’s no reason found objects can’t help you get strong. Heavy logs, barrels, and boulders give a great workout, and they’re free. Look around outside.
If you would prefer something a bit more manageable, fill containers with concrete – use a bathroom scale if you want a specific weight. Gallon milk jugs work well because they have handles, but any hard container will do. If concrete’s too heavy (or if you just prefer adjustable weights), fill the containers with sand or water instead. In fact, a half-full container is a more challenging weight because it adds instability as the contents slosh around with your movement. This calls your stabilizer muscles into play and will teach muscle control.
Do you have an old duffel bag or backpack lying around? Put it to work for you. Fill a garbage bag with sand, duct tape it shut, and stuff it into the bag – voila, your new big challenge. The floppiness of the bag makes it more difficult to manage than a dumbbell of similar weight, and it’s so much more versatile. Lift it, yes – but also put it on your back when you do push-ups, sling it across your shoulders when you lunge, and strap it to your back when you run hill sprints.
You will grow to hate it or love it – depending upon your disposition at any given moment.
Rings are what you do when regular pull-ups no longer present a challenge. Muscle-ups, back levers, inverted holds, and the iron cross are what give male gymnasts their massive shoulders, and it will work for you too.
Cut two 24-inch lengths of PVC pipe – the diameter should fit comfortably in your hand. Fill them with sand, duct-tape the ends, and place them in the oven until pliable (less than 10 minutes). Once they’re bendy, bend each one around a paint can and let them cool in place. Once cool, empty out the sand, thread strong rope through several times to complete the ring, and then hang them from a sturdy beam with lashing straps.
This one sounds silly, but just make it and give it a go – it’s a challenge like you wouldn’t believe. Go back to the plumbing department and pick the meanest-looking length of PVC pipe you can find. The diameter is up to you, but it should be at least two inches. Start with a 10-ft. length unless you’re really brave, then go longer. While you’re there, pick up a couple of screw-on caps for the ends.
This couldn’t be easier – just fill the tube about halfway with water, then cap the ends. Now walk around with it. Sounds easy? Only because you haven’t tried it. Hold it (horizontally) straight out in front of you, or over your head. Try lunging while it’s there. Just walk around – if you’re really brave, try running. The movement of the water in the tube makes the load incredibly unsteady, and water is heavier than you think. If you used a 5-inch drainage pipe for this, you’ll soon ‘feel the burn’ as they say in the gym.
So you see, you don’t need a fancy gym or branded workout gear to get fit, strong, and totally beast-like – just hard work and something heavy. Pick it up, put it down, pick it up again. Repeat.