Creating a Minimalist Home Gym

With more gyms shutting down due to covid, more people are being forced to find alternative options for continuing with their workout. For those that do not want to lose momentum, this post give you plenty of information on options of equipment you can use at home.

Free images I found via Canva — not very representative of diverse bodies

Working out at home is something I’ve done on and off since the 90s. As a teen, I fell for many fitness equipment infomercials — or at least, I believed I needed all that equipment. After becoming a mother, getting out of the house with a baby and toddler was a frustrating and time-consuming process. I once again turned to working out at home and I’ve kept it up for over 10 years. I started exercising in my living room (short on space) and I have slowly bought fitness equipment that could be easily stored in a closet or hidden in plain sight. Here is what I started with, use often, cost-effective options for those just getting started, and other options if you need a change.

All images via Amazon

The basics. Using your own body weight can be just as effective as using weights. It can also get boring or you may realize you need more resistance in your workout. Weighted gloves, adjustable ankle weights, loop resistance bands, and dumbbells are an affordable option to take it up a notch.

Weighted gloves – available in 1/2 pound to 2 pound sets. Some are sold as adjustable and some are not. You could use these during cardio routines or barre routines to add more resistance to your arms. These could also be used if holding on to 1/2 to 2 pound dumbbells is too difficult. I’ve used weighted gloves with dumbbells to add more resistance when I did not have a large selection of dumbbells.

Adjustable ankle weights – available from 1 pound to 15 pound sets. Use these to add more resistance to lower body mat exercises or standing leg exercises. A word of caution: I do not recommend using these during fast-paced movements. Also, if you are using them, gradually increase ankle weight resistance and make sure you can control your range of motion — injury is not worth it.

Loop resistance bands – available in many different resistance levels, usually categorized by extra light, light, medium, heavy, or extra heavy. These can be placed around your feet, ankles, calves, above your knees, or used for upper body movements. I have a love-hate relationship with bands. These tear easily when using them around feet or ankles. They roll and feel really uncomfortable when using them around your legs.

Neoprene Dumbbells – these are sold from 1/2 pound and I’ve seen them up to 13 pounds. Coated dumbbells are bit quieter, they are easier to hold onto when hands are sweaty, and I think they are easier to grip. If you are not a fan of neoprene dumbbells, I write about other options below.

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Maybe you need a break from moving around your floor and are ready to get off the floor to challenge your body in a different way. One of these is not better than the other and they all vary in price and functionality.

Swiss Ball – these come in different sizes — choose one that is appropriate for your height or go for a smaller size. You can use it in place of a chair or workout bench. Use it against a wall as a support for squats, you can lay on it to perform chest press or sit ups, or rest your lower legs on it to increase the challenge of push-ups.

Basic Bench – More stable than a swiss ball especially if you are looking to do more weight-lifting workouts. A bench allow greater range of motion than laying on the floor.

Fitness Deck – A great option if you have limited space or want a piece of equipment that is multi-use. I believe fitness decks cost less than an adjustable bench. The height can be adjust to use in single leg exercises or step-up exercises and you can incline the bench.

Adjustable Bench – Offers more support than allows you to incline or decline your position to increase resistance. They can take up quiet a bit of space and you might have to pay attention to measurements — you may find some models will not allow your feet to fully touch the ground when laying down.

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If you are not a fan of neoprene dumbbells or you are ready to graduate to heavier dumbbells, here are a few options to choose from.

Hex Dumbbells – These offer a larger grip area and start at 10lbs and go up in 5lb increments. The hex shape keep these from rolling during push-ups or during plank/rows. You may find the 5lb increment increase too challenging for some exercises, if that’s the case, weight gloves could be used to help bridge that gap — safely.

Resistance Bands with Handles – These are a cheaper option than dumbbells and are sold in varying levels of resistance. Resistance hands are known to snap, so be sure to check for tears, cuts, discoloration, nicks, rips, and scratches before each use. I am not a fan of resistance bands — they are clumsy, either too light or too heavy of resistance, and some exercises with them feel awkward.

SelectTech 552 – These are bit longer than traditional dumbbells. They are adjustable by 2.5 pounds, from 7.5lbs up to 22.5lbs, and increase by 5 pounds from 25-50lbs and then goes up to 52.5lbs. I own these and I love that they do not take up much space. I have found that some exercise are awkward due to their length.

SelectTech 1090 – Similar to the 552s. These are adjustable in 5lb increments from 10lbs to 90lbs. I also own these and find that having a second set of weights makes super sets, drop sets, and pyramid sets more efficient.

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If you become bored with dumbbells, barbells, ez-bar, medicine ball, and kettlebells can be used in place of dumbbells.

Barbell – There are many options in length and weight or barbells. Barbells allow you to use big weight more comfortably. Speaking of big weight — if you are lifting alone, please be sure you are being safe and honoring your limits. Having a heavy bar and plates fall on you can cause serious injury.

EZ Bar – EZ bar offers different grip variations — wide or narrow and said to be easier on your wrists when moving big weight. I repeat, if you are lifting alone, please be sure you are being safe and honoring your limits. Having a heavy bar and plates fall on you can cause serious injury.

Medicine Ball – is a weighted ball that is used during exercises to improve balance, strength, power, and coordination. These come in various weights and sizes.

Kettlebell – A flattened cannon ball with handle. Kettlebell workouts tend to keep the bell in constant motion around your body.

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I think of these items as fitness accessories.

Yoga Mat – not just for yoga. Use it to keep your carpet or floor from getting sweaty, extra cushion on hard/cold surfaces, to keep yourself from slipping during exercise, or to absorb some of the impact from jumping.

Yoga Straps – If you are not as flexible, yoga straps can help support you or help increase your range of motion during stretching.

Yoga Blocks – Another accessory that can assist you during stretching or yoga workouts.

Therapy Band – These tend to be wider than resistance bands and come in different lengths. You can use them in yoga, pilates, or use during body-weight exercises. I prefer this type of band over the bands with handles.

Note: all products shown in this post were picked for how they look (and to match my brand colors — I know. I know). Buy what you can afford and what’s available. BUT if you think pretty workout equipment will make you use it, do it! ,

Thanks for reading! And until next time, I remain the Blogness Coach (Blogger + Fitness coach) that says, I’m very partial to working out at home. Also, if you are a devoted reader/follower you can see that I do not have a lot of equipment in my workout space and I feel my space is complete. Take that, infomercials!

This blog is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis and should not replace consultation with a medical professional. If you tried this advice and it does not work for you, you cannot sue me. This is only my opinion, based on my background, training, and experience as a coach, personal trainer, mother, and woman.