I’ve long been a fan of working out, and having spent over six years as a personal trainer before somehow landing in writing as a career, I also know how to put together a lot of training programs. It’s important to keep things varied if you want to actually stick to workouts, and that’s far truer if you’re someone who works out at home.
While I used to use a gym, the early days of COVID-19, and the very common and obvious knowledge that gyms are, well, gross, meant that I had to find a new way to get my gains. Also, I needed a way to keep the extra weight off from all the biscuits and chocolate I was stress-eating, ya know?
I’ve never had a huge amount of space though, and my preferences for working out are all over the place because I grew up doing martial arts, fell in love with weight-lifting in my early 20s, and now I have kids too, so I need to make sure the things I own and use are space-efficient or dual-purpose.
So, I’m here today to give you a breakdown of the weird and wonderful things I workout with. Hopefully it’ll give you some ideas too, if you’re in a similar situation with limited space at your disposal.
1. A Lot Of Weights In A Small Space
Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells
The first, and in my opinion most important item for any home gym, is a good set of adjustable dumbbells. I’d always thought they were kind of a ripoff, to be honest, but having bought some myself I’m never going back. The ability to quickly change between a multitude of different weights is amazing, and it means you can cycle through exercises with ease, do pyramid sets, or just constantly push your luck by trying to lift something heavier.
2. Chest Exercises Shouldn’t Be Done On A Sofa
Linodi Adjustable Weight Bench
This is, weirdly enough, one of the more optional items on this list. However, if you’ve got enough space, and you don’t mind it being used as a seat, a weight bench is a big deal for home workouts. Being able to do proper dumbbell presses is a blessing, and a good adjustable one is easier to store, and also allows for a wider range of exercises, and more options is always a good thing.
3. Doorways Are For Gains Now
FLYBIRD Pull Up Bar for Doorway
One of the hardest exercises to replicate at home is the lat pull-down. You can try doing movements on the floor, but it’s never the same. Instead, what you should get is a good pull-up bar. There are ones out there with more bells and whistles than this one, but you don’t need things to be fancy; you need them to be sturdy. As long as you’ve got a doorway in your house that can handle it, a pull-up bar is one of the best things you can get for your home workouts.
4. The Floor Is Also For Gains
Readaeer Push-Up Bars
As someone who grew up without much money, being able to use whatever is around you is a great way to keep costs down. However, if you’re looking for something cheap that can really upgrade your workouts, push-up bars are an excellent choice. The extra range of motion on any variety of push-up you can do with these will help boost each of your workouts to the next level, and if you’re flexible you can use them for some light calisthenic core workouts too.
5. Do Not Use In Front Of Children
Lkjad Wooden Bokken
This is probably the most niche item on my list, but ultimately I like swords. I’ve not tested this specific bokken, but the one I’ve got is a staple of my workouts. Even if all you do is practice the same dual-hand overhead swing 1,000 times, you’ll find that you’ll hit muscles in your back and core that you didn’t even know existed. Just make sure to protect your hands if you’ve not done this before, because the blisters are hellish. Also, don’t use it in front of your kids, they’ll get the wrong idea.
6. Return Of The Pull-Up Bar
Outslayer Muay Thai Heavy Bag
Now, I know you’re thinking that a heavy bag isn’t very space efficient, but hear me out. You can actually hang a heavy bag off of a pull-up bar, provided your door frames can handle it, which makes for a neat way to get more uses out of both pieces of equipment. Plus, if you do go for a heavy bag like this one, it can double as a fun way to get some sneaky weight-lifting in for things walking upstairs with it on your shoulders, or just yeeting it around if you feel like trying something new. Also, hitting things is cathartic, and you shouldn’t feel bad about that.
7. For Keeping Your Hands In One Piece
Hayabusa Boxing Hand Wraps
You can use weight gloves here too if you want, but I like how hand wraps feel after a workout, because you get to act like Rocky. Hand wraps aren’t just good for protecting your wrists and your knuckles while you’re beating the pulp out of your punch bag, but they’re also great for doubling as weight gloves in the event you’re bored of developing new callouses.
8. Resistance Is Key
AllvodesBands Resistance Band Set
I’m going to be honest, I don’t use my resistance bands very often because I flat-out prefer weights, but they’re nice to have sometimes. One advantage of having some lying around just means you’ve got more options, but you can also use them in tandem with your pull-up bar or even your bench for a wider buffet of exercises to pick from. Plus, you can use more than one at the same time for higher resistance, so they can grow with you.
9. Protect The Knees
BalanceFrom Yoga Mat
A lot of this equipment has the potential to damage hard floors; if you’ve got hard floors and you don’t want to damage them, then get a yoga mat. Plus, ultimately it’s nice to not have to sweat all over your carpet if you’re using the next item on my list, or if you fancy doing some actual yoga. It’s just a good bit of kit, and being able to use it for so many things is a huge boon.
10. Look, I Like Games
Ring Fit Adventure
Ring Fit Adventure is quite simply the coolest fitness game to have ever been made, and I include a lot of excellent virtual reality games in that list. You play as a hero trying to save the world from a very hench dragon, and the only way you can do that is with exercise. The game comes with a leg strap and a ring to use, and has a huge array of exercises you can tweak to match your own fitness level. It’s fun, you can do it as a family, and you get to game while you gain.