We all have the same 24 hours to work with. We all have to make the most of those hours, dividing the time between work, family, and, hopefully, seven to eight hours of sleep. Somewhere in the pie chart of our time we need a small slice for fitness. If you have only 20 or 30 minutes for a workout, you should not waste those precious minutes trying to get to the gym. Creating a functional home gym is less expensive than you might think. For $100 or less you can get everything you need to make the most out of your workout time.
Before you rush to your local sporting-goods store, start by thinking outside the big box. Craigslist is a great place to find exercise equipment at rock-bottom prices. Most people have the best intentions when they buy a treadmill or elliptical for home, but the reality is that most of these end up as glorified clothing racks — and their owners are happy to let you have them so that they can reclaim the space in their bedrooms. Check with family members and friends too. Some people are even willing to give away a treadmill or elliptical if you pick up the item.
While these are not essential pieces, if you find one and think you might use it, go for it! The UPS man hates me, but I can order things like kettlebells from them at a better price than what I find at specialty fitness equipment outlets. Make sure you take a few minutes to compare prices, because at certain times of the year (such as January) you can get great deals from your local stores that will beat online prices.Ready to buy? Hold on, because the first essential piece of equipment cannot be purchased. Your own body is all you need for many challenging exercises. Pushups are one of the hardest exercises you can do, if done correctly. Planks are a great test of core strength and work more than just your abs. Do not underestimate this great tool you already have! Now we’re ready to shop.
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What Other Items Do You Need to Purchase?
Stability Ball: $20. A stability ball (or exercise ball) adds to your exercise library in two ways. You can do exercises with the ball itself, such as wall squats or hamstring curls. It can also serve as a bench. By using the stability ball instead of a standard bench, you’ll engage more core and stabilizer muscles while performing classic strength exercises such as chest presses and dumbbell pullovers.
Dumbbells (8 to 15 Pounds): pair $30 to $40. You’ll also need a pair of dumbbells to start. One good pair of dumbbells allows you to do upper-body exercises like the ones mentioned above, as well as adding a new challenge to body-weight exercises such as walking lunges or jump squats. Don’t think of dumbbells as a tool you always use as a matched set. Try training unilaterally (a single-arm shoulder press, for example) for an extra core challenge. The weight you need to purchase depends on your fitness level. Most beginners will do well with the weights I’ve recommended; as you get stronger, you can add to your collection.
Kettlebell (15 to 25 Pounds): $25 to $30. A kettlebell can serve two purposes. First, you can use it as another dumbbell for exercises such as rows and shoulder presses. Second, kettlebell swings are a great high-intensity interval training cardio workout. Make sure you learn how to do a kettlebell swing correctly first to prevent injury.
Resistance Band, Medium to Heavy: $10 to $15. Bands are easy to use and store, plus they travel well. They can be used not just for traditional pulling movements like rows but also to create multimovement exercises. You can stand on the band and do a squat with a shoulder press, or you can anchor it under one foot for a split squat with a bicep curl at the bottom. By using multiple muscle groups in one exercise, you increase burn and save time.
While prices may vary slightly, these four pieces will bring you in slightly under your $100 budget. If you’re new to strength training and not sure how to put your new gym to use, get a copy of my favorite strength-training primer, “Weight Training for Dummies.” You’ll learn endless combinations to keep your workouts efficient, fun, and functional.