Ditch the Gym & Invest in These 10 Home Strength Training Essentials

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  10 comments   :  21,236 Views

Should you lift weights? Regardless of your age, weight or gender, the answer is always a resounding ”yes!” Pumping iron (whether it's three pounds or 30) helps to boost muscle strength, bone density, balance, metabolism and heart health, among other amazing perks.
 
But what if your motivation takes a nosedive before you manage to suit up and make it to the gym, or your jam-packed schedule simply won't allow for the trip? Or maybe you're not quite ready to navigate the (not so) scary weight room. Not to worry—you can start reaping the full-body benefits of strength training from the comfort of your living room (or bedroom, or hotel room) anytime you please.


Benefits of Strength Training at Home


Fitness trainer Julia Buckley estimates that working out at home slashes your total workout time by roughly 50 percent. "You don’t have to waste time packing your gym kit, traveling to the gym, finding a locker, waiting for and then chatting to your personal trainer or training buddy, waiting for equipment—and then doing it all in reverse at the end of your workout," she points out.
 
And then there's the cost savings—after the initial investment in some basic equipment, home workouts are very inexpensive compared to pricey gym memberships and personal training sessions.
 
Other benefits include the freedom to work out whenever you want, for as long as you want, without any concerns about picking out exercise clothes, waiting for equipment or arranging for childcare. Plus, you might be more willing to try an exercise you wouldn't otherwise attempt in front of a gym audience.
 

Working Out Safely at Home


When strength training at home, it's more important than ever to strive for proper form and to stay focused on the workout. "Even though no one is around, you should work hard to the point of fatigue, and don't let the distractions of being at home derail you," says trainer and fitness blogger Ashley Pitt.
 
Fitness trainer Sarah Bright offers these tips to stay safe when strength training on your own:
  • Learn proper technique, even if that means hiring a personal trainer to come to your house a few times. Consider it an initial investment, just like the equipment. You can also follow online workout videos for tips and ideas.
  • Stay focused on what you're doing instead of letting your mind wander.
  • Build up slowly and progress with care. It can be exciting to "move up" in weight on an exercise, but be sure you can maintain proper technique with the increased weight. 

Creating Your Home Gym


It doesn't require anything fancy—just a commitment, a schedule and some basic equipment, such as these expert favorites. You don't necessarily need all of these, and certainly not all at once. Start with one or two, then gradually build up your collection until you've got your own personalized at-home weight room.
 
1. Resistance Band: Power-Systems Versa-Loops Resistance Band (starting at $13.58)


Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
Once her clients have gotten comfortable with basic weight-training moves, Kim Schaper has them purchase these for more advanced glute training. The flat, closed-loop design fits comfortably around the upper or lower legs for added resistance.
 
2. Adjustable Dumbbells: ProForm 25-lb. Adjustable Dumbbell Set ($70)


Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
A set of dumbbells is an essential home gym purchase. To save space, personal trainer Kristy Stabler uses adjustable dumbbells that can be scaled up or down to match the specific exercise and strength level. As a general guideline, she recommends that women start with a set that goes from 5 to 20 pounds, and that men choose a set ranging from 10 to 25 pounds.
 
3. Exercise Mat: Manduka PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat (starting at $88.05)


Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
A good floor mat is beneficial, particularly if you have hardwood floors. For maximum cushioning and comfort, Stabler uses this one from Manduka. "It's a little pricey, but worth it when you're in the middle of a core workout and your tailbone isn't bruised," she says.
 
4. Stability Ball: URBNFit ($14.99)

Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo loves using a stability ball as a bench to perform chest presses, skull crushers and a variety of core exercises. The ball can also be used for wall squats and hamstring curls. "The bonus of using a stability ball is that it engages the core and is much less expensive than a flat bench," she says.
 
5. Jump Rope: 321 STRONG ($7.99)

Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
Russo names a fitness jump rope as a must-have for any home gym. "It's portable, can be easily packed for travel and offers a terrific cardio workout for those who don't enjoy running."
 
