The 3 pieces of gym equipment you can’t live without

I set myself a challenge today after receiving an email from a friend asking about the equipment in FlyeFit Macken Street. As anyone who knows me will know – I do a lot of my training there because they have all the essentials, and it’s a nice change of scenery for me.

But he asked about some gear (GHR / Reverse Hyper / Chest Supported Row) that very few gyms have, and it got me thinking – could I come up with 3 “classes” of equipment, each with only 3 pieces in it, which I would consider the foundation of a well stocked gym (i.e. the essentials so that you can look, feel and perform better).

I gave myself the luxury of adding an unlimited “accessories” section as well, the only requirement for that was “can they fit into my gym bag and be carried from my car to the gym without feeling like a unilateral yoke walk”.

You can watch the video now, or continue reading the blog post below

So here we go.

THE 3 ESSENTIALS

> Squat Rack

> Adjustable Bench

> Olympic Bar & Weights

No surprise here… Those 3 bad boys form the foundation of any commercial, private or home gym. The number of exercises you can perform with them is almost unlimited and you’ll cover off everything you ever truly “need” to do with them.

You can do any squat, deadlift or bench press variation. You’ve got seated and standing overhead press options. You can barbell row, pull up, inverted row (all with 2 grip positions) and do chest supported barbell rows too.

You’ve split squats, barbell lunge variations, hip thrusts, curls, tricep extensions, calf raises, and hanging core options. I can’t think of a single major movement pattern that doesn’t have AT LEAST 3 exercise options based off of those 3 pieces of kit.

But you already knew that. So now let me talk about some things you probably haven’t considered.

 gymequipment

 

THE “DAMN I KINDA WISH I HAD THOSE” OPTIONS

> GHR

> Chest Supported Row

> Dumbbells

Having a GHR and C/S Row on this list may seem like a bit of an odd one because they’re a “single use” piece of machinery (ie you can only do one exercise on ’em) but I really believe both are so important they can’t be neglected. The GHR because most people have all but eliminated leg flexion training from their routines because they internet says it’s not cool anymore (hint numbnuts: what are the 2 main functions of your hamstring? why are you only training 1??). So a piece of equipment that allows you to train that, while maintaining hip extension is croosh.

The C/S Row is probably another surprise entry, but most people lack training as part of a “normal” program are chronically weak thru their hamstrings (GHR) and upper back (C/S Row). Having the C/S Row machine means you’re able to train your upper back and lats without further taxing your lower back. If you’re already pulling and squatting heavy, this is of HYOOGE benefit.

Those 2 machines alone are amongst some of the biggest deadlift builders ever created.

Finally, the dumbbells are a logical option to round out the list because they enhance ALL of the options in the “essentials” list. With the addition of them, you at least double the number of exercises you can do, and you can start to train some stabilisation work (ex. roatations, trap 3s, YTW etc) and unilateral pressing / pulling variations.

 

THE 3 “NICE TO HAVE, BUT I’M NOT REALLY GONNA DIE WITHOUT EM” OPTIONS

> Leg Curl Machine

> Pulldown Machine

> Sleds / Prowlers / Concept2 / Air Dyne

This is a hard one because everything that hasn’t been included thus far could be included here. So I just ran with the 3 things I like to have regular access, but if disappeared for ever I could probably do without. As I already mentioned – most people are chronically underdeveloped in the hamstrings, and while a leg curl may not be “functional” (whatever the hell that means) it is a movement that will help enhance overall leg size and strength when programmed intelligently (ie for targetting the smaller hamstring muscles – semimembranosus and semitendonosus with turned toe variations).

The pulldown one is controversial, I know. I REALLY like pulldowns. I think I do a much better job recruiting my lats using them than I do with pull ups and chinzz, plus you can vary the tempo nicely. Additionally, when done the right way (ie with a vertical forearm angle) they are a nice way of progressing towards pull ups for those too weak for them right now. That being said if you lean back and turn it into a row, you’re wasting your time. Stay tall, and stay strict.

And finally the conditioning tools. I love (ugh… hate!!) all of these. BUT if they didn’t exist I could still get an adequate conditioning workout using my own bodyweight, and the aforementioned pieces of equipment. So they don’t make the list. BUT if I was outfitting an unlimited space facility with no budget concerns  – I’d for sure have multiple sets of each.

THE “UNLIMITED ACCESSORIES BECAUSE I LOVE TOYS” OPTIONS

> Foam Roller

> Lacrosse Ball

> Resistance Bands

> Fat Grips

> Chalk

> Dip Belt

> 0.5kg and 1kg plates

> Straps

> Wraps

> Weightlifting Shoes

I’ll save the analysis on my whys for a different article, but those bad boys listed above will fit into anyones gym bag and completely change their experience in the gym for the better. They’ll enhance every program, your movement, health and success. AND they’ll give you some nice options to follow at home away from the gym if you’re bored and in need of a fix.

If you want to find out how we construct our programs using some of these tools, and what we can do to help you, just submit a coaching call request below and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours

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James Hanley

Strength Coach. Performance Specialist. Dog Lover. Powerlifter. And the guy behind the scenes in RevFit that keeps the plates spinning.