Why spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on cross trainers, treadmills and stationary bikes when you can get a physical workout in VR as varied as your game collection? Fight in a boxing ring, play tennis, engage in futuristic cybersports, or dispatch death with sword and bow, in VR your workouts can be different every day. As the owner of a Concept 2 rowing machine and a $1000 stationary bike I can say with absolute conviction that my Oculus Quest is the best piece of cardio equipment I own, in fact, I simply no longer feel that I need anything else.
This time around I wanted to show you how you can use the Quest as the foundation piece for a complete home gym. For a very modest cash outlay you can buy some extra equipment that will work both with, and alongside the Quest to add resistance training to your routine and ensure that you are getting a total body workout, combining strength, aerobic, coordination and flexibility training. The entire set up, Quest and games included will cost only around $600, less than half what I paid for my rowing machine and $400 less than I paid for my stationary bike!
We’ll start by looking at the training benefits of using weighted vests and then move on to look at adding a door mounted pull up bar, and a set of parallette (dip) bars, affordable equipment that allows you to use your own bodyweight for maximum strength gains, whilst your Quest can provide you with a variety of challenging cardio body workouts. The weighted vests work with both the Quest and the external equipment and allow you to progressively overload your training routine, very important for maximizing your long term gains!
Creating your perfect home gym with some affordable additional accessories
The only component of fitness that you can’t currently fully develop with home virtual reality training alone is strength. In this article, I want to highlight some affordable pieces of home fitness equipment that you can use alongside your virtual reality-based training to get a complete and total home workout. These products are all relatively inexpensive, take up little space and are easy to set up and store away.
The total cost of all this extra equipment for me was less than $170 dollars (£130) and yet used in combination with my virtual reality cardio will be all I ever need for a complete strength and cardio workout program, one that will serve me, and maybe you indefinitely.
Now whilst the second two pieces of equipment can’t be used directly within VR they will certainly help improve your performance in specific games. I like to imagine my strength training as part of my Thrill of the Fight training, and the thought of putting a bigger beating on rivals like Spider and Edward ‘Money Maker’ Price helps motivate me through the pain of pull-ups and chin-ups or a draining session of weighted squats. I’ve also started to see some noticeable improvement to my body shape which further helps me embody my VR roles as a boxer, ninja warrior or general hero type badass.
So let’s get started!
(Note) I’m using the Oculus Quest in this example as its price and standalone nature make it the ideal VR headset for exercise. However if you have a PC based headset or Playstation VR the same principles apply, and you can certainly benefit in the same way from adding the equipment mentioned here to your own routines!
Note – Always exercise caution when lifting weights. Be careful to use correct form and be especially mindful if you have any preexisting conditions. Consult your physician or a qualified personal trainer prior to using if you are new to this form of exercise and begin with a lightweight.
We’ve mentioned these on the site before, and they really are a useful addition if you’re serious about a total home training setup. Unlike the other two pieces of equipment we’ll cover which you will use as a supplement to your VR based training, a weighted vest can be used in conjunction with ALL your fitness equipment, including the Quest itself.
If you want to get a killer leg workout in virtual reality try strapping on a 5kg or 10 kg vest and playing 30 minutes of leg focused power workouts in BoxVR and you’ll soon be feeling that lactic acid burn! They also work really well with the pull-up bar and parallettes. I say vests plural, as I really think it’s worth having two or three of different sizes. An ideal starter vest is a light 2.5 kg or 5 kg ( 5 or 10 pounds), which will give you a bit of extra resistance in longer cardio sessions, and make sets of push-ups and pull-ups harder.
Later on, if you really want to progressively overload your muscles you can buy a full-sized vest, and start adding weight from 10 kg all the way up to 50 kg or 120 pounds. Your own health goals, fitness level, gender, and size will dictate what’s best for you. I have both a 2.5 kg and 5 kg vest, which are excellent for longer cardio sessions, and for making tricep dips and pull-ups more challenging. I may get a 10 kg vest next for some more serious lifting, but for me, this is something for later. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need something really heavy as even 2.5 kg will take a toll over time, especially if you’re just starting out or a slender build.
My vests are a brand called Viavito and were bought from Amazon for £23.99 and £28.99 respectively. That’s $31 and $38 dollars, so again you don’t need to spend a lot. Heavier vests will cost more but can come later.
Door Mounted Pull Up Bar
At around $20 – $30 these simply hang off the frame of any standard door, no assembly required. Performing a few sets of wide-grip pull-ups and chin-ups, two or three times a week will do wonders for your upper body strength, and widen your torso, helping to develop your natural V-shape. You’ll also feel a lot stronger which is great when you’re punching people in the face in Creed! Throw in some pushups and crunches and you’re working all your major upper body muscles.
I have an inexpensive bar from Iron Gym that I’ve owned for several years and never had any problems with but you can just go to somewhere like Amazon and take your pick from dozens of options.
High Parallette Bars
I picked these up a few months ago and I love them. They are great for building your chest and triceps with dips, but a little bit of creativity will see you doing all kinds of exercises, such as bodyweight reverse rows, hanging leg raises, even handstand push-ups if you’re a gymnast level performer. I’m from the UK and paid only £52 ( Just under $70) for these bars from Gravity, which have proven tremendously useful so far.
A little more pricey than a pull-up bar at around $50 to $60 dollars but there’s a host of novel exercises you can do with these, all made harder with the addition of a weighted vest. A very versatile piece of equipment.
Putting It All Together
With the Oculus Quest starting from $399 and the costs of all the other equipment totaling less than $200, this means for a total of $600 you can get a complete home gym setup that will cover virtually all of your needs. That’s a mere fraction of the £1300 I paid for my rowing machine alone, so I feel that virtual reality headsets deserve serious consideration as an exercise tool. When you factor in everything else you can use a VR headset for it’s really a tremendous value for money investment for your health!
To round off the article this is a typical week in my current workout training program.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday:
3 sets push-ups,
3 sets pull-ups,
3 sets tricep-dips
3 sets chin-ups
3 sets reverse bodyweight rows
3 sets weighted single-leg squats,
3 sets hanging leg raises
3 sets plank exercise
The Thrill of the Fight, custom mode full 12 round fight, approx 45 mins (currently using my Rift S for this but TOTF is coming to Quest soon!)
I also try and walk regularly and eat healthily. By doing this I’ve managed to maintain a healthy weight of 140 lbs at 5 ft 7 at 45 years of age, with a healthy BMI of 22.