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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fit Finds :: At Home Workout Essentials

We often get questions from our readers asking us to help them create the home gym of their dreams or simply asking what the best equipment is for home use. Although it helps if you lack space, a gym is NOT a requirement to eating clean and building the body you always dreamed of having. NEITHER is spending a TON of money on equipment for your home gym. You can stock your gym using our recommendations for UNDER $300!!


Here are our recommendations for must-haves to get the most out of your workout at home:

A Good Quality Height Changing "Step" - This is a triple-duty piece of equipment! Not only can you use it for toning your legs (think step-ups) but also for cardio and as a bench upper body workouts (just consider throwing a towel down or a yoga mat for added comfort)

Extra risers ($24.95) are always a good idea so that you can make the most out of this piece of equipment - change angles and intensity. 

A Workout Mat or Yoga Mat - This one is really up to you! If you feel like you will need a little extra cushion (say you are working out on hardwood floors vs carpet) then you may feel like a workout mat is right for you. If Yoga is your thing, a good quality yoga mat can do double duty for you (PS - You can also get them in extra thickness!).

An Exercise/Stability Ball - Stability balls can be great to use as "benches" for upper body workouts or to tone your abdominal muscles during planks or crunches. My best suggestion is that you choose a ball that is medium in size - you don't want it to be too large (unless you are 6'4'') or too small.

A Weighted Medicine Ball - Medicine balls are phenomenal for a multitude of exercises. Slam one of these puppies against a wall during an ab workout, use it while you do burpees or simply use as a weight while you lift upper body. It's as functional as it is small!  We recommend a variety of weights, depending on your fitness level.

Resistance Bands - Resistance bands are possibly one of the best items that provide a "bang" for your buck! Not only can you string them together to make your workouts more challenging, but they are portable - you can take them with you when you travel!  Here is Jim's favorite set:

Free Weights - You can never have enough free weights! Especially as you begin building your gym and building your endurance and strength. When choosing weights, consider buying three (if buying static dumbells) - one that you are comfortable with, one you can do but struggle too and one to work up to! You can always keep adding! Or, consider a plate-loaded mechanism.
Jump Rope - Need a quick cardio pick me up? Try a jump rope! They are portable and CHEAP!

Workout DVDs - These are great for days when you just need a change from your ordinary workout! We have reviewed several different DVDs over the course of the blog - you will find the links to the reviews below.
Beach Body Insanity DVDs

What piece of equipment can you NOT live without in your home gym?
- Tiffany


  1. My free weights, bench and stability ball are my must haves. Dont have weights though? Use cans of soup or half gallons (or gallons) of milk. :)

    1. Hi Fit Mom! Love the idea about the gallons of milk! I'm sort of clumsy though, so knowing me I would start using them before I screwed the cap on and spill stuff everywhere!

    2. You can just keep some empty ones and fill them with water. Then if you spill, no biggie. OR fill with sand and glue or tape the tops on :)

  2. I have a question... I do not currently belong to a gym. I am looking to lose about 30 lbs and have just started eating clean. In many of your articles I see you talk about "lifting heavy" to help with weight loss and body transformation. I am interested in building muscle and toning while also losing fat. Can I do this by eating clean and doing P90X at home??? Your thoughts are appreciated! Love this site.

    1. Hello! P90x incorporates body weight and cardio - I think it's a great starting ground! If you want to take your body to the next level after that (think fitness model level), then I would consider a gym membership or purchasing weights.

  3. Thanks for sharing! A gym membership isn't really in the cards for my boyfriend and me right now, so gradually incorporating home workout items works better for us. (We already have at least half of this stuff--yay!) Btw, LOVE the Biggest Loser workout DVDs.

  4. This article is fantastic and I couldn't agree more! Almost two years ago we built a very tiny home gym in our basement. For the firstfew months, I was a "cardio queen" using nothing but a gazelle I had purchased a years before. Then a friend turned me on to strength training and wow- did it change everything. I use all of the equipment you listed above. I love the variety it gives me- I look forward to my strength training sessions every week. By alternating between the weighted ball, bands and free weights- I am never bored. The adjustable free weights always keep me challenged too. I always thought I couldn't strength train because I didn't have expensive gym equipment but you absolutely can - and cheaply too! I do have one question- do you have any suggestion for cardio in the home too? With the winter weather it is really difficult to get outside. As much as I get my heart rate up with my strength sessions, it's still not the same as a good cardio sweat session. I am getting bored with the gazelle. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!


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