If you want a habit to stick— like exercising regularly— then let's use common sense: make that habit as easy as possible.
Don't like going to the gym? Then creating a space at home is absolutely essential to having a regular exercise habit. Even if you are a gym-goer, it's still nice to have a designated home space for those days when you can't make it to the gym. For help on making the time and space to workout, read my post 4 Exercise Hacks To Get YOU Moving.
Now... what to do in that workout zone? Well, if you don't already have a habit of some sort of resistance /strength training, I'd suggest that. (If you're wondering why strength training in particular is so important, read my post Why Everyone Should Strength Train.) In this post, you'll find a list of my gear suggestions to start your own home gym. Read on for a list of versatile, practical, and basic workout equipment for any budget.
In this list, you'll find pieces of equipment that are practical. I'm nothing if I'm not practical. Anything in my list has many uses and is versatile for many exercises. They all (with one exception) take up minimal space, too... this way, even if your "home gym" is just a corner of your living room with a big basket to round up your fitness gear, it will all fit in that small space. I understand lack of storage, so don't be discouraged if you don't have an extra room or large space for exercise.
Most of the items listed here are very inexpensive, and you can slowly build up your equipment over time. Who says you need them all, anyway? Not me. I suggest choosing a few that you know you will use. Again, make working out as easy as possible. Remove friction from your exercise habit by doing things you enjoy doing and that you will actually want to do. Later on, when you feel frisky with your workout routine and want some fresh new moves, then choose another piece and add fun equipment over time.
MAKE YOUR OWN HOME GYM:
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• First, you really do need a space to move. Make a space that is uncluttered and set apart in some way for to you exercise in. If you have your workout zone set up, then it's always ready for you to use, even on short notice. You'll eliminate the huge obstacle of having to clear clutter and gather your fitness stuff. Even though those small tasks may not seem like obstacles, those are the things that may very well deter you from working out at all.
A set like this would be a great start. Follow the link for different ranges of weights. I have a set of 3's, 5's, and 8's and I use them all the time. With a basic set like this, you can workout your entire body. The only thing I'd add is a set of 10's or 12's (depending on what you're comfortable lifting). If you can't add a set of these right now, you can always load your exercise movements a little with things around the house... think water bottles or canned goods.
Adding one more level to your basic set (listed above) will give you more options. Again, choose whether you're more comfortable with 10 pound dumbbells or 12 pound dumbbells (or even heavier).
An inexpensive exercise or yoga mat is great for mat work like supine ab exercises, planks, pushups, exercises on hands and knees, and stretching at the end of your workout. A decent one like this will give you a little extra padding for comfort. If you don't have one, use an old towel or even carpet.
Oh, I love my kettlebells. You can use them for all kinds of stuff. I like to have these heavier than my dumbbell set for squats, deadlifts, lunges, shoulder and back work, kettlebell high pulls, kettlebell swings, Russian twists, and ALL KINDS OF STUFF. Don't know how to use the 'bells? Here's a couple links for great kettlebell exercises and an idea of what a full kettlebell workout might look like with this 20 minute kettlebell routine. If you're interested, YouTube is loaded with tutorials and workouts.
• Slam Ball
It's just what you think it is. Slam this bad boy around with power and you'll see within about 20 seconds how challenging just 10 or 15 pounds can be. It's challenging because it's round, large, and much harder to hold than dumbbells. Keep in mind this is NOT a bouncy ball. This is filled with sand so that you can literally lift it in an overhead raise, then slam it as hard as you can down on the floor with no risk of it bouncing back up in your face. In addition to slams, you can also hold it for added load on your squats, lunges, overhead raises, Russian twists, etc. One of my favorite exercises is: squat -> overhead raise -> slam the ball -> pick it up -> immediately squat and start over. If you have neighbors below you, you'll probably want to do this outside.
• X Bands
I really love this brand, the X Bands. Here I've linked sets of 2 and sets of 5. I own the set of 2, which is a 30 pound and a 60 pound resistance strength set. The set of 5 ranges from 15-80 pounds. You can follow their Instagram account @thexbands for ideas and inspiration. Place these short ones around your thighs during squats or lateral motions for extra glute work. These are cheap, take up minimal space, and are easy to travel with.
• Long Loop X Bands
These Long Loop X Bands are fun, too. Follow the link to view the set, as well as all of the bands separately. They range from 15 to 150 pounds. I own the 30 and 70 pound ones and use them often. Perhaps choose one, learn some exercises with it and go from there. These are also inexpensive, travel friendly, and take up hardly any room at all.
