Best Equipment for A Home Gym
While we are still stuck at home thanks to Covid and I would pay quite a bit at this point to work out at a gym, I promise to not complain about the guys hogging the squat rack, the person who didn't put their weights away, the lady who talks too loud about private stuff on the stair master, or the person doing very creative stretches in the corner. I will actually be thrilled to see each one of them. If I was a hugging person, I'd be tempted.
However, skipping my workouts didn't go so well either. I started gaining weight, losing muscle, feeling depressed, stressing more, not sleeping as well, and my anxiety skyrocketed. I know home workouts can be a challenge and they aren't as fun, but health is more important.
I would highly recommend connecting with a local small gym for virtual fitness classes. Most gyms are now offering this service, and it still provides you with a team to motivate you and a change your daily routine. (Added bonus is that you support a local small business that needs you!) My studio is offering classes, and you can find our daily schedule here.
When it comes to home workouts, bodyweight exercises are great, but after a while, we want to spice things up! Here are a few pieces of equipment I recommend for a home gym. I will start with basics and end with some more expensive items that I feel are still beneficial.
Dumbbells: I think every home gym should have a couple of pairs of dumbbells. Strength training should be incorporated in your workouts because it has many health benefits. Here is an article by the Mayo Clinic on the benefits of strength training. Some of the biggest benefits to dumbbells in particular are:
Dumbbells can be used for a large variety of exercises.
Dumbbells help build greater stabilization in the body.
Dumbbells often require unilateral movement, which can help to eliminate imbalances in the muscles.
Dumbbells tend to be a safer option for weight lifting when you are training by yourself. (Please always check your weights, and use safety precautions any time you are using weights. Injuries can occur when we are not paying attention or use equipment improperly)
I used my 8-pound and 10-pound dumbbells the most when I started. I eventually invested in a rack and weights from 5 pounds to 50 pounds, but all you really need it one pair of dumbbells to get a great workout in.
Yoga Mat: A yoga mat is another staple in a home gym. Even if you don't like yoga, you can use the mat for floor exercises and stretching. While I highly recommend yoga, basic stretching should be part of your daily routine. (check out this article in Forbes to learn more) Stretching can increase flexibility and mobility, relieves muscle tightness, increases circulation, improve workouts, and help prevent injuries.
A little secret, I love peacocks. Where I grew up, my childhood friend had a peacock who would chase me (I should probably be traumatized by this, but instead I fell in love with peacocks.) This is my go-to yoga mat. It has the perfect amount of padding and a great design!
Foam Roller: Recovery is part of a well-balanced workout routine. A foam roller is a recovery tool that allows you to give yourself a deep tissue massage. It can help with releasing tension in muscles and increasing circulation. To learn more, check out this article.
Resistance Bands: Bands are very versatile when it comes to workouts. They are also small and take up very little space. Bands can help with stabilization, functional training, compound muscle movements, and focus of control. A lot of research has been done on resistance training and the benefits. I would recommend stocking your home gym with both regular resistance bands and loop bands. Both can be used for upper and lower body and are fairly cheap.
While the pieces of equipment listed above are needed to provide a well-balanced workout routine, the next few items are fun but would be extra splurges. I slowly added these to my gym as I would hit goals and wanted a reward that encouraged me to continue working out.
TRX Suspension: This is one of my all-time favorite fitness toys. The TRX offers a huge variety of exercise options and can be hooked over a door, which makes it a mobile piece of equipment.
Slam Ball: Honestly, this replaces my therapist! There is nothing better on a frustrating day than going into the gym and throwing something as hard as possible and it doesn't break! Talk about arms, legs, core, and cardio!
Kettlebell: I am being biased, but I love my kettlebells. I use them for rows, swings, balance, and deadlifts. Most of these exercises can be done with dumbbells, so kettlebells aren't really a need, but they are fun. On a side note, don't get anything under 12kg (we call the tiny kettlebells door stoppers). To do most kettlebell exercises, you need a heavier weight.
Bosu: Balance is a very important part of our lives. As we age, we begin to lose our balance and need to consistently work to maintain it. While we can use single-leg balancing exercises, and unstable surfaces to create balance exercises, the Bosu is a great tool.
Bench: I think every home gym should have a bench. The reason this is on the splurge list is that I love the Reebok bench and use it regularly due to its versatility, but it is a bit pricey. It can be a regular bench, you can lift the back to a chair or incline position, drop the bench on one side for decline, and lower the bench for step variation. There are some other brands but I have not used them and can't vouch for their quality. However, most benches are probably going to work fine for a home gym. (We have to worry more when we have a commercial space)
Make sure to build a home gym that is full of equipment you want to use and are likely to take advantage of. Utilize the space you have available. If you don't have a lot of space, get equipment that is smaller and easily mobile. Creating a space that is neat is important as well. If you have any questions about building a home gym, please feel free to email me at email@example.com and I'd be happy to help.
(Included throughout are many links to products that I've used. Using the links helps support the author through affiliate programs.)