Posted by: Jenna | 2012-05-22

Home Gymming

Hi Doc, at the end of June when my current gym contract expires, I want to invest in some “ home gym”  equipment. Things have gotten busier for me and I just don’ t have the time to go to gym, and when I am there, I don’ t get to stay too long (I mean I haven’ t been to gym for more than an hour in about two weeks). I know if I have the equipment at home, I will use it.

Back to my point, I am currently focusing on cardio with a few weights. I want to buy a treadmill, a bench-press and some weights (I don’ t have the space for one of those nice big weight machines). There are several pieces of equipment at gym that I won’ t be able to get, and I want to know what I can do to “ substitute”  those pieces. The first is one that allows you to do calf raises. That one is pretty simple I guess, but do you think it would be a good idea to strap weights to my ankles for resistance, or just hold heavy weights (on the machine, I was at 20kgs in weights for resistance)?

The next one (sorry, I don’ t know what they are called), is one where you have to lean forward over a padded flat bar with your feet hooked under a bar behind you and you move up and down (for your back). I have no idea what I could use for that.

The third one is where you put your elbows onto a padded flat bar, hold onto grips and pull your legs up and down (for your stomach). There is another one for your stomach/ hips, where you lean sideways over a padded flat bar (that stands vertically) and you basically lower yourself sideways and pull yourself up again. What could I use in place of those?

Thank you so much for your advice.

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Our expert says:
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Hi Jenna

For calf raises, it's very difficult to simulate the load on the weight rack and so body weight is the easiest option for you. You can increase the weight by doing them with weight on your back, but again, it's a problem to get the weight high enough. You can't exactly pack 50kg into a back-pack. If you are going to hold weights, the most effective place to put them is high up, as far from the calves as you can, not on the ankles. On the shoulders would be better, so if you have weights and can do that, it's not a bad solution. Then do single leg raises, not both legs, and you increase the difficulty.

The second one is back extensions. That is trickier, but you can do those horizontally too. Lie on the floor on your stomach with your feet held down and extend up. It's that extension that really matters, and if you do it with maximal control, rather than bouncing, the effect is largely the same. You can make it tougher by adding weights. And the range of movement is not that important.

Better still, buy a pezzi ball (those big inflatable balls) and do the back extensions on them. You might need to get your feet up against a wall for stability, but the movement is identical. Slow and controlled, you basically bend over the ball, facing the ground and then left slowly up and down.

The third one is very difficult to simulate, unless you can get creative in the garden! Or washing line! That exercise is teaching you control as you lower down, slightly different from when you do crunches. You can get the same result from doing curls on the pezzi ball. You basically get into a push-up position, feet on the ball. And then you curl the ball up underneath you, as you tuck the knees towards your chest, and then slowly roll it back out again. That's a really good exercise for the abs.

For the final one, that's really a glute exercise, so you can try to do bridges on the side. Lie on your side, elbow down and then raise your hip up and hold that for 30 to 45 seconds.

HOpe that helps

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