Before I share what I think is the best equipment for your home workouts, I want to make sure you know that you don’t actually need any equipment to start working out at home. As a mom with little kids, a low barrier to entry will make it easier for you to get started and stay consistent with exercise. You can absolutely start working out at home with no equipment at all and see amazing progress. In fact, I recommend that my postpartum clients start with bodyweight exercises when they’re returning to exercise after baby.
As a trainer, I spent 20ish years in a gym. I love the energy of the space and the motivation I get from working out around other people who have similar goals. I thought I’d be a gym-goer for life…
And then I had a baby who needless to say took me out of my normal routine, and then there was a global pandemic that needless to say took everyone out of their normal routines.
If I wanted to continue working out, I knew I’d have to embrace working out at home. I also knew I’d have to make some adjustments to my workouts because I didn’t have the space (or the wallet) to set up my home gym with all of the same equipment that I was used to at the gym.
Since I had been training and working in gyms for so long, I had the benefit of knowing a lot about all the different kinds of equipment that are available- and there is a lot (with new things coming out all the time!). You can bypass a lot of the gimmicky stuff and start with some very basic pieces.
I mentioned earlier that you can absolutely see benefits from bodyweight workouts. Especially in the early stages of your fitness journey, you can see strength gains from exercises using only your body weight for resistance.
It’s also possible to progress bodyweight exercises by increasing the volume (ex. the number of reps or sets that you’re doing), the intensity (ex. Decreasing rest time between exercises) or changing your body position during exercises (ex. Progressing from a wall push-up to an incline push-up).
At a certain point though, the progress you see from these kinds of exercises will start to slow or even plateau. If you have goals to continue progressing, then your next step is to start adding outside resistance to your workouts. (it’s also totally fine if you don’t currently have any specific goals other than moving your body and you want to just stick to bodyweight workouts. That’s cool, too!)
So if/when you’re ready to step it up, let me share what I think is the best equipment for your home workouts. With that low barrier entry in mind, I’m giving you options that don’t require a big footprint/a lot of space that can give you the most bang for your buck 😉
Best Equipment for Home Workouts
1. Resistance bands
I like resistance bands for a lot of reasons. They are relatively lost cost, they take up minimal space, and you can use for a ton of different exercises.
Within the resistance band family, you also have lots of options. Small resistance band “loops” like these can be used to add resistance to lower body exercises like squats, glute bridges, and hip extensions.
“Super bands”, which are bigger loops that come in higher resistances can be used for a big range of exercises. They can be used to add resistance on squats or lunges, in place of a cable for seated rows, or assisted pull-ups.
You might also choose resistance tubing, which is similar to bands but is like a tube of rubber instead of a flat band. Often resistance tubing comes with plastic handles already attached, making them a great option for exercises like bicep curls or chest press.
You can find quality resistance bands and tubing typically for around $20 or less. Prices typically increase with higher resistance.
2. Workout Bench
I put this as my second item because a bench opens up a lot more options for exercise variation. Whether you’re doing bodyweight exercises or workouts with added resistance, a bench can offer ways to modify exercises, which is really useful early on in your workout journey.
Examples of ways to use a bench to modify exercises:
-if traditional full push-ups are too challenging, modify by doing an incline push-up using a bench.
-if traditional squat (bodyweight or weighted) squat is challenging, modify by doing a “box” using the bench for support.
Dumbbells are a great option for your home workout space because they don’t take up a lot of space and they’re very versatile.
How do you know what size dumbbells to get? Great question!
This is highly individualized because what’s “heavy” to you might not be the same for me. I recommend starting with at least two sets of dumbbells, with one being relatively lighter and one being heavier. So if you’re just getting started with strength training, you might do well with a set of 8-lb. dumbbells and a set of 12-15 lb. dumbbells.
It’s likely that you’ll see quicker progress in the beginning, so keep that in mind when picking your dumbbells. If you choose a weight that feels fairly easy for you now, you might progress past that weight in a short amount of time and need to move up.
Find your sweet spot, where you are challenged but not compromising your form or straining with weights that are too heavy, which could lead to injury.
These three essentials will have you well on your way to successful home workouts. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until you have these to get started! (Lowest barrier to entry, right?)
The biggest thing is to just get started. Even if that means doing squats in the kitchen in your pajamas while you wait for your kids’ waffle to cook in the toaster oven.
The only really essential equipment for your home workouts is you and your desire to do it!
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