Health Series · Life Coaching

5 at Home Must Have Tools

My home garage gym a couple years ago.
Many of the women I train work out at home. (And were kind enough to share photos of their workout spaces with us.)

The start to a weight collection.
Finding space to create a home gym.

They find it less expensive, less stressful and more convenient (not to mention less time-consuming) than driving to the gym. 

It’s also pretty nice not to have to share a bench with a sweaty dude (unless he’s YOUR sweaty dude and you’re into that…), or fight for access to weights or machines.
The workouts I provide for my online clients (both 1-on-1 and 35ish women’s group) can all be performed at home, with a minimal amount of equipment, in a fairly small space.

Note that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a complete and functional home gym. (Heck, I could create a workout for you with just a one of the items below 🙂 ). The key is to choose versatile pieces that you can upgrade as you get stronger and your need for variety increases.

Looking to create a great workout space at home? Here are five home exercise tools to get you started!

5 Must-Have Home Exercise Tools

1. Dumbbells; Dumbbells; you’ll need at least two sets of these (but the more, the merrier) to get started; one ‘heavy’ and one ‘light’ in weight. The terms ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ will mean different things to different people. Test them out by finding a weight you can do 10-15 bicep curls with and another than you can perform a similar number of bent-over rows with. These will be your starter ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ sets, respectively. You’ll buy new, heavier weights as you progress; either gift them to yourself or ask for them as Christmas and birthday presents. 

Don’t make the rookie mistake of buying only one set of weights and using them for every single exercise; different muscles differ in their strength and strength potential. Under-tax a muscle group and you won’t see results. Over-tax a muscle group and you’re likely to end up injured. 

2. Stability ball;one of the most versatile tools in your fitness toolbox, the stability ball can be used for core work, to challenge your balance, as a prop for stretching, in place of a stability bench and as a desk chair, when you’re not exercising. 

Look for a quality ball. The cheapo ones tend to be made of very thin materials that stretch and pop over time. If you’re tall (> 5’8″, choose a ball that inflates to 75 cm in diameter. If you’re short (< 5’2″), opt for the 55 cm version. Somewhere in the middle? The 65 cm ball will be just right.

3. Yoga mat;  it’s always nice to have a cushy surface to do core work and stretch on. Most mats can be stored by rolling them up tightly and stashing them in a closet. Make sure you wipe it down with a soapy cloth from time to time; some fabrics will soak up your sweat and start to smell funky after awhile…

4. Resistance bands; not only an inexpensive way to expand your home gym, resistance bands can easily be packed up and taken on the road with you for a holiday workout. Something that’s hard to do with dumbbells and stability balls.

They come in a variety of lengths and thicknesses; it’s best to buy 2 or 3 in varying thicknesses (some distributers sell them as kits to further reduce the cost). The thicker the band, the greater the resistance (and the more effort it will be for you to perform an exercise with it).

Oh and you can skip on the fancy door fasteners sporting goods stores often try to sell you. For most exercises you’ll simply anchor the band with your hand or foot or around a fixed pillar (like the railing in my carport, below) or the handle of a door.

5. Skipping rope;  if you don’t have room for a cardio machine (or can’t find it under the heap of laundry it’s attracted), a skipping rope is a great addition to your home gym. It’s inexpensive, fun and portable. Again, something you can take with you on holidays to fit in a little extra cardio or HIIT training.

If you have a few extra dollars to spend, I’d recommend by-passing the plastic versions and splurging on a real ‘rope’ rope. One with weighted handles that pivot at the join. You’ll be surprised at how much better your skipping becomes when you use a higher quality tool. 

Putting together a home workout space needn’t be expensive. Focus on a few varied and versatile tools, learn a handful of ways to use each of them and add new pieces of equipment to your gym (my 2nd tier suggested purchases include Kettlebells, a Bosu, a chin up bar with bands and a TRX suspension trainer…) as you get fitter, stronger and more confident with your training!

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