Triathletes are some of the busiest people on the planet. With potentially multiple workouts a day, time is the most important asset you have and sometimes jumping into the car to head to the gym may not be possible. That's why it may be beneficial to build your own gym at home, especially if you are training for longer distance triathlons.
Building a home gym has grown in popularity over the years and most people can get by with minimal gear. Companies like TRX Trainer have gotten smart by offering one piece of equipment that is light and compact enough so that you can pack it into your carry on.
When it comes to building your own home gym there are a few things you need to keep mind:
- What is your budget and how much space do you have?
- What are your goals?
- How much time do you spend strength training?
- What do you like to do?
Here is a list of equipment that will give you the most bang for your buck. But remember, there is no perfect tool. Find what works best for you.
TRX Suspension Training
The TRX system has been a game changer in the industry because it's simple, functional, fun and can be done anywhere. The TRX is incredibly popular and is used by triathletes, runners and weekend warriors.
The Good - The TRX allows you to do hundreds of exercises including lunges, rows, squats and pushups, and you can blast your core with many challenging exercises. This system is your best choice if you have a tight budget since it offers you the most exercise options for the least amount of money. Additionally, you can workout at the park, beach, hotel, garage or family room, and it's lightweight and compact enough to pack into a small bag.
The Bad - You are limited to the amount of strength you can build--using gravity and bodyweight only can take you so far. If your goal is to continue to get stronger you will eventually have to start lifting weights.
Kettlebells have gained popularity in the U.S. over the last 15 years, but they have been around for hundreds of years. Kettlebell training works right into a triathlete's wheelhouse because of the demanding nature of the workouts. Known mostly for the swing, the exercises are challenging and build both strength and mental toughness.
The Good - Kettlebells build functional strength by working the muscles that you use daily. The right combination of squats, presses, cleans, clean and press, snatches and swings will work most of the muscles in your body. If you only have 20 to 30 minutes in your schedule to workout, kettlebells will provide a great full-body challenge. Bonus: Five or six kettlebells hardly take up any space.
The Bad - Like the TRX you are limited on how strong you can get. You can't travel with them and most hotels do not have kettlebells in their gyms. If you have never used a kettlebell, it's best to find someone to teach you the proper techniques because the ballistic movements increase the risk of injury.
Most everyone has used a dumbbell at some point in his or her life. Dumbbells will cover all the major exercises that anyone could want or should do and they build strength without the need for a spotter.
The Good - Dumbbells don't require much space and they cost less than a machine or a squat rack and barbell. They also allow you to build strength and do some explosive training. Also, strength progression is easy--simply use heavier dumbbells. If you travel, most hotel gyms will have a set in their gym so you won't ever miss a workout.
The Bad - There isn't much of a downside to using dumbbells, but again you are limited to how much strength you can build. If you were on a limited budget and do not want a rack in your house, it would be best to stick with the TRX.
Barbells are the apex of strength training and the barbell is a favorite with most strength and conditioning coaches. Barbell training will greatly increase your strength, but programming barbell training can be tricky for triathletes. Before beginning a regular barbell program, you should consult with a trainer who has worked with endurance athletes for some training hacks.
The Good - Properly programmed barbell exercises will improve your force production and engage the majority of your muscle mass better than any other training tool. You do not need to do more reps or lengthen your workouts to force your body to adapt; you just need to slowly increase the weight.
The Bad - Not everyone has the budget or the room to put a squat rack and a seven-foot bar in their house, and not everyone is interested in pushing his or her limits with strength training. The risk of injury is always higher when lifting heavier weights as well.
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