Whether you are a workout fanatic who can’t always find the time to train in the gym or someone who doesn’t always enjoy going to a crowded and sometimes expensive gym, if you had the option, wouldn’t you rather bring the gym to you?
Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives and being a gym rat like you were in college just isn’t in the cards anymore. We work 50+ hour jobs, have social commitments, have families… and just who’s going to walk the dog? There are going to be times in your life when it is near impossible to consistently get to the gym.
The good news is that building a home gym is simple and can be fairly inexpensive if you know what to buy.
Today, I am going to share with you the exact equipment that I keep in my apartment for a quick workout when I’m not able to make it to the gym.
Home Gym Equipment #1 – Foam Roller and/or Trigger Point Tools ($20-$65)
This is a MUST HAVE piece of equipment for any fitness enthusiast or anyone who wishes to improve their health. Foam rolling and self myofascial release techniques are the easiest and hands down the best thing you can do for your body to instantly feel and move better. Period.
You can pick up a foam roller or half foam roller for as little as $10-$20 and they will pretty much last you a lifetime. Make sure you pick up one that is made of a dense material as the softer ones tend to break down more easily and don’t get the job done as well. Even better, head to the hardware store and pick up a piece of 6”-8” diameter PVC pipe, which should only cost about $5! 1
If you are really interested in maintaining a high quality of tissue health and mobility I highly recommend picking up a set of Trigger Point Therapy tools which go for between $40 and $120 for a kit. We touched on this in a previous post (See: Trigger Point Therapy & Myofascial Release Q&A).
Home Gym Equipment #2 – Suspension Trainer ($50-$150)
Suspension trainers such as the TRX and Jungle Gym are becoming increasingly popular for both their versatility and ability to be used just about anywhere. There are literally hundreds of exercises and progressions for all abilities that are performed with a simple strap. You can do anything from rows to lunges to dips to single leg squats.
Store bought trainers go between $50 and $150 and can be hooked up to a wall, tree, or even shut over a door. Considering the price that you would pay for a machine that can create all the same exercises, like a Bowflex or Total Gym, I consider these a steal!
I recommend going the store- bought route for safety and convenience, but if you are trying to save money and would like to make your own, you can go to the hardware store and pick up some 6’ straps for less than $10 apiece. Some may even come with a loop in the end which you can use for handles. Just be careful how you set them up!
Home Gym Equipment #3 – Sliders ($1-$25)
Sliders are used to increase the difficulty of various bodyweight exercises by decreasing stability and making them more challenging. They are basically a small piece of plastic that are designed to easily slide on a smooth or carpeted surface which makes them an excellent addition to a home gym.
The Valslide™ brand goes for about $25 for a pair but you can easily create your own with some things that may be lying around the house. I have seen people use furniture movers, Frisbees, and even paper plates. Be creative.
A couple of my favorite exercises to do with sliders are reverse lunges, slide-out pushups, hamstring curls and body saws. The possibilities are endless to spice up your favorite bodyweight exercises!
Home Gym Equipment #4 – Tubing and Bands ($10-$50)
You can find these in most sporting good stores or online in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and thicknesses to suit your needs.
Bands can be used to add resistance to various bodyweight exercises or create some exercises of their own. These vary in price but if you pick up a bundle of various sizes you can sometimes find a great deal.
I’m a fan of using light bands for many different rotator cuff and shoulder stability exercises with my clients. I use mini bands and monster bands for lateral band walks to assist in hip and glute stability exercises
Home Gym Equipment #5 – Iron Gym Pull Up Bar ($20)
Pull-ups are the king of upper body exercises and a staple for anyone who wants to get in great shape and build superior upper body strength. Pull-up bars such as the Iron Gym are fairly inexpensive and are easily hung in most standard doorways.
Starting out, most people are not able to do pull-ups easily, or even at all, so I typically recommend using a thick monster band for assistance, which you can easily purchase online. This will make it easier because it gives additional assistance with each pull.
To attach to your pull-up bar, simply bring one end over the top of the bar and loop the other end through the end of the strap and pull tight. The band should be hanging securely to bar on its own. You may need a small stool to stand on but place the end of the band around your foot, cross your other leg over the front and you are ready for your set!
Home Gym Equipment #6 – Ab Wheel ($10)
When it comes to building a solid core and six pack abs there is no better tool than an ab wheel. These come in all different sizes but the small, dual-wheel version you find in most stores will do just fine.
There aren’t a million uses for the ab-wheel but you won’t need them. All you have do is perfect the ab-wheel rollout exercise. It’s that simple. Why reinvent the wheel?
Home Gym Equipment #7 – Kettlebells ($20 & Up)
When it comes to functional exercises kettlebells are where it’s at! These may run you a couple of bucks since each kettlebell will run you about $2/lb but you only need a small set and they will last you a lifetime.
Kettlebells have been gaining popularity over the past decade for their many uses in functional strength training. They differ from dumbbells for their offset handle which causes the center of mass to extend beyond the hand, allowing them to be swung. This unique benefit allows them to be used in dynamic exercises such as the kettlebell swing, clean or snatch, which are similar to Olympic lifts, but much safer.
They can also be used for additional resistance to exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, rows and presses. The other cool thing about kettlebell training is you can get tons of work done with only one kettlebell if used properly. My only piece of advice is to also pick up a book or DVD that goes into detail teaching the various moves or even better take a class or hire a trainer. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way!
Try This Bonus In-Home Gym Workout:
- Foam Rolling (5-10min)
- Leg Lowers on Wall x 10/side
- Glute Bridge x 10
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch x :30/side
- Kneeling T-Spine Twists
- Squat to Stand x 6
- Spiderman Lunges x 5/side
Instructions: Alternate between exercises that are the same letter. For example, complete a set of A1 (TRX split squat) and then a set of A2 ( chin ups), then go back and forth until you are done with 3 sets of each. You should rest just enough to catch your breath (30-60 seconds) after each exercise.
|A1) TRX Rear Leg Elevated Split Squat||3×6-8/side|
|A2) Chin Ups||3×10|
|B1) Feet in TRX Pushups||3xAMRAP (as many reps as possible)|
|B2) Slider Hamstring Curls||3×10|
|C1) Kettlebell Clean and Press||3×6/side|
|C2) Kettlebell Swings||3×15|
|C3) 1-Arm TRX Row||3×10/side|
|D) Ab-Wheel Rollouts||3×10-15|
I hope you are excited to create a home gym with a great workout environment to help you reach your fitness goals! Let me know if you have any questions below!