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The Best Gym Equipment for Your At-Home Workout

With the spread of the Coronavirus, more and more establishments are taking the initiative to close their doors to prevent the spread of this life-threatening disease. As most people stay home and practice social distancing, there is no reason your exercise routine should suffer. It’s something that most of us have always wanted, but put off until now—setting up your at-home gym!

 

So while we wait this virus out together, we’ve gathered our top 7 things you will need to make the most out of your at-home workout! Summer bod here we come.

#1: The Yoga Mat

You don’t have to be a Yogi to appreciate this piece of cushion. The yoga mat was first introduced in the 60’s by a yoga instructor who decided to use a piece of foam carpet padding rather than a towel or deer skin (yes, you read that correctly…deer skin). By adding a layer of foam between the body and the floor, it became very clear that this would be the invention of the century for the yoga industry. Unfortunately for them, it took a couple more decades and a lot of trial and error to create the durable mats we use today. Thankfully for us, yoga mats have made their way into every area of fitness.

 

For a comfortable at-home workout, the yoga mat is an essential accessory. Especially if you are dealing with any knee pain or joint sensitivity, simply adding a personalized yoga mat underneath your feet can turn your painful workout into a safe challenge. It’s durable, yet flexible, offering plenty of ways to incorporate it into your daily workout routine.

 

A standard mats measures about 1/8 inch thick, making it very easy to roll up and store underneath a bed or on a closet shelf. Working out at home never felt so good!

#2: Fitness Ball

This piece of equipment, although large in space, provides countless benefits to your workout:

  • Improves core strength
  • Improves core stability
  • Learn proper posture
  • Improves muscle balance
  • Increases back muscle strength
  • Develop overall control of the core body muscles

You might be thinking? Why do I need to improve my core? Consider your core the powerhouse of the body. It is the group of muscles that stabilize and support all of your body’s movements. So if your core is weak, the entire body suffers. If you’re intentional about strengthening your core in everything you do, you will begin to see immediate results.

Sitting on a fitness ball for the first time is most likely a wobbly experience. Just by sitting on the ball, you are activating all these tiny muscle fibers in your core responsible for balance and stability. One of the best ways to introduce the fitness ball is to sit on the ball for 30 minutes a day. This balanced position helps you find your center of gravity, and even the slightest change in your posture activates those stomach muscles to pull you back into alignment. Many individuals are replacing their office chairs for the fitness ball because of its ability to strengthen and alleviate lower back pain.

Speaking of back pain, the fitness ball is also widely used by chiropractors and physical therapists to rehabilitate any back, hip, or knee injuries. No degree required to own one of these bouncy supporters. At a low cost combined with a few reliable resources, you can start transforming your core in the comfort of your own home.

#3: The Jump Rope

One of the most compact items on this list, the jump rope might be one of the most underrated pieces of fitness equipment out there. The most bang for your buck, the jump rope offers you an extremely effective cardiovascular workout, anywhere, anytime. When working out at home, continuously keeping your heart rate up can be more challenging than expected. Adding a 2-3 minute jump rope challenge to your circuit training can dramatically shift that mediocre workout into feeling like Rocky Balboa.

A few interesting fact about the jump rope:

 

  • Jumping rope can increase the elasticity and strength of the lower-leg muscles, ultimately protecting you from a number of lower-leg injuries. No one wants to hobble into work the next day because you over did it on the the calf-raising machine.
  • Jumping rope can help improve coordination. Not everyone is blessed with the hand-eye-foot-coordination of Michael Jordan. Because this is a cyclic activity, requiring a steady and  rhythmic pace, jumping rope improves the coordination between your eyes, hands and feet.
  • Working on physical coordination in the body ultimately improves your brain cognitive functions.

 

There are many ways to incorporate the jump rope into your at-home workout routine. Warm up with 2-3 minutes on the clock. If circuit training, add a minute of jump rope after completing your resistance training to maintain an accelerated heart rate. If your goal is just to complete a cardio workout, this is when Youtube becomes your best friend. There are endless fitness experts posting a variety of jump rope workouts to help you reach all your fitness goals safely and effectively.

