Home-based workouts are time-efficient and cost-effective.
The idea that a huge space outfitted with fancy gym equipment is a pre-requisite for building incredible fitness is bullshit.
Superior results can be achieved at home, with less equipment, saving more time and spending less money.
Money saved from not having to pay a monthly membership “rent” to a gym can be reallocated into invest in a few key pieces of gym equipment.
Each piece of equipment listed below has a brief description, value, how to use it and who it may be best for. Some categories include links to blog posts demonstrating exercises or workouts.
Kettlebells are some of the most versatile fitness tools available, excellent for building strength, power and increasing cardio conditioning, all in a small workout space.
Swings, pushing (overhead press), pulling (rows), carrying, lunges, squats, turkish get-ups are few exercises that can be performed with a single kettlebell.
Besides being great for building useable strength, kettlebell training is infamous for improving cardio conditioning. Complex workouts are amazing for accelerating fat loss.
Kettlebell Kings sells fantastic quality kettlebells at a fair price.
Barbells and Plates
A simple barbell is extremely versatile, with applications far beyond common exercises like squats, deadlifts, and the bench press.
There are some really innovative attachments and accessories for barbells, including (but not limited to) the landmine trainer.
What’s a landmine trainer? Check out this video.
Several companies manufacture landmine attachments to make pressing, squatting, deadlifts and grappling drills interesting.
Powerblocks are a complete set of dumbbells packed into two units.
Space is often limited for home gyms.
PowerBlock Dumbbells are not only a high quality dumbbell but a space saving solution.
Sandbag training is under-valued, yet packed with benefits.
Sandbags lack structure and balance, creating a shapeshifting training experience coupled with a fabric texture that can be difficult to grip.
Lifting, bear hugging, scooping, carrying, gripping and dragging a sandbag is a wrestling match.
Modern generation sandbags are made with stronger military-grade material, double reinforced stitching, industrial-grade zippers and burst proof double velcro filler bags.
I purchased the Athlete and Strongman Sandbags from Brute Force. I’ve beaten the hell out of both of my sandbags 3-4 days per week for the last 2 years and couldn’t be happier with the durability.
Toss, scoop, slam, rotational and chest press throws are just a few of the notable medicine ball drills to develop upper body power. Medicine balls are great for rotational power training (among other things).
This j/fit medicine ball from Amazon is a great option.
Suspension trainers are a portable piece of exercise equipment that leverages the weight of the body and angles for resistance training. Suspension Trainers have a tiny footprint, making them great for travel.
Top picks for suspension trainers:
Gymnastics rings build upper body strength like few other pieces of equipment.
It’s downright humbling.
Muscle-ups, dips, push-ups, upper body pulling variations and German Hangs are a few exercises perfect for gymnastics rings.
Gymnastics rings are extremely affordable.
Stretch Resistance Bands
Shoulder pre-hab, core training, hip strengthening, variable resistance training drills, and warm-up activation drills are all great exercises to use with a pair of resistance bands.
Mini stretch bands are fantastic for building strong hips.
Large stretch bands work great for assisting exercises such as chin-ups/pull-ups or increasing the load for push-ups and squats.
Many advanced gymnastics exercises can be made more palatable for beginner/intermediate levels by using resistance bands for assistance.
Bodylastics Stretch Bands come with both door and velcro anchor point attachments, along with handles for performing various strength and rehabilitation drills.
Progressive loading is critical to making ongoing gains in the gym, and a weighted vest is a simple piece of equipment used to add load without having to hold onto weights, keeping the increase in load very natural.
Squats, chin-ups, pull-ups, horizontal pulling exercises, push-ups, lunges, burpees, crawling exercises, and long-distance walking are examples of exercises that can benefit from adding progressive loading.
Air bikes are a torturous piece of cardio equipment, yet low-impact on the body, and high reward on the conditioning stimulus.
Secret sauce? The dual action arms challenge the upper body with a push-pull action and progressive resistance (the harder you pedal the harder it gets).
Air bikes are great for aggressive interval training, middle distance aerobic threshold rides or long duration aerobic training to name a few.
Options for air bike workouts are limitless.
Current generation air bikes are extremely durable with greatly improved designs, material composition, and workout tracking technology. Nothing like the old Schwinn Airdynes that were notorious for breaking.
4 years ago, I bought a Concept2 Rower and quickly realized how effective rowing is, and why rowers are consistently ranked as one of the best pieces of cardio equipment.
Concept 2’s Model D (and Model E) rowers are a go-to for collegiate and professional rowing programs so you can bet they are built to be abused.
I’ve written several articles about different ways to include rowing in workouts.
Concept 2 Rower Model D
SkiErg vertical oriented cardio machine originally designed to help nordic skiers train upper body performance off the trail or out of season (since Nordice Skiing is a Winter Sport.
SkiErg uses the resistance wheel and performance monitor as Concept2’s rowing machine, with the main design difference being the vertical set-up and independently operating pulleys.
The stress of SkiErg training is mostly upper body dominant, sparing the legs. This makes it a really nice method for developing cardio without beating the lower body into a pulp unnecessarily.
SkiErg stroke mechanics are almost the opposite of rowing, here’s what I mean by that…
SkiErg: Standing, extension into flexion on each stroke (hip hinge)
Rowing: Seated, flexion into extension for each stroke (hip extension)
The two-arm or alternating classic ski stroke technique are the two most common patterns.
I’ve been compiling a fairly large list of alternative SkiErg stroke variations, hybrid exercise combinations and ways to incoporate SkiErg into work capacity circuits to burn a shit load of calories.
These variations will be uploaded into a YouTube playlist soon.