As freshly new lockdowns are coming in place in countries within Europe again and I find myself in my third partial lockdown, I’ve had to create a box of fitness equipment to hold myself accountable to my fitness goals. During the first lockdown in early 2020, it was very hard to get a hold of certain resources but I have figured out 6 pieces of equipment that you can get to build a temporary home gym or have at home when you don’t feel like working out in a gym.
I understand that pre-COVID that not many people felt like working out at the gym whether that was due to distance, time, waiting for equipment, fear of judgment, affordability etc. and opted to train at home. At a time like this, we are all finding creative ways to stay active, be healthy and improve our immune systems. Not having access to a gym is not going to derail your fitness goals, you can do calisthenic workouts that rely’s on your own bodyweight. However, if you enjoy adding resistance to your workouts in the form of free weights and bands, you can still achieve that in the comfort of your own home gym. I’m sure many of you, like me, may not have the space to install a power rack, aerobic equipment such as treadmills and the latest bike to have in your hands, the Peleton…not to worry, as a powerlifter and strength training enthuasist, I have found that less is more. There is so much that you can do with these six pieces of equipment because they are versatile.
Pull Up Bar
A pull up is a versatile piece of equipment to have at home and especialy worth buying if you want to have strengthen and build your upper body. Not only can you use the pull up for the exercise but you can attach bands to it to mimic cable towers at the gym. You can perform lat pulldowns, straight bar pulldowns, tricep and bicep exercises; and do abs exercises that you may do on the cable tower at the gym. For those of you who want to improve grip strength, you can do that with any pull up bar you purchase as you can switch hand placements to target various muscles. I have just ordered mine from Oschner Sport.
A set of resistance bands
A set of resistance bands is a worthwhile investment. You can use them for mobility stretches, upper body and lower body activation exercises, an alternative to dumbbells and barbells, warm up exercises, core work etc. They are lightweight and portable, you can throw them into your gym bag or in your suitcase. If you want to do rehabilitation work or physical therapy, resistance bands help with strengthening the muscles before moving on to free weights. Depending on the resistance bands that you buy, they may come with a door anchor and some handles. If you don’t want to tie them to the pull up bar, you can use the door anchor and train your back. One thing that I do with resistance bands is add them to my leg exercises such as leg press and squats for additional resistance.
A pair of dumbbells
Having a full range of dumbbells would be a great addition in your temporary home gym. If you lack space, like me, one pair can go a long way. You can buy adjustable dumbbells with a turn of a dial can increase the weight. If you are looking to buy a pair of dumbbells, I would select a weight that is challenging enough to do at least 8 to 10 reps with ease and any additional reps with a bit of push. Choose a weight that you are able to press overhead. With a pair of dumbbells, you can add tempos with resistance, do full or partial reps – if you have bands, you can add them for extra resistance.
You are probably wondering what’s the point of having a kettlebell if you already have a pair of dumbbells? The better question to ask is what movements would be better performed with this equipment? Personally, I use kettlebells for leg exercises at home as one of my goals is to build up my lower body more. I have a heavier weight than my dumbbells so I can perform movements with more resistance but with kettlebells, you can perform cleans, swings, get ups and snatches easily than with a kettlebell. Kettlebells help with improving stability as all the weight is in one place and not distributed betweens two ends like a dumbbell.
Investing in a foam roller is highly underrated! You will hardly see this item on any list but I strongly recommend investing in it. Foam rollers are used for recovery both before and after a workout, they help to loosen up tight muscles, they help with improved range of motion, flexibility and mobility – it’s a piece of equipment that I use daily. As a beginner, the hard ones may seem like torture due to the spikes so I suggest getting a soft and flat one to ease yourself into foam rolling, the harder ones act as a tool for deep tissue massages. A foam roll is essential a masseuse in an equipment format – it’s a good substitute right now if you are in a lockdown and cannot get a massage.
A stability/exercise ball is versatile and can act as an alternative for resistance such as using them for lying hamstring curls, leg raises etc. They can be used to help strengthen your body, improve core stability and balance, improve your posture if you use it as a chair. You can use them as your desk chair in front of your computer and/or TV to help you be aware of your posture and control leaning towards your screens.
These are my recommendations for items to have in your home gym that are compact, easy to store away and use, versatile for multiple exercises and cost-effective. A pull up bar, a set of resistance bands, a pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell, a foam roller and a stabiliy ball tYou don’t need to have the fanciest equipment to build strength and muscle, stay active and maintain your fitness. It’s not about the quantity of equipment that you have, but the quality of work you can do with what you have. At the end of the day, form, technique and progressive overload are factors that will determine whether your workout is effective and bringing change. If you want to learn more about progressive overload, check out this post.
What other pieces of fitness equipment would you suggest having in your home gym? Let me know whether you would recommend these items or change any of them.