Let me start out by saying this post is based off of my opinions. I am not an expert by any means but have found what works for me. Everyone's route is different.
Personally, I am not used to going to a gym outside of my home. Mornings are my favorite time to work out and it never seemed logical or practical for me to get to the gym before working my usual 8-5. It's much easier and actually helps me get up in the morning when I know I can throw shorts and a t-shirt on, walk downstairs, and be working out in less than 5 minutes. I've noticed that hitting the bench press, deadlift, or squat first thing in the morning before I go off to work makes me much more energetic throughout the morning and sets a good mood for the day.
I believe there are only a few things that are essential in a home gym and here they are:
This is the most important item that everyone should have in a home gym. The main lifts - The Big Three: the bench press, deadlift, and squat all revolve around the barbell. These are known to be the most effective compound lifts. You can do similar work with kettlebells and dumbbells but those are mostly used for accessory work that focus on certain muscle groups.
While you can do floor presses with dumbbells, I would say that the Bench Press is an essential exercise. A bench also opens up a lot more exercises like the inclined bench press and a spot to do kettlebell rows, dips, etc. I suggest having a bench that allows you to do leg exercises as well.
There is a reason that dumbbells have been so popular for so long: they are great for working specific muscle groups and the movements are easy to figure out. Curls, Lateral Raises, and the Overhead Press all have their place and specifically strengthen your biceps, triceps, delts, traps, and shoulders which, in the end, also help improve your bench press, deadlift, and squat as well.
The kettlebell is my favorite tool used for accessory work because of the variety of workouts and the element of endurance with most movements. Many people have never picked up a kettlebell and have never heard of Kettlebell Swings, Kettlebell Clean & Jerks, Turkish Getups, or the Goblet Squat but I think that these exercises are important to learn and they also make workouts fun.
One important thing to note with kettlebells is the common but good advice to start small. Personally, I started with a 35lb kettlebell and did not get another one until I could do high reps with good form. Now I use a 70lb for Kettlebell Rows and Goblet Squats, 50lb for Clean & Jerks and One-handed Swings, and 35lb for Turkish Getups.
To me, kettlebells naturally feel great to pick up and exercise with and are an absolute essential.
This may seem like a lot if you are a beginner but it really is not. If you do not have the $200-300 to get all of this, start small and work your way to getting each of the essentials. You only need a small room as well. Preferably, set aside a room specifically for working out that you can play music, start the stopwatch, and get down to business.
From here, there are of course other things like the squat rack, rowing machine, pull-up bar, and other things that are great additions to your home gym that open up more options but these 4 things, I believe, should be the core because they will form the majority of your workout program.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, looking for suggestions, or have suggestions of your own, please comment below. Also, please share this post with friends - in this time, especially, with gyms closed and people asked to stay home, now is a great time to set up a home gym and start working on yourself right at home. Go to my Contact page to subscribe to the blog and be notified of new posts!
In these crazy times, people are giving lots of advice on how to keep viruses from getting to you and spreading to others. A few examples that the government has given on preventing the spread of the coronavirus are avoiding handshakes, isolating yourself, and remembering to use soap and water. While these are simple and practical tips, there's some advice from experts that I think is helpful and not as well known that I would like to share.
Let's face it, most millennials like myself are pretty good at isolating themselves and seem to have been training for this scenario our whole lives but I don't think quarantining yourself and being in fear of germs is the greatest way to live.
Here are some actionable tips that experts have given on how we can improve our immune systems:
1. Eat Plenty of Leafy Greens
Salads are a great way to get the antioxidants your body needs. Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are essential but other vegetables help as well.
Dr. Steven Gundry and Dr. Catherine Shanahan are well-respected nutrition experts and strong advocates for ensuring you get plenty of vegetables in your diet. On the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, Dr. Cate suggests that 4 days a week, you should have a salad that includes 4 cups of vegetables of 4 different colors. In Dr. Gundry's book, Diet Evolution, he states that garlic, onions, leeks, mushrooms, asparagus, and artichokes are all great vegetables that help with immune function as well (p. 81).
