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1. Power Rack
No home gym is complete without one. “Think of it as the centrepiece,” says strength coach Lee Boyce. “It provides a framework for everything from body-weight exercises to hard-core strength training.” It’s also an ideal anchor for suspension trainers and resistance bands.
Impulse Power Rack: It’s a stack of cash, but it’ll double as a storage unit. (R19 999, xitestore.com)
2. Olympic Bar
Unlike “standard” bars, which typically weigh less than 13 kilograms, a 20- kilogram Olympic bar can handle heavy loads without permanent bending. Its heavier weight also makes it more stable when loading and removing plates.
Rebel WOD Black Olympic Bar: Made from high-grade steel with a zinc finish. (R2 850, rebelstore.co.za)
There’s a reason for the ungainly design: a kettlebell’s centre of gravity shifts during an exercise, increasing the challenge. “Nothing swings the way a kettlebell does,” says Dan John, a master kettlebell instructor. John suggests buying a few sizes to allow for different exercises – and your increases in strength.
Kettlebells: Ranging from four kilograms to 32, pick the weight appropriate for your fitness level. (From R160 to R1 500, Sportsmans Warehouse)
4. Foam Roller
“A huge part of making gains is the ability to recover,” says training advisor David Jack. “A foam roller hits tight points in muscles, easing knots and increasing range of motion.” Use it before and after a workout to boost performance and accelerate muscle repair. Start with your calves and work your way up your body, front and back.
Rumble Roller: The specifically designed bumps on this foam roller will knead the contours of your body. (R600, Sportsmans Warehouse)
5. Cardio Machine
Unlike a Spin bike, an Assault bike uses a fan instead of a front wheel to generate air resistance, which is exponential – the harder you pedal, the harder pedalling becomes. “It’s great for long cardio workouts and after strength-training sessions for a metabolic finish,” says trainer Kevin Carr.
Assault Airbike: They’re pricey, but worth it for all the fitness benefits. (R12 990, xitestore.com)
6. Resistance Bands
“Not only are bands great for mobility work,” says Boyce, “but you can also use them to make body-weight moves like pull-ups and push-ups easier or harder.” Looped around the ends of a barbell and the pins at the base of a power rack (shown left), they can also increase the intensity of heavy lifts, like squats and presses.
Rebel Power Bands: Up the thickness to increase the intensity. (From R110, rebelstore.co.za)
7. Suspension Trainer
A comprehensive training tool in its own right, a suspension trainer is also the ultimate workout accessory. “Attach one to your power rack to instantly accommodate 100 body-weight exercises of varying difficulty,” says Jack. Suspension trainers are also ultra portable, making them ideal for working out on the road.
TRX Home Kit: This includes the door anchor and suspension anchor, so you can easily set it up at home. (R3 000, Pentanet – 0860 111 213)
8. Adjustable Bench
Like the power rack, an adjustable bench sets the stage for hundreds of different lifts, from hip thrusts and supported rows to bench presses and step-ups. “You just don’t get as much flexibility with a flat bench,” says Rasmussen.
Weider Pro 255 Bench: It has a 90-degree seat adjustment. (R1 100, Sportsmans Warehouse)
“Dumbbells are the most versatile weights you can own,” says Boyce. Use one at a time to develop stability or grab a pair to build strength and power. Short on room? Save money and space with adjustable versions (like the PowerBlocks shown here), which can replace an entire rack of conventional dumbbells for about half the price.
PowerBlock SportBlock 2.4 Adjustable Set: Adjusts from 1.3 to 11kg. (R6 729, wantitall.co.za)
10. Rubber Flooring
Commercial gyms use it and so should you. “Rubber mats will help protect both floors and weights from damage and also deaden the sound of dropped weights,” says Rasmussen. If you ever need to bail on a deadlift, you’ll be glad you did it on rubber and not wood or concrete.
Trojan Interlocking Mats: Interlocking mats allow you to choose the size of the area you want to cover. (R199, Makro)