For the sake of full disclosure I’m going to go ahead and put it out there, (if I haven’t already previously) I enjoy going to the gym. The poor lighting, the lines of weights stacked neatly against the walls, and the fresh energy from other humans on the same mission pushes me to reach a little further and go the extra mile. I just don’t have the same motivation at home. Maybe it’s sloth, lack of a designated workout space, or perhaps it’s the little people I’ve created that use me as a jungle gym as soon as I’m in any stooped position that looks like I’m headed to the floor. ***Shrugs*** It could be anything. Whatever the case, I’ve just accepted that my workouts are more thorough (proper warmup to cooldown) in a gym setting. Realistically though, I can’t always make it. Sometimes I need to fit more into the day than the hours allow and travel time to and from the gym can easily be used more efficiently. And, there ARE days when I just don’t want to go. AND, I know that some of you out there prefer to workout at home. For these reasons, I do have a collection of tools I keep on hand to work up a nice little burn in the comforts of my own space.
Jump Rope: In my very humble opinion, the jump rope is the Queen of all home workouts. Besides the fact that it takes up no space and travels like a boss, this little contraption gets the heart pumping like no other and in no time flat.
I remember when I first starting incorporating the jump rope into my AMRAP routines. It was brutal. Remember when we were kids??? Jump rope wasn’t work, it was fun! Fast-forward 30 plus years and, boy oh boy is it a workout. And on top of that, it’s still fun! Trust me. Try working it into your strength circuits to keep your heartrate up or as a cardio finisher. After you work out the kinks and get back into the swing of it you’ll appreciate how quickly it gets you going and how wonderful it is as you transition between your sets.
All hail the jump rope!
2. Medicine Balls: Incorporating more power and explosive movements into my workouts is fairly new for me. I’ve been using the medicine ball weekly-ish for about six or seven
months and it was love at first slam. The great thing about the medicine ball is that it does store fairly easily, can be used explosively for power movements, to add resistance in a core circuit, or to challenge your stability. In just the previous sentence alone, you can see how versatile this piece of equipment can be. Some of my favorite moves with the MB are slams, weighted Russian twists, and walking pushups.
If you haven’t already, I want to challenge you to include medicine balls here and there in your routines. If you’re working on building up your home stash, then they are definitely worth the investment.
Dumbbells Listen, I love cardio. Really, I do. Cardio and the crazy high that it provides is what initially fueled my fire for all things fitness related. But, strength training is absolutely essential in any well-rounded regimen. Bodyweight is awesome (We’ll touch more on this is just a bit), but a little something, something heightens intensity, increases lean body mass, and provides some beautiful definition in our structure. Unless you have a great space (and budget) to really load a wall with a variety of weights, I think a pair for each of the major muscles groups is sufficient. Think medium for shoulders, heavy-ish for chest and back, and heavier still for legs. I actually have a pair of these adjustable dumbbells. I find that this option is great for me as we’re limited on space and I don’t have a huge equipment budget.
Dumbbells are great and fun, but there are also a ton of fun resistance bands out there that really are great for adding intensity to any workout. Resistance bands are very versatile, can be used for a full body burn, are very easy to stash, and you can throw them in your bag for easy travel or a workout on the go. I touched on my favorites a while back in Ms. New Booty. These things are like fire. Literally. The burn is crazy!
These bands are also wonderful for added resistance during kettlebell swings, and deadlifts (both of which can be done with dumbbells in place of KBs). They’re great for use during cardio moves like running with a partner or held in place by a sturdy poll or beam. Try ’em, you’ll like ’em!
And, finally, you’ve got YOU and that’s the very best tool of all. I’m not saying this to be overly optimistic and cheery. I’m dead serious. Body weight workouts are boss. Think about it, how many people out there struggle practicing yoga, pushups, pull ups, planks, and other demanding calisthenics? If you don’t want to make a singular purchase, you
have everything you need to get an amazing workout covered by a nice layer of skin. Have you heard of the deck of cards workouts??? My husband and I will do this sometimes when we want to workout while the kids play in the yard. Assign each suit a bodyweight exercise (i.e. clubs= burpees, diamonds=air squats, etc.) and let the number on the card determine your reps. By the time you get through 52 sets of however many reps, you will be sufficiently worked. I promise.
Some items of honorable mention include a mat, gliders, kettlebells are great, but as mentioned above, most moves can also be done with a dumbbell, a pull up bar, and a plyo box or stepper. I have found that some or all of these tools can make for a great experience for working out at home. If you prefer the comfort of home, don’t have the time or budget for gym membership, or you like options, this is a great starter set.
I hope you found this helpful and, please, feel free to share your favorites as well.
Happy, happy day!