When I first began getting back into exercise I did not have the money or the space for the great home gym I have at home now. So, before I was able to have this kick ass home gym there were a few essentials that I purchased that enabled me to get in a hella workout at home for less than $300 that takes up very little space.
#1 A decent Yoga Mat. If you plan on this home gym being more of a temporary thing then I would get just a basic Yoga Mat that is of decent quality but it will not hurt your wallet too bad if you need to replace it after a year or so. Now, if you plan on using this mat a whole lot and keeping it for a while, then I would suggest getting a better quality mat like Barefoot Yoga Performance Grip Mat I dearly love mine and it has a lifetime warranty. It is not quite as expensive nor as heavy and I think the quality is as good as the Manduka PROLite Yoga and Pilates Mat. This mat can be use both for doing yoga and working out. Yoga mats are also very portable and can be taken everywhere.
#2 Resistance Bands are super versatile, portable, adaptable for any level of fitness and general strength exercises are easily modifiable with resistance bands and are also great for assistance when trying to get pull-ups and push-ups . This is the brand of Resistance Bands I own and I love them. I would suggest adding small red one to your cart as well. It is actually the one I use the most to work on my shoulders. The smaller Mini Bands are also fabulous for a variety of exercises like band walks, hip thrusts, frog pumps as well as a variety of others. Between the two sets you can perform hundreds of different exercises for slightly more than $50.
#3 Need some cardio equipment but cannot afford hundreds of $$ for a treadmill, bike, elliptical or rowing machine? Try a jump rope. They are portable, take up little space, can improve your coordination, increase cardiovascular fitness, improve muscle definition in legs while increasing bone density, helps decrease injuries to the feet and ankles. The Rogue Speed Rope is a quality rope that is not going to break the bank and is also adjustable. This Crossrope Starter Set is the set I purchased when I first got back into jumping rope. It is a bit expensive, but I love having both the speed and strength rope with handles that disconnect.
#4 Swiss Ball/Stability Ball Thees balls are an amazing piece of equipment for core work as well as for balance, stability and physical therapy. Even just sitting on the ball will engage the stabilizer muscles and force you to use proper spinal alignment, so not only are they great for exercise, they are great for using as a desk chair when you need to sit and are definitely priced right for a budget at less than $25.
#5 One or two sets of dumb bells. You would want to get one set of moderately heavy dumb bells and one lighter set. To choose the moderately heavy set, choose a weight you can perform three (3) perfect curls with and then 1/2 it. That is the weight you want to choose. Ex. If I can curl a 30lb dumb bell perfectly 3 times, then I would choose 15lb dumb bells as my moderately heavy set. I would then choose the 12lb or 10lb set as the lighter set. Probably 10lb. Dumb bells can be found at almost any store. I prefer the rubber ended ones. Most places charge about $1 per pound for dumb bells so use that as a reference when looking at budgetary concerns.
All of these pieces of equipment with the exception of the dumb bells are extremely portable and can be packed in a suitcase when traveling by plane. (the ball would need to be deflated of course) Dumb bells usually travel easily as well if traveling by car and space is not limited.
Cost for all equipment: Yoga mat – $30, Both sets of resistance bands + the red band $55, jump rope $24, stability ball $21. All four of these items are less than $150. Dumb bells will depend on the weight chosen to purchase but all of this can probably be purchased for less than $300.
While I love to shop at Amazon because I like to click and order instead of physically shop, it is very likely that if you enjoy shopping you may be able to find some of this equipment even cheaper at other places. Often times Play It Again Sports, Salvation Army, Good Will, or other second hand stores may have some of this equipment in used condition. Often you can find people selling gym equipment on Craigslist as well. The point is that we do not have to spend a lot of money or do have a gym membership in order to get in a good sweat session.
Need a workout to tide you over until your equipment gets here? I got ya covered. Below find a body weight workout that can be done anywhere at any time.
Use Rest Based Training protocols: Go as hard as you can for as long as you can and then rest as long as you need to and then get back to work.
3 Rounds – 60 seconds each exercise
Jump Lunges OR Alternating Reverse Lunge
Push Up – Knees or Incline is fine
In & Out Squats