The Best Home Gym Equipment For At-Home Workouts
If you’ve decided to start working out at home, you might be wondering what gym equipment you should be investing in to get the most out of your workouts. While gym equipment is not necessary for working out at home, there are some staple items that can allow you to do a greater variety of exercises and make other exercises more challenging.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best home gym equipment for you to get started with working out at home. And if you don’t want to invest in equipment, we’ve also compiled a list of household items you can use instead.
Best home gym equipment
The best gym equipment is the kind that allows you to do a variety of different exercises so you have plenty to do in your home gym without having to purchase too much equipment. Some gym equipment is perfect for strength training at home, while other equipment is better for at-home cardio. And some are great for both.
If you’re wanting to learn how to create your own home gym, knowing which equipment to invest in first is a useful starting point.
Equipment for strength training at home
These items are ideal for strength training at home. They allow you to make exercises more challenging by adding resistance to exercises.
Resistance bands are like thick rubber bands that add variable resistance to strength exercises. Using these in your exercises will help with muscle activation and increase the intensity of the movement.
There are many resistance band exercises you can do at home to strengthen your muscles all over your body.
Ankle weights are a great addition to your at-home gym. Attach them to your ankles, and they will add weight and resistance to your legs in any movements you do. This makes movements more challenging without having to hold weights in your hands.
The best part about ankle weights is that they are super convenient: you can bring them anywhere, and attach them to your ankles for high intensity cardio, strength training, high-intensity resistance training, or even while going for a walk. Try this ankle weight routine you can do from anywhere to get started with ankle weights.
Dumbbells are a classic staple of any home gym. They don’t take up a lot of space, which makes them a great addition if you don’t have much room. Dumbbells can be added to almost any exercise to increase the intensity and resistance, making them super versatile and a good investment.
It’s recommended that you start with three different weights, so that you have a few to choose from. You’ll find that you may need heavier weights for leg exercises than you do for upper body exercises as this part of your body is usually stronger.
A bench is a worthwhile investment for your home gym, as it allows you to do both arm strength training with dumbbells (think: dumbbell bench press), leg training like dumbbell step ups, or cardio like bench hops.
Kettlebells are a free weight, just like dumbbells, except they have a large round bottom, with a handle on top. Kettlebells are great for heavier strength training like goblet squats, single-arm kettlebell swings and kettlebell deadlifts. You’ll likely want to get heavier kettlebells than you would dumbbells as you will often only use one kettlebell at a time and the movements often focus on the lower body.
A fitball is a great investment for your home gym, particularly for doing core exercises. Fitballs take up a fair bit of space, but are a useful tool that will give you a variety of new exercises to do at home. Some fitball exercises include swiss ball roll ins, exercise ball crunches, and ball leg curls. Fitballs are great for targeted core activation exercises like these.
Equipment for cardio at home
Home gym equipment isn’t just for strength training. There is gym equipment that is ideal for cardio, too.
A yoga mat is probably the most useful gym equipment to have at home. You can use this for recovery stretching, as a soft support for your joints when doing cardio exercises on hard surfaces, and and for doing strength training at home.
When buying a mat, there are several different types to choose from. Yoga mats are usually thin, while exercise/pilates mats are often thicker for added support. Consider what you will be using the mat for before purchasing. We’d recommend investing in a thick mat for all-round support for both stretching and high intensity workouts.
A jump rope is the perfect cardio tool to have at home. If you want to do cardio at home but don’t want to invest in a treadmill, a jump rope gets your heart rate up just like running – and it’s fun. You can use a jump rope as a warm up to your workout routine, or as part of a HIIT workout.
If you have floorboards, tile, or linoleum floors, sliders are a great addition to your home gym. You can use these as part of your cardio routine, or to make core exercises more challenging. A popular use for sliders is mountain climbers: place your feet on the sliders in a plank position, and alternate bringing your feet up to your chest, sliding your feet along the floor.
While not an essential gym item, sliders are great for making cardio exercises a little bit more challenging for your core.
A bosu ball is like “half” of a fitball, with a flat plastic edge along one side. These are super versatile and can be used for cardio and core exercises. You can use these as a cardio exercise in a side-to-side bosu shuffle, or place your feet on the flat plastic side while doing a plank.
When doing cardio, you’re likely going to sweat. Having a sweat towel dedicated to wiping down your face and equipment is a must-have if you’re doing high intensity exercise. This doesn’t have to be a dedicated gym towel – you can always use a hand towel or face cloth that you already have at home.
Equipment for recovery at home
Gym equipment is not just useful for your actual workout. You can also use gym equipment for your post-workout recovery.
A foam roller is the recovery tool you should be using. There are so many benefits of foam rolling, from improving your flexibility to preventing injury and allowing you to recover faster from your workouts.
Use a foam roller after your workouts to stretch out your muscles and reduce muscle tension and soreness. Depending on the size, foam rollers are usually light, portable and small, so you can also take them travelling with you and they don’t take up too much space.
Trigger point ball
Another at-home gym tool you can use for recovery is a trigger point ball. Using a trigger point ball in your recovery sessions allows you to target sore muscles and joints to loosen and relax them. This can help to prevent injury and quicken recovery times.
Substitutes using common household items
While home gym equipment is great to have at home for your workouts, you do not need to invest in gym equipment to get the most out of your exercise routine. In fact, there are many useful alternatives to gym equipment that you will likely already have around the house.
If you don’t want to invest in a bench, you can also use a sturdy chair instead for some strength exercises. While not as versatile as a bench (i.e. you cannot lie down on it for exercises), you can still use a chair for many movements. Think: step ups, tricep dips, or bench jump overs.
If you’re using a chair, you’ll need to make sure it is sturdy enough to hold your weight to prevent injury. Alternatively, if you don’t have a strong enough chair, you could use a step or ledge if you have one around your house or backyard.
Cans or plastic bottles
Cans or plastic bottles can be used instead of dumbbells or kettlebells. Have a look around your house for spare water bottles, shampoo bottles, or detergent bottles. If empty, you can fill these up with water and use them as added weights to your strength training routine. Or if you have access to it, you can fill the bottles with dirt or sand for even heavier weights.
While you may not realise it, a blank wall is a useful piece of gym equipment. You can use a wall to do wall-sits, where you sit with your back against the wall and your legs in front of you at a 90-degree angle. This works your quads and core.
Alternatively, you can also use a wall to do handstands for upper body strength training. Simply place your hands on the floor with your fingers pointing away from the wall, and walk your feet up the wall.
If you don’t want to purchase resistance bands, you can use a towel in some exercises for added resistance. Instead of using a resistance band for band pull-aparts, you can instead use a towel and pull from either end. This can also be done above your head as a shoulder exercise.
If you don’t have a bench, you can instead use a pillow to do a dumbbell bench press by lying down on top of the pillow on the floor. A pillow can also be used to create an incline for crunches.
If you have stairs at home, this is the perfect tool for at-home cardio with no extra equipment. You can run up and down your stairs as a simple cardio warm up, or add step-ups into your cardio workouts as an individual exercise.
Exercising at home without equipment
While gym equipment is useful to have for working out at home, it is not necessary. You can easily do workouts at home without any equipment at all. That’s the best part of working out at home – it is convenient and inexpensive.
If you’re getting started with at-home workouts without any gym equipment, try this bodyweight workout to see all the exercises you can do at home without any extra tools.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.