How to Create a Military-Grade Home Gym for 180.94$, With Only 4 Tools, as Effective As a Weight Room

 Written by 

Julien Raby

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Imagine achieving the muscle and strength gains of a fully-equipped gym with just a 12-pound portable training system.

This isn’t a futuristic fantasy; it’s a reality proven by a groundbreaking study led by Professor Shawn Arent from the University of South Carolina. Designed initially for military use, this system is not just for soldiers or fitness enthusiasts. It’s a game-changer for everyone, from the busy traveler to the home workout aficionado, offering an affordable and effective fitness solution.

MILITARY HOME GYM
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Uncover how this compact marvel can revolutionize your fitness regime, delivering gym-quality results without the hefty price tag or space requirements. Read on to discover the pivotal reasons why this innovative approach to strength training is becoming the go-to choice for achieving peak physical fitness, wherever life takes you.

“For just 12 pounds, you had effects that were very similar to using a squat rack, barbell, and heavy free weights. That’s pretty cool, because it opens the door for people that can’t afford that type of expensive equipment. There’s a lot you can accomplish with minimal equipment, and still mimic the movements and gains that are done in more traditional strength training.”

Shawn Arent, one of the study’s authors

Introducing The portable training system

military grade home gym
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The portable training system, initially developed for the military, offers several benefits for everyday people, including frequent travelers, individuals who prefer home workouts, and those seeking a cost-effective fitness solution.

The study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, revealed that the portable training system, weighing just 12 pounds, can effectively build muscle and strength, making it an ideal option for everyday use.

The following are the key reasons why this system is beneficial for everyday people:

1. Portability

The compact and lightweight nature of the training system makes it an excellent choice for frequent travelers and individuals who prefer home workouts. Its portability allows people to maintain their fitness routine on the road or in the comfort of their own home, without the need for heavy or bulky equipment.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

The portable training system provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional gym equipment. For individuals who cannot afford or do not have space for a full home gym, this system offers a practical and affordable solution for achieving muscle and strength gains.

3. Versatility

The system’s versatility enables a wide range of strength training exercises, allowing individuals to perform a variety of movements and achieve gains comparable to traditional strength training. This versatility makes it suitable for individuals looking to build and maintain strength without access to a fully equipped gym.

4. Effectiveness

The study demonstrated that the gains in muscle and strength achieved through the portable training system were similar to those obtained from traditional weight room workouts. This means that everyday people can achieve significant improvements in muscle and strength using this minimal equipment, making it a valuable option for those who prefer home workouts or have limited space.

The Results of The Study

The study involved members of an ROTC program who were divided into three groups. The first group trained using traditional equipment, the second group used a scaled-down training kit, and the third group used the same kit with added pneumatic blood flow restriction cuffs.

All three groups worked out four times per week for 60 to 75 minutes per session.

The results showed that the gains in muscle and strength for the minimally equipped groups were strikingly similar to those using traditional equipment.

While the group using traditional equipment gained the most strength, the minimally equipped groups also showed significant improvements in muscle and strength, as well as other performance measures such as vertical jump, pushup repetitions, and body fat loss.

The study’s findings have significant implications for individuals who may not have access to a traditional gym or expensive equipment, including military personnel and civilians. The results suggest that a portable training system can be an effective alternative for building strength and muscle, making it a valuable option for those who travel frequently or have limited access to a gym.

Only 4 pieces of equipment

The four pieces of equipment used in the portable training system are the ones below. We found great, more affordable alternatives on Amazon for all of them. At the time of writing, these 4 items will only cost you 180.94$.

1. Weighted Vest

Participants were given a 44-pound Raptor weight vest, which can be filled with sand, stones, or other weights. A similar version can be found on Amazon, like this one:

Weights Included
RUNmax 12lb-140lb Weighted Vest

Affordable, and comfortable weight vest option

See latest price

2. Sandbag

Participants were given different sizes of Brute Force sandbags, which can be filled with different amounts of sand for various weights. The “Strongman” model, the largest, comes with bladders to make the bag 75 to 150 pounds in 25-pound increments. Here’s a similar bag on Amazon:

Up to 75 lbs
Yes4All Workout Sandbags

A great, versatile piece of equipment for most weightlifting movements.

See latest price

3. Resistance Bands

Participants used looped rubber resistance bands from Sorinex. You can use this affordable alternative:

Affordable Bands
VEICK Resistance Bands

These great-looking, sturdy bands will work for any resistance training.

See latest price

4. TRX Suspension Trainer

Participants were given a TRX suspension training system, a set of straps that can be anchored to a door, nearby jungle gym, or any secure structure. Here’s a great option:

A Great Alternative to TRX
Bodytorc Suspension Trainer

This great piece of equipment will cover all your pulling needs.

See latest price

The Workouts

Here are 2 of the workouts the participants did. I love these full-body training that will build muscles AND shed fat at the same time:

Workout A

Power clean (with sandbag): 

3 sets of 3 reps, resting 3 minutes between sets.

Deadlift (using sandbag, resistance bands, or a combination of both): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

 Pushup (using weighted vest): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Rear-foot elevated split squat (using weighted vest, sandbags, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps on each leg, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

TRX row (using weighted vest): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Leg curl (using resistance bands): 

3 sets: 30 reps on each leg, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Biceps curl (using sandbags, resistance bands, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Calf raise (using weighted vest, sandbags, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Dead bug (body weight): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Workout B

Push press (with sandbag): 

3 sets of 3 reps, resting 3 minutes between sets.

Lunge (with weighted vest, sandbags, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps on each leg, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Assisted pullup (with resistance bands): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Romanian deadlift (with sandbags, resistance bands, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Overhead press (with sandbags, resistance bands, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Squat (with weighted vest, sandbags, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Bent-over row (with resistance bands, sandbags, or both): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Overhead triceps extension (with resistance bands): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Plank with shoulder tap (body weight): 

3 sets: 30 reps, 15 reps, 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

References

  • https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/abstract/2024/01000/effects_of_minimal_equipment_resistance_training.7.aspx

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About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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