My Home Gym Essentials (plus a few fun extras)
Hello, lovely ladies and gents! If you are working out at home then you are going to need some gear. If you are wondering what to get (that you will actually get use out of) then check out my list of home gym essentials! Plus, I’ll give you a list of a few fun items that, while not essential, I love having and you might, too!
Here are your basic home gym essentials:
First, I recommend I high quality yoga mat. I personally use the Manduka PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat because it’s thick, but not so thick that you can’t maintain your balance, and it’s extremely durable. This way I can leave it out on my floor and jump on it in tennis shoes, vacuum over it, etc. It’s on the heavier side so you won’t be carrying this to class every day, but it’s perfect for a home gym.
Now, you’re going to need weights. Body weight workouts are great, but you need some form of resistance to get in a wide range of exercises. I personally use these CAP rubber coated dumbbells. They are high quality and the most comfortable. I also have this Dumbbell Rack . Save space and get a rack! This one by CAP isn’t that expensive and I haven’t had any problems with it.
I recommend having at least a pair of 15 pound dumbbells. I also have a pair of twenties and a pair of twenty-fives. You will want heavier weights for squats and deadlifts (but you can also use kettlebells…see below). If you are just starting out then a pair of tens, twelves and fifteens will be a good place to start.
I have three different sets of resistance bands that I use. This may seem like a lot. “Are they really all essential?”, you ask? Well, no. You don’t need all three. But I do think this set of loop bands would be an invaluable addition to your home gym, especially for your legs! They are cheap, too…I set of five for about $12. So yeah, I think they can go under “essentials”. They are perfect for travel as well. I through the red (heavy) one into my suitcase to use while traveling.
These larger loop bands will do a lot for you as well. If you want to do pull ups at home (I do!! I love pull ups!!) then you’ll need these, unless you are so strong that you don’t need assistance. Want to do some shoulder work, or glute activation? These are very handy. I use these bands in my video for opening rounded shoulders, as an example. Honestly, these bands are very versatile. They are much more expensive than the mini loop bands, but I would definitely add them to your wish list!
Finally, we have the standard resistance tubing. I’ll admit that I use these less than the other two sets, but many people love them. I have green (light), red (medium) and purple (very heavy). If you only want to start with one, get the green or red. I only have the purple one because my husband bought it, and I only use it to work my back.
I have quite a few kettlebells ranging in weight from 20-45 pounds. I have a few different types and I prefer these CAP Cast Iron Kettlebells. I do not like the really huge kettlebells as I find them unwieldy and uncomfortable. You also want ones that have a rougher handle so that they don’t slip on you. The CAP ones fit the bill. I do tend to shop around for the best price, but just make sure not to get the ones with an enormous body.
If you haven’t yet dived into the wonderful world of kettlebells and want to get started, check out my Full Body Kettlebell Workout to get you going!
A few other goodies (including another essential):
So, I would list the suspension straps (shown on the left) in the home gym essentials. There is simply so much that you can do with these straps! And they are portable. You can go outside or move all around your home. I love using these and I plan on doing a lot of videos featuring them. The TRX GO Suspension Training Kit is the most expensive. I have a cheaper version, called G straps, which I found on Amazon for $40 however I can no longer find them. I did find this version for half the price.
I also recommend getting a pair of sliding discs that you can use for all sorts of abdominal and leg exercises. They are cheap (I paid about $10). That said, they aren’t completely essential because you can use socks (if on tile or hardwoods).
A stability ball is something you can definitely use! (side note- if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, the stability ball is a very good thing to have on hand to help with third trimester aches and pains!) You can use the stability ball to do bench presses (instead of a bench), or put your feet up and do planks, pikes, and other ab and leg exercises. It’s nice to have…the only real downside is its huge size!
Pull Up Bar
A pull up bar is definitely on my personal list of home gym essentials, unless you have access to some other sort of pulling up mechanism that you can use (like a conveniently located tree). I personally have a Gorilla Gym Pull Up Bar, and I bought that one because it hooks into your door however it has clamps which makes it much more secure. I bought the “Ultimate Fitness Package” because it comes with two sets of suspension straps (long and short) and I personally wanted the convenience of having two sets. That set is no longer for sale on Amazon but you can buy it directly from Gorilla Gym. The downside to this equipment is that it isn’t portable and I can no longer close the door to my office/gym (the pull up bar is in that doorway).
Another option is to install a wall-mount bar, and the upside to that is that you don’t have ugly equipment hanging in a doorway and you can close said door. It is also the most secure option.
I absolutely love pull ups, and when you use the large loop bands you can practice pull ups no matter your strength level. They are a great back and bicep strengthener and will spice up your workout routine. You can also use the bar to hang thick bands and do stretches for your shoulders and back, as well as hanging a resistance band over the bar and then, sitting down, do band pull downs (similar to lat pull downs on a cable machine). So it’s really quite versatile!
Getting up and down
Ok, I’m going old school on you right now! I’m going to recommend a step. You know, the original club step from step aerobics? Yeah, that’s the one. Here’s why: It’s useful for many things besides step aerobics! I use it to do bench presses, elevated lunges, and for plyometrics. After I had my baby, I could not do straight leg push-ups directly on the floor, so I progressed my way back down by using the step to elevate my hands and I slowly lowered the step height as I got stronger.
I also have this smaller step. I bought this one because a.) I wanted the additional risers to use on my bigger step and b.) I use this for step ups, box jumps, and box squats. Not essential, but certainly useful!
If you have a bench that can be used for bench pressing, then the step is certainly less useful, and you could even use that to jump over. The height wouldn’t be adjustable but you could definitely get away without the steps if you have a bench.
So there you have it… my home gym essentials! Did I miss anything? What are your essentials? Let me know in the comments below!