Creating your own home gym is the best way to keep you active during the coldest months of the year.
By Linda Melone | Edited by Brian Levine
Winter’s cold and dark months make it easy to skip your workouts until spring arrives. But given how crucial exercise is to well-being, inactivity isn’t really an option. The good news is that there are plenty of possibilities to exercise at home.
You don’t need much to outfit a home gym with the basics – an exercise mat, a set or two of dumbbells, and a fitness ball are all you need to get started.
Here we list 5 home resistance training accessories that will get you on the right track to exercise at home, along with tips on how to make your home workouts successful.
Get the right home resistance training accessories
SandBells: These sand-filled, disc-shaped weights are portable and stackable, and they are versatile enough for a variety of exercises. Used similarly to a medicine ball, kettlebell or dumbbell, shifting sand within the SandBell requires greater core strength than static weights do. Their neoprene cover makes them safe to use on wood floors or carpeting, and they’re great for improving overall strength and coordination.
Medicine Balls: Like SandBells, these weighted balls can be used in place of dumbbells. Medicine balls are versatile, easy to store, and can be used to improve power, strength and coordination as well as for enhancing mobility and improving core strength. Use smaller, hand-size medicine balls for smaller muscles (such as arms and shoulders), and larger, heavier ones (to train larger leg and core muscles) in your workout routine.
Stability/Fitness/Swiss Balls: These inflated exercise balls can be used for many different exercises and take the place of an exercise bench for moves such as chest presses. They’re also cost-effective (approximately $20) and can add a new challenge to many exercises you may already be doing.
Resistance Tubing: Portable, versatile, inexpensive (price varies – depending on the length and resistance – but typically $6 and up) and easy to store, resistance tubing can also be easily tucked into a suitcase for travel. To maximize results, always keep appropriate tension on the tube. You can continue to add new challenges to exercises by changing the anchor point and taking advantage of different body positions, angles, and speed of movements. Pro tip: Use lighter resistances for smaller muscle groups and medium-to-heavy resistance for legs and larger muscle groups.
PowerBlocks: If you prefer traditional weight equipment, consider investing in a set of adjustable dumbbells called PowerBlocks. Starting at around $100, they’re more expensive than other resistance-exercise options but can take the place of an entire set of dumbbells. PowerBlocks consist of two square dumbbells that can be adjusted in five-pound increments, starting at five pounds and going up to 45 pounds each. A selecting pin enables you to easily choose the amount of weight you want without unscrewing and reassembling the entire dumbbell (as other adjustable weights often require).
Set Yourself Up for Long-Term Success
The key to long-term success when exercising at home is to keep your workouts interesting.
First-and-foremost, make a plan. Schedule your exercise at home just as you would any other important appointment.
Social support can also help you stick with a regular routine, so try the “buddy system.” Invite a friend or spouse to join your workout sessions. Hold friendly competitions, vying to see who can do the most sit-ups or push-ups. The winner gets to choose the next exercise or wins points they can trade for a healthy treat.
For extra motivation, hang inspirational posters and photos in your workout area and decorate the walls with bright colors and plenty of mirrors. Mirrors not only provide a more spacious feeling but they make it easy for you to check your form.