Updated: Aug 5
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The home gym can provide a place of sanctuary, a safe and secure haven in which to unwind and de-stress. It can be a place either to absolve oneself of sinful living (I have in mind popping to the vending machine over lunch – that’s my take on sinful living) or to explore and advance personal physicality.
But the home gym is a brilliant space to create for a myriad other reasons. Besides offering almost instant access into a self-therapeutic environment, where the worries of the day can be washed away, the home gym can mitigate the many excuses that stand in the way of improving our health and fitness. After all, when the gym is in the next room we can hardly use the weather or traffic as an excuse not to get our daily fix.
There’s no doubt about it, the home gym is arguably the most important space you could create: what other room can help alleviate stress, improve your health and longevity whilst saving you money? For when you’ve got a home gym you’ll never have to pay a membership again.
However, when it comes to deciding which pieces of exercise equipment to kit your gym out with, the bewildering and ever expanding range of choice can result in confusion and indecision; only to be further compounded when you’ve also got to take into consideration the constraints of a budget.
Not all exercise equipment was created equal and some exercise kit offers far more bang per buck. Another likely limiting factor you’ll face when building your home gym is the lack of space.
The purpose of this article is to help you resolve this conundrum. Below you’ll discover 10 excellent pieces of exercise equipment especially selected to satisfy the following criteria:
Value for money
Both versatile and durable
Space sensitive (except the rowing machine)
An effective fitness builder
Following the review all you’ll need to do is select which pieces of equipment best suit your fitness goals and aspirations whilst remaining in your available budget.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #1: Kettlebell
The kettlebell has got to be the single most versatile – not to mention durable – piece of exercise equipment in existence. I once tried to tally up all the different exercises you can do with them but, before I even got close to completing my list, I got bored and gave up.
Not only are kettlebells mega versatile but they are damn near indestructible. I purchased an Atom Competition Kettlebell years ago and though it’s as pockmarked as the surface of moon, it still weighs 24kg and it’s still a steel ball with a handle protruding from it. In my opinion, anyone who is looking to build a home gym absolutely must start with a kettlebell. In fact, I’d go far as to say a gym ain’t complete without one.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #2: Resistance bands
Resistance bands make for brilliant training tools for three reasons: 1) they are crazy versatile; 2) they’re comparatively inexpensive; 3) they take up no more room than a pair of folded socks . . . oh, and 4) they’re eminently portable – you can take them anywhere with you, something that can’t really be said of my Atom Competition Kettlebell (or Concept 2 Rowing Machine for that matter).
Also, resistance bands can be used to modify or advance other exercises. When I’m feeling a bit physically frisky I use my resistance bands to increase the resistance of other exercises such as press-ups, kettlebell swings and squats.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #3: Indoor rower
The Concept 2 Rowing Machine is one of the best pieces of exercise equipment for improving cardio, muscular endurance and promoting all-round fitness. And because it stimulates the major muscle groups – legs, back cardio-respiratory – rowing is a brilliant fat burner and body toner.
Also, rowing machines provide an excellent fitness testing tool. For years I’ve used the standard 2000 metre ergo row to test the fitness of my personal training clients. I’ve found this test to be a great way to monitor and track physical development.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #4: Airdyne bike
Similarly to the rowing machine, the Airdyne Bike stimulates the major muscle groups whilst providing an excellent whole-body workout. But unlike the rower the airdyne bike possess the added feature of a push as well as pull function thus enabling the exercise enthusiast to train the muscles of the chest and anterior deltoids.
Additionally, airdyne bikes are comparatively compact making them the most space sensitive cardiovascular equipment on the market (other than the mini stepper – but then no self-respecting trainer would purchase such tack).
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #5: Skipping rope
Bruce Lee maintained that 10 minutes of ‘jumping rope’ is like 30 minutes of jogging. Yeah I’ve used that quote before now, but only because Bruce lends additional credence to the contention that skipping is a superlative exercise.
