If you're like me, you want simple, fast, inexpensive ways to get in shape. You don't have time to dedicate an hour a day to exercising, nor do you want to. You don't want to pay monthly fees to join a gym, spend the time commuting to get there and back, and waiting to use equipment. And you don't want to deal with other people's sweat.
If that sounds like you, then a home gym is your ticket to better health. But a home gym doesn't need to be a dedicated room at home; nor does it require large, expensive equipment. The best home gyms are wherever you are and supported by simple, inexpensive equipment.
A home gym can be set up in any area you desire that has just enough space to move around a bit: your bedroom, living area, garage, yard, hotel room, a park... The list can go on. To facilitate a home gym anywhere, and provide the versatility for a full-body workout, there are equipment items you should have.
I've provided 5 items that make the Best Equipment for Home Workouts. Not only are the exercise equipment items listed below extremely effective in helping you perform ultimate home workouts, but they are all simple to use, portable, and inexpensive.
A Yoga mat is your best tool to avoid potential injury when working out at home. That may sound silly, but take a look around a gym. There are padded mats everywhere. Gym owners know the safety benefits of mats, even if their customers don't notice. If you're going to expect efficient, injury-free workouts at home, you need a yoga mat.
The number one benefit of yoga mats is that they protect your body from hard, cold, uneven surfaces in your home. If you're working out on a cold floor, the mat will keep your body warm, which is crucial to avoiding injury. They provide comfort so your body is not in direct contact with the floor.
Yoga mats also provide stability, coordination, and balance. The firm and uniform surface sustains alignment of your body, which improves stability and balance and gives you extra support to perform exercises properly. The padding absorbs impacts of your body hitting the floor, protecting your joints and bones from injury, and promoting proper body coordination.
Yoga mats come in many different sizes, thicknesses, colors, and patterns. Aside from that, texture is important as the surface needs to be reliable in both dry and wet conditions. You don't want to slip on the sweat dripping off your body during an awesome home workout. That could definitely lead to injury.
When choosing a yoga mat, opt for one that is non-slippery and is advertised as grippy. Most yoga mats are made of either rubber or vinyl; vinyl will last longer, and rubber are more eco-friendly. Choose one with average thickness of 3.3 mm or 1/8" thick, which will be versatile enough for different floor surfaces.
There are several different types of strength training. Many people think strength training requires heavy weights to get or stay strong. That's false. You can build muscle with only your body weight, and although calisthenics can support diverse workouts, many people prefer to perform different type exercises for which weights are necessary. For that reason, light dumbbells are the ideal choice for at home workouts.
I recommend light weights, 5-10 lb dumbbells, for home workouts. Of course the weight depends on your strength; stronger individuals can handle more weight. But light weight dumbbells permit a large variety of exercises, allowing you to work all muscles in the body with one set of dumbbells. Light weight dumbbells also permit you to reach a full range of motion through the exercise, promoting strength as well as control and stability.
When choosing dumbbells for your home exercises, select a set that matches your style and will be best for your workout environment. Rubber coated weights offer a more comfortable grip and make less noise than metal weights, but metal are more sanitary and durable.
Resistance bands don't often get promoted as a fundamental strength training tool, especially when compared with equipment like weights. But resistance bands are a versatile, easy to use, and lightweight type of training equipment for the home gym.
Unlike weights, resistance bands don't only work against gravity. They enable exercises in any direction, and you fight the resistance in all directions. Resistance bands are versatile because they can be used to target any muscle group, and can be easily adjusted for varying resistance. Best of all, resistance bands are lightweight and portable so you can bring your home gym with you, wherever you choose to workout.
There are many choices when it comes to types of resistance bands. There are flat or loop bands, bands with handles or ankle cuffs, and ones geared for power & mobility. When first starting out with resistance bands, your best bet is to purchase a set of varying resistance level bands to test your strength. As you gain strength and familiarity with using resistance bands, you can work your way towards stronger, or different types.
The ab wheel, or ab roller, is in my opinion the most effective tool to target your core. Using the ab roller engages all of the core muscle groups, including the abdominal muscles, obliques, and pectorals. It also works the shoulders, back, upper chest, and hip flexors. It is an easy, inexpensive, and super effective piece of exercise equipment.
There are many different ways you can use the ab wheel, and I've covered the 5 standard exercises you can do with the ab roller here. When first starting out with the ab wheel, it is important to learn proper form. Proper form is vital to avoid strain on the lower back. And if you don't use an ab roller regularly, it's important to not overdue it or you could strain your muscles, leaving you in pain the next day. Do yourself a favor and start with a few reps, and build up over time.
If you're looking to try an ab wheel, there are a few things to consider: wheel size, grips, and quality. The wider the wheel (some have 2 wheels), the more stability it provides. More stability is important to beginners. Decide whether you want rubber or foam grips, but just make sure they are slip resistant. Finally, when it comes to quality, some ab wheels will not support people over a certain weight, due to being built with plastic parts. Stainless steel bars will support heavier people, and higher quality materials will last longer, but come with a higher price tag.
Exercise ball / stability ball
Many people think exercise balls are primarily used for rehab. But exercise balls, also known as stability balls, balance balls, yoga balls, and pilates balls, are gaining more popularity for their benefits in strength training and exercise. They promote proper alignment, posture, and balance; and when coupled with exercises, stability balls help improve strength, endurance, flexibility, and of course stability.
Introducing a stability ball into your workouts can be a challenge for beginners as the ball creates an unstable base for your body. It requires you to control your balance, and focus your body movements on performing exercises with proper form. While concentrating on the movements, you trigger both core muscles and stabilizer muscles, which improves strength and endurance.
Choosing an exercise ball is simple: when sitting on one, your knees should form a 90-degree angle or slightly more. So if you're 5'-4" tall or less, a 55 cm ball will be best. For individuals 5'-5" - 5'-11", a 65 cm ball will work. And for people 6'-0"+, a 75 cm ball will do.
Healthy Habits for Busy People is all about simple, fast, and inexpensive ways to be healthy. You don't need a gym, packed with lots of large, expensive equipment to get in shape. The best equipment items for a home workout listed above will help you reach your fitness goals, at a fraction of the price and time you had thought.
Want more tips on exercising at home? Check out all our articles here.
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