Whether you're staying home because the gyms are still closed, it's too cold out, or you're just not a weight room person, you can create your own gym right at home without too much expense or effort. You don't need a ton of space or a bunch of high-ticket items to get an intense workout and see results, so why not take fitness into your own hands?
The yoga mat is a staple for every at-home gym, especially if your focus is more on stretch-style workouts. It's a helpful thin layer that prevents you having to lie directly on a hard, uncomfortable floor or slide around on a carpet. Yoga mats are easy to roll up and store away, making for a quick clean-up if your "gym" is the living room. Prices vary depending on the brand, style, and size, but any store with a small wellness section will have these mats on hand.
Weights or dumbbells should be available in almost every home or public gym. Depending on your current fitness level and your goals, you can choose from two- or three-pound weights (great for barre classes or anything with tons of reps) and up, including single pairs to which you can add and remove weight with the turn of a dial. The exercise options with a set of weights are endless, and heavier options are a relatively inexpensive thing to pick up once you're ready to progress.
In the same category as weights or dumbbells is the medicine ball, a weighted ball that can be used for many different workouts, from twists, to holds, to lifts and even throwing — in the backyard, of course. They come in weights as light as five pounds, and heavy-duty medicine balls can weigh up to 100 pounds.
A chin-up bar is a popular piece of at-home gym equipment for excellent for people who want to build arm, shoulder, and back strength. They can be attached to a doorway in your home, and in addition to chin ups and pull ups, they're great for straight-arm holds. Some can be repositioned a few inches above the ground to assist with sit ups. Most fitness and department stores sell this basic piece of equipment, and even as one of the most costly items on this list, it still shouldn't set you back more than 40 or 50 dollars. Alternatively, skip this piece and do your chin ups at a nearby jungle gym!
Having a fitness bench or block in your home gym can be useful in so many ways. Incline pushups, bench presses, and aerobic or plyometric (jumping) sets all benefit from this simple tool. Most fitness stores will stock these, but they're also one of the easiest pieces to improvise — a sturdy footstool or entry bench can work just as well. Many store-bought options come with levels you can add and remove to adjust the height. Depending on the surface of your workout space, placing your bench on a yoga mat or against the wall can prevent any slipping and sliding.
Resistance bands are large elastic bands that create tension and increase the difficulty of your stretch or exercise. Some are tube-shaped with handles, while others are simple bands. They are often sold in sets of two or three strengths, which make them great for a wide range of exercises or when you're ready to level up. Stand on the center of a strap and do arm exercises to imitate dumbbells, use them to enhance leg lifts, or sit with one around your extended feet to simulate a rowing machine. You'll find this piece of equipment just about anywhere. Keep an eye on them for wear and tear, though, as snapping one in the middle of a workout could result in injury.
The addition of an exercise ball to your home gym can be beneficial for not only cardio or strength workouts, but also stretching before and after. Even swapping out your office chair for an exercise ball can improve your posture and strengthen your core muscles. This beach ball-sized, inflatable tool comes in multiple sizes and is made of an anti-burst PVC plastic to allow for lots of weight. When you're preparing to buy, be sure to check the recommended diameter for your height.
If you want to up your home gym game a little more, and you're a fan of ball-related exercises, consider a bosu ball, which is essentially half an exercise ball set into a hard base. They are popular for stability exercises.
Jumping rope is an easy and fun activity that increases your heart rate and adds cardio into your daily routine if you aren't into running or jogging. Though, for a home gym, you'll need a lot of indoor space or an outdoor area, the wide range of benefits and the low price point of a jump rope makes it a great tool to have on hand.
Sliders or sliding discs are hard plastic circles that you can place under your hands or feet, making it easy to slide on the floor or carpet. Most exercises that utilize them involve beginning in a pushup position and sliding the feet in — into pike or down dog — or the hands back and forth. They're a great way to use bodyweight to work on the muscles of the core, arms, and legs. This is also an easy one to skip if your equipment cupboard is getting a bit packed. A pair of socks or dish towels work well on floors, while paper plates can be used on carpet for a more budget-friendly option.
Foam rollers are a great addition to any warm-up or cool-down. These cylinders made of foam are placed under tight connective tissue and muscles. You then roll yourself back and forth over the roller to massage the deeper tissues. They can help relieve tightness and tension, and improve flexibility over time. They come in a wide range of dimensions and widths for various body parts, and some are textures to deliver added massage.
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