Home gym equipment to help you work out from home and get fit!
Over the last 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of women in my online training program that choose to work out from home. Whether they enjoy the flexibility of being able to workout on their own schedule, training while little ones are napping or the time they save not traveling back and forth to the gym, getting fit at home is absolutely possible. The first question many women have though, is what kind of equipment do I really need? Is a fancy treadmill or Peleton a must? How about machines? Will I really use a big machine enough to justify the cost?
I have tried and tested a TON of fitness equipment so you don’t have to. Below are my suggestions for each of the different type of equipment along with their Amazon links.
Why do you need a home gym?
You want to tone up, improve your health, lose a little weight, and gain greater flexibility? What you don’t want to do, however, is pay an initiation fee, a contract plus monthly costs, drive to the gym and circle the parking lot looking for a spot, wait your turn for equipment, deal with potential discomfort or embarrassment if you’re surrounded by people in better shape than you — don’t worry, you’ll get there with time and dedication — then shower in a crowded and possibly dirty locker room.
Luckily, there’s another alternative: A HOME GYM. Your own space. Your rules. Getting fit at home means you can work out whenever the mood strikes with no need for travel, you never have to wait for equipment, and once you have your equipment, you won’t have any further monthly expenses.
Not sure what to buy?
If you’ve shrugged off a home gym because you think it requires a dedicated room, a huge expenditure of money, or more knowledge than you possess, I’m here to help demystify the process of creating your own space to take your fitness to new heights.
You can get a great workout whatever your budget and you don’t need a ton of space to do it.
Pocket Sized Home Gym
If you have seriously limited space or know that you will only be working out from home for a short period of time, I recommend starting small. Here are the basics that everyone should have to workout either from home or while traveling…
• Best Resistance Bands (Small Looped Exercise Bands): Resistance Bands Exercise Loops These deceptively mighty but small bands deliver a killer glute and leg workout from home or while you are traveling.
• Best Resistance Bands (Long Looped Exercise Bands): WOD Nation Pull Up Resistance Bands I LOVE these and find them super useful… and not just for pull-up assistance. The red and black bands are every day resistance bands but the others have solid uses 1-2 times per week depending on what your home workouts look like.
• Best Resistance Bands (Full Set Light) : TheraBand Resistance Bands Frequently used by physical therapists, these light weight bands are not looped and can be adjusted or tied to just the width you need. Great for things like Overhead Tricep Extensions
Weight Training at Home
If you are ready to step things up and have a dedicated space for your at home workouts, then adding in some modest weights is a great option. Having an exercise bench and dumbbells along with bands means that you can do 80% of the exercises you would do at a gym in the comfort of your own home. Let’s start with the weights.
Nothing says training like dumbbells. While they are a staple in many of my workout routines, traditional sets of dumbbells take up tons of space and the cost of purchasing everything from sets of 5’s through say 35’s can really add up! That said, one technological advance in weight equipment that is most welcome is the “selectable dumbell”. Allowing the user to “dial in” the weight needed on one unit, these dumbells allow you to purchase one set that can be used from weights from 5lbs up to over 90lbs. And even better, you don’t have to have a large rack space to store all the variables! While they are often not cheap, they do offer flexibility and are compact for even the smallest of home gyms.
• Best dumbbells: Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
Home Workout Gym Exercise Bench
Don’t get me wrong, a kitchen chair or coffee table has often doubled as my bench for tricep dips and overhead presses, especially in the early days of my home training while my son was an infant. But nothing beats a nice cushioned adjustable bench to aid in variability and flexibility in home workouts. Weight benches can be used in a number of exercises not only as support, but also aiding in form and use for exercises like bench glute pulses and the dumbell flye.
• Best training bench: Bowflex 5.1 Adjustable Weight Bench
Squat Racks for Home
If you have the luxury of space and a little room in your budget, a squat rack can be an amazing addition to a home gym. While, yes, you can use it for squats, you can also add a number of other exercises not possible or very difficult to set up without a squat rack. For instance, many include a pull up bar, weight storage posts, dip bars and many are tall and heavy enough enough to hook or loop resistance bands to for some supreme flexibility in your exercise routine. Also, many racks can be adjusted so they can serve as a bench press station – just add your own bench and bar!
A Medium Size Squat Rack will have at least “J-Hooks” and a set of spotter bars and most will have a pull up bar.
Large size squat racks offer even more flexibility and exercise options, however you need a relatively large space to utilize it. A minimum of 5′ x 6′ area will be needed with a minimum of 8′ ceiling if you wish to utilize the pull up portion.
I personally have a set of Mini Squat Towers like this one in my garage gym. They can be moved aside when we park our cars. These are extremely portable, which makes them nice, but you need to have some experience with weights and proper loading and unloading techniques as they are not as forgiving as a full squat rack.
Cardio Equipment for Home
Some people are surprised that I don’t suggest starting with a large piece of cardio equipment when building an at home gym. While cardio is definitely important, all too often people make the purchase before really getting into a good training routine and they just do not make a great long term choice. With so many options on the market it is important to really think through the kind of cardio vascular exercise you will enjoy and really get use out of.
Cycling is the best exercise in the fitness world. But nowadays nobody wants to go out for cycling in heavy rains, intense cold, snowfall and scorching sun. Now! To your greatest delight, we have found the best way of indoor exercise in the form of stationary cycling.
