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Are membership fees, startup costs, maintenance fees, and additional annual charges part of your exercise life something you would like to eliminate? Going to a commercial gym may seem like the most convenient option for weight lifting, but the truth is that it is one of the most costly in the long run. Having your own gym equipment at home has many cost-saving and convenient benefits both short-term and long-term. Not convinced that having a home gym is the better option? Let’s look at the advantages.
Let’s talk benefits of having workout equipment at home
- Increased motivation. If there are dumbbells staring at you every day, they may just motivate you to pick them up. Then put them down. Then, hopefully, pick them up again.
- Convenience. Whether you’re a gym rat or a newbie, there are things you’ll need to do at home to get better or stronger or leaner. Accessory work is needed, recovery will mean more than taking a nap and consistency will mean that sometimes you’ll need to get a workout in on limited time.
- You’ll save money. If you don’t have $100 a month to sign up for an upscale gym or don’t want to burn $10 a month to share weight machines with a guy working out in distressed denim, in the long run, purchasing a few versatile fitness items is going to be a lot more cost-effective.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
How Much Space Do I Have?
There’s no reason to spend money on a weight bench and a barbell if you live in a studio apartment. You have to consider the kind of space you’re working with. The less room you have, the more you’ll be confined to bodyweight movements, dumbbells and resistance work. But if you’ve got enough room to stand, squat and lay down, you’ve got enough room for a HIIT session.
Will I Use It?
If you hate running, buying a treadmill is a waste of money. Just like purchasing an indoor cycling bike makes zero sense if you’re going to let it collect dust. The point is to allow your interests to dictate what equipment you buy, not the other way around. Buying equipment thinking, “If I buy this, I’ll finally start working out at home,” is a trap. Start with a product that doesn’t intimidate you or require too much assembly or take up too much room. But most importantly, be certain it is something you will actually use.
A kettlebell or exercise ball are great, versatile pieces you can start with. Neither necessarily require a lot of space and there is a wide variety of weighted movement you can accomplish with both.
1Cap Barbell Enamel Coated Cast Iron Kettlebell
When you purchase a kettlebell to keep at home, find crown for it. It should receive royal treatment because it will do the most to get your where you want to be fast. Kettlebell training is a excellent way to mix in both cardio and strength training at high intensity. Kettlebell swings, for example, are a beastly total body exercise that will fire up everything from your shoulders and back to your glutes and hamstrings.
Unlike dumbbells the center of weight extends beyond the handle which make them great for swinging motions. But you can slow things down and focus on individual muscle groups or use kettlebells to assist with increased mobility and recovery. It’s really an all-in-one tool.
When you’re looking for a kettlebell to purchase, focus on durability and choosing a weight with solid grip that you can handle for various workouts. There’s no reason you need to buy multiple bells at a time.
2Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
Having a pair of dumbbells is a critical step to start weight training. Varying planes of motion, compound movements, isolation lifts, copious amount of bicep curls in the mirrors. Dumbbells offer everything. But adjustable dumbbells like these classics from Bowflex is like walking into a gym, stealing all the weights from the rack and taking them home. But you don’t need a whole rack. Bowflex gives you 15 sets of weights in one, allowing you to adjust in 2.5-pound increments. A turn here, a click there and you’ve got the appropriate load no matter what movement you’re tackling.
Not saying it’s going to feel good, but you’re going to want this torture device in your place. If you want a strong core, you’re going to need more than sit-ups and crunches. An ab wheel works by requiring your core muscles to work as a group, while also hitting your upper back and shoulders. Stay away from the silly crunch machines, an ab wheel is more effective. Just be ultra-conscious about maintaining proper form to avoid putting excess strain on your lower back.
You don’t need to break the bank on an ab wheel either. A simple, standard double wheel with handles can do the work.
The biggest benefit of using resistance bands is convenience – because resistance training is strength training. Bands are also easy to store and travel with and capable of a lot more variation than barbells or dumbbells. In some ways, partly due to its instability, resistance bands can be even more beneficial than free weights because they can force the body to recruit more muscles to stabilize. Additionally, bands can provide resistance in any plane motion, making for a lot more possibilities for strength building.
