With coronovirus officially a pandemic and health organizations around the world encouraging people to stay home, many have been scrambling to figure out how they can workout from home. If you live in a small space and can’t have tons of large equipment in your apartment, there are a few small pieces of equipment you can use.
I have purchased and tested all of this equipment mentioned below. These are my recommendations based on my extended use of each of these!
Resistance bands are some of my absolute favorite pieces of equipment, whether I’m working out at home or at the gym. They’re incredibly versatile, and you can modify pretty much any exercise to use resistance bands. You can also tie them together to make a resistance loop for things like hip abductors when doing your workout at home.
I like the Theraband brand because they are high quality and built to resistance specifications. With Theraband, you have a better idea of how much resistance you are using with each exercise so you can make sure you’re building your weights. They are the brand used by medical professionals, and their quality is much higher; when I bought other no name brands, the resistance bands essentially disintegrated.
You can buy two different sets, beginner and advanced. I suggest both because for some of the overhead exercises, the beginner bands will give you the right resistance, while the heavy ones are better for those moves you want to go heavy on, like chest presses and leg work.
The best part is that they barely take up any space! You can roll them up and put them in a drawer, keeping them out of sight and not taking up any floor space.
Resistance Loops (a.k.a. Mini-Bands)
Most people now think of resistance loops as for glute work, but they can be for so much more. I use the lighter resistance loops for shoulder strengthening, and you can use them also for exercises like tricep pushdowns and rows. My suggestion is having a set that isn’t for glutes only, like the Limm 12″ resistance loops. I don’t think the brand matters as much for the loops, and haven’t had quality issues with my Limm bands for the past few years.
The sets that are for purely glutes typically are too tight to do anything other than glute work, so you miss out on the full range of exercises you can use these for if you only have a glute set. With a regular set, you still get a heavy band that can be used for heavier glute work.
That being said, I also do love the “glute loop” sets that are specifically for glute work! They are heavy, and they typically aren’t as long, which gives you even more resistance than just thicker latex.
For glute loops, I personally like the Gym Bandit 10″ mini-bands. One common complaint is that the resistance loops tend to slide or roll in on themselves when doing glute work. Some companies solve this by having a fabric exterior. Even though these Gym Bandit bands do not have fabric, they stay put 90% of the time for me. When I’ve loaned them to others to use, they’ve also been impressed that they don’t move like others.
Overall, I definitely recommend starting with an all-purpose set of bands. If you find yourself wanting something heavier for glute work after a while, then buy a set of glute loops.
This one does take up more space, but I think it’s worth it. This is the best workout at home for your abs.
You might be familiar with ab wheels that you can to hold onto and roll out with to work your abs. They are brutal and a great workout, and a good addition to any home gym. However, the Lifeline Power Wheel is a step above that. Adding on the foot pads lets you do so much more with it and turn it into a mini pilates reformer or megaformer machine.
One thing that I don’t like about the regular ab wheels is you can only do one move: put your hands on the handles, your knees on a mat, and roll in and out. Gripping the handles bothers my wrists and shoulders after a bit. With the Power Wheel, you can also put your forearms on the foot pedals to do your rollouts, alleviating pressure on your wrists and also adding variety to your workouts. I will say that the normal rollout on the Power Wheel doesn’t feel the same because your hands are at a different angle due to the larger wheel. Personally, I think it just takes getting used to and is just as effective.
Being able to attach your feet gives you more ways to work your lower abs, like doing crunches and pikes. You can also do lower body exercises like killer hamstring curls. Inchworms, plank walk, and plank pushes with this will absolutely destroy you.
It is more pricey than your regular ab wheels ($50 versus $15) but with the additional exercises you can do I think it’s well worth the extra cost. If you have ever done Solidcore (which is $39 a class), you know how effective these moves can be.
Cost: $50 for the Lifeline Power Wheel
Long Foam Roller
I like to keep it simple. A 36″ smooth, high density foam roller is all you need. At 36″, most people can also lay on it with their spine fully supported along the width of the foam roller. My favorite stretch in the world is lying on it and stretching my arms out to open up my chest and shoulders. After your workout at home, you’ll want to use the foam roller on those tired muscles.
There are a lot of foam rollers out there with bells and whistles. If you think the nubs help, or you want a softer one, it’s up to your personal preference. For me, I’ve tried all varieties and if I have all of them in the room with me, 75% of the time I will go for this one.
Cost: $23 for a 36″ high density foam roller
A yoga mat is great for support in doing your every day exercises. You can roll it up to provide extra cushion when doing exercises on your knees or things like hip thrusts. It also doesn’t take up a ton of space.
I haven’t found a yoga mat I feel passionate about. I’ve tried the cheaper mats off of Amazon and don’t feel strongly about them. I’ve heard good things about the Lululemon ones that provide good padding and yet are still thin, but I haven’t tested one over an extended period and don’t know if it’s worth the $100 price tag. Yoga mats are everywhere in all different styles; find one that works for you.
I bought this yoga mat in 2009 and it still holds up after more than 10 years. It’s a great non-slip one, though not a ton of padding if that’s what you’re looking for.
I bought this one in 2015 and it has not held up as well. It’s ripped from things like mountain climbers, and it’s hard to get a good grip. It does provide extra cushion, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The being said, this is the one I use the most often because I like the extra wrist cushioning.
Cost: $15 to $100+
The Things That Are Missing
You may have noticed a number of popular pieces of equipment missing like exercise balls, dumbbells, and kettle bells. These are great pieces of equipment if you have space. I have had an exercise ball for years, and it takes up a lot of space and I don’t use it much. Dumbbells and kettlebells are obviously a great addition to any home gym, but not everyone has space for them.
Start with resistance bands and a yoga mat, and you can hit those muscle groups you want to from home. Build your home gym up based on what you want to focus on to work out from home.