If you can’t afford a gym membership, or you don’t yet feel comfortable stepping foot in the gym, don’t worry, home workouts are still an effective way to lose weight, gain muscle, or achieve whatever fitness goals you may have. For the last 2 years, I have done ALL of my workouts at home. I do not have a gym membership, or a personal trainer, nor do I attend any fitness classes. Every leg day, upper body day, ab day, and cardio session is done at home. While I’ve acquired quite the collection of workout equipment over the last 2 years, you don’t need hundreds of dollars in equipment in order to workout from home. Here’s the low down on what equipment you may want to add to your “home gym”:
Each of these items should run you no more than $20 a piece, and they can be incorporated into nearly every workout.
A staple in any gym, home or otherwise. Dumbbells can be incorporated into so many different workouts – upper body, lower body, and ab workouts can all be done using dumbbells. If possible, try to have at least 2 sets of dumbbells, a lighter weight and a heavier weight. For example, I have 15 pound dumbbells that I use frequently during leg workouts, and I use 10 or 12 pounds for my arm workouts. Choose one weight that you feel comfortable with, and one weight that is more challenging.
STABILITY BALL (AKA YOGA BALL)
A very basic piece of equipment, but one that comes in handy nonetheless. Ideal for ab workouts.
A medicine ball can be used in place of a dumbbell in many cases, and for so many different exercises. Medicine ball “slams” are a great high intensity exercise. A medicine ball can also be used for ab workouts, arm workouts, and even leg workouts (squatting or lunging with it in hand.) They come in various different weights and sizes.
Not necessarily essential, but if your budget permits this is an ideal piece of equipment to have.
While some people get creative and use a table or chair in place of a bench, a proper workout bench is a much safer option, not to mention it is more likely to withstand the constant jumping, standing, and laying on, a lot better than your Ikea coffee table or kitchen chair. While a workout bench is not necessarily a requirement, it is a great item to have, and I wholeheartedly recommend investing in one. Flat or standard workout benches are less expensive than adjustable benches, and are just as effective. After doing a quick Internet browse, there are benches as low as $60 at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and benches starting from $99 at Walmart.
For reference, this is what I am referring to as a “flat bench”:
If you already have a few pieces of equipment but you’re looking to grow your collection, these pieces are great for at-home workouts.
Resistance bands are inexpensive, and can be incorporated into many different workouts for an added challenge. In most cases, they come in “Light”, “Medium”, or “Heavy”, which refers to the actual resistance of the band. There are many different types of resistance bands, you can buy looped bands, bands with handles, and flat bands (not looped).
Ankle weights are a fun way to add an extra challenge. They are available in different weights (typically 2 to 5 pounds) and can be incorporated into leg and ab workouts. Try adding ankle weights to your step-ups, knee-ups, and leg raises to up the intensity.
BARBELL W/ PLATES
A barbell is by no means a necessary piece of equipment, however it is great to have. It allows you to perform heavier squats, lunges, deadlifts, bicep curls, and many other exercises. The plates are also great to have on their own, and can be used in place of dumbbells or a medicine ball. *Always use caution if using a barbell at home, because you won’t have a squat rack, you should only lift a weight that you feel comfortable lifting from floor level.
PRICEY ITEM WORTH THE SPLURGE
By no means a requirement, and completely understandable if you want to keep the price down on your “home gym.” This is simply a fun and effective piece of equipment to have if your budget permits it.
I didn’t get a Bosu Ball until I was over a year into my exercise routine, so as I said, you definitely do not need one. However, it is a great piece of equipment to have. It challenges your stability, and can up the intensity of your workouts. Squats, lunges, burpees, sit ups, mountain climbers, snap jumps, push ups (and many other exercises) can be made more challenging simply by incorporating a Bosu Ball. I’ve found a way to incorporate a Bosu ball into my leg, arm and ab workouts, as well as my HIIT plyometric workouts. I got mine at Costco for $120 Canadian.
From my own experience (working out exclusively at home for nearly 2 years), I personally believe that home workouts can be just as effective as gym workouts, so if you can’t or don’t want to sign up for a gym membership – that’s totally fine. With some simple pieces of equipment, you can create a “home gym” that will allow you to do your training outside of the gym.