A full resistance band tube set like this will give you a lot of versatility. I like this particular set because of the weights it includes: 10, 20, 30, 40 & 50 pound bands. A full set like this has door anchors, handles, the tubes, and even a travel bag to hold it all. This one also has an ebook reference guide. (Can you tell I'm a big fan of resistance bands?) If you're limited on places to loop the X Bands Long Loops (above), then this may be a better option for you to use the door anchor instead. For that matter, if you're new to bands in general, these may be a little easier to use since it comes with a guide. With bands, you can have a full body workout with no problem: arms, shoulders, back, legs, core, everything!
Set this up to make interval training easier. Well, it may not make the actual training easier, but it will make managing your intervals easier. For example, set it up to beep at 45 seconds (for your working phase), and then 30 seconds (for your resting phase). It will keep going at those intervals for many, many rounds.
A step-up platform is not just for aerobics. If you like aerobics, you can also use this for split squats, push-ups, tricep dips, and hip thrusters (with extra risers). This particular set has 4 risers, so if you want more height, you can easily buy more risers. However, this does take up some space. If you don't want something this large, use a set of stairs in your home, a bench, or a sturdy step stool that you already own (just make sure it's safe). Alternatively, a plyo steel box at 12 or 18 inches would be a fantastic edition to your home gym for several reasons. It doesn't take up nearly as much room, you can perform all the moves I mentioned above, plus it's designed for jumps and explosive moves, too.
• If you already have a decent start on your home gym, or just want to try something new, then get a TRX system. There's a little bit of a learning curve to the strap system, but it is something I really endorse. It's a way to use body weight exercises and adjust them as you wish for more or less challenge. It is great for functional movement, is good for all levels, takes up very minimal room, is travel friendly, and if you really learn it there are many moves you can do. Buying it on Amazon includes a 6 month subscription to their app, too. If you'd like a book to go with it, you can buy this TRX package instead (which is more expensive), but these days so many great tutorials are on YouTube, you may rather look up exercises there and save some money.
• Yoga Mat
These are (so far) still my favorite yoga mats. I love them both and use both of them at least a couple of times a week. If you are serious about your yoga practice, then a good quality mat is worth investing in. It will truly change your practice. If you take care of a mat like one of these two, it should last you many years. For more on these two mats, the pros and cons of them, and why I love them so much, refer to this post of mine: 8 Tips For Choosing A Yoga Mat.
You may be wondering why I recommended an exercise/yoga/all purpose mat above, and now am recommending specific yoga mats in this section. This is because a general purpose mat is great to have for floor/mat/lying down exercises. You can beat it up and throw it around and jump all over it with your athletic shoes on. However, a high quality yoga mat is denser and made specifically for yoga. I would never everrrrrrrr step my Nikes on my yoga mat. Think about all. those. germs. Yuck. A yoga mat should be clean, sanitized, and maintained.
I cannot work out without upbeat music. It's boring and I move slower. I need something like this speaker to pump up the jams. If you don't already have a way to play music, this small bluetooth speaker is inexpensive and puts out pretty good volume for that price point. Create a couple playlists full of songs that make you want to move. Many, many times my warm-up before working out is simply this: dance to 1-2 upbeat songs. It's an instant mood booster and gets your body warm... genius!
Always have water available, whether you're exercising or not. If it's a challenge for you to drink enough water a day, get a nice bottle to carry with you wherever you go. This particular one is 32 ounces, so it's easy to keep track of your water intake by remembering you need to drink it twice a day.
If you're carving out a little corner of a room to transform into an exercise zone, it will help to have some kind of storage to keep it all contained. I'd suggest going to a TJ Maxx or Homegoods store. They always have tons of huge baskets like this to choose from. Get one that will hold it all and blend in with your decor. Have your gear organized and ready to go so that you can exercise whenever your busy schedule allows.
Remember, just doing a little bit regularly is huge! Be the type of person who makes time for their own health and fitness. Invest in yourself. Start by creating a space to exercise in to make it as easy as possible for the habit to stick. That's the most important part. If that's all you can do now, google "body weight exercises" and start your habit with zero equipment. Then when you're able to, you may want to curate your own home gym... keep in mind I listed many household items throughout this post that you probably already own. Build it over time. Do things you enjoy doing that will keep you interested and excited to move regularly. I really think that's the key to taking fitness from being a chore to making it a lifestyle and an automatic habit. If you'd like to hear more about my own personal philosophy with fitness and exercise, read my post Exercise: My Personal Manifesto. (Dramatic title, I know.)
It's really pretty simple: just get moving, and have fun with it!
Love & Light.
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Hi, I'm Blake. I love adventure, cooking, costume parties, wine, yoga, and reading...in that order. Follow my blog for yoga stuff, fitness tips, & healthy recipes...
• The Meaning of Namaste
• Confessions of a Self Care Hypocrite
• Living In The Age Of Social Media: Swapping Comparison for Gratitude
• My Exercise Manifesto
• 4 Exercise Hacks To Get YOU Moving