In this article we look at a variety of pieces of equipment to start your home gym – we also have some sample videos for inspiration
Kettlebells are showing up in more and more gyms around the world, as are a myriad of other more unique training tools such as the Indian Club and ‘TRX’ for suspension training.
This is a reflection of our greater understanding of health and fitness today. We now know that the biggest challenge to our health right now is our distinct lack of movement, which leads to numerous issues including stiffness, poor mobility, heart problems, a shorter lifespan and much more. It has become something of a trend but it is a ‘good trend’ that actually plunders ideas that were around centuries ago.
But while gyms are getting more functional, a lot of home workouts revolve around dumbbells still. This resource sheet will help you to change that by revealing tools you can add to a home workout that won’t cost much and will let you build a highly functional home gym.
The best place to start is with the king of functional training: the kettlebell.
When buying kettlebells, look for the cast iron variety over the vinyl or steel options. These are affordable while also allowing you to increase the weight considerably without the weight getting incredibly large (an issue with vinyl options).
You should also buy a set. You’ll want to start with light weights in order to practice the movements and avoid injury and these will also be useful for long sets of kettlebell swings. You’ll need heavier too though so you can progress to movements like the goblet squat and maintain the level of challenge.
If you can’t get enough of the way it feels to train with kettlebells, then you might want to consider picking up an Indian Club to train with as well. This is shaped a little like a skittle, with a thin end and a large, heavy body. You hold them at the end in either hand and then draw circles/swing them, while once again dealing with the off-center center of gravity.
Kettlebells allow for ‘resistance cardio’ which means cardiovascular training that also tests the muscles. Similarly effective are battle ropes: heavy ropes that you hold in each hand at the ends and then beat against the ground. This is a hugely taxing workout for burning calories that also tones and strengthens a lot of important muscles.
Pull Up Bar
A pull up bar is a very affordable piece of equipment that introduces a huge number of new exercises into your workouts – not only pull ups and chin-ups but also levers, one-armed pull ups, around-the-worlds, leg raises and more.
You can get a pull-up bar for around $5 and if you get the ‘Iron Gym’ then it will also fit into your doorframe without any need to drill holes. Better yet, you can also use this as a press up stand so that you can perform push ups with an extended range of motion, hand stand push ups, dips, V-sits and much more!
Better yet for these kinds of movements though are parallel bars. These allow you to perform dips, hand stand push ups, planche… but also inverted push ups (pull ups with your legs still on the ground), neutral grip pull ups and much more. They’re again very affordable, not normally costing more than $50 and they can be easily stored in your home.
TRX is popular in a lot of gyms now but it’s actually a very limited and expensive solution. TRX provides straps that hang from bars and let you hang onto them while you perform bodyweight rows and the like.
However, they cost several hundred dollars and don’t support movements like dips. This is where a cheap set of gymnastic rings comes in and does wonders. You can perform all manner of exercises with gymnastic rings including dips, muscle ups, the iron cross and incline push ups. The best part is that the rings will wobble around as you try and place your weight on them and this in turn means that you have to use a lot of stabilizing muscles to balance yourself and steady your body.
A heavy sandbag is absolutely ideal for working out with in the garden and can be used for throwing, for carrying and a lot more. This provides a highly versatile workout as the sand (and thus the weight) will move as you lift the bag. This makes it arguably even more unpredictable and challenging than training with the kettlebell. Best of all? You may already have one in your home!
You can use a tire for training in a number of ways – rolling it, flipping it or just carrying it. The bigger the tire, the harder the challenge!
Combine the tire with a sledge hammer for a very functional resistance cardio workout that is a killer on
If you want to make any movement more challenging, more functional and more interesting then simply perform it while standing on a balance board. This will force you to balance while also moving the weight, which is much more challenging for your entire body.