What equipment you should get to level up your home workouts

Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or doctor. Before making drastic changes to your exercise routine, you should consult with a professional. See full disclaimer at my About page.

Like I explained in my last post, it doesn’t seem like I’ll be going back to the gym anytime soon. Instead, despite having been lacking motivation for working out at home, I’ve decided to start building a consistent fitness routine again.

That’s why I’ve decided to add some new pieces of equipment to my home workout collection. Now, you absolutely do not need any equipment to get in a good workout, however, some basic equipment can be very useful to make certain exercises either a little easier or more challenging.

In order to provide you with some inspiration, I thought I’d share my recent purchases as well as some older equipment I bought in the past. With these pieces of equipment you’ll be able to get in a great workout without needing a ton of space to store them.

I’m first showing you the three pieces of equipment I would strongly recommend you get to start building a basic home workout collection on. Then, I’ll show you a few pieces that are not necessary by any means, but that I personally like to use.

A pair of adjustable dumbells

When you can’t get to a gym, the easiest thing you could get to mimick the workout you’re used to is a pair of adjustable dumbbells. They’re very versatile and really don’t take up a lot of space.

We’ve had these for a while (my boyfriend got them even before we met) but you can find them online easily via Amazon (or bol.com for my Dutch readers). These should be around 15 kg total (33 lbs), but you can get them up to over 30 kg.

You can perform many compound and isolation exercises with these (or at least modifications), depending on the weight you put onto the dumbbell. I like to perform shoulder exercises and rows with them, for example.

I even use them for Romanian deadlifts and other leg movements occasionally, even though the weight is not very heavy. I try to get around this by doing single leg exercises or adding resistance bands.

Sometimes I simply use the entire box where the weights are stored in so I don’t have to bother putting together the dumbells themselves!

Long resistance bands with attachments

The next must have for your home equipment collection everyone talks about, is a set of resistance bands. They’re usually very inexpensive and easy to get on Amazon or bol.com, and you can perform a range of exercises with them.

I only got this set last week, and I’ve tried them out a few times so far. One big advantage is that you can increase the resistance to up to 50 kg by combining the bands. They individually provide between 7 kg and 15 kg resistance each.

By using the attachments (handles, ankle attachments, door attachment) you can do almost any exercise you would normally use a cable for. However, the main difference is that the resistance curve is quite different: the movement is much lighter in the beginning of the movement and gets heavy only when the band gets stretched out (instead of having the same amount of resistance throughout the entire movement).

Additionally, I use bands to increase resistance on my squats (they decently mimick the feeling of a front squat) or my (Romanian) deadlifts (by attaching them to my box of weights).

Mini resistance bands

This set of smaller resistance bands (mini bands) is the only piece in this list that I already used to take to the gym in order to increase resistance on my glutes. I bought mine online a few years back.

They are perfect for increasing the resistance on your gluteus medius (side/ upper part of your butt) on hip thrusts, squats or any other movement. Alternatively, you could just use them to mimick a hip abduction machine (although, again, with a slightly different resistance curve).

On top of that, I occasionally use the lighter bands to train my rear delts (back of the shoulder) by pulling apart the sides of the band.

Ab wheel

So, I definitely wouldn’t call this ab trainer a must have for home training. You can train your abs perfectly fine with just a fitness mat (or a floor) and a variety of great exercises.

However, I decided to buy this ab wheel, along with the long resistance bands, because I had already started using it in my gym and I was just starting to get better at it, which I enjoyed. So I knew I would actually use it regularly at home, too.

I like that it trains both the upper and lower abdominal muscles, where many exercises target only one of those. It is also a pretty heavy exercise, which means I don’t need to do a ton of reps and sets to get some results. I’m now at 3 sets of 8 reps at the end of my training (on a good day, that is).

This exercise isn’t for everyone though. Because it is quite heavy, it can put a lot of stress on your lower back if you’re not careful. I personally struggle with lower back pain, and stronger abdominal muscles (and glutes) help relieve it (because it prevents anterior pelvic tilt aka arching of your lower back), which is why I’ve started doing more ab training the past year.

You should only use it if you’ve already built your ab strength enough to not arch your lower back (I practised regular planks for months before I even tried this) and only slightly increase the range of your movement everytime as you get stronger.

If you feel any lower back pain, stop immediately and perform a shorter range of motion next time. Ideally, you would consult a doctor/physiotherapist or certified trainer if you’re not sure this exercise is safe for you.

Jumping rope

A few years back I got this (super cheap) jumping rope at a local fitness store, thinking it would come in handy.

Then, it got stored in a closet to never be used again…

Until quarantine hit. Well, technically a while later, as I mentioned last week. Now that I’m building a consistent fitness routine again, I’ve been using the jumping rope for a few minutes to get warmed up before every workout.

I imagine it is also a great way to break up your desk work every hour if you work from home. I just might start integrating it into my day (and of course let you know the results!)

Foam roller

Lastly, I wanted to mention my foam roller. I must say that I haven’t been using it much since I started doing yoga (almost) every day, but back when I was strength training 4-6 days a week in the gym I used it quite a lot.

Since I do a lot of training on my legs and glutes, after a while my glutes start to cramp almost non stop. I started using a foam roller, mostly on my glutes and back, which helped a lot with my back pain that I mentioned as well as with my cramped glutes.

However, relief is only temporary, so a foam roller session is best done before a workout to increase range if motion if that’s something you struggle with, or after a workout combined with some stretching.

I hope these suggestions will be of use to you. In the coming weeks I’ll share a bit more about how exactly I train and what exercises I recommended.

What pieces of home without equipment do you swear by? And do you have any other equipment you are planning on trying out?

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