For fat loss, augmented physicality and improved cardiovascular function, few exercises target all three quite as effectively as jumping rope. And few ropes are as well rated as the Beast Gear Skipping Rope.
In addition to providing an almost unparalleled physical workout, skipping also stimulates hat gelatinous 2.2lb blob between the ears (colloquially called the brain). When skipping you have to concentrate on the task in hand; there’s no switching off or mind wandering, you have to remain fully focused at all times. Thus, skipping is one of the few exercises that engage both the body and mind.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #6: Boxing bag
No other exercise busts stress quite like Saturday night windmilling on a punch bag. When you’ve had a stressful day at work – which for most people is every day – you can come home, glove-up and beat ten bells out your Free Standing Boxing Bag.
But boxing does more for us than fight stress. It is also an excellent cardiovascular, muscular endurance and power exercise. Few exercise combinations offer the range of physical stimulation as does 30 minutes of vigorous sticking and moving. Throw into the mix 10 minutes of skipping for the warm-up and another five minutes for the cool-down and you’ve got yourself a tremendous training session. And with a freestanding boxing bag, you'll be able keep fighting fit at home.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #7: Power cage
Rips X's Heavy Duty Power Cage is a functional, multi-purpose piece of exercise equipment that would make a great addition to any home gym.
Contrary to common misconception, you can do far more with a squat rack than just squat. For example, with the Rip X Heavy Duty Power Cage you can work on your dips, pull-ups, muscle ups and myriad other functional exercises. And the range of possible exercises increases if you add resistance bands and weights bench.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #8: Power bag
Fairway's Ultra-Durable Power Bags are a must have because of their versatility and range of exercise application. You can squat with them, do deadlifts, bent-over rows, clean and press, lunges, throws, carries, Russian twists . . . and on and on the list goes.
A friend of mine is a proper power bag aficionado and he maintains that there are over 50 different exercises that can be performed with a single power bag. Also, another favourable quality of the power bag, as opposed to kettlebells, is that the exercises are comparatively easy to master and they are much more forgiving on the body.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #9: Adjustable dumbbells
The ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbells are a great addition to any home gym. The versatility of this classic training tool would put Ray Mears’ pocket knife to shame.
And gone are the days when you’d have to buy one pair – which were either too light for strength training or too heavy for muscular endurance – or splash the cash on a whole rack.
Adjustable dumbbells are becoming ever increasingly popular (ATIVAFIT adjustable have received a jaw-dropping 4200 five-star reviews) for the simple fact that, as well as enabling you to access a wide range of weights (from 5 to 25kg), they take up hardly any space – making them perfect for a home gym.
10 pieces of exercise equipment your home gym must have #10: Medicine balls
BalanceFrom Medicine Balls are another high versatile piece of exercise equipment for the home gym. Medicine balls can be incorporated into traditional movements – such as lunges, squats, squat jumps, burpees – or used to enhance power – slams, throws, wall tosses.
Medicine balls also make for an excellent addition to a circuit bringing an element of dynamism and, if it’s squat slams on the menu, a stress-busting outlet. Seriously, after a few sets of slams I’m as calm and contented as a Zen Buddhist but I also get my fit fix at the same time.
From this article you should have gleaned plenty of ideas of suitable exercise kit for your home gym. Remember though, you don’t need to spend a fortune or replicate Gold’s when building training sanctuary. Truly, it’s surprising the workout you can get from a relatively meagre set-up.
My home gym contains an assortment of Competition Kettlebells, a Resistance Band, a Skipping Rope, one Medicine Ball and a Concept 2 Rower Machine. Combined these items of training equipment cost a little over £1000.
But even this parsimonious set-up still enables me to achieve an excellent workout whilst satisfying my exercise predilections and perversions. So, before you rush out and blow a stack of cash on kit, recognise that you don’t need much to keep fit and it’s not about how much you’ve got but what you do with it that counts.
About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or email@example.com.