One of the few disadvantages is that you won’t be able to continually add weight, although you will be able to graduation to bands with increased tension. Bands also are very unforgiving if your posture is poor so proper form becomes even more important.
WODFitters Resistance Bands are made of thick, durable latex rubber and easily color-coded by level of resistance ranging from 10-35 pounds (red) to 65-175 pounds of resistance (blue). A good place to start is the purple band which offers 40-80 pounds of resistance. These are good enough for assisted pull-ups, stretching and plyometrics workouts as well as strength-based workout for the days you want to give heavy lifting a break.
Try this below 10-minute workout from our biceps guide with banded rows.
10-Minute Bicep Workout
Created by Rafique “Flex” Cabral, NASM-certified trainer at Trooper
Do: Each move for 40 seconds, 20 second transition, 3 rounds
Trainer tip: “You want to do each move as many reps as possible throughout the workout. If you’re only going for 10 minutes, you’re working until exhaustion.”
1. Chin Ups
Grab pull-up bar with palms facing body. Hang, fully extending arms, gripping bar tight. Pull bodyweight up until chin clears bar. Slowly return to start for 1 rep.
2. Goblet Squat Curl
Start with feet wider than hip-width, turned slightly out, holding kettlebell. Sit hips back, lower into squat with chest up until kettlebell meets floor. Curl bell up toward shoulders, lower. Continue curling bell for 40 seconds.
3. Resistant band rows
Start sitting on floor with legs outstretched. Place resistance band around soles of feet, holding end in each hand. Pull back on band, keeping elbows close to sides, until hands meet chest. Slowly return to start for 1 rep.
Trainer tip: “Focus on fast pull back and a slower controlled extension,” Cabral says.
Whether we like it or not, cardio is necessary. And if you want to get lean, toned muscle, you’re going to have to get your heart rate pumping so a jump rope should be in your arsenal. Jumping rope builds agility and coordination while increasing your stamina as well. You can make it a warm-up for your strength training session or build a monster cardio workout centered around the jump rope.
If you’re going to drop money though, you want to make sure you’re getting what you paid for. Your best bet is to find a versatile rope that you can use for various workouts in varying atmospheres. The Survival and Cross rope isn’t just build for fast double unders, but it’s fast enough that can work them in if you have the skill. It’s durable enough for long cardio sessions, indoor or outdoor and adjustable so it’s suitable for any height.
Of any product you can have at home, the right medicine ball might be the most fun. Medicine balls are versatile (there’s that word again) and portable and perfect for building explosive power. There are many different kinds of medicine balls – soft ones, hard rubber ones, medicine balls with handles or increased grip and most come in varying weights. Instead of buying multiple balls, we suggest choosing a weight that is moveable but still challenging when you increase your rep scheme. A 12-pound ball is a great place to start.
A classic, rubber medicine ball will definitely work. If you’re concerned about space, be sure to check the diameter to the ball before buying. But for the most versatility, we recommend a soft medicine ball. There’s less chance of injury if, for example, you’re performing wall ball shots and you miss on the catch. The leather stitching also gives an increased quality that both makes the ball easier to grip and more durable. Just be cautious about performing any exercises where you slam the ball, as they could break open over time.
Whether you’re planning on morning sun salutations or not, a yoga mat should be on your shopping list because you should be stretching at home if you value your body. If you’re exercising in a room without carpet you may also want some cushion between you knees and the floor. More important than any feature you’ll see in any exercise or yoga mat is slippage. The ProSource Puzzle Exercise Mat is water resistant and reduces noise so that the folks below you won’t call the police when you’re doing burpees in your apartment. Each tile is 24 x 24 inches and a half-inch thick and puzzle pieces make it easy to connect more flooring as needed.
Try These Stretches
How to do it: Stand up straight with your feet together and arms by your sides. Take a deep breath and exhale while bringing your palms together at chest level. As you inhale, stretch your arms above your head. Arch your back while pushing your hips forward and stretch back as far as is comfortable. Inhale and stretch forward to reach for your toes. Bend the knees slightly, if necessary, and bring your hands to the floor next to your feet.
