The most important piece of fitness equipment to own
I prefer to work out at home over going to the gym.
I'm not sure why, I've just never felt particularly comfortable going to a gym, though to be fair I've never really trained in a gym other than when I was training as a PT.
This means I've had buy some equipment to facilitate my home work outs. I've also had to be pretty judicial about exactly what I could afford to buy and had space to store.
The first thing I bought was a set of adjustable dumbbells. These are pretty versatile and you can get a lot of work done with just dumbbells.
The next thing was a pull up bar. Pull ups are my favorite exercise so it made sense to buy a proper bar to train them on.
After that came resistance bands. I'd recommend everyone pick up some resistance bands as they are great for corrective exercises and for ramping up the difficulty of exercises that are no longer challenging you (for example, try push ups with a resistance band wrapped around your hands and upper back),
Then I picked up some kettlebells, which are another versatile piece of equipment that are essential for any home gym, or commercial gym for that matter.
But finally, that last piece of equipment I started using, and hands down the most important, is a day by day diary.
A small notebook to write out your workouts and track your progress.
I could get a decent workout in without all of that other stuff, but I'd miss my diary the most if I didn't have it.
Five days a week I take out this little book, review that day’s workout from the previous week, and then sketch out my workout for that day.
It's how I make sure I'm progressing in my workouts and focus on the things that I need to work on.
For example, if the previous week I did ten pull ups that felt strong and controlled I might decide to shoot for more reps. However, if the previous week I made a note that the movement didn't feel strong I will focus on the quality of the movement over the amount of reps.
Without my diary my strength and fitness progression would definitely suffer.
What does it all mean?
Progress is important. In anything that we do we should be thinking about how to progress.
In fitness, progress refers to an increment in strength, mobility or endurance and in order to progress you need to understand where you're currently at so that you can avoid both stagnation and regression.
If I did three sets of ten pull-ups every Monday and then just forgot about it until next week and did that same workout again I wouldn't be progressing, I'd be stagnating.
It's also a good idea to remind yourself how far you've come.
If you keep a diary you can at any point in time look back over the last six months and clearly see all the progress you've made.
This applies to anything, not just fitness. When you're making steady progress on something it's hard to see much you have improved or achieved at a day to day level.
For example, for the last six months I have been progressing towards a one armed push up.
It started with regular push ups that got progressively harder, building strength with a focus on supporting my bodyweight with a single arm.
Eventually I succeeded, but it was a slow process.
During that six months it did not feel like I was making any significant progress during any one workout, but when I look back over my notes it's as clear as day.
However, there is another benefit in keeping a workout journal that is possibly even more important.
When you've got a full notebook, with a workout tracked on nearly every page, you really don't want to break the cycle - it provides motivation to keep going. To not leave a page blank.
So your diary will help you progress, help you understand your progress and motivate you to keep going.
I reckon that’s worth spending a fiver on.