Optimize Indoor Workouts With These Home Gym Essentials
Building a home gym in your condo has become all the more a necessity given the way the pandemic has affected the way we live. And contrary to what people may think, it’s not that difficult to accomplish, too.
When you talk about home gyms and what goes into creating them, it doesn’t mean that you need to have the same sophisticated equipment you find at fitness studios. In fact, a home gym could simply mean having a pair of dumbbells, a yoga mat, and a dedicated space in your condo for your exercise routines.
Optimize, but keep it minimal
While you’re in quarantine and looking for ways to stay healthy, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, less is more, and keeping things simple can go a long way. In today’s current context, it actually makes more sense to keep workouts minimal, because they lessen your risk for injury, while still providing the benefit of improved health.
For many reasons including over-compensating for pandemic anxiety, you may be tempted to over-exercise during the quarantine. But sports and exercise physiologists advise otherwise and recommend that you just get in the recommended minimum amount of exercise a week (150 minutes or 21 minutes per day).
Think about it: With a deadly virus going around and hospital services are prioritized for patients who are COVID-19 positive, treatment for injuries isn’t something that’s accessible to you. Apart from that, there are a number of ways you can optimize your indoor workouts even with minimal equipment.
Here’s a complete list of essential home gym equipment that will optimize your indoor workouts.
1. Yoga mat
The first equipment you should have at your gym at home is a yoga mat. You’ll be spending a lot of time on the mat for most workouts. Whether it’s yoga for stress relief or HIIT (high-intensity interval training), your mat will be required so you can do your exercise routine comfortably, and of course, injury risk-free.
When buying a mat for your home gym, make sure to check for the following:
- Non-slip grip - this goes for the top and bottom sides of the mat. Make sure that the grip at the top is enough to prevent you from slipping, especially since you’ll be sweating a lot. The bottom grip is just as important – check if it slips on whatever floor surface you have in your condo.
- Thickness - your mat should be thick enough so that it absorbs the shock that could injure your bones and joints. Most mats come at a standard two to three millimeters thick, but some prefer their mats a bit on the slimmer side, because of the next thing to consider for your mat below.
- Compact for storage - since you’ll have limited space for moving around, maybe compactness is something you would like to also check for when searching for yoga mats. There are mats that are less than two millimeters thick so that they roll up nicely.
- Sweat-absorbent surface - aiming to deliver yogis around the world a slip-proof yoga practice, most yoga mats nowadays are made to be sweat-absorbent – ideal for those who have sweaty palms and feet.
2. Resistance bands
If you’re looking for some extra challenge to your workouts, resistance bands are a good way to add some minimal weight. Using the elastic bands, you can modify your bodyweight exercises into resistance band workouts that make things a bit more challenging.
When looking for a set of resistance bands, make sure to check for the following:
- Color-coded - this is a manufacturing standard for resistance bands that indicate the weight (light, medium, heavy, or very heavy) the elastic resistance is equivalent to. Make sure to check if they offer the resistance bands in a variety of colors, and with the weight of the resistance indicated anywhere around the band.
- Comfort - some resistance bands you’ll find in the market will make or break your workout experience even with the smallest manufacturing detail. Whether it’s a hard-plastic or with a detachable handle, not all resistance bands are created equal. Some of the best resistance bands out there should provide you comfortable and convenient user experience.
3. Jump ropes
Don’t skip cardio and make sure that you have skip or jump ropes for your home gym. Since outdoor cardio workouts like running and cycling are inaccessible, and the equipment used to simulate the experience at home is too bulky for your condo, this is your best option.
You can also opt for pool workouts, but let’s face facts: not everyone knows how to swim. So for the minimalist and non-amphibious, the jump rope is really the best way to go. Because learning how to jump rope is much easier than learning how to swim.
Some important things to consider when buying a jump rope are:
- Rope length - jump ropes usually come at a standard length to accommodate the average height, but in some cases, you may need to cut it so that your rope doesn’t drag along too much on the floor. You can check out some tutorials on how to cut your jump rope to learn how, once you’ve measured it to see how well it fits you.
- Rope material - there are three common types of jump ropes that you can choose from depending on either preference or your needs, and these are: 1) beaded; 2) plastic; and 3) wired ropes.
For beginners, beaded or plastic ropes are perfect to start with because they give just enough feedback, and won’t hurt as much if you end up hitting your shins with the ropes. The standard diameter for the rope is 5 millimeters.
