Workout on a budget with our guide to affordable home gym equipment
Cold, dark nights are drawing in, and many of us might not be making the most of our gym membership at this time of year. Or it could simply be that you want to train at home some days. Whatever your reason for considering investing in home gym equipment, the good news is that it doesn't have to cost the earth to set up a home gym so it's easy to do if you're on a budget. We're not talking a full-on set up, just the basics for a great workout, anytime.
These 10 pieces of essential equipment won't take up much space and are affordable – they mean you can improve your fitness anytime, from the comfort of your living room; no gym membership required!
#1. Chin-up bar
Chin-up bars can be used with most doorways and they're surprisingly affordable; find one for under £10 on Amazon. They're a great way to work your arms, chest, shoulders and abs and can also be used with gravity boots. Most chin-up bars feature foam grips for added comfort. If you're considering boxing or martial arts, this is great way to increase your upper body strength, but using a chin-up bar is also a full-on upper body workout on its own.
#2. Punch bag
Great for boxing, kick boxing and martial arts training, or simply a cardio workout, a punch bag is a useful piece of kit to own. We've also found it useful for boosting mood – work out your work-day frustrations or anger the easy way! If you have the space, you can invest in a full size, wall mounted punch bag. If not, a freestanding Wave Master is a great option. The base fills with water or sand for stability, and it can be set up anywhere in your home, although we recommend leaving plenty of space for punches and kicks! These types of punch bags are normally height adjustable too, so they're ideal for both men and women.
#3. Adjustable dumbbells
Limited space at home can mean keeping a full set of dumbbells to hand isn't, well, handy! Even if you do have the space, investing in a full set or individual weights can cost more than buying adjustable dumbbells. Easy to use, you simply twist the dial to your desired weight and off you go. Weight training isn't just about bulking up – women should be lifting too for a toned, honed physique and increased upper body strength. Adjustable dumbbells make it easy to gradually increase the weight you're lifting and they're ideal for anyone living in a shared house or small flat.
#4. Skipping rope
There's a reason why professional boxers and martial artists include skipping in their training regime – it's a great cardio workout, getting your heart pumping and endorphins flowing. It also adds a plyometric element to your workout, increasing leg strength and co-ordination. Don't just settle for a cheap skipping rope though. Invest in one specifically designed for fitness that's durable. You'll be surprised at what an intensive workout skipping can be; it's not as easy as it looks.
#5. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are sort of like giant elastic bands; they come in a variety of lengths and different resistances. If you're looking for workout inspiration, our 34 resistance band exercises will get you started! Resistance bands are portable, so you can take them on holiday or to the office for a lunchtime workout. They're also really affordable, so invest in a few in different resistances. Perfect for using to help rehabilitate after an injury, resistance bands are also one of the best ways to work out those under-used muscles.
#6. Exercise ball
Also known as a Swiss ball, exercise balls are great for a variety of exercises, helping you build balance and co-ordination and working your core. They're not just for basic crunches though; use them for pilates workouts and even push-ups. Exercise balls can provide you with a full-body workout which increases your core strength, and that can help to prevent back injuries.
TRX straps were originally designed by a Navy SEAL who used them to stay fit and 'mission ready' whilst on the road. Now you can use them to do the same at home! Pick up some TRX straps and try our TRX workout today! This type of suspension training uses your own bodyweight to develop flexibility, balance and strength, whilst enhancing your core stability. For one of the best ways to build a rock-solid core, this total body workout is suitable for all fitness levels. You can use TRX straps anywhere – most sets come with a door anchor which means you don't even need to fix it to the wall. You'll find full kits on Amazon from £70, which also makes this an affordable way to workout at home.
#8. Exercise mat
This is an essential piece of kit for anyone working out at home, but it can also be used at the gym or exercise classes. A good quality mat can be used in conjunction with workout DVDs, for pilates and yoga and for performing crunches, push-ups and other exercises. If you have a wooden floor at home, this will quickly become a must-have fitness accessory!
#9. Medicine ball
A soft medicine ball is perfect for home workouts and it can be used for core strength and plyometric exercises. It's best to choose a lighter ball if you can, as many exercises involve throwing and catching. If you're looking for some ideas, try our six must-try medicine ball exercises for plenty of inspiration. Medicine balls can be used for abdominal exercises and to help shape and tone your muscles; invest in one today to transform your training.
#10. MP3 player/stereo system
Seriously, this had to be number 10 on our list. What's a good workout without the right tunes? Music can be a great motivator, and the right soundtrack can mean the difference between a satisfying workout that boosts your mood and gets your endorphins flowing, and one that falls flat and fails to deliver. If you're struggling to push yourself through those extra reps, just crank up your favourite tunes and you'll get there in no time!