Amidst the stay-at-home order a few months back, many of us scrambled to assemble a small home gym. Dumbbells were sold out everywhere, resistance bands were nowhere to be found and after all that, some just decided running outside was the simplest option. The good news is that after a few months of chaos, many fitness products are back in stock.
The statistics showing the percentage of people who have returned to their gym (~30-50% depending on the study and location) indicates that either a whole heck of a lot of people have fallen off the fitness bandwagon (I’m crying a little inside) OR y’all are rockin’ some at-home workouts! If you are in the latter camp or are finally deciding that you are ready for some at-home fitness, let’s talk home gym equipment.
Having a few key pieces of gear can be super helpful to make the most of your at-home training. I’ve always had a gym membership and a few pieces of fitness equipment at home in case I need to squeeze in a quick workout. I’ve never had a space big enough nor a garage of my own to build out a legit home gym. That is what dreams are made of. I have frequent visions of someday lifting weights in my garage gym with my husband and future little kiddos, doggos running around… ahhhh the best. But until then, I am working with an apartment space that can’t handle a full blown squat rack.
Even with a small amount of space, you can do a lot. Here is the gear that has kept me working hard over the past few years! I’ve listed this specifically in the order of where to begin building out your small home gym.
What to Put at the Top of Your Home Gym Equipment Shopping List
If you are to purchase only one simple thing for your at-home workouts, make it a yoga mat!
- Yoga Mat – I have tried many yoga mats in my lifetime and this one is by far my favorite, from Lululemon! It has just enough padding, not too much, not too little, a great amount of traction and it wipes down easily. For a more budget-friendly option check out this double-sided non-slip mat that comes in a range of colors!
Resistance Bands Are the BEST Budget-Friendly Addition to Your Home Gym
I use resistance bands every single week. I use them in my own workouts, I use them with clients and in classes I teach. They are super portable, a cheap addition to your home gym and wow do they work well to strengthen your body! Here are a few different kinds of resistance bands that allow you to strengthen your muscles in various ways:
- Loop Resistance Bands – If you are planning to only buy one kind of band, I would start with these. Loop resistance bands can be used for resistance training all over your body, from your booty to your core to your shoulders. This pack of Letsfit bands comes in a range of extra light to extra heavy bands, for all your training needs. I have been using this specific brand with clients for years and they have held up really well – check them out here!
- Therabands – These resistance bands are a long strand that provide you with a whole new range of possible exercises. This pack provides you with three different resistances. These are another great addition to your resistance band set and once again, super portable! Check them out here.
- SPRI Braided Resistance Band with Handles – This long braided resistance band is a great tool for all sorts of training, especially upper body movements like rows and presses. I personally love these bands for any sort of outdoor training because they are durable enough to wrap around a tree trunk or railing. I wouldn’t suggest doing that with the thinner bands above. Beyond being durable, these bands have handles at each end that make them great for more challenging strength work. Check them out here!
Other Easily Portable Equipment for Your At-Home Workouts
- TRX Suspension Trainer – This is easily one of my favorite tools for training both my own body and those of my clients! I actually got my TRX certification during the stay-at-home order and fell even more in love with this tool – you can work your entire body with the suspension trainer. Depending on your fitness level you can easily adjust your foot placement to increase or decrease the challenge. When you are in a suspended position you are automatically working your core, so nearly every exercise on the TRX straps becomes an unexpected core workout 😉 Check it out here!
- Sliders – This is the sneakiest tool of them all. You look at sliders and think, “Gee, can those really amp up my workouts that much?” The answer is absolutely yes! If you’ve ever done push ups, lunges or mountain climbers with sliders you know just what I’m talking about. For a small price tag and a small size, sliders are a stellar answer to improving your core strength and body stability! These Synergee sliders work on both carpet or hardwood floors depending on which side you flip them to.
Home Gym Equipment for Heavier Strength Training
- Adjustable Dumbbells – In the world of small home gyms, adjustable dumbbells are a great choice! Someday I will have a glorious rack of dumbbells in my future garage gym, but for now, adjustable dumbbells do the job well. I would suggest getting a quantity of two so that you can do things like presses, flies, rows, curls, kickbacks, weighted lunges, etc. but know that one is better than none! Single-sided training (unilateral) is actually great for your core, so you could make do with only one if needed! This adjustable dumbbell goes all the way up to 71.5 lbs 😀 For a more budget-friendly option, check out this adjustable dumbbell that goes up to 27.5 lbs.
- Weight Plate – I love using my 25 and 45 lb weight plates for all sorts of things, including weighted front squats, russian twists, double crunches, bent over rows and more! This weight plate is great because it has spaces for easy gripping. Up your at-home weight training game and check it out here!
- Weightlifting Bench – I may not have room for a squat rack in my apartment, but I certainly have room for a bench. This is stellar for all sorts of upper body exercises, bulgarian split squats, core and more! A solid padded bench makes you feel like you’re right back in the walls of the gym! Check out a great bench here.
Help Your Muscles Recover Well
- Foam Roller – I like to think of foam rolling as a free massage. Ok, I guess you have to buy the foam roller to begin with, so how about a deeply discounted massage. Myofascial release is one of the best ways to speed up recovery and improve mobility. There are lots of foam rollers on the market, so I wanted to highlight a few that are worth considering!
- Lacrosse Ball – The next step up from a foam roller is using a lacrosse ball for myofascial release. A lacrosse ball is firmer and smaller so you can target specific muscles more easily and more intensely when trying to release muscle tension. They are also super portable, so I love keeping a lacrosse ball in my bag at all times and they are great for travel as well! Here is an awesome two-pack of balls that comes in a variety of colors.
Setting Up Your Small Home Gym
When setting up your space consider a few things… is this a small room where you can shut the door and hide your fitness toys? Or do you need to consider storing some your equipment in tubs? Would hanging a curtain and rod or putting up a room divider allow you to block off your fitness space when it’s not in use?
Think about the logistics of taking up part of your small home for a gym space. I 100% promise you that it is totally worth it if you use your fitness space, but don’t set it up and let it collect dust while also being frustrated that it’s taking up square footage.
Also think about little decorative details, such as:
- Adding a fake plant in the corner
- Putting a white board on the wall so you can write out your workouts
- Hanging a piece of wall decor that really gets you fired up
If the space feels enticing and beautiful you will be more likely to use it. Happy working out, my friends!