Before I started making my health a priority, I thought I needed a gym membership. Because I didn’t have a gym membership, and because no one “wanted to workout with me,” I continually let myself down by not doing anything. Weeks and months would go by, and I physically felt weaker and more lethargic. I’d feel guilty about it, and the whole cycle would start over again.
Did you know that many women start a gym membership with the idea that, because they have a financial commitment to the gym, it will force them to go? Raise your hand if you’ve ever been guilty of doing that.
Workouts don’t need to be time-consuming or require expensive gym equipment to be effective. In this post I’ll share with you what I’ve added to my home gym that has made a variety of workouts possible.
5 Must-Have Pieces of Fitness Equipment for Home Workouts
1. Jump Rope
Who knew that a childhood staple would be something I’d buy as an adult? Jumping rope burns major calories! More calories than running, at approximately 802 calories per hour. My jump rope has hollow handles that allow me to insert a one- to two-pound weight for added resistance and more calories burned.
2. Dumbbells or Adjustable Weights
For the longest time, all the weight I could handle were 5lb dumbbells. I could probably still get away with only using them for certain arm and shoulder exercises, but certain muscles need more of a challenge.
My in-laws were kind enough to let me borrow their adjustable weights since they weren’t using them. I use multiple weights per workout, and having so many weight options certainly helps me save floor space while continuously challenging me. I love lifting weights!
A bench is a must, in my opinion for home workouts. Sure, you could get crafty with an old coffee table, ottoman, sturdy chair, or a small step-stool, but a bench allows you to do more. From dumbbell step-ups to leg raises, seated shoulder presses, decline push-ups, and even abdominal exercises, the bench is a truly versatile piece of equipment.
A flat bench has worked fine for me, but I would suggest spending a few extra dollars on an adjustable one that allows you to lay or sit at an incline. This increased range of motion will allow you to hit your chest, back, shoulders and abs in a way that a flat bench cannot.
4. Resistance Bands
There are two types of resistance bands I will describe. Some, which can sometimes be called ‘resistance tubes,’ have handles that allow you to hang them on wall hooks to pull. The other kind are the looped “mini band” kind that you can use around your thighs for glute activation and other exercises.
Both are great to have, and are easy to take with you on short vacations where other exercise equipment is not available. Ever since adding the “mini bands” to my arsenal to activate my glutes, I finally feel “glute” exercises burning where they should be! My quads and hips are grateful to take a load off, literally.
5. Proper Shoes
I almost left this one off the list because it isn’t technically “gym equipment” BUT proper shoes are SO important to avoid injuries! Until I invested in flatter shoes for walking, I experienced knee aches after many of my leg workouts (those involving jumps that were hard on joints). Since I took a break from plyometric workouts, I go barefoot for most exercises, but I do use running shoes when I go for outdoor walks.
Other optional pieces of equipment include a yoga mat, foam roller, and gym gloves to prevent calluses when lifting heavy weights. I actually have all of the items mentioned in this list (and more!) but these basic five items will allow you to increase your level of fitness without breaking an arm and a leg.
Also! You don’t want to let all of that work go to waste by not feeding your muscles protein. Muscles need protein for growth and repair, since exercise causes beneficial micro-tears (atrophy) in muscle fiber that promotes growth. I always finish off my workouts with a source of protein.
Make sure you have one of these handy after your workout. Special K protein meal bars are a convenient way to help you add protein to your day. This delicious Chocolate Caramel protein meal bar packs a whopping 12g of protein and 5g of fiber. It’s perfect for a post-workout snack, or for whenever you’re running late and need something on the go (which happens to the best of us!).
Do you work out at home or at the gym?