#4: Resistance Bands

Resistance bands have grown to be an essential element in the world of fitness. Offering the same intensity as free weights, resistance bands are easily portable and take up as much storage space as that diary you’ve yet to update. Not only are they a safe and effective piece of equipment, they are extremely affordable. The more you learn about these bands, the more excited you’ll be to add them to your home gym!

 

Let’s boost your confidence and learn how these little guys actually work. When you stretch the band, your muscles are continuously working against the force of the band. What makes free weights an effective tool for exercise is the reliance on gravity to create resistance. However, What’s missing from this type of approach, is that when you’re not “lifting” you’re resting, even with the weight it hand. By creating resistance throughout the entire duration of the exercise, you are requiring your muscles to work even at “rest.”

 

It doesn’t matter if you are beginner or a fitness expert, custom resistance bands come in a variety of sizes and levels. Usually categorized as light, medium, or heavy, you can easily adjust the amount of resistance by giving more or less slack on the band. You can even go full Rambo and combine multiple bands together to create a more challenging movement.

 

Your curiosity is growing but still unsure how to use these giant rubber bands? Just start with the basics. For example, a basic dumbbell curl. Stand on one end of the band with the other end in hand. At rest, the band should be taut, not loose, creating some resistance pulling down on you. From there, curl your arm up the same way you would a free weight dumbbell, and slowly release.

#5: Free Weights

Free weight dumbbells are still one of the most effective equipment for a sweaty workout. All it takes is 2 to 3 sets of free weights to transform your home into a sanctuary of fitness. But before you start lifting, let’s talk proper training.

 

The best time to introduce free weights into your workout routine is after you’ve mastered bodyweight exercises. Might sound boring, but effectively moving your body with optimal flexibility and range of motion is key to building muscle and burning calories. Introducing weights before then can increase risk of injury, so let’s train smart. You know it’s time to add weight once you start to feel like your normal body weight routine isn’t quite hard enough. No one wants to waste time working out, so introduce those free weights!

 

As mentioned above, free weights use gravity to create resistance causing your muscles to work harder than normal. The harder they work, the more calories you burn, the more muscle you build. Investing in a range of weights ensures that you are able to add resistance to the whole body. For example, the combination of 5, 10 and 20 pounds, ensures you can shape the shoulders but also really work those legs.

#6: The Foam Roller

These bad boys are quite new to the fitness community but they are here to stay. Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique intended to relieve muscles from tightness and soreness caused by the build-up of fascia tissue.

 

So what is fascia tissue? Fascia tissue makes up multiple layers of tissue that envelop each muscle and attach to tendons and bones to assist in any type of movement. Compared to muscle tissue, fascia is considered pretty stiff and lacks flexibility on its own. Due to its own inadequacies, any strenuous activity can cause the fascia to build up, creating adhesions or “trigger points.” When the tissue binds up together, it gets even stiffer causing painful knots in the muscle. Myofascial release is believed to be a safe and effective approach to separate these fibers and regain its strength and purpose.

 

Foam rolling takes stretching to the next level. Warming up with a foam roller has been shown to improve movement during a workout. Rolling out for a cool down has also shown to speed up recovery time because you’re increasing the blood flow to those muscles you just worked out.

 

Because of its new place in the industry, little research has been done to scientifically back the foam roller’s claim to fame. That hasn’t stopped anyone yet from rolling out because the proof is in the pudding.  Small case studies have proven that the foam rolling increases muscle flexibility, range of motion, and encourages faster recovery.

 

This hurts-so-bad-it-feels-good kind of pain might be exactly what you need to find those results you’ve been looking for.

#7: The Fitness Towel

Fitness towels are designed with your sweat in mind. Might seem silly, but having your go-to workout towel buddies help you create the right atmosphere for a successful at-home workout. As the sweat begins to pour out from all the squatting and curling, your handy personalized fitness towel will be right there ready to keep you sweat-free. So you can feel good about working hard and staying dry.

 

One pitfall to working out at home is the mental challenge of separating home-life with exercise life. Creating that space with all your fitness equipment helps ease that mental game. Plus, having your fitness towel handy means you won’t have to worry about ruining your wife’s special these-are-only-for-guests hand towels.


The best thing to remember here is that exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Sticking to the basics, listening to your body, and making a few small investments in effective equipment will absolutely keep you on track with your fitness goals.

Summer bod here we come.