This latest technique has been practised since 1990. Several gyms and cycling studios have been opened around the country giving training in indoor cycling or “spinning”, the best form of exercise ever heard.
It is the most effective cardiovascular exercise, imparting tremendous energy and strength to the body. In 45 min period training you will ride a stationary bike, in the form of spin bike, and can burn upwards of 600 calories. It will strengthen your lung pumping capacity. Studies have shown that indoor cycling has reduced body fat and body mass index, within a short period of time.
• Best Home stationary bike: Spinning L3 SPIN Bike
• Best Budget stationary bike: Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike
The beauty of a treadmill is that it accommodates you no matter where you’re starting from fitness-wise. Many of my clients fall into the obese category and for those women in particular simply moving more is our first goal. One great way to do that is through walking and focusing to increase the number of steps they take a day. Ideally, I want women to be walking outside when possible, but that is just not always realistic. This is when having a quality treadmill makes a big difference! Hop on the treadmill, go at a challenging pace and over time, watch the fat come off while you build endurance.
As part of my online personal training program FIT TEST, we test cardio endurance with a 1 mile run at the beginning of our program and then again every 4 weeks. Most women are able to shave several minutes off their mile run in just one 8 week session. So, what kind of treadmill would you want for your home workouts? Here are two that I have been super impressed with…
• Best treadmill: 3G Cardio Elite Treadmill
Budget treadmill: NordicTrack T 6.5 Series
Maybe your vision of jumping rope is tripping about PE class with a beaded rope and a bunch of 12 year olds. We get it. We were there too. But if you haven’t picked up a jump rope since, or you’re just afraid of looking silly at the gym, here are a few reasons why jumping rope is one of the very best exercises out there (and a lot cooler than you think).
- Calorie Cooker – Very few exercises burn calories like jump rope. Even jumping at a very moderate rate burns 10 to 16 calories a minute. Work your jump rope exercise into three 10-minute rounds and you’re looking at 480 calories in half an hour. According to Science Daily, 10 minutes of skipping rope is about equivalent to running an 8-minute-mile. There’s a reason the American Heart Association created an entire movement around jumping rope (ever heard of Jump Rope for Heart?)
- Build Agility & Quickness – Want to get “lighter on your feet?” Skip rope every day for a few minutes. When you jump rope on the balls of your feet, body connects with mind to make “neural muscular adjustments” to keep you balanced. Essentially, skipping rope improves your balance and quickness/coordination by making your mind focus on your feet for sustained periods of time, even if you’re not conscious of it. Boxers know this. Why do you think jumping rope is a favorite exercise for the best boxers in the world?
- Increase Bone Density – The medium impact of jumping rope increases bone density, but isn’t as hard on your joints as running because the impact of each jump is absorbed by both legs. In fact, according to Dr. Daniel W. Barry, a researcher who has studied the bones of the elderly and of athletes, the latest studies show simply jumping is one of the very best exercises for improving bone density.
- Affordability – Of all the fitness options out there, rope jumping is still one of the most affordable. Shoot, even runners need to fork it over for high end shoes. But jump ropes? Even a top-of-the-line fitness jump rope is only $35. Very simple (but good) ropes can be purchased for as low as $10. And, depending on the surface you jump on, a rope should last you a while.
- Portability – Now you have no excuse for not having a good cardio session. Whether you’re on the road traveling, at your kiddo’s soccer game or visiting the in-laws over the holidays, these can go with you anywhere. The packability and portability of the Jump Rope is second to NONE!
• Best jump rope: Rogue Fitness SR-1F Froning Speed Rope
• Best budget jump rope: Survival and Cross Jump Rope
Resistance Workout Equipment for Home
The All-In-One Machine
While not everyone has space for a full set of olympic equipment, some all-in-one gym machines can fit into a small office space or spare bedroom and give you all the flexibility you need to get a well rounded full body workout. While more expensive than single pieces of equipment, these machines offer a lot of variety and flexibility to create a full on gym session right at home. There are a number of home gyms on the market, but the best bang for your buck is the Bowflex series. Without the need for expensive iron plate weights and having to worry about a place to store them, this all in one home gym offers resistance through the unique system of pulleys and “bows”. It’s easy to adjust your resistance as you gain strength, and the wide variety of possible exercises not only provides strength training to your entire body, it also keeps things interesting.
• Best workout machine: Bowflex Blaze Home Gym
Suspension and Band Systems
Nowdays, home workout equipment has become interesting because of unique systems like suspension training and resistance band training. No longer do you have to create a workout based on load bearing exercises, now you can create resistance by re-positioning the body or adding resistance in the form of industrial rubber bands! While these systems are relatively simple, where they really shine is the amount of space they DON’T take up. These can be stored in a bag in your closet, or even in a small magazine box in the corner of your living room. TRX, WodFitters and many others have built unique workout equipment from industrial materials and allows anyone a blood pumping, full on sweat-fest in their own living room!
• Best strap system: TRX ALL-IN-ONE Suspension Training System
• Best strap system Option 2: Bodyweight Resistance Straps Training Kit
Home Workout Accessory Items
• Best medicine ball: Day 1 Dual Texture Medicine Balls
• Best exercise ball: TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball
• Best exercise ball Option 2: Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit
• Best foam roller: TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller
• Budget foam roller: LuxFit Foam Roller