As I’ve said before doing your workout at home can be convenient and make it easier to fit some activity into a busy life. But you won’t have all the equipment and shiney machines that you’ll find at the gym in town.
The reality is that most of us will have neither the space to dedicate to home gym nor the budget to fill it with a range of machines and kit. If space and money are not an issue for you, go ahead and create a state of the art home gym. But the reality is that you don’t actually need lots of equipment or a dedicated space in your house to have a great workout.
What do I equipment need to work out at home?
Firstly there are a mass of exercise that you can do that simply use your body weight. However, with a few small pieces of equipment you can add more exercise to your repertoire. These can be picked fairly cheaply online, on the retail park or quite often in your supermarket!
This will give you a bit more padding and cushioning when doing core exercises. It’ll also protect your carpet or floor while you are working out. Yoga type roll mats are popular. Also these don’t take up much space when you are not working out.
An alternative are interlocking foam mats from a sports store. These are a bit thicker so offer more cushioning if you are doing high impact exercise, but are a little more expensive. They still pack away behind the sofa though.
Resistance training equipment
Firstly don’t forget that you can achieve a lot just with bodyweight exercises (push ups, crunches, squats, to name just a few). But, it’s likely you will want some form of weights if you want to add some additional resistance such as dumbbells, weights or resistance bands. Before you buy, think about what you will use them for.
- Dumbbells – you can start with a couple of pairs and add to these as you training progresses and you need heavier weights. These are convenient and quick to use as you just pick up the weight you want and go. But to cover the weight range you need for a various exercises you may start to build up quite a collection.
- Weights sets – these have dumbbell bars and a variety of weight plates that you attach. The benefit is that you can cover a wider range weight option (depending on the plates in your set) and this can be expanded by getting extra plates. The downside is that you do have to spend time swapping plates between exercise. Additionally, the weight combinations in the set may leave you with bigger jumps in weight than you would want. However, a few cheap 0.5kg plates lets you bridge those gaps.
- A barbell – a longer weights bar will increase your exercise options. Many of the weight plate sets available come with both a barbell and two dumbbells.
- Resistance bands – stretchy bands with or without handles are great if you just want to add a little extra resistance to tone up. That’s fine if you are getting started and don’t want to progress to lifting weights. However you can get the same benefits with small dumbbells.
Use what you have already
When thinking about what equipment you need, don’t forget to use what you already have! Your bottom stair or doorstep will work just as well as a gym ‘step’ or stepper machine for a warm up, step us, tricep dips, inclined push ups etc.
In fact if you want to start without any special equipment, remember a litre of water weighs 1kg. So a couple of water bottles can be improvised as a pair dumbbells. A 2L lemonade or milk bottles weigh in at 2kg. Or fill them with sand to be a bit heavier. Ok, so you’ll probably want to upgrade to dumbbells at some point but these will do to get started! If your budget is limited a quick online search will bring you even more ideas for ways to create your own fitness equipment.
If you have a little more budget and space, you could go a bit further.
If you enjoy using them, you could a home treadmill, rowing machine or exercise bike. Before you decide, be realistic – will you really use it? In homes around the country there exercise machines bought with good intentions which now act as novelty storage racks. Of course that means that you might be able to pick up what you want second hand at a bargain price.
Similarly, you could increase your collection of weights to offer a bigger range of option in your training. This could mean increasing the weight you lift as you progress, or things like kettlebells to give more exercise options in your routine. A ‘step’ can be a useful addition, again these can be found fairly cheaply and add options for aerobic training and
Whatever your budget, you don’t need to get everything at once. You are more likely to keep adding additional kit as you go along. This will help keep your fitness progressing and increase your exercise options.
Do I have space to workout at home?
A lot of people think they don’t have the space to work out at home. But you don’t need as much space as you might think. Nor does it need to set aside solely for exercise.
I’ve worked with clients in their front rooms, conservatories or basement room. I currently do my workouts in a spare bedroom that measure just 8ft x 7ft (2.4m x 2.1m). So have another look. See if moving the sofa back, shifting a spare bed, or moving the dining table against the wall could make enough space. Or is there another room that could be used as your exercise space. Don’t overlook your garage or a shed as a possible place for you workout?
A word of warning though. Think about what exercises you will be doing and make sure the space is big enough. You don’t what to be knocking into furniture when you are in full swing. Check overhead too as you don’t want to be clattering into a light fitting as push dumbbells overhead! You’ll also want to check how springy the floor. The last thing you want is a bookcase falling over or precious ornaments falling off shelves as you start some high impact exercises.
Also don’t overlook taking your training outside. On a fine day head out to the garden or the park. It will add variety to your workout and let you get a bit of fresh air.