I’ve still been using my new home gym every day, and I’m still freakin’ in love with it. It reminds me of when I used dumbbells around twenty years ago to get in shape, but the home gym is better in many ways (but worse in one way… more on that later).
It’s better because it’s so freakishly ergonomic! Do you know how hard it is to do an abdominal crunch on the floor? You have to put your hands behind your neck and pray that you don’t strain your neck to the max. It’s uncomfortable and feels slightly unsafe to do that to your neck. Also, I guess since I’m overweight and have weak abs, whenever I do them on the floor, I’m about to keel over and die after five. At that point, LuLu the pup comes up to me and sits on my head. She means well… I think.
With my home gym, I had a breakthrough when I finally figured out how to do abs on it. My neck is totally protected, I’m able to work at my level of ability, and the exercises target the abs while leaving the rest of the body alone. Yes, yes, yes.
You know that ab exercise where you lie on your back, raise your legs to perpendicular, lift your head, and pump your hands at your sides? You can do that on the home gym, but you’re moving your arms up and down with the pulleys and therefore are sliding up and down the bench–fun! And your head can rest on the bench. Unlike doing this exercise on the floor, you needn’t bend your neck to raise your head. Very relaxing (except for your abs!).
You can then repeat the exercise with your legs bent in front of you (like, your legs going straight up but bent at the knee to perpendicular) or with your legs straight ahead in a straight line, but elevated about a foot or so. Options.
And then you can do pull-in crunches where you grab the add-on handles, put your knees at the head of the bench, and keep tugging yourself forward and back using your ab muscles.
There’s also a popular exercise for side abs, but I haven’t mastered the artistry of it yet, and I need to clear some more space in my workout room around the bench.
Yesterday I had a breakthrough and mastered the foot extension add-on. I was able to do some great exercises for my inner thighs! Back when I used dumbbells, there was no way to increase the training for inner thighs because the inner thigh exercise didn’t use the dumbbells. It just involved sitting and splitting your legs open and closed while keeping your legs straight. The point is that I’m now doing a variant of that on the bench, which means that as I get stronger, I can use more resistance and really develop the muscles there.
I was also able to exercise my front thighs, my hamstrings, and my calves yesterday. I haven’t discovered any great exercises for glutes yet, but I’m hopeful.
I was concerned that it would be a hassle to change the height (resistance level) of the home gym, but it takes all of two seconds. You can literally change it from one exercise to the next without any difficulty. And since my muscle groups are all across the board (read: weak shoulders, incredibly strong front thighs, and everything in between), that’s very handy.
The downside, which I alluded to before, is that using the home gym isn’t a very aerobic experience–at least, not for me. Maybe for other people? I just go slow and focus on doing around 30 reps per exercise, and my heartbeat isn’t getting up, and thus I’m getting no cardio. Back when I used dumbbells, there was cardio. I did all the moves a million times faster.
I’m not too disappointed, because I think this’ll be great for building muscles. I still have my $10 a month gym membership if I want to go there daily and do some treadmilling. (I need to get back into that. I’ve been waiting to see how sore the home gym makes my muscles.) No huge deal.
It could be a good thing, because that level of exhaustion can quickly lead to burnout, which happened countless times when I was younger and using the dumbbells. I had to give myself pep talks to do it each day, and so I never stuck with it. Because using my home gym doesn’t overtax me, I’m way more likely to keep using it. Why not? So I’m almost glad that it’s not exhausting me. The focus can be wholly on muscle strength with no focus on cardiovascular fitness. It makes sense to separate the two to prevent burnout. So I might have a perfect system here.
Some exercises on the home gym feel wrong, like my body can’t quite master the coordination, or like I’m feeling nothing where my muscles are supposed to be working. I cross those exercises off the list, and I’m in the process of “collecting” several good exercises that work for me. I need to ultimately find at least three or four good exercises per muscle group. (Except maybe with the calves. Exercising the calves is amazingly straightforward.)
So I’m really loving my home gym, and I hope to commit to using it daily. It’s exciting that I can develop muscle strength, which has always been a weakness of mine. I’m not innately “built” like both of my siblings are. (Like, there was this one time my brother and sister were threatening to kill each other, and I had to call 911, because it could’ve gone either way, with either him dead or her dead. Okay, odd example.)
I also hope to develop enough muscle stamina to work out for longer periods. I just now did around three or four different abs exercises, and then my abs were just done. Hopefully it’ll get easier. If not, I’ll arrange to exercise a handful of muscle groups a day. I’m already doing that, but the abs have their own day, because I hate doing ab exercises. So we’ll see what works.
Tomorrow will be upper-body day! I’ll do biceps, triceps, deltoids (shoulders), trapezius (upper back below the neck), and whatever else I’m forgetting. Oh, right, the latissimus dorsi (middle back). I can’t believe I still speak the language of muscles from having read Joyce Vedral’s books twenty years ago. YAY! Shout out to Joyce Vedral!