Do you have a 6’ x 6’ space available and $75 to spare? Believe it or not, that’s all you need to create a home gym. The equipment suggested below can be left out in the open all the time or stored in a closet. Also included are tips on navigating the options of each piece and one or two sample exercises. Perform these exercises sequentially for two to three rounds for a quick and easy total-body workout. Add squats and lunges for a bonus—no equipment required.
The main space you need to allocate is for a mat. Yoga mats are thinner and have more gripping ability to hold poses. Thicker mats are best for Pilates, abdominal exercises and meditation because they cushion the spine while you are lying on your back. Higher prices correlate with quality and thickness.
Plank Hold: Position yourself face down on the mat on your forearms and knees (easier) or toes (harder). Keep your neck neutral and spine aligned. Breathe in and out while you hold this pose for 20-60 seconds.
These giant balls come in different sizes to accommodate your height. Check the product details to get the right size for your frame. When you sit on the ball, there should be a 90-degree angle at your hip joints and knee joints. You can adjust the size by adding or releasing air from the ball.
Higher-priced balls are thicker. If you want to make your ball more stable, buy the version with sand in it or purchase a stand to keep it on.
Crunches: Sit on the ball. Slowly roll forward until you feel your low back make contact. Place your hands lightly behind your head to support your neck. Raise and lower your chest toward the ceiling with your eyes focused there. Exhale as you lift your torso about 4 inches and inhale as you lower back down. If your low back hurts when doing this, roll slightly forward or back to reposition yourself or make the movement smaller. Perform 20-30 repetitions.
Resistance Bands: $9-14
These large rubber bands come in various resistances, which is indicated by color. Can you do a push-up or pull-up? If you can’t, “light” would be best until you build more strength. If you can do a modified push-up (on knees) and assisted pull-up, the “medium” resistance is a good choice to start with. “Heavy” would be ideal for someone who can do a full push-up or unassisted pull-up.
Some bands come with a fabric covering on the outside, doubling their cost. This provides extra protection to keep the band from snapping.
Rows: Attach the band to a secure doorknob so that it’s at the same height as your belly button. Back up until the band has tension. Pull the band until your elbows are at your sides. Repeat this motion 10-15 times, moving slowly and with control. Keep a tall, aligned spine.
Triceps Extensions: When your elbows are at your sides for a row and at 90 degrees, pause there and straighten your elbows. Return the elbows to 90 degrees and repeat 10-15 times. You should feel a sensation in the back of your arm.
Ankle Band: $2-4
This band helps you work the outer hips without bulky machines. They’re color-coated by resistance. Medium is a good choice if you’re regularly active; choose heavy if you’re more athletic.
Side-Forward-Diagonal walks: Place the band around your ankles. Step sideways and then together. Keep the rest of your body aligned. You can also walk forward and backward or at angles.
Dumbbells come with various coatings on them. They cost about $3/lb. for cast iron coated in neoprene and $2/lb. for steel with rubber on the ends. Buy two of each size you choose (one for each arm).
If you’re a beginner, a set of 3 lb., 5 lb. and 8 lb. dumbbells is a great start. Intermediate exercisers usually need 5 lb., 10 lb. and 15lb. dumbbells. Advanced exercisers can purchase the sizes they use most often at the gym.
Biceps Curls: Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Tuck your elbows to your sides and flex your arms so the dumbbells come toward your shoulders.
Lateral Shoulder Raises: Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Lift your arms out to the sides to form a T. Don’t go higher than your shoulder joint. Lower the weights back down and repeat 10-15 times.