Here is another tip that Dr. Cate gives in her book, Deep Nutrition - “Remember, cooking burns up antioxidants and damages many vitamins. So the more you eat cooked foods, the more you need to balance your diet by eating fresh, uncooked, pungent-tasting herbs and vegetables (p. 265).”
2. Get Your Vitamin D
If there is one supplement that all health experts seem to agree on, it is Vitamin D. Unless you get more than 30 minutes of direct sunlight per day, you are insufficient on a critical vitamin that has been shown to benefit mood, heart function, bone health, and immune system function.
Dr. Steven Gundry, nutrionist and former cardiac surgeon, has strong evidence that supports Vitamin D is beneficial for anyone looking to better their heart and immune system. He has tested this theory with thousands of patients and suggests between 5,000 and 10,000 IUs per day (which is actually just 1-2 tiny pills per day and is reasonably cheap - $15 for 360 pills that are 5,000 IUs each here).
Some nutritionists have even suggested 10,000-15,000 IUs per day around times that you want to protect yourself from being sick and that no negative health benefits are observed from this amount.
3. Get in a Cold Bath and Sauna
Ben Greenfield, triathlete, blogger, and highly respected health and fitness expert, suggests that exposing yourself to extreme temperatures, hot or cold, greatly benefits your immune system. In his book, Beyond Training, he explains how Cold Thermogenesis has been shown to increase the amount of natural killer cells and the activity of them and how heat from saunas have been shown to increase your white blood cell count. He also states that German and Finnish studies have shown "regular sauna bathing leads to a 30 percent less chance of getting colds and influenza (p. 73-78)."
I know this may seem extreme and many of us do not have access to saunas or cryogenic chambers but hot and cold baths have been shown to have similar effects, just to less of an extent.
This post is not to discount what the CDC has provided us on how we can prevent the coronavirus and other illnesses from spreading. If you haven't already, I highly suggest going to CDC.gov to get information on the coronavirus including: symptoms, how to prepare your family, areas COVID-19 has reached, etc.
I'm not a doctor but think that the advice these respected experts have to share is valuable and should be shared.
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Here's to my first year researching the world of health and fitness! Here are all the books that I read related to this subject and this is only the start. I know it does not look like much for a year's worth but if you go to my About page, you'll see that there is much more that goes into the research than just the books. Plus many of these books are around 400 pages in length and I take notes while I am reading.
It's amazing how much these experts have to teach. They are not only experts in their field but leaders who have affected millions of peoples' lives while working their tails off creating content and helping their communities in all different ways. One of my main goals is to research experts from all different disciplines and focuses - from nutritionists to strength coaches/personal trainers to physical therapists so that I can get a full understanding and compare their beliefs and practices.
One amazing thing to me is how many similarities many (if not all of them) have that I think we can all learn from:
Some of these experts are all about eating a high fat diet and being able to burn fat for fuel, some focus more on a plant-based diet, and some say you should focus on getting enough protein while eating a well-distributed mixture of carbohydrates and fats. None of these individuals are wrong - each side has its specific benefits and different diets work better for different people. Experiment with what works best for you and your goals. A lot of times, the best diet for you is the diet you can stick to. As I've said before, something these experts have taught me is how to live happily whether I am on a diet of 1,500 calories per day or 3,500 calories per day.
I look forward to continuing my research and experimenting more with different diets and exercise programs to really find what works best for me. To give a bit of a sneak peak, I'll let you know the expert I have started to research now - Greg Nuckols of Stronger by Science. Greg is a young expert and powerlifter who goes deep into the science of what works best for hypertrophy and strength training while also having plenty of anecdotal evidence by being a strength coach himself.
Lastly, I apologize for the delay in posts, I did not get to post last week so I need to make that up. I see many exciting things around Twelve Paths in the year to come!
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Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.