Maybe you WFH or you just prefer to not have other sweaty folks around. Whatever your motivation, a home gym is a great investment. Here are the essential equipment pieces you need to build an effective home workout setup.
A good exercise mat
When putting together your home gym, you should literally do so from the ground up. The surface on which you work out makes all the difference. Invest in a quality exercise mat that prevents slipping and static electricity buildup. Yoga mats are awesome for that purpose.
Choose a mat that’s tailored to your routine. If you do a lot of floor exercises on your knees, look for a thicker one to have better cushioning. If you do a lot of yoga stretches, consider some extra length.
An exercise mat also has the psychological benefit of marking space. It’s a lot easier to stick to your workout plan when you can see a designated physical area for exercising. Since they’re portable, you can take your gym outdoors to mix things up and keep yourself motivated.
A few resistance bands
Resistance bands are affordable, versatile, easy to store, and lightweight. They’re a must if you want to become a gym rat in a home setting. Get a set of different tightness levels (usually color-coded).
You can use them for glute tightening, more challenging leg workouts, arm strength workouts, etc.
Common placements include:
- around the ankles,
- under the knees,
- around the thighs,
- around the feet,
- around the waist, to pull against a solid object (like furniture)
- tied to a solid object, to pull with your hands for an arm or shoulder workout.
The tighter the band, the more challenging the exercise. Tightness is usually expressed as weight. A band can be marked with a number (X kg, Y lbs) or descriptively (light, medium, heavy, extra-heavy, extra-light).
As a rule of thumb, light and cool colors mark lighter bands: think beige, yellow, and green. Intense and dark colors mark medium and heavy bands: blue, red, purple, or violet, with black being the most challenging. There’s some variation between manufacturers, so always make sure to check what they’re labeled as.
Kettlebells and dumbbells
You can find staple dumbbells and kettlebells for sale in most sports equipment shops. They’re excellent for traditional strength training, but also for increasing your heart rate and improving your resistance.
It’s generally a good idea to have some light and medium ones to start with. However, if you’re on a budget, consider buying a medium and heavy set instead.
You can substitute lightweight dumbbells in particular with resistance bands or even household items. Medium and heavy weights are hard to replicate in a safe way, so they’re a better investment long-term.
Complement your strength and resistance training with some cardio. Of course, you can do that without any equipment, but why not have some nostalgic fun? Moreover, jumping rope does more than just accelerate your heart rate. It’s also a great workout for your legs, core, shoulders, and arms.
Two points of caution, though. One, make sure you can safely use the jump rope in your home. If you have many knickknacks that you can accidentally launch across the room, move them to a safer spot. If your ceiling is low, go to a different room or outside.
Two, consider your neighbors. If you live in an apartment building and have downstairs neighbors, again – take your rope outside. Alternatively, consider circuit workouts or a HIIT session instead.
A full-size mirror
While it’s not a workout tool per se, a mirror is still essential equipment. Look for a full-length one that either has a stand or can be mounted on a wall where you like to exercise. You have to be able to see your form throughout your session.
Pay attention to the position of your spine and joints. Catch any slip-ups and correct yourself in real-time to avoid injuries. That way, you can minimize the risk of not having a pro coach on hand and maximize the benefits of your home gym setup.