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What is the best equipment for a home gym? – Believe it or not, you don’t have to spend thousands to be able to train from the comfort of your own home. In fact, it would make more sense to start small and then add to it.
How many times have you started a diet only to give up in the first week? Or signed up to the gym at the beginning of January and can’t remember where your membership card is by February? Without trying to be negative, there is a chance that you could buy the best kit money can buy and then end up using that new spin bike as a clothes horse, so let’s be realistic and practical, when (that’s right, I said, ‘when’) you realise you can actually stick to your new-found fitness regime, add to it.
So where should I start?
First, let’s have a look at the top 10 items you should be looking at to get you started in your own Home Gym:
- Yoga/Exercise Mat
- Resistance Bands
- Pull-up Bar
- Jump Rope (Skipping Rope)
- Medicine Ball
- Weight Bench
- TRX Suspension Trainer
Why these items? – What do I do with them?
Good question, I’m glad you asked!
Now we’re going to go through them each and explain what they are, what you can do with them and why they should be in your essential Home Gym startup kit. Of course it’s essentially up to you which of them you decide to buy, but hopefully this will give you some more information to help you make a more informed choice.
Yoga or Exercise Mat
As the title suggests, this could be used for either Yoga or generic exercises, in fact it is probably the first thing you should buy simply because of how useful it is.
The mat give your a firm, yet comfortable, non-slip base to perform your Yoga, Pilates, Push Ups, Sit Ups… pretty much any floor exercise you could think of.
They are relatively cheap, easy to store and transport (most come with a carry-case or strap), and they come in various shapes and colours.
Probably the most versatile item here, Resistance Bands just beat dumbbells on this list as they give you a bit more, they are ultra-portable. And they definitely are not gender-specific, suitable for men and women alike.
There are a couple of main styles of resistance bands, and chosen on personal preference: loop bands, the ones that look like overgrown rubber bands, and resistance bands with handles.
They can be used for a full body workout, in place of dumbbells, as a way to warm up or stretch, in fact there are many ways they can be used. Resistance bands are also ideal for taking away if you want to continue your workouts while on holiday.
Some of the most underrated gym equipment, dumbbells can be used for a full body workout, not just for bicep curls as some may think. A simple online search can bring up a whole range of movements and workouts for upper body, legs, core, back and all body parts.
You can buy them in pairs and sets. I would go for a set to start with and add more as you increase your strength. The preferred style are the rubber ‘hex’, or hexagonal-shaped dumbbells, as they tend to be more durable and won’t roll away from you as you place them down.
Another good option is the weight-adjustable dumbbells, which allow you to add and remove plates as required. The only issue I have with these is having to stop and change the weights, rather than being able to simply pick up what you need, but it is personal preference.
Whilst similar to dumbbells, kettlebells have another layer of use, and a slightly different workout. With their integral handle, they can be used in a very different way, and often just one, rather than in pairs. They allow you to hold them single or double-handed, swing them, and various other methods.
Pull Up Bar
There are a few different types of pull up bars available. But for a home gym, particularly if you are planning on putting your equipment away after a workout, rather than having a fixed gym room, the doorframe pull up bar is ideal. As you would guess, this type of bar can be simply hooked at the top of a doorframe in an open doorway. You can then perform your pull ups and chin ups, or ab workouts as if you were in the gym. If you can’t quite do a full pull up yet you can utilise a resistance band to give you some assistance. Most doorway pull up bars also allow you to do some floor work such as ab crunches, push ups and tricep dips. Just make sure you check the manufacturer’s guidelines as there are weight restrictions.
Jump Rope (Skipping Rope)
We all remember playing with a jump rope when we were young at school, but remember a lot has changed since then! You may surprise yourself at just how tough it is. In fact you can burn more calories with a jump rope than a jog for the same time!
Start with a lightweight, leather rope, as it’s easier and more durable for beginners. If you’re looking for a bit more effort, go for a plastic/PVC or weighted rope.
Not to be confused with Dumbbells, the Barbell is another essential free-weight gym tool. Barbells are perfect for certain exercises, like Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Press in particular, that could be done with barbells, but give more stability.
Look for a mid-range bar, and a good set of weight plates. Your better option is the type that can be slid on and off, with the use of a sprung collar, rather than the threaded type. As with all home gym equipment, take into consideration the ease of adjustment to use and level up/down. The more effort it takes, the more excuse you may have to not adjust the weight, or even start the workout in the first place.
No gym is complete with a Weight Bench, and while you could get away without one, or substitute for a chair, purpose-made equipment is always the preferred option. You are more likely to perform the workout, correctly, and with less risk of injury.
With this one, get the best you can afford. Yes, I could say get a cheap one to get you going, and if your budget is tight then it’s fine, but they are known for getting rough around the edges after time. There are a number of options, from a simple, flat bench, to adjustable incline/decline, to ones that have built-in barbell rack, right up to a multi-gym.
The most obvious exercise is the bench press, with either dumbbells and/or barbells, but there are a whole range of exercises you can utilise it for, including a simple tricep dip.
Some fold away better than others so you will need to take that into account when deciding on your purchase.
TRX Suspension Trainer
Last in the list, but most definitely not the least, the TRX Suspension Trainer or Total Body Resistance equipment is an absolutely excellent bit of kit. The only reason it wasn’t featured higher up in the list is because to use it, you have to have a high attachment point, and one that will support your weight. You can buy an anchoring mount but you will probably be limited as to where you can attach it.
That aside, the versatility and training options from the accompanying manual, YouTube Videos and apps.
There are cheaper alternatives available, but just make sure you do your research and check reviews – in most cases you get what you pay for.
These are carefully chosen options that together, can make up a great Home Gym, in fact we would go as far as to say they are the best equipment. It is particularly good for the beginner, or if you aren’t completely sure if it’s the route you want to take as they are cost-effective and relatively small in size.
As with all equipment, buy what you can afford. Don’t go cheap and cheerful, you get what you pay for, but there is also no need to buy the best of the best, quite frankly you’ll be wasting your money.
Now read Best Exercise Machine for Home Use (Click the link)