Inhale and bring your right leg back as far as possible. Bring your left foot to meet your right. Perform a push-up or simply bring your chin and hips to the floor as you inhale once more. Then arch your chest forward and tilt your head back, slightly bending your elbows into your body. Tuck your toes underneath you and raise your hips upward into a pyramid shape. Bring your feet underneath you to stand. Repeat this sequence 3-5 times.
Cat & Cow Stretch
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How to do it: Start on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor and a neutral spine. As you inhale deeply round your back and as you exhale drop your spine into a deep arched position. This posture helps with preventing back pain and focuses on spinal flexibility and abdominal strength.
Think about purchasing an at-home masseuse at a fraction of the price. Foam rollers are about myoscial release, which release the tension from the giant knots forming in various parts of your body as workout. Foam rolling helps relieve muscle fatigue, increases flexibility and mobility, and assists with soreness and muscle tightness. Foam rolling before a workout can even increase explosiveness, strength and agility according to a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training.
A basic, high density foam roller like this one from LuxFit, which comes in a 12-inch, 18-inch and 36-inch will do the trick and you will develop a love/hate relationship in no time. In case you’re wondering how to use it, here is an in-depth coverage on the topic for you. But the moves below should get you started.
For Your Quads
Lie on your stomach with forearms on the floor (as if in a forearm plank position) with foam roller under your thighs. Roll up and down, side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the knots in the area. Because the quadricep is a large muscle, separate the rolling into segments. Do not try to roll the entire muscle at once. In order to increase the intensity, cross one leg over the other and shift your weight towards the leg on the bottom, then begin to roll.
For Your Lats
You’ll be sore from all those pull-ups in the doorway, and trying to reach around to massage your lats with your fingers probably won’t cut it. But laying across a foam roller is a life saver.
Lie on your side with the bottom with the foam roller placed on your side about six inches below your armpit and your bottom arm extended over your head with the thumb facing up. Using your legs and the opposite hand (placed on the floor in front of you), roll up/ down/side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the “knots” in the area. Do not go past the armpit, but instead slightly roll backwards at the top, working on the tissue on your shoulder blade.
Suspension trainers like TRX are extremely lightweight, portable, affordable and you can easily stow it away when you’re finished your workout. You can also pack it up and take your workout on the go. The bundle comes with a ceiling or door anchor for home setup. But most important, for those of us desperately trying to carve out a six-pack, suspension trainers like TRX require that you almost always engage your core. Yes. All abs. All the time.
Another advantage is that the TRX Exercise Bundle comes with a strength training program and a flexibility/mobility routine, so you have your workout sessions already plotted out for you. The kit comes with six 15-30 minute workouts, but we’ve thrown in another for you below.
At-Home TRX Workout
Created by Kyle Parker, USAW certified trainer, director at Exceed Physical Culture
2 Rounds: 40 sec working intervals, 10 sec rest intervals
Note: Switch sides on power pull and resisted torso rotation for second round
1. TRX Bridge Row
Lie down grasping TRX handles with both hands, keeping arms extended, feet on floor. Pull handles and drive hips as high as possible in the air. At the top of the movement, pull handles until they touch shoulders. Lower body back to start for 1 rep.
2. TRX Bridge Bicep Curl
Face toward TRX, grabbing handle in each hand, palms facing up. Lean back until arms are extended. Bend elbows until hands frame face, simultaneously pulling body upward. Return to start for 1 rep.
3. TRX Power Pull (Single-Arm Rotating Row)
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width distance, facing TRX, holding handle with right hand. Keeping left arm extended, rotate torso to left side, creating a “T” shape with arms. Drive right elbow back in rowing motion, rotating torso to face TRX. Slowly return back to start for 1 rep.
4. TRX Resisted Torso Rotation
Stand facing TRX system, holding handle with both hands, arms extended at chest height. Lean back slightly and distribute some weight to heels, maintaining body alignment. Rotate torso and extend arms as one unit to right side, stopping at head height. Pull TRX system to chest. Return slowly to start for 1 rep.
