Guest post by Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Working out is essential to long-lasting weight loss and better health, but a membership at a gym can be too pricey for many people. The result is that lots of individuals are going the home gym route, buying basic equipment they can use on their own any time they want. This doesn’t need to break the bank, and in fact, people can get a phenomenal workout with just a few central tools.
What to Buy: Dumbbells
Why You Need Them: Dumbbells provide excellent resistance for dozens of different exercises. Unlike expensive machines, they allow you to move through a much more natural range of motion, which is critical to preventing injury and getting optimal results. They also let you work one side of the body at a time, which is better at correcting muscle strength imbalances. They come in sizes as small as one or two pounds and, in most sports departments, are available up to around 50 pounds. Weightlifters sometimes use ones that are 100 pounds or more, but for the average person, what you’ll find in stores is generally sufficient. Some people like ones with adjustable weight amounts for space reasons, but the non-adjustable ones sometimes are better because you can swap out dumbbells faster between sets. In a pinch, the hexagonal type also can work as handles for exercises such as pushups, letting you get into a position that’s less stressful for the wrists.
What to Buy: Stability Ball
Why You Need One: Stability balls provide a less stable foundation when you lean, sit or lie down on them. The result is that your stabilizing muscles, particularly those in your core or abdominal region, have to work harder. You also can use these balls as accessories for gentle stretching, yoga and other exercises such as reverse crunches.
What to Buy: Resistance Bands
Why You Need Them: Resistance bands, also called tubes, serve a purpose similar to dumbbells, but they often work when dumbbells aren’t appropriate. For example, you can use them when you’d like resistance on your legs. They are also great tools for helping you stretch or maintain a hold, such as in the boat or V position. Some individuals also use heavy bands or sets hooked overhead as a substitute for pull-up, chin-up or lat bars. They come in both short and long lengths.
What to Buy: Aerobic Step
Why You Need One: Aerobic steps are primarily used for step aerobic workouts, which can range from very basic, low impact sequences to intense, jump-filled ones that are a choreographic and physical challenge. They also provide an excellent platform for other exercises, however, such as uneven pushups, hip and calf raises and low triceps dips. You also can put these on an angle, with the supports on one end, to create an incline for exercises such as presses.
What to Buy: Chin-up/Pull-up Bar
Why You Need One: This piece of equipment is one of the best to have for working your back, as well as your arms. Most versions fit securely in any standard, sturdy doorway, and many models don’t require any drilling to install, making them easy to remove and store. Many are designed so that they also can be used on the floor as an aid for pushups and triceps dips, providing better range of motion than if your arms were on the floor. When installed on a doorway, this is also a piece of equipment that lets you work your abdominal muscles, as you can hang from it and use your abdominal muscles to pull your legs up.
What to Buy: Large Mirror
Why You Need One: If you do not have a personal trainer or workout buddy with you when you exercise, one of the only ways to check your form is to look in a mirror. Making sure you are in the right position during any exercise is critical to avoiding injury and makes your workouts more effective. Plus, you’ll feel prouder than King Kong when, after weeks or months of hard work, you can look in the mirror as you move and see the difference in your body as you move. That will keep you motivated for the next workout session!