Get A Great Workout At Home (Even On A Small Budget)
by Lynn Bode
Many people think that creating a home workout gym is either too intimidating or too costly. So, often they instead invest their money in a health club membership not realizing that for the same amount of money (or even less) they can create a very effective gym right in their own home.
For an effective home gym, all that is required is a little bit of planning. Don't fall into the trap of purchasing random fitness equipment because of fancy advertising for the latest infomercial fad or the great "sale" at your local fitness store. That type of purchasing leads to a house littered with equipment that's only use is as a clothes hanger or dust collector. This often happens because the equipment is either useless, poorly constructed or quickly loses its value because it doesn't progress with your fitness level.
To avoid having a basement filled with expensive dust-collecting equipment, keep these points in mind when making a purchase:
- What are your fitness goals?
- How often do you realistically think you will use the equipment?
- What fitness level do you expect to be at in 3, 6, 9 months?
- Will the equipment meet your needs as you get more fit (at the 3, 6, and 9-month marks)?
- Does the equipment offer enough variations in use that you can change your workouts frequently to prevent your body from hitting a plateau?
- Will you enjoy the exercises or will you quickly grow bored of them?
- And, of course how much can you afford?
Once you have answered all of the above questions then you are ready to make some purchasing decisions. Of course, how much you can afford to spend may dictate what you can actually purchase. Don't get discouraged. For as little as $100, you can have a very effective total strength training home gym. Even for as little as $35, you can create an effective workout that will tone your entire body.
Regardless of what your fitness goals are, there are a plethora of equipment options to consider. For building muscles and/or toning-up you can choose from free weights, selectorized machines, resistance bands, benches and even no-equipment. For cardiovascular improvements (e.g. running, walking, etc), there are even more options. They range from treadmills, to elliptical trainers, to bikes and beyond. So, answering the previously mentioned questions is very important.
To help make your decision easier, below are several recommendations based on costs and needs, along with benefits of the exercise equipment.
If you want to create a gym that will provide you with a total body workout (cardio, strength and flexibility) and you have a budget of at least $1000, consider the following recommendations:
Treadmill - The best option for cardiovascular equipment because it can be used for running, walking, and even some leg strength training. Plus, workouts can continually be varied based on speed, incline, even direction. And, it easily progresses as fitness levels improve.
Full dumbbell set with weights ranging from 5 pounds to 50+ pounds. - Great for light toning, to intermediate strength training to building muscles. Less expensive than selectorized machines and usually provides more flexibility and variety in workouts.
Fitness Ball - Provides exercise options for toning, strengthening and stretching.
Resistance Band - Provides another option for strength training. Can alternate use with free weights for a great challenge that will help prevent plateaus.
Step Bench - Can be used for both cardio workouts and strength training workouts.
If you want a home gym specifically for building muscles (or just can't afford cardio equipment), and can afford at least $100, consider the following recommendations:
- Dumbbell set
- Fitness Ball
- Resistance Band
- Jump Rope - Offers very challenging cardiovascular fitness workouts at a very low price.
If you want a total body home gym but can only afford less than $100, consider the following recommendations:
- Three dumbbells sizes (e.g. 5, 10 and 15 pounds)
- Resistance Band
- Jump Rope
If you are limited to purchasing just one very affordable piece of equipment, consider buying a Fitness Ball. As mentioned above, it provides many different exercise options. With the ball you can get an upper body workout, a lower body workout, very challenging abdominal workout and a stretching/flexibility workout. And, you can get all of this for around $35.
Also, don't underestimate what you can do with things that are already in your house, like stairs, a chair, milk jugs and others. There are a lot of exercises that require no equipment at all. For example, push-ups, tricep dips, squats, calf raises, etc. You can even create your own "weights" through milk jugs filled with water or sand.
As you can see, there are a lot of options available for creating a home gym that will meet your individual needs and will provide a lot of workout variety. Even on a shoestring budget, you can still make a wise purchase that will be invaluable in helping you get more fit and healthy. And, you'll enjoy all the benefits of working out at home.
What are the benefits of working out at home? Well, here are some highlights:
- No wasted time driving to and from a fitness club
- No waiting in line to use the equipment
- Workout on your schedule, rather than just when the health club
- No expensive monthly membership fees or long-term contracts
- Motivation to workout as you pass by the equipment every day
Of course, you will need previous knowledge of how to use your home equipment or you will have to be willing to learn. But, it's not difficult. Most equipment will come with basic instructions and a few sample exercises. You may want to enlist the help of a professional to provide additional exercise options and guidance that will ensure that you get the most out of your fitness equipment through every fitness level stage.