A lot of people join a gym when they decide that they want to get in shape – but the truth is that you have plenty of other options. There’s no need to take out a gym membership to get started with working out. You can get a great workout in the comfort of your own home if you are creative, and if you pick up the right equipment.
Essential Equipment for Working Out at Home
Building a home gym doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. You can get a great workout with some basic items and a little bit of floor space. Here are a few suggestions for items to buy to build a great home gym.
Kettlebells are small weights with a handle at the top which can be used to perform a range of functional, strength-building exercises. You can get kettlebells in a range of weights from 2kg up to 24kg or heavier. Unlike barbells and dumbbells, which tend to be used for simple pulling and pressing motions, most kettlebell exercises are dynamic and involve swinging or rotating movements. These can be surprisingly challenging.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to buy a few different sizes of kettlebell – start with relatively light ones (lighter than you think you actually need) and focus on learning the correct form for the exercises, then work your way up in weight as your body gets used to the demands of the exercise. Kettlebell exercises employ a huge range of stabilizing muscles, so you’ll get “functionally fit” in a way that you wouldn’t if you were just doing biceps curls or squatting on the smith machine.
10 Minute Kettlebell Workout for an efficient Total Body Workout Video
Resistance bands can be used for a lot of different exercises. They help you with stretching, they can be used to do assisted pull-ups if you’re struggling with the regular exercise, and they can be used for exercises in their own right – for rowing, rotation work and other strength-building exercises. They come in a range of strengths, from quite stretchy ones for people who are recovering from an injury and doing basic rehab work, to much heavier ones that will challenge even relatively strong adult males.
The best thing about resistance bands is they are really easy to store – they roll up to be something about the size of a flannel, so you can take them with you and use them while you are travelling. Again, it’s a good idea to buy a few different bands, and slowly work up to using heavier and heavier bands.
10 Minute Real-Time Resistance Band Workout Video
3Pull Up Bar
Pull ups and chin ups are a great exercise for your arms, back and shoulders. If you can’t do a proper pull up or chin up yet, it’s worth working up to it by starting with just hanging off the bar for a minute or so at a time, then doing assisted pull-ups, where you loop a resistance band around the pull up and use it to take part of your weight to make the motion easier. You can also do ‘negatives’, starting at the top of the pull-up, and then lowering your weight as slowly as possible.
Pull-ups are a great workout for people who want to build upper body strength. Once you can do several of them, you can make life a little more difficult by wearing a weighted vest, adding more and more weight as you get stronger.
8 Min Pull Up Workout Video
4An Exercise Ball
Inflatable exercise balls are great for mobility work, and are a good option for people who are recovering from injuries. You can use them for things like push-ups, to increase the strength of the stabilizing muscles, and you can use them to help with stretches. You can also do balance exercises on them, such as sitting on the ball on your knees and trying not to fall off.
The exercise ball might look like a “girly” piece of equipment – something that you would only see used in gentle stretching classes – but the truth is that it’s a valuable piece of equipment and one that you can get a lot of use out of – whether you are a martial artist, a footballer, a bodybuilder, or just someone who is working out for fun.
Exercise balls come in a few different sizes. A 90cm ball should suit most people – smaller ones are good if you are quite petite. The biggest ones are of limited utility, even for relatively tall people. Think about the exercises that you will be doing on the ball before you buy one. Most balls come with a small foot pump that you can use to inflate them.
Total Body Exercise Ball Workout Video
A roll-out yoga mat is a good purchase even if you don’t plan on doing yoga. You can use these mats for any kind of bodyweight exercise – stretching, push ups and sit ups, other calisthenics, pilates, or movement work. They will help to prevent injuries and abrasions from working out on carpets, and provide you with a grippy but comfortable and clean surface to exercise on. In addition, since they roll up quite easily, they are easy to store.
Yoga For Complete Beginners Video
6No Need for Machines
As you can see, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on expensive treadmills, rowing machines or exercise bikes. You can get a lot of benefit out of a few small items and a bit of floor space. Of course, if you did decide that you wanted to spend money on more expensive items, that’s entirely up to you – but make sure that you really will use them first. An exercise bike can take up a lot of space and will likely get in the way and end up being used as an expensive clothes rack. A treadmill is a rather expensive way to exercise your legs when you could just go for a run instead – and it’s a device that will need maintenance too.
Instead of spending money on that sort of thing, invest in something more flexible, that will allow you to enjoy a range of different exercises. A rowing machine might give you a “full body” workout, but if you get bored with rowing you can’t turn it into something else. A resistance band can be used for anything from stretching to assistance work and strength work, and kettlebells are versatile too. You will need to use your imagination while you figure out new workouts, but it is worth the effort.
The above are just a few pieces of equipment that you can use – things that don’t cost a lot of money but will give you a great workout. There are other items that are incredibly useful, and that you will get a lot of benefit from, but these are the things that you should probably prioritize when you start working out at home. As you get fitter and stronger, and identify your own preferences, goals or weaknesses, you can start looking at other bits of workout gear depending on your budget and how much space you have.
With the above items, however, you can do most exercises and build strength, balance, co-ordination, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness, putting yourself well on your way to whatever your health, fitness or appearance goals are.
Remember that no equipment is worth having if you fail to use it. Set yourself some realistic goals for how often you will work out, and think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to lose weight, get more flexible, or achieve a certain degree of strength? Are you determined to run a marathon this year? Are you training to get a lean and toned body for a wedding or a summer holiday? Whatever your goals, simply having something in mind will make it easier to stay motivated and keep on trying. Since you are working out at home, rather than travelling to the gym, you’ve overcome one of the biggest challenges – you don’t have to worry about commuting to the gym, finding parking space, or finding money for gym fees – you can just keep training when you feel like it. By removing the potential to make excuses, you make it more likely that you will actually complete your workouts every day, and get closer to your goals, step by little step.
Recruit a friend to come and exercise with you. This will keep you honest and motivated; if your friend is working towards a goal you will want to be there with them and help them achieve it. If you feel like slacking off, you’ll know it’s not just your progress at stake but the progress of your friend as well. It’s hard to skip workouts when you’re feeling guilty – and your friend will benefit from the extra motivation as well. Together, you can smash your fitness goals, and push each other from success to success.
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