3 Rounds: 30 sec working intervals, 10 sec rest intervals
1. TRX Single-Arm Bicep Curl, Right
Stand next to TRX apparatus with feet together. Grab single handle with right arm, turn sideways. Extend arm fully to side, lowering body toward ground. Pull yourself back up by doing a bicep curl. Return to start for 1 rep.
2. TRX Single-Arm Bicep Curl, Left
Stand next to TRX apparatus with feet together. Grab single handle withleft arm, turn sideways. Extend arm fully to side, lowering body toward ground. Pull yourself back up by doing a bicep curl. Return to start for one rep.
3. TRX Y-Fly
Start with feet together facing TRX. Holding handles, slowly walk feet in front, creating 45-degree angle with ground, arms extended. Open arms into “Y” position, engaging core. Slowly return to start for one rep.
10ProSource Multi-Grip Pull-Up Bar
When it comes to bodyweight movements, pull-ups are at the top when it comes to building strength. But having a doorway pull-up bar with multiple grip options makes your potential for gains limitless. The ProSource Multi-Grip Chin-Up/Pull-Up Bar, allows various pull-up variations for wide or close grip pull-ups, chin-ups and leg raises. You could even pull it from the door and use it on the floor for deficit pushups or dips. It’s made with durable steel and supports up to 300 pounds
At-Home Bodyweight Triceps Workout
Created by Luke Lombardo, Instructor at Studio Metamorphosis in Los Angeles
Stand with a chair, box or bench directly behind you. Bend your knees and lower yourself until you can place one hand on either side of the surface behind you, shoulder width apart, arms fully extended. Extend your feet out in front of you so all the weight rests in your hands and your heels. Keeping your core and glutes tight and inline, using just your arms, bend your elbows and lower entire body down as far as your can. Push back up until arms are at full extension.
Perform 3 sets of 10.
Trainer Tip: Keep your elbows in, your back very close to the surface in which you are performing the dips on and keep those shoulders away from your ears! The dips should be slow and controlled, making sure that your shoulders and elbows hit a 90-degree angle before coming up. The further your legs/feet are away from you, the harder the dips will be! To modify, keep your legs and feet closer to your body.
At-Home Bodyweight Triceps Workout
Created by Luke Lombardo, Instructor at Studio Metamorphosis in Los Angeles
2. Diamond Push-Ups
Come to the floor in plank position, hands form a triangle on the ground in front of you, shoulders stacked over elbows, body in straight line from head to toe. Keeping elbows close to sides, perform a push-up. Repeat.
Perform 1 set of 10.
Trainer Tip: To modify, keep your hands farther apart (the closer your hands are, the more difficult). This can be done on your feet, or on your knees as a modification. For a challenge, put your hands on top of each other.
3. Tricep Push-Ups
Come to the floor in plank position, hands directly inline under shoulders, body in straight line from head to toe. Keeping elbows close to sides, lower body almost to the ground, ending with hands at sides. Push back up. Repeat
Perform 1 set of 10.
Trainer Tip: The closer your elbows are to the sides of your body, the more difficult this pushup will be. To modify, put a little space between your arms. This can be done on your feet or on your knees as a modification.
Come to the floor in plank position, hands directly inline under shoulders, body in straight line from head to toe. Lower body almost to ground. Push back up. Repeat.
Perform 1 set of 10.
Trainer Tip: After the dips, diamond pushups and tricep push-ups, your triceps will definitely be feeling it! Although triceps are a secondary muscle worked in regular push-ups, you will definitely feel them engaged and working.
Grab onto bar with palms facing away from you. Using upper body strength, pull your chest up to the bar. Lower back down until arms are straight, but don’t come off the bar, so you’re hanging. Repeat.
Perform as many as you can without a break.
Trainer Tip: Don’t cheat! It is important to obtain a full range of motion with each pull-up. That means after each pull-up, lower yourself the entire way down until your arms are straight! To modify, find a friend to hold your legs for an assisted pull-up.