You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to have an effective home gym. Your gym doesn't have to fill a whole room either. You can get a good gym workout right at home with a few pieces of inexpensive equipment. You're more likely to work out regularly if you have exercise equipment at home. It's also good to have some exercise equipment at home when you can't get to the gym.
Home Gym Equipment
Home gym equipment makes it easy for you to exercise, even if you have a busy schedule. There's a lot of home gym equipment to choose from, and it's easy to get confused about what to buy. If you're on a budget, you're in luck. Most home gym equipment is inexpensive and will pay for itself by saving you gym fees and driving time. You need some free weights, such as dumbbells and kettlebells. A set of resistance bands can also help you get a good strength-training workout. A stability ball is a versatile piece of equipment that you can use in combination with body-weight and free-weight exercises. Also, get yourself a jump rope for a quick, effective cardio workout. If it's in your budget, consider a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine.
Upper Body and Abs
Put your dumbbells and stability ball to work to exercise your upper body and your abs at the same time. Balance your upper back on the ball and support your lower body on your feet with your knees bent. You're going to feel your abs tighten in response to the instability of the exercise ball. In this position you can do dumbbell presses, chest flyes, biceps curls and triceps extensions. Hold the dumbbells or a kettlebell close to your chest and do some stability ball crunches. The weight adds extra resistance to your ab workout. Pull resistance bands to build muscle and tone your arms and chest. Do eight to 10 repetitions of each exercise.
Turn on your favorite music and walk, jog or run on your treadmill to work your legs and thighs while getting a good cardio workout, too. Ride a few miles on your stationary bike after dinner or climb your way to a firmer butt on your stair machine. If you decide not to include machines in your home gym, get a firm, toned lower body using your stability ball. Put the ball between your lower back and the wall to do some wall squats. Hold dumbbells in your hands while doing squats for added resistance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Sports Medicine, you should aim to complete a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise three to five days a week, or get an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise roughly three days a week.
You want to get fit, not injured. Home gym safety and safe exercise habits are important. Always check your equipment before use. Check for frayed wires on machines and make sure that clothes, shoes and other items are clear of the machine. Don't leave exercise equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells and stability balls in the middle of the floor when you finish working out. Keep children away from all exercise equipment. Wear comfortable clothes, shoes and keep long hair pulled back to avoid catching it in moving parts of exercise machines. Remember to warm up before exercise and to cool down after your workout. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- American Council on Exercise: How to Design Your Own Home Gym
- Fitness: The Best Fitness Tools for Your Home Gym
- Premier Physical Therapy: Upper Body Workout for the Home Gym
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Safe Exercise
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM, AHA Support Federal Physical Activity Guidelines
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.