6. Mirror: Mirrotech Over-the-Door Mirror ($47.18)



Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
Buckley recommends having a big mirror in your training zone to monitor your form and technique. "You might think you're moving correctly, but the mirror might show you otherwise," she says. "Plus, it can be very motivating to see yourself get leaner or more muscular as you progress."
 
7. TRX: TRX GO Training Kit ($99.95)


Photo courtesy of Amazon

When helping her clients design at-home gyms, Bright always suggests investing in a TRX suspension training kit to perform bodyweight exercises for every muscle group. Although it must be anchored somewhere, such as over a door jamb, the TRX is very portable.
 
8. Step: The Step Aerobic Platform ($22)


Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
If you're looking to expand beyond the basics, Bright recommends investing in a quality step, ideally one with an incline setting that is stable enough to be stepped or jumped on.
 
9. Machines: Bowflex PR1000 ($379.52)

Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
Although not a requirement, some die-hard home exercisers may choose to invest in a multi-purpose home gym to perform a variety of strength training moves.
 
10. Kettlebells: Yes4All Kettlebell Set ($42)

Photo courtesy of Amazon
 
Russo uses kettlebells for more of a functional training workout—not isolating specific muscle groups, but recruiting multiple groups at once to perform compound moves. "That's how we move in real life," says Russo. "Rarely do we isolate a muscle when doing something."

Which home gym essentials could you not work out without?

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Comments

  • 10
    LOL! Geostomp. - 2/3/2017   12:42:03 PM
  • 9
    Although some of the prices are a bit high, I did find a great exercise ball for much cheaper and may get it soon! I already have a few of the others so it will make a nice addition to my exercise equipment. - 2/3/2017   8:44:46 AM
  • 8
    47 bucks for a door mirror? Are you serious? - 2/2/2017   11:02:06 PM
  • 7
    Over the years I've moved from household items to set weight dumbbells. I just recently bought a pair of power block adjustable ones and LOVE them - for ease of switching between weights (reduces down time) and for space saving, they live in the living room, but I stash them behind the cat tree. - 2/2/2017   11:29:57 AM
  • 6
    I am fortunate to have a treadmill (given to us by in-laws) and stationary bike. Over the years I acquired dumb bells of various weights up to 10 lb., a yoga mat, resistance band and stability ball. There's a step in the room where I work out but I can only use it to step up and back down. I like the idea of using the ball as a bench for some exercises. I'm sure there's a skipping rope around but not enough ceiling height to use it indoors. I have everything I need to get in a good workout. - 2/2/2017   10:46:37 AM
  • 5
    an $80 mat seems ridiculous. - 2/2/2017   9:46:45 AM
  • 4
    Just joking here, but... What jump rope *isn't* "portable"? - 2/2/2017   6:33:18 AM
  • SUZTEM
    3
    Nothing in list I can do without.
    I have a few of these suggested items but have opted in past to use items I find around the house to use as weights.
    I use silk shopping bags I have to put them in if akward to hold on their own.
    Instead of kettle balls I found stuff in garage to use.
    To get accurate weight stand on scales yourself note your weight then pick up item you want to use and step back on scale then note the difference between the two weights.
    I found doing this made it more interesting.
    In place of step to jump onto I used built up garden to jump onto so softer if I fell, lol.
    I used upturned bucket for step, then I had husband build me a large box style step when I got to do high step exercises.
    If you can't afford weights then use canned items, plastic juice/milk bottles full or part filled.
    Resistance bands: got old bike inner tubes or strong elastic. I recall using elastic to play games using feet or hands as a kid, maybe you remember them too. Try charity shops or recycle centre at local tip to see if you can pick up second hand fitness gear to use.
    Think outside the normal gym gear.
    When I go to local shops I use shopping bag to do simple arm exercises on return journey swapping from side to side. - 2/2/2017   5:59:24 AM
  • 2
    I have 7 out of 10 of the list items in this article. - 2/2/2017   3:18:31 AM
  • 1
    I used to use a Barbell almost exclusively when I was younger.. And you CAN buy adjustable handles for dumbells and just load them up with plates for MUCH cheaper than the fancy "adjustable" ones. - 2/1/2017   9:27:08 PM

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