Jamie has always been a fitness fanatic but found his passion for weight training a few months before the first national lockdown. Whilst stuck at university in a student house, him and his friends had to get creative. They managed to squeeze a home gym into one of the ground floor bedrooms by flipping the bed up against the wall. In the space he created, he was able to train consistently and hard. The bedroom gym got him into the best shape of his life.
Where did you start your fitness journey?
I started playing basketball when I was 12 years old. I used to do 100 calf raises every night to help me jump higher and run faster. Once I turned 17, I started going to my local gym to try and improve my strength for basketball. I made some small progress, but I wasn’t educated or committed enough to make noticeable gains.
Towards the end of 2019, I decided to make weight training my main priority. I was underweight, and sick of people commenting on my slim frame. I started a mixture of bodybuilding and powerlifting and became obsessed.
What were your goals and targets?
Originally, I just wanted to be able to jump higher so I could dunk on a full-sized basketball hoop. Once I had achieved that, I realised how enjoyable it was to put in hours in the gym and see results.
Since I started to train seriously, I’ve focused on gaining as much muscle and strength as possible. I’ve put on over 15kg of lean muscle since. Once I’ve finished my studies I’d like to get a qualification as a personal trainer. I’m also interested in doing in competitive powerlifting.
Did you know you were going to end up working out from home?
I only realised I was going to have to work out at home when we got put into lockdown in March 2020. I made do with a pair of 10kg dumbbells, two resistance bands, a pull up bar, and dip handles. Despite having such a minimal set-up, I still managed to make some decent progress. It opened my eyes to how enjoyable it is to work out from home!
At the start of 2021, me and two of my gym-obsessed university housemates combined all of our gym equipment to make the ultimate bedroom gym. This is where I made the best progress of my life.
“If you told me a year ago that I’d one day be hitting squat PRs in my mate’s bedroom, I would be a very confused man.”
I think the focused environment and ease of access made it easier to make gains.
How long did it take to finish building your home gym?
We put all of our equipment together in a bedroom over the course of 2 hours. It’s definitely easy to build a home gym quickly if you’re in a rush. It might not be perfect, but you’d be surprised how little equipment you need to get a good workout in. If you’ve got a bench, a pair of dumbbells, and a pull up bar, you can pretty much work every muscle in your body effectively. Obviously if you want to train optimally and seriously, you’ll need a rack and barbell with multiple pairs of dumbbells.
Roughly how much did your home gym cost?
In total it probably cost around £700. A lot of our equipment was second hand and cheap, including three pairs of dumbbells and our barbell. I got the pull-up bar from Argos for £15 and bought the MuscleSquad Adjustable Dumbbell Bench through SportsDirect for £60. We also got some cheap squat stands to hold the barbell on for bench press, squats, and military press. These worked in place of a power rack and were a much cheaper alternative. We always had to use a spotter, because squat stands don’t have safety bars to catch the weight if you fail a rep. The main cost of our home gym was the weight plates. We had 200kg of total weight.
Is there anything you’d change?
With the small space and limited budget we had, I’d say it was pretty perfect. The main thing I missed about training in an actual gym was the machines. I missed not having a leg extension/leg curl machine, and also a lat pulldown. Luckily, we could use resistance bands to create reasonable simulations of these machines. If you’ve got a barbell and dumbbells, there’s not a single muscle group that you can’t target. What I’m saying is there’s always a substitute exercise you can do if you don’t have access to your favourite machine.
What’s your favourite part about working out at home?
Not having to wait for equipment to be free, and not having to worry about if the gym will be busy. There’s no worse feeling for me than turning up to the gym when it’s packed, and everything’s being used. It means you have to wait around to go to the gym at awkward times when it’ll be quieter. Realistically, if you’ve just worked a 9-5 shift, you want to go straight to the gym so you can go home and relax after. Usually, I had to wait until 7/8pm for the gym to be quiet enough, which meant I had less time to relax and prepare for the next day. The home gym meant I could train at whatever time I wanted.
What’s a piece of equipment you think every home gym should have?
A pull-up bar. They’re so cheap and easily rest on a door frame. In my opinion, pull-ups are the best back exercise for hypertrophy. You’d be mad not to pay an extra £15-20 to do them from home! I also used my pull up bar to attach resistance bands to. This meant I could do exercises like tricep pushdowns, face pulls, lat pullovers, and many more. A pull-up bar is simple, cheap, and unlocks the potential for you to do so many exercises.
Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
If we had the space, a power rack would’ve worked so much better than using squat stands. It’s much safer and means you don’t necessarily have to use a spotter every session. A lot of racks also include pull-up bars, dip stations, and cables. This would’ve given us a longer list of exercises to choose from, but there were more than enough options anyway.