If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend a thousand dollars on a home gym, and you aren’t always able to get to the gym as often as you should, so you really like the idea of an inexpensive, personalized home gym. I have created my own home gym in a small space in my basement with the 3 pieces of equipment I’ve listed below. I can do endless varieties of workouts with just these 3.
Gymnastic Rings – No, gymnastic rings aren’t just for elite gymnasts. Men and women can both benefit from using them. There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do with rings. From pullups to chest presses, this piece of equipment is the single best tool to strengthen and develop your upper body, with many options for both advanced and beginning athletes. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know one thing I’m passionate about when it comes to fitness is variety. Doing the same thing over and over again will get you injured and can cause all sorts of problems later on. Gymnastics rings are a great way to keep variety in your upper body workouts, since you can do so many different types of pulling and pushing exercises.
Another huge benefit of using rings is that they are easy on your joints. Since the rings are free hanging and not a stationary object like a pullup bar, they allow your joints to move in their own natural pattern, rather than having a fixed path to follow. If you use the rings regularly, you will notice strength gains in both your large muscle groups and in your smaller stabilizing muscles, since both have to work really hard to keep the rings still.
Product spotlight: I use Rogue Fitness‘ wood rings (Rogue Gymnastic Rings). I bought them a little over 6 months ago for $72. They are very durable, and feel good on my hands. Since I have small hands, I bought the Fig Rings option, since they are a little bit more narrow than traditional rings. I have them hanging in my basement right now, and since I didn’t have a bar or anything to hang them from, I bought the Ring Hanger from Rogue as well.
Heavy Bag – Beating the living daylights out of a heavy bag is not only a great stress reliever, but also one of the best ways to build your cardiovascular endurance. Not to mention how effective it is for adding strength power to your upper and lower body. According to Livestrong.com, punching a heavy bag can burn roughly 354 to 558 calories per hour depending on your weight and how hard you are working. If you do get a heavy bag, choose a weight that is roughly half of your bodyweight. You will also want to invest in a good pair of boxing gloves and hand wraps to protect your hands and writst. There are a lot of great boxing (and kickboxing) tutorials on YouTube. It isn’t hard to learn the basics, and once you do that, you can really add some fun and intensity to your workouts.
Product Spotlight: I use an Everlast Heavy Bag. It is very durable and suits all my kickboxing needs, and it fit my small budget when I bought it.
Weights – If you want to improve your fitness at all, you really need to be lifting at least 2x a week. By lifting I don’t mean 3 and 5 pound dumbbells, I mean weight that is relatively heavy to you. You can use dumbbells (these are pretty awesome) or a barbell and plates. I have an old set of weights right now, but I’m currently saving up for these. Lifting weights is probably the best way (but certainly not the only way) to strengthen your lower body and core, and improve your bone density. If you are new to lifting, you probably should go with dumbbells as they are a little bit safer to start using on your own. Even just adding a few sets of deadlifts and/or squats to your workouts during the week can really improve your lower body tone and strength (and ladies, don’t worry, it won’t get your bulky).
There you have it – my 3 favorite pieces of equipment for well rounded fitness. After reading this post I hope that at the very least you’ve realized that it’s OK to be creative when it comes to fitness – you don’t have to spend hours on a treadmill every day if you don’t want to.