I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words ‘home gym,’ I have this vision of a huge room with custom flooring, mirrors, weight benches, a full set of dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and let’s not forget the treadmill and spin bike. Obviously very few among us have such a luxury! But to get a great workout, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a custom home gym.
I’ve trained many clients in their own home and I always tell them, so long as you have enough space to lay down a yoga mat, then anything you own on top of that is just a bonus. I thought today I’d give you a look into what makes up my home gym essentials, my luxury items and what’s on my wish list, just so you can see how a personal trainer makes working out in the living room work. (And don’t forget to check out this round-up of six awesome at-home workouts, the first in a new monthly series of workouts!)
Heads up, included in this post are Amazon affiliate links (if you buy something in this post on Amazon via my link, I get a small commission at no cost to you). Obviously, everything in this post is also owned by me and recommended by me!
This section is so short and sweet! It’s just one thing I suggest you have when starting an exercise program (and honestly, you could get away without it for a while, too). It’s a yoga mat.
Whether you have carpet or hardwood, you need a yoga mat so you don’t slip and so you contain your sweat in one easy-to-clean place. (Gross, but true.) It’s really the one basic you definitely should have to get started on a home workout area.
In a perfect world, you could work out with body weight only for good. In reality, though, unless you have an excellent knowledge of how to progress body weight workouts, sooner or later you will need to add some resistance to your exercises.
Enter resistance bands. (You can check out this post for a resistance band workout!) Resistance bands are great to add to your home gym equipment, because they take up little space, are easily stored and as a bonus, you can easily pack them when you’re going on vacation. They’re also super versatile – pretty much any exercise that requires a heavy weight and gravity can be improvised with resistance bands instead.
This Perfect Bands Kit comes with a door anchor, so you can more easily do rowing and pressing movements without having to use your foot to step on them.
You can also make your own resistance bands by purchasing separately a roll of resistance band and the handles – this way, if you want to also make a loop for exercises like monster walks, or for placing over your knees or help with form during squats, you will have that option as well. Try these bands, and these handles.
Dumbbells may not be strictly necessary when you have bands and body weight options, but if you have room to store a couple of sets, there are so many dumbbell workouts you can look up online and use at home.
Ankle weights are compact to store and all your floor work exercises, like leg lifts and raises, become that much harder with these puppies on.
Recovery is as important as working out, so it’s a good idea to invest a little research and money into making sure you have some tools for self-myofascial release, so you know you’re giving your body a head start in the recovery and rebuilding phase. In the photo below, you can see a basic foam roller, a TriggerPoint GRID foam roller, the Moji Curve roller and the Moji foot massager, all of which I use regularly.
A jump rope might not work if you live in a small space, or an apartment building, but it’s great to have anyway. They’re small, light, travel easily and if it doesn’t work for your living room you can take them outside when it’s warm. Jumping rope is an amazing form of cardio, particularly if you’re doing some kind of HIIT circuit.
The BOSU Balance Trainer has been a wonderful addition to my workout gear at home. I received a BOSU ball when I took part in the Fit Approach campaign over the fall (here’s a BOSU abs workout I put together!) and not only is it fun, it’s also an excellent tool for a runner. Since we spend so much time on our feet, it’s important to work on balance and flexibility around the foot and ankle joints – balance work on the BOSU is perfect for that. They start at $109 and if you can afford one, I highly recommend them.
A TRX is like resistance bands on steroids. Not only can you do all the exercises bands offer, you can use the ‘handles’ as ‘stirrups’ instead and work your lower body as well. We’re talking about lunges, pikes, steps and squats with resistance via the TRX bands. Plus, it’s super fun! We have exposed beams in our place, which makes it easy to set up a TRX, but you’re also provided a door anchor with this starter TRX kit, so you can use it just as effectively without an obvious place to anchor.
And that’s my collection of home gym essentials! I don’t use all of them (or sometimes even any of them) for every workout, but they all get taken out sooner or later when I’m switching up my workouts. If you exercise at home regularly, it’s worth it to invest in some extra equipment to add variety and resistance to your workouts.
What do you swear by for at-home workouts?
What would be your splurge item for a home gym?