Sick of crowded gyms, long waits for machines, and that guy using the squat rack to do bicep curls on leg day?
You know how beneficial working out is for health reasons and self-confidence, but sometimes getting to the gym is a big hassle. It can take a long time to get there, often there’s no child care when you need it, it’s costly, and there are guys grunting loudly when you’re trying to focus…or you are that guy and you feel awkward working out the way you want.
Which is why a home gym can be a huge benefit. It’s convenient, efficient, and you can workout however you want, with the music you want, in the clothes you want, without judgment. If you’re ready to create your own home gym, then keep reading.
Whether you’re the bodybuilding type or just need a small space to stay toned and fit, this list of essential home gym items will give you an idea of what you need to reach your goals in a small space with a moderate budget.
Heavy, compound movements that you can do with barbells are important for functional fitness, strength, and aesthetics. Since you won’t be sharing the bar with hundreds of other gym goers, you don’t need an overly-expensive bar, especially if you’re not planning to do heavy power lifting.
Even if you do, the ProSource Olympic Barbell is perfect for home gyms, able to handle strong loads, rust-resistant, and has good spin in case you intend to perform exercises like snatches or clean and jerks. If all you plan to use it for basics like squats, bench press, and deadlifts, it is extremely affordable while maintaining high quality and durability.
You may also want to look into purchasing a rack to hold your barbell for a safer workout area.
If you’re big into bench pressing, a bench is important to have. Even if chest presses aren’t your thing, benches are great for other seated exercises, as well as step-ups and hip thrusts. Try searching Craigslist or garage sales for a used rack or bench if money is an issue.
A variety of kettlebells are perfect to have on hand in home gyms due to the variety of exercises you can perform with them. Not only that, but most kettlebell exercises get your heart pumping, so you get in some cardio at the same time. Cast iron bells are great if you like the rugged look, while our vinyl coated version can help protect your floors and prevent scratches on the kettlebells themselves.
A pull-up bar that can be mounted to the wall or on/in a doorframe is ideal for home workout spaces. A multi-grip bar will allow you to do pull-ups and chin-ups from a variety of angles, as well as hanging leg raises for abs. Since most back machines are bulky and expensive, a pull-up bar will allow you to target your back at a low price and much easier installation. Even if you can’t do pull-ups right away, you can do assisted pull-ups with XFit Resistance Bands and work your way up.
Rings allow for some fun variety in your workouts. You can hang them from the ceiling or from a rack/rig. They’re great for back exercises, core work, and gymnastics moves that build awesome coordination and strength.
Like barbells and kettlebells, dumbbells are a great way to build strength because they require more balance, isolation, and coordination than machines. They also take up much less space and can be used for a variety of exercises. Look for hexagonal dumbbells which prevent the weights from rolling around the floor. Men will likely prefer iron dumbbells while some women may prefer softer neoprene weights, which are gentler on hands.
A great alternative to dumbbells and machines is a set of resistance bands. In addition to being able to perform exercises like bicep curls or shoulder presses that you might normally do with dumbbells, they are a great addition to home gyms where equipment is limited.
Resistance bands, along with a door anchor and ankle strap, will allow you to do exercises like lat pull downs, leg extensions, standing chest presses, glute kick-backs, kneeling crunches and much more. A set allows you to have a greater variety of weights to use without having to buy a huge, expensive weights set.
Get your cardio in without an expensive, bulky machine! If you don’t have the room or budget for a treadmill or stationary bike, a jump rope is a great way to get in cardio. In many ways, the high-intensity of jump roping can be even more effective than boring steady state cardio, and takes much less time!
Jump for a minute between sets and use it for a warm-up. A speed jump rope is ideal because it’s light weight, super easy to turn and fits anywhere.
Another way to get a burst of cardio is an aerobic step or box. These are great for box jumps, step-ups, and plyometric exercises. A box is not only excellent for cardio, but can assist with a lot of great leg exercises when combined with weights. It can also help you reach your pull-up bar if needed.
A small set of weighted medicine balls are great in conjunction with steps to hold while doing exercises like step-ups. However, they’re excellent on their own for a variety of strength and power exercises such as wall balls, ab exercises, slams, and squats. They’re also fun to use with a partner if you live with a spouse or roommates.
Stability exercise balls are perfect for core workouts, practicing squats, stretching, sitting on instead of a bench, and more. The variety they add to your workout space will help keep things interesting and ensure you’re always working on your core strength and balance.
Many home gyms are in garages or basements, which means you may have unfinished floors. Even if you have carpet, a puzzle mat or foldable mats can help protect your floors under equipment and provide a cushioned, comfortable space for ab exercises, push-ups, etc.
These 12 items will set you up for success at home. Additionally, don’t forget to think about this special space and how you want it to look and feel so you’ll enjoy spending time there. Put up some decorations you like, paint the walls a fun color, and have a stereo system with workout tunes. Anything that will create a home fitness center that keeps you motivated!
What about you? What do you consider essentials in your home gym? Anything we missed?