I love my home workouts!
I work out several times a week, but I don't go to the gym - I do home workouts! I've thought about buying a membership, but I couldn't justify spending that much. (Have I ever mentioned that I'm Dutch? That's actually a pretty true stereotype.)
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of great bodyweight workouts you can do at home without any equipment at all. In fact, these workouts are exactly how I started out, and doing them increased my initial strength and coordination. But at some point, you may reach a fitness plateau if you don't increase the challenge, and you may need to invest in some equipment to improve your home workouts.
There are a lot of products out there, and the fitness industry will have you believing that you need all of them for effective workout gains. But the truth is, you can get a great workout with very little equipment at all. Here are my top five essentials for home workouts, plus links to the specific products I use.
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1. Yoga Mat
Unless you work out in a carpeted area, a yoga mat is a must. It provides a soft cushion for high-impact workouts and comfort for abdominal exercises, Pilates, and of course, yoga. Since I work out on a hard surface, I use a yoga mat to protect my joints from jumping in workouts and for floor work.
When shopping for the perfect yoga mat, you'll want to consider the thickness, weight, and durability. This mat has great reviews on Amazon and is reasonably priced.
I recently bought a set of resistance loops to step up the challenge in my Pilates and Barre home workouts. These bands are cheap and extremely effective in increasing the burn in traditional bodyweight exercises. Win-win!
Resistance loop sets come in various degrees of thickness and are color-coded so you can easily determine which band will suit your workout. I bought these on Amazon and have been loving the extra challenge in my floor work.
For a long time, I was limited to only 5-lb and 15-lb dumbbells, but I wanted to increase my challenge and build more muscle by upping my weights. At the gym, you can use machines to adjust to the weight you need or use their rack of free weights, but the options are slim for home workouts. I looked into a few different brands of adjustable dumbbells and settled on the Bowflex SelectTech 552 weights.
Without having to spend a fortune and a ton of space on a rack of free weights, I have one set of dumbbells that adjust from 5 to 52 pounds. For me, this range is perfect, and I can use them for pretty much any strength training workout.
There are other brands out there such as Power Block weights, but I found these to be the easiest to quickly adjust, and I preferred their traditional dumbbell shape over Power Blocks.
These are definitely a bit of an investment, but so worth it!
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Before I had a bench, I would do upper body exercises while laying on my back on a yoga mat. This method works, but its a little uncomfortable and it limits your range of motion. With a bench, you can target different areas of the upper body by adjusting the seat.
I use the Marcy brand adjustable bench for my home workouts and love it! It's super easy to adjust and is comfortable, sturdy and safe.
Resistance trainer cables are my newest toy for my home workouts, and I've been loving them!
Full disclosure: I can't do a pull-up. I've tried - it's ugly. But it's one of my fitness goals, and I needed an assisted way to train these muscle groups. Dumbbells work great for push workouts, but I've found that resistance cables work great for pull exercises.
What I love about these is that you can get a total body workout in with just these cables and your own bodyweight. They strengthen and stabilize your core muscles and provide assistance for ranges of motion that may be difficult.
I use an X-mount to secure my cables to the ceiling, but there are several other mounting options out there as well. For the best investment, the most trusted brand of resistance trainer cables is TRX Cables.
For a long time, I went without a treadmill because for me, it's strictly supplementary. There are times when I honestly don't feel like putting a lot of thought into my workouts - I just want to sweat a little while I'm watching Netflix.
We happened upon a free used treadmill and it's been a great addition to our home gym. For your reference, it is a Proform 785SS, which is an old (but still good!) model. Here's a newer Proform model that's pretty reasonably priced for a brand new treadmill.
That being said, don't confuse me for one of those people that believes in spending hours on cardio machines. I used to live that life and it's both exhausting and discouraging. I love having a treadmill for a quick warm-up before weights or for longer runs when it's cold out or too dark, but that's about it. Otherwise, you can just as easily go outside for a jog without needing a treadmill!