Planning to Work Out at Home? Here are the Gym Essentials

Chrissy Giorgetti

image: Chrissy Giorgetti

I get a lot of questions about what types of equipment are worth investing in. Personally, I don’t think you need to have a fully tricked-out home gym, but I do think that there are a few things that are good to have at home. I’ve rounded up some items that I think are absolute must-haves if you are planning to work out at home, or if you like to work out while traveling.

 

Foam Roller and/or Massage Stick and/or Lacrosse Balls

 

>>In my opinion, everyone in the world should own a foam roller, regardless of how often you work out. Great for working out sore or tired muscles, a foam roller is essential for keeping your muscles healthy. Self-massage and self-myofascial release are just as important as actually exercising. If you get sore easily or have super tight muscles, investing in one of these can help tremendously. I happen to have all three options on hand at all times, but there are subtle differences between the three:

 

foam roller>>A foam roller is typically longer and thicker, which allows for use on multiple large muscle groups-glutes, hamstrings, and quads for example. These come in different densities and can either be smooth or have little knobs and bumps. I recommend starting with a basic roller that isn’t too dense and work your way up to a denser one.

 

 

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>>A massage stick is smaller and better for areas like calves, biceps, and neck-areas that it might be awkward to hit with a foam roller. These are usually made of hard plastic and similar to the foam roller, can either be smooth or bumpy.

bumpy>>A lacrosse ball can be used to target specific areas of tightness. I mainly use mine to dig into my subscap and traps. You can just use a regular old lax ball, or you can get a bumpy one to really work the muscle. Lax balls are typically pretty hard, so it might be good to start with a tennis ball before trying a lax ball.

 

Bands

I have three different types of bands, and I use all three in my training, both at home and in the gym! Mini-Bands: mini-bands are great for warm-ups, activating muscles, doing finishers, and adding resistance to exercises. As you know, I love using mine for glute training! You can also add them to squats, deadlifts, lunges, and more. These are a great way to increase the difficulty in any exercise.

 

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>>Long Bands: these are great for warming-up the shoulders and upper body, but they’re also a good alternative toLong Bands weights for exercises like rows, chest presses, core rotations, bicep curls, and more. In the gym, I use these for assisted chin-ups, pull-ups, and dips. I typically always travel with these since it’s super easy to build a workout with them.

 

>>Hip Circle: I consider this one of the best investments I’ve ever made! It’s similar to a mini-band, but it’s made of super thick elastic fabric. It’s heavier than even the heaviest mini-band, and it won’t cut into your skin like a band would! I mainly use mine for glute work!

 

ValSlides

ValSlidesThese little plastic sliders are awesome for anyone working out at home or while traveling. They’re light, they’re small, and they are KILLER when used correctly! You can do a TON of different exercises with them. Basically, these sliders create an unstable surface for training, allowing you to slide in various positions and directions. These are great for challenging and strengthening the body’s stabilizing muscles. They can turn a simple push-up into an insanely challenging one! Important to note, these work best on carpet!!

 

 

Dumbbells 

DumbbellsA couple sets of light-medium dumbbells are always good to have, just so you have the ability to add some resistance to exercises. You can only get so far with bands, so it’s good to have a few weights on hand. I recommend a set of 5s, 8s, and 10s to start. You can get light dumbbells at a lot of places this days-5 Below, TJ Maxx, and Target are just a few options! And they won’t break the bank!

 

Ankle Weights

Ankle WeightsAgain, always good to have a set of ankle weights on hand. Strapping weights to your ankles might not seem so bad, but they can really make a workout harder! Use these for squats, lunges, any jumping movements, and glute work, and see how much harder it gets!

 

 

One Heavy Kettlebell

Heavy KettlebellI think it’s great to have at least one heavier weight at home, for days that you really can’t make it to the gym but still want to lift. 20-30 pounds should be good for this. This way, you can work on KB movements like swings, Turkish get-ups, deadlifts, cleans, and presses. A 10lb dumbbell just won’t cut it for those types of movements! Again, I’ve seen these at TJ Maxx and Target, so don’t spend a ton of money!

 

Yoga Mat

yoga matLast but not least, you should invest in a yoga or gym mat so you aren’t working out directly on carpet or hardwood or tile! This gives you a little cushion for floor exercises and any jumping movements you may do. The options are pretty endless with the type of mat-my advice is to just get one you like! If you prefer a little more cushioning, gym mats are typically thicker than your average yoga mat or opt for an extra-thick yoga mat (usually 1/2 thick vs. 1/4 inch thick).

 

 

As I mentioned above, all of these items can be found on my Amazon Must-Haves list! Important to note: I do not make ANY money from you purchasing an item on my list. I’ve set the list up so that you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through Amazon trying to find good products. (Chrissy Giorgetti) Click To Tweet

 

I did all the work for you and like I mentioned, you can also find a lot of these items in stores like TJ Maxx, 5Below, Target, and more.

Chrissy Giorgetti

image: Chrissy Giorgetti

While these items aren’t absolutely necessary to own, they do ensure that you are able to get in a good workout at home without going to a gym. Plus, a lot of these items are super easy to travel with, which makes hotel room workouts a breeze!

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I hope you find this list helpful, and if you love this article; don’t forget to share this with your friends and family.

 

 

Chrissy Giorgetti is a Boston-based exercise physiologist. She has over 5 years of experience in the fitness world, along with a degree in Clinical Exercise Science from Ithaca College. She specializes in weight and fat loss, exercise newbies, and special populations, and has worked with people aged 7-99.