Gym memberships can be expensive, but working out at home can be limiting for those who can’t afford or don’t have space for a treadmill or elliptical. But, you don’t have to invest in fancy equipment for your home gym to perform effective at-home workouts. There are a number of basic pieces of equipment that can both help you create a do-it-all home gym that won’t break the bank and achieve your fitness goals.
“A home gym can be just the ticket to provide a great workout for people looking to avoid the commute, the expense, and the crowd,” says Personal Trainer Kathryn Alexander. “For an adequate gym, you’ll want to invest in a few quality pieces, and rev up your imagination.”
To make the most of your home workouts without spending a fortune, consider investing in these six pieces of equipment for a home gym that does it all.
Whether you have carpet or wood at home, it’s a good idea to have a non-slip surface designated as your workout space. “Obviously you can do yoga on it, but you can also perform most body weight or strength training exercises on it,” says Fitness Expert Ambyr Chatzopoulos. “Whether you are doing lunges, push-ups, chest press[es], or squat jumps, it provides a designated spot. You can also wipe it down easily to clean off sweat and dirt.”
No home gym is complete without a set of resistance bands. “They are super versatile and, with a door anchor, you can do just about any gym exercise with them at home,” says Personal Trainer Holly Pinkham. “A stackable set allows for increasing weight as needed for stronger muscle groups. They’re also easy on joints, which a lot of people need.”
Chair or Bench
Take your at-home workouts to the next level by including a chair or bench in your home gym. “These allow you to change levels to make exercises easier or harder,” says Chatzopoulos. “For example, you can place your hands on the chair to perform push-ups, making them easier. Or, instead of doing lunges, you can place your foot on the chair to perform step-ups.”
Sliders are useful for core workouts, although you can also use towels, paper plates, or socks, as well. “Strengthen your core muscles as you use all muscles of your core to pull the sliders towards and away from your body,” says Aaptiv Trainer Kelly Chase. “This improves balance and stability by strengthening your core, as well as the muscles being used for the movement, like your arms.”
Keeping a stability ball in your home gym is useful for core stability, balance, strength, and toning and lengthening. “It is great for balance when used as a seat (in shoulder presses and leg lifts),” says Personal Trainer Heather L. Tyler, NSCA-CPT. “[It is also] very useful for abs and core work, and great when progressing push-ups and planks to the next level.”
Kettlebells are great for power movements and getting your heart rate up. “One heavy implement is always a good idea for our lower body workouts,” says Pinkham. “We are typically stronger than we think and will quickly outgrow small dumbbells when it comes to squats, lunges, and other leg exercises.”
Once you have all this equipment, you might be wondering how to utilize it. Here are two workouts that you can do at home using these tools.
Circuit 1 (Perform two to four times through with no rest)
- Step Ups (with or without dumbbells) (8-10 reps each side): Start with your left foot on an elevated surface. Transfer weight forward onto your left foot and step up onto that leg.
- Bent Over Rows with Dumbbell (10-15 reps): Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Bend over at the waist, letting your arms hang down towards the floor. Make sure your core is engaged and drive your elbows back and up towards the ceiling.
- Single Arm Mini Band (or Dumbbell) Shoulder Press (10-12 reps each side): Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged. Press one hand straight up overhead.
- Hollow Hold with Mini Band Abduction (30 seconds): With the miniband around your ankles, lie on your back with your arms down along your side. Lift both your shoulders and your feet up off the floor while pressing your lower back down into the floor. While holding that position and keeping your feet about 12 inches off the floor, pull your ankles apart in opposite directions.
Circuit 2 (Perform two to four times through with no rest)
- Dumbbell Floor Chest Press (12-15 reps): Lie on your back with arms bent at 90 degrees and a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping the dumbbells in line with your chest, press them straight up towards the sky. Slowly lower them back down until your elbows lightly touch the ground. Then press back up.
- Single Leg Romanian Deadlift with Mini Band (10-12 reps each side): With the band looped around the base of your left foot, hold it in your right hand. Keeping your core tight and your body in a straight line from your ankle to the top of your head, lift your right leg while moving your chest forward. Lower until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Then engage your hamstring and glute to return to your start position.
- Chair Dips (8-12 reps): Sit on the very edge of a chair or bench. Place you hands on either side of your hips with your fingers wrapped around the front side of the chair/bench. Scoot your butt off the bench. Bend your elbows and lower your butt towards the floor. Then push yourself back up to your starting position.
- Slider Knee Tucks (30 seconds): Get into a push up position with your feet on plates. Engage your core, lift your hips and pull your knees into your chest. Then press your feet backwards and extend your legs.
You don’t need to fill your home with expensive or large equipment to ensure a quality workout. Gather a few of these at-home workout staples to create go-to circuits that will keep your body strong.