Being able to exercise at home is basically the only way you will get me to exercise. I am not a gym rat or much of a nature person. Not that I don’t love to be outside when the weather is nice, its just I am very particular about what nice weather entails. Unfortunately the climate of where I currently reside is not conducive to me exercising outdoors for most of the year. And either way I prefer to do some kind of cardio strength training vs running or hiking. So with that in mind here is my list of 8 home gym essentials (and 1 bonus) to make your exercise at home the most productive it can be without breaking the bank.
I exercise at home everyday and I do not own a single piece of cardio equipment. No treadmills or elliptical or bikes or anything mind-numbingly boring like that. I can appreciate that there are many people out there who feel the need to have these machines in order to get in a good workout but I promise that is not the only way! You can have a home gym and get in some awesome workouts at home without having a lot of stuff or a lot of space.
The following are my exercise at home essentials
Since my husband and I both exercise at home we need a big range of free weights to accommodate our different needs. We started small with 5lb, 7lb, 10lb, 15lb, and 20lb weights and bought more as needed. This can be a bit pricey if you are needing a lot of different ones and need to up weights as you get stronger. If you know that you will need a wide range of weights to start then I recommend investing in adjustable weights. They are a few hundred dollars depending on the ones you choose but are well worth the price, especially if you consider what you would be paying for a gym membership. They are a one time investment and will last forever.
For obvious reasons (I would assume) I recommend a good workout mat. You will probably be doing floor exercises and having a good cushion is nice. I prefer a exercise mat that is a little thicker with a little more cushion because we have hard wood floors and any kind of floor exercise kills my back and hips. I also have a thinner yoga mat for when I do actual yoga. You don’t need two mats though, one will suffice. Just pick a thickness that works for you! You can find them to buy almost everywhere so shop around for a good price.
These are a great addition to your home gym. Most will come dual sided for use on carpet or hardwood. They can be used for so many exercises and really add an extra bit of ‘fun’ to your core and leg work. I use them a lot in the current workout program I am following (80 day obsession). They will add some intensity to your lunges, bridges and all the plank exercises. You will wonder how you ever did any work without them. Best part is they are very low impact since your feet literally don’t leave the floor when you use them. The ones above are the ones I use and can be found on amazon but there are a lot of options out there. These have held up really well for the amount of abuse I put them through.
This is another great addition to your home workouts. Resistance loops really up the intensity of everything from lunges to bridges to upper body work. They are super easy to travel with as they fit in your pocket so in terms of space, they don’t take up any. If you don’t have the space or money for free weights these are a great beginning substitution. But even if you have a full range of free weights to work with they are extremely useful to use in addition to weights. They’re durable, versatile, cheap and really work! Perfect for a home gym. These are the ones that I use but there are tons of options out there.
Kettlebell’s are another great addition for your home gym. They provide a great strength training and cardio workout all by themselves. You will want one that is just enough resistance that you are able to life and swing without hurting yourself. There are a lot of different exercises you can use them for and using proper form is crucial so I suggest looking up some videos for instruction.
Pull up bar
I will be the first to admit that I couldn’t do a pull-up if my life depended on it. But I try. Everyday. I figure its going to happen at some point. Either way I believe a pull up bar is a inexpensive and vital part of your home gym experience. Pull ups are a great upper body exercise. But you can also use the bar for push up and core work. The bars usually come with a booklet or poster with all the different exercises you can use it for. You find a pull up bar at any local sports good store or on amazon.
This is not technically an essential item. Or I should say it depends on who you ask (me or my husband). I do not use the weight bench a whole lot. He uses it all the time. I guess it really depends on your particular choice of workout. I will use it for step-ups or triceps dips but I don’t find it to be necessarily essential to a home gym set up, only a really nice addition. In any case it isn’t too expensive and doesn’t take up that much room so its worth it. I recommend an adjustable bench over a flat bench as you will get more out of it. You can find weight benches at your local sporting goods store or online.
Since you are hard at work using all your new ‘gym’ equipment I definitely recommend getting and using a foam roller. I will admit that I bought a foam roller a very long time ago and it sat forgotten for a good portion of that time. Its only pretty recently that I extracted it from its home in the back of my closet and started to really appreciate it. Foam rollers are great to help roll out those muscles you are working out so hard. Its like getting a massage but not having to take your clothes off and lay on a table while a stranger kneads your muscles. There are right and wrong ways to foam roll so I suggest hopping on YouTube and looking up some videos. Don’t worry, there are tons!
Heavy Bag and Stand
You want to have some fun with your home gym? Forget the treadmill. Invest in a heavy bag and stand. Also some boxing gloves. Nothing is more fun than punching and kicking something. Its a great stress reliever. This is a bonus because you obviously do not need this to have a successful and fully functional home gym but if you have the space and extra cash then this is a great addition!
Being able to exercise at home is such a luxury (IMO). There is no need to get in your car, drive to the gym, find a locker, get changed, wait for a machine etc….. you can literally wake up and workout or come home and workout and be ready to watch some Netflix when your done. I know for me that’s a big win! I hope that these recommendations help you with your at home gym set up. Or maybe you learned about something new that you can incorporate into your current home gym. Either way I hope I helped! Check out my favorite workout/nutrition apps to help you stay on track with your fitness goals.
Now that you have your home gym all set up go check out my list of the best FREE YouTube workouts that you can do right in your new home gym!
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