Making your own home gym is a fantastic way of making sure you workout regularly by taking the effort out of travelling to another location and will mean you can train in your own environment, with your own music or TV, without stares and keeping warm. It cuts the time it takes to workout, and it means you can jump into a workout whenever you get a burst of energy instead of having to schedule your workouts in weeks in advance. If you take items with you it even means you can workout on trips or holidays. But how do you know which items to invest in and which ones to avoid?

The important thing to bear in mind is that the muscles really get a kick out of variation. The more different exercises you can do and the more ways you can invigorate your training, the more you'll see results from your hard work. At the same time if you can introduce new elements and test new pieces of equipment you'll give yourself more interest in the workout and will invigorate it psychologically.

So in other words, there aren't really any pieces of workout equipment that you should completely avoid, as even the most unusual items have their uses. The only time a piece of equipment has no value is if you suspect it's been poorly manufactured or is old or second hand - the reason for this being that where heavy weights are involved it can be incredibly dangerous to trust rickety devices. For this reason you should always buy first hand from a known manufacturer of commercial fitness equipment.

Other than that the sky is the limit, and even if you don't use an item as intended you can create a new innovative workout. 'Gimicky' devices meanwhile might be great for a couple of nights as something to add a bit of intrigue, or might work well combined with other items, or as a travel companion.

However that's not to say that some items of commercial training equipment aren't more crucial than others and there are certainly a few staples that everyone should have in their kit.

The first and most obvious of these is the dumbbell. The reason these are so important is that you can train almost any body part with a pair of dumbbells - curling them for your biceps or pressing them for your shoulders or deltoids. At the same time they can be used as floor brackets for press ups with an extended range of movement. Normally these start at about 20kg, so you might choose to buy a couple and double them up if you're advanced.

Another great item to buy is a pull up bar. This enables you to train your biceps and lats with your own body weight, takes up zero space and costs hardly anything (though you need to damage the door frame so they're not recommended for those who rent).

A bench too is great for combining with the dumbbells for tricep dips, dumbbell presses and flies - and if it can be inclined and reclined then you can knock out hundreds of variations and even use it for suspended sit ups.

When choosing commercial fitness equipment the main consideration is strength. Whereas for personal fitness equipment other things must be considered, such as compatibility and storage.

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