Looking to get fit in the comfort of your own home, without having to buy a gym membership or expensive equipment? The good news is, you don’t need a top-of-the-line treadmill or thighmaster to reach your fitness goals (even if those late-night infomercials suggest otherwise).
Aside from using your own bodyweight to get fit (which works fabulously, by the way), here are some must-have pieces of home gym equipment that can take your workouts to the next level — without breaking the bank.
1. Jump Rope
Forget clunky, overpriced treadmills that end up gathering dust (and taking up space) in your spare room or basement. When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, a jump rope is invaluable. A high-intensity movement, jumping rope will get your heart rate up, torch fat and burn calories at a faster rate than steady-state jogging on a treadmill ever could.
Not only is jumping rope an excellent cardio exercise, but it also utilizes all your major muscle groups (especially your powerful legs and glutes), while also improving balance and footwork. As a bonus, a jump rope is lightweight and easily portable, meaning you can fit it in your suitcase when you travel or take it to the park for an outdoor workout.
2. Medicine Ball
Affordable, versatile and oh-so-fun, medicine balls have become a staple at most gyms, since they easily add resistance to your workouts while targeting your major muscle groups. Here’s a look at just a few of the exercises you can do with a medicine ball:
- Total Body: Lunge with Overhead Press
- Total Body: Lunge with Twist
- Total Body: Squat Press
- Legs: Goblet Squat
- Legs: Single-Leg Hip Bridge
- Chest and Back: Rolling Push-Up
- Chest and Back: Weighted Superman
- Arms: Shoulder Press
- Arms: Triceps Extension
- Core: Russian Twists
- Core: Overhead Slam
- Core: V-Up
3. Stability Ball
Lighter and larger than medicine balls, stability balls are amazing for building strength and balance exercises. Compared to using just bodyweight alone, stability balls force your muscles to work harder as they maintain balance, which means a more effective workout.
Here are a few moves you can do with a stability ball:
- Lower Body: Squat and Reach
- Lower Body: Standing Ball Squeeze
- Lower Body: Overhead Squat
- Lower Body: Bent-Knee Bridge
- Upper Body: Back Extension
- Upper Body: Pike
- Upper Body: Push-Ups
- Core: Plank
- Core: Crunch
Incorporate any of these moves into your existing at-home workout or try this short stability ball routine to work your arms, abs and glutes.
This is another piece of equipment with a huge range of possibilities. As with many other pieces on this list, kettlebells are wonderful for performing compound, strength-based exercises that target more than one muscle group at once. That means you’ll improve your functional fitness, while also getting a cardio boost as well.
Here are a few of our favourite kettlebell exercises:
- Total Body: Kettlebell Swings
- Total Body: Single Arm Kettlebell Swings
- Total Body: Kettlebell Lunge and Press
- Back, Arms and Shoulders: Kettlbell Rows
- Back and Legs: Kettlebell Goblet Squats
- Core: Russian Twists
If you really want a tough workout, give one of these HIIT-style kettlebell routines a go. Too intense for your taste? Try this full-body routine, which combines yoga and kettlebells for both strength-training, lengthening and stretching.
5. Resistance Bands/Tubes
Resistance bands or tubes are fantastic for adding some resistance to your existing workout routine. They’re cheap, take up hardly any space, and can be used for virtually any muscle group.
Here are a few moves using resistance bands/tubes:
- Back: Bent Over Row
- Back: Lat Pull Down
- Chest: Standing Chest Press
- Shoulder: Overhead Press
- Shoulder: Lateral Raise
- Shoulder: Upright Row
- Arms: Standing Bicep Curls
- Core: Woodchoppers
If you’re looking for an all-in-one workout that combines cardio and strength-training, we’ve got you covered with this resistance band routine. Looking to tone up your tush? Resistance bands are great for that, too.
Ah, classic dumbbells. There are few exercises that can’t be modified for dumbbells, which is why they’re a standard at-home piece of gym equipment. They come in a variety of weights, and can be used for basically any exercise involving all major muscle groups. Here’s a glimpse at some of the many exercises that involve dumbbells:
- Legs: Lunges (many variations)
- Legs: Squats (many variations)
- Back: Bent Over Dumbbell Raise
- Chest: Chest Press
- Arms: Shoulder Press
- Arms and Shoulders: Bent Over Reverse Flies
- Arms and Shoulders: Upright Rows
- Arms: Bicep Curls
- Arms: Tricep Extensions and/or Kickbacks
- Core: Russian Twists
- Core: Renegade Rows
- Core: Side Bends
Whether you’re a weight-lifting beginner or you’re looking to build some serious muscle, dumbbell workouts are virtually endless. Sculpt your arms, your back, your abs, and your whole body by adding dumbbells to your routine.
8. Ankle Weights
If you’re looking for a challenge, one of the easiest ways to increase the intensity of a bodyweight workout is by simply strapping on some ankle weights. You’ll sculpt your legs, glutes and abs like never before, especially if you’re running, walking or climbing stairs.
Here’s a list of ankle-weight exercises to try (though to be honest, any move can be an “ankle-weight exercise” while sporting ankle weights!)
- Squat Jumps
- High Knees
- Hip Extensions
- Side Leg Raises
- Front and Rear Leg Raises
- Split Squats
- Donkey Kicks
- Seated Leg Extensions
- Squat to Leg Lift
- Single Leg Bridges
- Bicycle Crunches
- Mountain Climbers
Get started with this five-move ankle-weight routine, which will no doubt test you in newfound ways. With these exercises, you’re well on your way to sculpting your legs, glutes and abs like never before. To up the ante, try completing the circuit twice for a 10-minute workout.
9. Foam Roller
Foam rollers have long been popular within the realm of physical therapy, and with good reason — these lightweight tools can help release tenderness in muscles and connective tissue, aid stretching and prevent or gently treating injuries. Nowadays, gym-goers capitalize on their ability to strengthen the core and other large muscle groups while also releasing those tight, tense “trigger points.” Learn more about foam rolling here, and try some of these foam rolling moves after a workout to prevent soreness.
10. Exercise Mat
Last, but not least — the exercise mat. If you’re going to invest in just one piece of gym equipment, let it be a high-quality, breathable exercise mat to use for use for all of your workouts. Aside from crunches, core work and knee push-ups, you’ll want a nice mat for stretching and cooling down post-workout or for performing some gentle yoga movements.