What should you be thinking about when putting together a home gym? Save money and space with our tips.
There are lots of good reasons to have a home gym, especially if you don’t want to shell out for a gym membership or you want a lot more freedom than you get with the average gym.
Not sure what kind of equipment you’ll need and how much it might cost? Here, we’ve put together a guide to some of the fitness items that will help you to achieve your fitness goals and build an affordable home gym without having to spend tons of money.
Home gym equipment you can buy online
What kind of items do you need in a home gym, especially if space is at a premium? We’ve listed 10 items that you might want to think about having in your home gym, along with their plus and minus points.
Dumbbells are a popular example of free weights and they’re an affordable and versatile alternative to weight machines, especially when you’re pushed for space.
In fact, many fitness experts believe that free weights are more effective than weight machines as they help to build a more three dimensional and “functional” fitness that mimics the type of movement you do in everyday life. This has a lot to do with the portable nature of free weights and the fact that you can move around with them to vary your program, unlike weight machines that are in a fixed position and don’t replicate natural movement as easily.
You can also train either one muscle group or several at a time but it’s harder to target specific muscles in isolation with dumbbells.
You can choose from either fixed or adjustable dumbbells. The latter can be a bit more expensive but they tend to be a better bet if you plan to be lifting heavier weights. With fixed weights, you’d need to buy a new set every time you moved onto a different weight, which can quickly get expensive!
Target Active Neoprene Dumbell 4KGS assorted
Celsius 10kg Dipped Dumbell Set
Dumbbell Set 6 Piece with Rack
2. Gym Ball
Also known as stability balls and Swiss balls, the gym ball is a must have for your home gym if you want to improve your balance, stability and posture. When you first use one you’re almost definitely going to struggle to stay on it – and that’s the point, really! Trying to keep your balance works your ab muscles, especially when you also bring exercises such as press ups into the equation. Your muscles will probably be very tired to begin with so it’s always advisable to start with short sessions and build up the time you sit on a gym ball as your muscles get stronger and more used to it.
Some people even use gym balls instead of a chair but this can have its downsides as the lack of arm rests means it doesn’t support the upper body if you’re sitting on it for extended periods of time. As a fitness tool though, it’s a fun and effective way to give your core a workout!
Target Active Gym Ball 65cm Assorted
Celsius Anti-Burst 55cm Fitness Gym Ball
Yoga Home Gym Exercise Pilates Fitness Ball
3. Gym Mat
You’ll definitely want to have a good quality gym mat, especially if you’re going to be doing yoga or Pilates. It will protect your back in particular by acting as a cushion.
Target Active Yoga Mat Assorted
Celsius 5mm TPE Yoga Mat
Thick Yoga Mat Pad Nonslip Exercise Fitness Pilate Gym
4. Ankle Weights
Using ankle weights means that your legs need to work that little bit harder to be lifted, which can help to build stronger glutes, hamstrings and quads. They can also help to improve your bone density, build stronger muscles and may burn a few more calories because your body is under more stress than usual.
The downside is that there is more potential for injuries due to more stress being placed on the joints and this can be a problem if you already have issues with your knees and other joints.
Target Active Ankle Weights
Spri 2.5lb Ankle Wrap Weights
5kg Ankle/Wrist Weight Straps
Kettlebells are another example of free weights and appearance wise, they aren’t too dissimilar to cannonballs. At their simplest, they can be thought of as being a bit like dumbbells with a slightly different handle. They are mostly used in a standing position and it helps to have a strong core as you engage your ab muscles a lot while using them.
If you don’t have a good core or you haven’t mastered the right technique for using them, it’s easy to get things wrong when using kettlebells and injure yourself. Another downside is the fact that they aren’t that easy to adjust, which can up the cost factor. You’re also likely to need different weights for different exercises, which can mean a sizeable investment. They’re not the cheapest bit of gym kit you could buy but they can be a good buy if your fitness goals would benefit from using kettlebells regularly.
Target Active Kettle Bell 6KGS Assorted
Celsius 8kg Kettle Bell Weights
Pro-Grade Steel Kettlebell Set
6. Resistant Bands
They may look like giant rubber bands but your home gym won’t be complete without some resistance bands. They use force (or resistance, hence the name!) to build stronger muscles. They’re a convenient and cheap way to work out – as long as you invest in some good quality bands that won’t break easily – and they’re a lot more versatile than you might think. You can incorporate them into a range of workouts to give your muscles some added resistance to work against.
Gaiam Restore Strength and Flexibility Kit
Body Concept Resistance Body Band 1.2m
Heavy Duty Resistance Band Set of 5
7. Foam Roller
Using a foam roller is a bit like a self massage and helps to “roll out” tight muscles. It can be painful but it’s also an effective way to increase your mobility, get rid of nagging muscle aches and pains and protect against injuries that might otherwise develop because of overly tight muscles.
Target Active Foam Roller Assorted
Celsius Therapy Roller
Deep Tissue Foam Massage Roller - Hard
8. Medicine Balls
Want to supercharge your workouts? A medicine ball could be just what you need! Just like free weights, a medicine ball helps with “functional” training that replicates the kind of activities you do in everyday life. They can be used to target the abs, legs and upper body and can even improve your hand-eye coordination.
Target Active Medicine Ball
Celsius 3kg Medicine Ball
10kg Double-Handled Rubber Medicine Core Ball
9. Abs Core Roller
If you plan to do crunches and other exercises that target your abs, you may want to invest in an Ab Roller. These nifty gadgets help you to reduce your risk of injury by supporting your head and neck as you perform the exercises. There are also Ab Wheels, which are a bit more complicated and aren’t as great for newbies. It’s usually better to have a strong core and shoulders for using an Ab Wheeler whereas an Ab Roller can be used by pretty much anyone.
Target Active Core Strength Exercise Wheel
Celsius Ab Wheel
Abdominal Waist Workout Exercise Wheel Roller & free Knee Pad
10. Skipping Rope
When was the last time you used a skipping rope? If you still associate them with kids, it’s time to change that mindset! Skipping is great for a cardio activity that works out your whole body and it can make your core stronger into the bargain too. It’s fast becoming a popular addition to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) circuits, as just one example of how you can start including it in your plans. And if you’re worried about not having enough room in your home gym, you can even get “rope less” versions that give the same effects.
Target Active Weighted Skipping Rope
Celsius Weighted Skipping Rope
Digital LCD Skipping Jumping Rope