A home gym presents a few different challenges when compared to training elsewhere. For many people, the gym is a social event as well as an opportunity to train.  Unless you have a training partner, you will most definitely miss out on the social aspect of training at home.  This can be one reason why people abandon training at home, it can get lonely at times.  I wasn’t worried about this because we were basically sick of training around other people, I had never had a training partner until Jillian and I started to work together so I didn’t know any different.  Another challenge with training at home is the fact that you are HOME.  If you want to stop at any time you can.  Family members might not understand that when you are home training you aren’t “available,” for other things.  In short, there can be a lot of distractions and it’s easy to cut corners.  No one is watching and will know except you if you decide to take a few shortcuts.

So How Can We Stay Motivated?

One of my biggest reservations about building out a home gym was whether or not we would use the gym after the honeymoon period wore off.  This is a legitimate concern, just check craigslist in your local area for all the barely used gym equipment that everyone is practically dying to get rid of and free up space in their home.  In my eyes those people basically failed and gave up.  When starting this project I knew that we needed to have the absolutely best home gym equipment that we could afford, otherwise the project would be a huge waste of money and we would be posting on craigslist as well.  I did not want to get frustrated because we were basically settling for a junk version of equipment compared to what we would use at a local gym for $20-30 a month.  I can honestly say we did a great job in this category and are 100% happy with our  gym.

Tip 1: Get The Best Equipment You Can

The number one motivating factor for us was to have GREAT equipment.  It was also the main reason that we wanted to train at home.  We were sick of bent bars and waiting in line to use the pieces of equipment needed to complete the workouts in a timely fashion.  It’s a treat to train in the dungeon now, we have a great squat rack/bench, a really good barbell and lots of weight.  Once you have this aspect squared away then we can get to the good stuff.

What Are Your Goals?

You need to be training with a purpose if you are going to be doing it solo in your home.  Simply exercising to “get in shape” (tiring yourself out a few times a week) will get old fast and before you know it……you have failed.  Everyone that works out should have goals and a reason for doing so.  You need something that you should be working toward to hold yourself accountable and ensure that you will not skip any days or sessions.  I really like this idea for training at home because one of the reasons that people struggle to meet their goals is they are embarrassed at where they are starting.  You can be brutally honest with yourself and actually set yourself up for success without any outside distractions.  Case in point, my bench sucks.  It sucks for good reason, my shoulders are shot from years of overuse and my limiting factor is the ability to train without shoulder pain for long periods of time.  This isn’t an excuse, but just the reality of the situation.  It takes me a really long time to make progress benching when compared to the other lifts.  Training solo I no longer can compare my progress to people that I see everyday and don’t feel the need to rush things or get antsy when I am not making large jumps in weight.  I can now set a plan that allows me to take baby steps and actually stick to it.  I know my bench isn’t my strongest point, but at least now I can stick to a plan and progress rather than change programs too frequently and go nowhere.

Getting Started With Goal Setting

I’ve written about this numerous times and I’m sure everyone is familiar with SMART goals.  I’m not going to beat a dead horse here but in order to be successful, your goals need to at least be achievable.  There is nothing wrong with having lofty goals and dreaming big, but you need a plan to take you there.  Your motivation must be purely intrinsic when you train at home.  This is something that not everyone is capable of doing.  For some people, the competition and wanting to be the strongest male/female in the gym is what pushes them and is responsible for their progress.  There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT at all, fear of failure is a huge motivator and is highly effective.  However, you are the only one training in your home and most likely no one else will care what you do or about any progress you made.  Training in a home gym simply doesn’t allow you to get that feedback from others that can keep you going.

Tip 2: Set your first goal based on your participation

I like goals that you have 100% control over whether or not you reach them.  This means that they are solely on you so if you don’t reach the goal the only person to blame is yourself.  I am going to make a guess that most people utilize a home gym to lose weight or add some muscle in the comfort of their own home.  The number one factor to not reaching those goals will be not being able to focus at home and skipping workouts.  If you have a brand new gym, the best possible goal to set up is so simple that you probably overlooked it.   Set a goal based on the number of times you train in a week and then give yourself a decent amount of time to hold yourself to that goal.

Example:  I will train 3x a week for the next 6 weeks without missing a training session

If you can reach your goal without skipping any workouts (which should not be hard at all, you can do them any time you want in your home) then you will definitely be on your way to making progress, especially if you are new to training.

Goal setting tends to snowball, when you reach that first goal you gain confidence and a nice little internal pat on the back.  It feels good and sets yourself up for more success.  More importantly, it can be empowering.  People that lack self confidence start to realize that they do have the ability to make changes.

Tip 3: Set performance based goals

The next set of goals you should be looking to set after reaching your first goal are related to performance (if you have been training a while then you should really be skipping to this goal).  This is where most people tend to think a bit differently and it can get discouraging.  Think about these two goals and what the outcome really is

  • I want to lose 15lbs
  • I want to improve my 2 mile time by 2:00

One goal is based on appearance (15lbs) and it can be VERY difficult to see progress when goals are set in that manner.  This type of thinking sets you up for failure because weight can fluctuate greatly and weight loss is not linear.  This means that you can go a few weeks with very little progress and then lose a significant amount of weight and then stall out again.  You aren’t getting enough positive feedback from this experience to stay motivated and not deviate from your plan.  God forbid that you cheat on your diet and take a few steps backward in relation to your goal…. It just isn’t a feasible way to make progress for most people.

Now, let’s compare that 2 mile time goal to losing 15lbs.  The main difference is that this goal is related strictly to how hard you will work.  If you don’t normally run then you should see immediate improvement from each session.  Improvement shows that we are making progress and keeps us accountable while at the same time creating that motivating snowball effect.  If you can reduce your 2 mile time (I’m sure someone will say that this isn’t a the best way to lose weight…It’s an example and nothing more) by 2:00 then it’s safe to say that you have put in some serious work and as a side effect the work will have caused you to lose some weight.  More importantly, you are creating a lifestyle change.  If you are even a bit competitive wouldn’t you want to see if you can now run a 5K or possibly your first road race?  I sure as hell would.  The lifestyle change will most definitely help you to reach that goal of losing 15lbs but are you healthy either way?  I used to run a lot of hills and I had a few bench marks for my hill sprints as well as my lifts.  I would tell students that if I can run X number of hills and then come in the gym and squat Xlbs do you think I really care what I look like? What do you think I would look like?  The answer was always “you would be in really good shape.”  The performance WILL take care of your appearance.

Wrap Up

In short, in order to make the whole home gym thing work then you need a plan.  Think about what it is that you really want to achieve and then start back tracking to create the steps necessary to be successful.  If you have any questions on how to do this or need a bit of direction feel free to reach out and maybe we can help!

Keeping the Train on the Tracks: Goal Setting and Training At Home

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