- Handles - you should check if you’re at a level high enough to start adding weights. There are jump ropes in the market that allow you to switch between weighted and non-weighted handles or those that already come weighted. Switch up depending on your needs.
4. Lightweight dumbbells
These are also another home gym essential that you should have for training muscle endurance. Aim for at least two-kilogram dumbbells, doing 20 repetitions per movement.
Heavier dumbbells should come in when you’re training for muscular strength, where you’re doing 12 repetitions at maximum.
5. Heavy kettlebells
Or as an alternative to heavy dumbbells, and for variety, you can also add one or two heavy kettlebells. As a tool for working out, kettlebells have a number of advantages over dumbbells, so you might want to consider these when building your home gym.
When shopping for kettlebells, there are a lot of things to consider:
- Weight - there are weight recommendations that differ between men and women. When buying a kettlebell, make sure that you check with a certified kettlebell coach or your regular fitness trainer to know which weight you should be working with at your fitness level.
- Material - some kettlebells come PVC-coated or in cast-iron. Depending on your grip and taste, you can opt for either but keep in mind that the former can get quite slippery – making you more prone to injury.
- Shape - the main feature that makes kettlebells unique is its shape and how it varies weight distribution. Make sure that the kettlebell’s body isn’t perfectly round and that it has a handle, of course.
6. Pull-up bar
Remember that pulling forces when working out is just as important as your pushing forces. Having a pull-up bar installed in your home gym will greatly help you achieve this. With pull-up bars, you can do a series of calisthenic exercises to help you train various muscle groups.
Make sure to check for the following things when looking for a pull-up bar:
- Type - there are many types of pull-up bars, but for your condo gym, the best one would have to be the wall-mounted pull-up bar that is easy enough to install and remove. Just make sure to check with your building admin if they allow this kind of modification to your unit.
- Durability of material - again, the goal is to prevent injury while staying fit at home. So make sure that your pull-up bar is made of sturdy materials that are able to carry your weight. Make sure to carefully check the load capacity of your pull-up bar before purchasing.
7. Foam rollers or massage guns
Last but not least is the foam roller, or if you have the budget, go for massage guns. Recovery is part of your training, and foam rollers or massage guns help with these by fixing tight muscle issues.
Tight and wound-up muscles occur for many reasons and are a problem because they slow down your recovery time, and can cause a lot of discomfort. So while these are completely optional, they are highly recommended to have at your gym at home.
8. Guides for doing workouts
You wouldn’t want to build a home gym and then not know what to do with the equipment, right? So here are a few apps and YouTube videos you can subscribe to so that you have workout routines to follow, or use to track your fitness progress with when training at home:
- Runtastic - is a fitness app designed by Adidas that offers a variety of workouts, workout tracking capabilities, as well as fitness content that guides users on what workouts to do, and tips on how to do them. Check out the app’s webpage to learn more.
- Nike Training Club - similar to Runtastic, Nike Training Club also offers workout programs as well as content for guided workouts and training programs. One fun thing about the app is that it sort of gamifies your fitness journey by rewarding you with badges and trophies when you hit your goals.
- My Fitness Pal - if you’re more into Under Armour, you can also choose My Fitness Pal as your fitness app for guided workouts, nutrition tips, and other similar capabilities as Runtastic and Nike Training Club.
- Asana Rebel - a yoga and HIIT training app that provides guided yoga practice and programs depending on your training needs. For most condo dwellers, yoga can be a staple workout because they’re minimal and require quiet atmospheres – lessening the likelihood of disturbing the neighbors.
- Yoga with Adriene - if you’re not comfortable with using fitness apps and would like a fitness training experience that’s similar to actually seeing a coach or instructor guide you, Yoga with Adriene is a good channel to subscribe to. Unassuming and witty, Adriene will help you enjoy a light and effective yoga practice.
- HIIT or Tabata countdown timers - for the more independent and advanced ones who already have fitness programs that they follow without the guidance of a coach, having your own Tabata timers can come in handy so that you stay on-pace with your HIIT workouts.
These simple home gym equipment are must-haves no matter the workout or what your fitness goals and level are. Always remember that going minimal with your fitness routine and goals doesn’t mean that they’re not as important as the bigger ones.
As long as it’s keeping you fit, or helping you adopt a healthier lifestyle and it’s sustainable for you, you don’t have any reason to feel like you’re slacking off.