Hi you guys! Well, It’s STILL January and hopefully you’re all still keeping at it with your New Year resolutions. Remember, Rome was NOT built in a day. Neither were Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps or Serena Williams, well, everything!
That’s why I’ve spent this month sharing my new series, This is what you can do in the gym. Next week I’ll be sharing Part IV. You can check out Parts I, II, and III HERE.
To pair with that segment, today I’ve compiled a list of just some of my most favorite fitness toys. These are all great for having at home and with the exception of one or two, they don’t take up a lot of space.
You don’t need a ton of expensive,
fancy equipment to have a nice set up for working out at home. I’ve listed my picks from top priority to least priority so you know which ones you’ll want to get sooner and which ones can wait a while. Versatility is always key for at home purchases so that also factored into this order.
You do need a little space and the self motivation to work out on your own.
And if you go to a gym that doesn’t have certain equipment you’d like to use, put together a gym bag filled with some of the more portable toys I’m recommending! Before I had my own playground at real [FIT] life, that’s what I used to do! Now I’m completely spoiled.
So here’s our list. 10 Great at home fitness toys:
1. Adjustable dumbbells
The original adjustable dumbbells that I bought back in 2010 before real [FIT] life had our beautiful studio STILL come in handy for our members. Some of my remote clients have bought them at my suggestion as well and they are an excellent tool. The ones we have are a bit more old school but they’re great because we can create 2 1/2 incremental increases. That may not seem like a big deal but as you increase weight for your sets, not having to jump a full ten pounds (5 in each hand) every time can be a god send, trust me. I recommend buying 2 full sets (4 boxes) eventually so that you can really load them as you get stronger. The other advantage is they take up a lot less room than having multiple sets of dumbbells lying around.
2. Resistance band set
In the past I’ve recommended rubber resistance bands and those are still a must have. But this set that I recently bought is terrific because you can combine different levels of resistance to make the load harder or easier. Every band has clips on the end for attaching to the handles or ankle straps that come with the set. It also comes with door attachments for attaching to your door for anchoring. The exercises you can do with these, like the adjustable dumbbells, are pretty much endless.
Seated/standing rows from top down or bottom up, standing push downs, standing chest presses, leg adduction or abduction, cross chops, anti rotation holds. These are a great investment.
3. Bar attachment
This next one doesn’t necessarily have to be third on your list but it pairs nicely with the above resistance band set and will add just a little more variety for your pull down and pushdown variations. This bar has an attachment so the bands can clip onto it. I love the feeling of a bar handle especially for back work. I think it’s well worth the investment. Here’s the link to the one I bought.
4. Exercise steps with risers
I cannot say enough about the usefulness and versatility of exercise steps with risers. You can use them for an unlimited amount of exercises and they can even substitute as a bench until you decide to invest in one. (We’ll get to that later in our list!) These are great for step ups, elevated push ups, box squats, elevating your torso for mountain climbers and planks, elevating your feet for planks, the list is endless. Like the adjustable dumbbells, I recommend getting a variety over time. I like to have a long step for some exercises and the square for others. You’ll want a good number of risers so you can go higher or lower depending on what exercise you’re using them for.
5. Ultimate sandbags
Like all the other items on this list, I’m recommending toys that are easy to hide away and offer a lot of versatility for the investment. We just started incorporating sandbag training into our programs at real [FIT] life and I love them. Again, these offer another option for loading your exercises and can be used in a multitude of ways. Clean and press, deadlifts, bent over rows, around the worlds, rotational lunges, you name it. These come in a range of sizes, weight but I recommend first getting one that has a max weight of 30 pounds.
The Ultimate Sandbag is the best brand to buy. You need to put the sand in it yourself. And you’ll need a scale to determine weight as you fill it.
It comes with 2 separate filler bags and you can fill them lighter (5 – 10 pound each) then as you get stronger, make them heavier (10 – 15 pounds each). For certain exercises like overhead variations you’ll maybe need the bag a bit lighter so you can take one of the bags out for less total weight. When you want it heavier for things like loaded step ups, lunges, or bent over rows you can add the second bag back in to make it heavier.
6. Suspension trainer
Like all of the other toys I’ve mentioned, suspension trainers can be used for a variety of exercises and are a great investment. They are further down the list because they do require a tad more technical expertise and aren’t necessarily the best choice if you’re a beginner. You can use all of the other tools above to build a solid starting foundation and then eventually progress to the suspension trainer to add another level of challenge. These are a great option for many pulling exercises, suspended plank variations, suspended lunge variatons, supported squat variations and fallouts.
We have Rogue Rings at real [FIT] life. For at home use I recommend TRX Trainers or a knockoff equivalent provided it’s of good quality and has a door attachment. TRX are an investment but they last forever and are also great for traveling.
7. Exercise discs
These are really affordable and offer a lot of variety. Exercise discs can be used for an unlimited number of exercises. I have found these extremely useful for may clients who struggle with reverse lunges and they are also great for people who cannot perform a traditional lateral lunge. In addition to lunges you can use them for unlimited sliding plank variations, sliding glute and hamstring variations, mountain climbers, and sliding knee tucks.
8. Incline/adjustable bench
The next item I’m recommending is a bigger item but can be of great use and if you shop around you can find some that are reasonably priced. You can find a very good quality adjustable lifting bench for $150 – $300.
The important part here is that it’s adjustable. Don’t buy a flat one. Adjustable benches offer a great deal more variety. You can use them for unlimited exercises including incline dumbbell bench presses, supported back work like IYT’s, rear flye’s, bent over supported rows, for seated overhead presses, and even for step ups as your legs get really strong.
9. Hex bar
The hex bar is an investment like the bench above but I think it is well worth the money. Hex deadlifts are an excellent total body exercise that just about anyone can do once they’ve built up a solid base level of strength. While not everyone can master a traditional deadlift, the hex bar deadlift, with it’s neutral grip and raised positioning offers a hinge fusion option that I’ve yet to see anyone NOT be able to do well.
When you shop for one, make sure you check the bar weight as they come in varying sizes. We have three at real [FIT] life and two of them weigh 50lbs while our bigger one weighs 70 lbs. If you’re new to lifting, I recommend buying one with a lighter starting weight. You can always load it with more plates as you progress, to make it heavier.
10. Bumper plates
Number 9 brings us to our last recommendation which you kind of need if you’re going to buy a hex bar. Bumper plates have the same diameter as metal 45lb plates but you can get them as light as 10lbs. Again, if you’re a true beginner, I recommend a pair at this weight to start. Make sure you buy a pair that is made of really sturdy, hard plastic and that they don’t fold under weight. Rogue makes really good ones and you can find some good brands on the web as well.
Once you have a pair of bumpers plates you can start to invest in some other metal plate sets to gradually add to your bar as you get stronger. I recommend eventually getting a set of 2 1/2’s, 5’s, 2 sets of 10’s then eventually a set of 25’s, and 35’s. Once you are strong enough to add a set of 45 pound plates, I recommend the 45lb bumpers for at home use. They are quieter and less damaging when they hit the floor.
There are quite a few other items I could add to this list but these are the ones that I think you want to get first, over time.
Stay tuned next week when I share another installment of This is what you can do in the gym. These workouts can also be done at home, if you have the equipment you need!
And be sure to tune in to 100.9 The Cat, for Total Wellness Tuesday, this coming Tuesday morning, January 30th at 8:10 am. I’ll be talking about lower body training with Dana and Kevin and we’re going to broadcast some live videos of all our fun while I’m there! I’ll also have a blog you can go to after for for extra how to videos and tips!
Don’t miss it!
If you have any questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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