It can be tempting to fall into the trap of accumulating workout gear in order to get a good sweat at home. I decided to put together the 5 items that I have personally used for years and LOVE. They are good quality, long lasting, and minimal! There is no reason to have endless amounts of un-used workout gear that take up space in your home. For me, it is so important to be able to put everything away after I am done. By minimizing the workout gear clutter, you will find you can focus on and enjoy your workouts so much more!
1. Foam Roller
If you haven't jumped on the band wagon yet for foam rollers, its time to stop being such a skeptic! It is fast becoming the go-to tool for muscle prep and recovery for all workouts. Also called self-mayofascial release, it supports immediate body improvements and is a universal tool used for every part of the body. Think of it as an alternative for getting soft-tissue work done by a therapist on your fascia, or first layer of soft tissue. For most of us, its not practical to get weekly or daily massages, and a good foam roller can help in that absence. Its benefits include relaxing and prepping tight muscles, increasing blood flow, increased range of motion, reduced muscle tension, and increased recovery post workout.
A good foam roller is a must for getting effective results. As effective as a basic soft or high density foam roller can be, you will quickly find that your body will adjust to the smooth surface. As you improve and adjust the intensity of your own workouts, your foam roller should be able to adjust to the next level along with you. The best option is going towards a sports medicine-style foam roller with grids that allow for next level focus on your muscles. The best on the market are the Trigger Point foam rollers. They carry multiple sizes, and I in LOVE with my 26" roller and the mini size. The mini allows for compact travel and is great to pinpoint problem areas. The 26" Trigger Point Roller is a fantastic investment to use before and after all of your workouts. This product is worth the extra price, as it does the job of many tools advertised. This product will last you a lifetime, and you don't run the risk of a less expensive foam roller made of expanded polypropylene (EPP) loosing its shape over time.
Therapy bands or exercise bands are must for your at home workout. Not only are they extremely versatile, but they can allow you to complete more movements with resistance than weights ever can. They also provide a huge range of resistance strength, from light to heavy, which help simulate using heavy weights. It comes in handy if you are traveling for business or for competition. If you are ever in a tight spot, you can conveniently travel with your bands so you can get a workout in anywhere. There is a ton of variety available, but the best bands to start out with (and best bang for your buck!) is TheraBand. They are thin, lightweight bands that allows you to do a wide variety of exercises. They are color coordinated which is super convenient, so you can record your progress as you increase resistance colors. The beginner set allows you to increase resistance as you shorten your grip on the band, and you can control the tension. You can tie the two loose ends to change the tension and to utilize a different type of workout. These are thin, so I would not recommend looping over something stationary and leaning back for a body weighted pull-type exercise. The only problem any kind of silicon rubber band is the possibility of loosing tension over time, or ripping. Take care of your bands and they will take care of you!
3. Weighted Medicine Ball
I've used weighted medicine balls in my training for years. Most of the time I would utilize a larger, soft shell medicine ball used for dynamic movements, plyometric, throwing, and partner exercises. But when it comes to my home gym, I have to be able to maximize my workout in a much smaller space. Using a smaller rubber shell ball allows for dynamic work without needing huge amounts of space. Using the rebounding and rolling capabilities, I can get creative with my at home workouts. These rubber medicine balls are extremely durable, and I can't see them needing to be replaced at any time. Find a mid-range weight (I recommend between 8-12 pounds) that will allow you to be versatile in your workouts and use it for more than just med ball slams.
4. Jump Rope
There is no reason to have to invest in bulky equipment like stationary bikes, treadmills, or row machines. They take up space in your home and in your mind. They become a constant reminder that if you don't use them, you don't get your money's worth! Hands down the best way to add in cardio and agility is through jump roping. I love a basic jump rope, which is why I chose the one below! I am not a big fan of the jump ropes that have metal clamps exposed for adjusting. They don't allow any kind of dynamic rope turning and get twisted if you try. If I slip down on the handle, I risk getting rubbed by the metal or the exposed end of the rope. Give me simplicity and I'm a happy girl! The rope below gives the best of both worlds, with comfortable handles and no catching or hinging problems. It still allows for height adjustment by unscrewing the handles from the rope. Everything is hidden in the handles and you get to choose your color!
5. Tabata Timer
I love tabata or interval workouts for home! The best way to time myself has been using my Gymboss Interval Timer. I have used many tabata or interval timers apps on my phone, but I continue to go back to my Gymboss. It allows me to have the timer clipped right to me if I need to move around the house (or at a gym) to create my workout, which makes it so convenient! No more worrying about moving my phone near me to hear the timer, or if I want to check what set I am on but my phone is across the room. I have often used an interval app in a busy gym, and I never feel comfortable moving from exercise to exercise with it laying on the floor. I especially HATE having a big beeper on that would be distracting to others around me. Not to mention, a phone call or text message interrupting the timer or throwing you off your game. That is so NOT needed in the middle of a great workout. The Gymboss has a vibrate setting so no one needs to know my interval times but me! I bought mine in 2009 and it is still going strong!
The Gymboss allows you to choose the number of sets, your work time, your rest time, or if you just want it to time you continuously. You can change the alarm duration as well as how loud the beep is, if you add vibrate, or use only vibrate. This little guy gives you complete control and complete focus on your workouts!