“Convenience, after all, has a way of inspiring results.” Fancy a gym that's convenient and has free membership? You don't need a ton of equipment to work out. By having a few key pieces of equipment at your disposal, you can have a high quality workout at home.
When choosing the equipment for this article, there were several things to consider. I wanted a mixture of equipment for strength, core stability, flexibility, balance, coordination and cardio fitness. Other considerations included price, simplicity of use and storage space. Let's get started!
1 - Exercise mat
A good mat is probably the most essential piece of equipment for any home gym. This inexpensive item is vital if you want to do floor exercises safely and more comfortably. They can be used for strengthening exercises such as ab workouts or flexibility work and/or yoga. They can also provide your feet with grip, and help to prevent slips.
The thickness of the mat depends on what you plan to do with it. Traditional yoga mats are normally thinner and are perfect for standing poses that might be affected by thicker mats, and they don’t affect your balance. However, a slightly thicker exercise mat may provide more cushion and will better protect your knees, elbows, and tailbone during floor work.
If you are using heavy weights and live in a HDB or apartment, your neighbours may complain about the loud noises caused by weights landing on the hard floor. A mat can reduce this impact and can help you to exercise more quietly, without upsetting your neighbours or damaging your floor.
You can even buy some mats that have exercises and stretches printed on them as a guide.
Prices range from $15-$50
2 - Exercise ball
I consider the exercise ball to be one of the most underrated pieces of gym equipment. These are more than just something that is fun to sit and bounce on. It’s a highly useful and versatile piece of equipment.
An exercise ball is especially useful for core strengthening exercises. Think of an exercise ball as the opposite of solid ground—a soft, unstable surface that challenges your core in multiple directions and helps you to improve your strength, balance and coordination. It can allow you to perform some exercises with a greater range of motion, such as a basic abdominal crunch, thus improving muscle activation.
An exercise ball is also an excellent substitute for a bench, and so it can be used for upper and lower body workouts. Sitting or lying on the ball provides an unstable surface that will challenge your balance, thus meaning you have to activate several muscle groups in order to maintain stability.
It can also be used as an added weight to lift during an exercise - for example, lying on an exercise mat and raising the ball with your feet. You could also use the ball to perform stretching exercises or to sit on to improve your posture.
Exercise balls usually come in a few sizes, depending on your height. To get the most from your workout, be sure to get one that is the correct size. A good rule of thumb for finding the right size is to sit on the ball and to make sure your hips and knees are at right angles with the floor.
Prices range from $20-50.
3 - Resistance bands
I have chosen resistance bands over dumbbells as they are highly cost effective and much more versatile. Resistance bands are a great addition to any strength training routine or rehabilitation program and come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and strengths. They can be held by hand, stood on or tied securely to any stable surface to provide resistance.
Unlike normal free-weights such as a dumbbell, resistance bands provide constant tension throughout a lifting movement, increasing the intensity of the exercise and the challenge to your muscles.
They offer great functionality, and can be used for a full body workout to integrate upper and lower body together. They’re also portable, thus enabling you to work out or to continue your rehab when travelling.
Prices range from $10-30.
When it comes to fitness, simple is sometimes best. A skipping rope may be the most portable and convenient cardio tool available.
There is a reason that they continue to be a central part of any boxer's training program. You can get an amazing workout with a skipping rope in about 10 minutes. They are excellent for cardiovascular fitness - FACT! Skipping can teach you coordination, and adds a plyometric component to your workout that builds explosive leg power.
They require little space to use and almost no storage space at all, which makes them easily portable.
Before you begin using a rope, measure it to your height. When you stand on the middle of the rope, the handles should extend to your armpits. Adjust the length as necessary. Be sure to wear supportive footwear and make sure you are skipping on an appropriate flat surface.
Prices range from $15-50.
I have previously written a blog on this vital piece of equipment and its many benefits. This foam cylinder is one of the most effective tools available for exercise training, recovery and injury prevention. Very simply, by using a foam roller for 5-10 minutes you can release trigger points in your muscles, break down scar tissue and increase blood flow. Add all of this together and you have a simple way to enhance your mobility and increase your recovery, which in turn will boost your exercise performance.
Prices range from $30-80 depending the brand.
Suffered an injury?
Thanks for reading!
This post has been written by physiotherapist Liam Mc Ginley.