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Going to the gym may be a good thing, but it also means you have to pack a bag, drive there and deal with people vying for the same equipment (and showers).
Home workouts, on the other hand, eliminate all those pesky excuses. With the right gear, you can get stronger, fitter and healthier in the comfort of your own living room.
But first, you should create a dedicated space to get your sweat on. To find the best gear for a home gym, TODAY asked a few of the country’s top fitness professionals for their recommendations. Their picks suit any type of workout style, from functional strength training tools to yoga essentials.
Choose the tools that make sense for you, and you’ll be able to hit the ground running — or downward-dogging.
Here are some of the best home gym must-haves, according to experts.
This is the all-in-one fitness tool you didn’t know you needed. “The kettlebell is a foundational piece of equipment that you can use to elevate your cardiovascular system, practice coordination and focus, and for strength training,” said Jen Widerstrom, trainer and author of “Diet Right for Your Personality Type.” “As a fitness professional, it's one of the most versatile tools I have access to.”
As a bonus, this version comes with adjustable weights, so you can increase the weight the stronger you get.
These resistance bands give you a big fitness bang for your buck. Use them to enhance mobility, strengthen your upper and lower body, and work your core, said Kira Stokes, personal trainer and creator of the Stoked Method.
This set of four bands ranges in resistance from light to heavy and also comes with an exercise manual.
Carter also liked these resistance bands from Lifeline. You can use them to tone your arms, abs and glutes! We love these, because they come in different levels, depending on your strength and fitness goals. You can choose to get different sets of resistance bands, or you can double up on them if you need more resistance. You can also get a set of three for $20 at Target.
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It’s has nice grip and just the right amount of padding for smooth, seamless flows. And it’s not just for yoga — use it for any type of home workout or stretching routine.
For supported restorative poses and better balance, yoga blocks are essential for at-home practices. “They’ll help ensure you won't fall, or strain any muscles trying to be more flexible than you are,” Kristoffer said.
This cork version is the way to go, since cork is sturdier and steadier than foam.
Bodyweight exercises are an effective way to build strength and burn calories. Add in some dumbbells and your options for at-home strength workouts are literally endless, Stokes said.
This colorful set comes with a stand to keep them from rolling around, and their neoprene covering makes them durable and easy to grip.
A long foam roller is another home gym essential, Widerstrom said. For recovery from post-workout soreness (and, let’s be real, everyday life), you can’t beat the restorative benefits of foam rolling.
This versatile roller helps relieve tight muscles, increase blood flow and work out the kinks all over your body. Use it to work your core, too.
If you're looking for a foam roller with even more impressive features, Carter recommended this heated option. Simply pop it in the microwave to warm it up, and the heat will help break down scar tissue and loosen knots, according to the website.
This portable training tool provides a slew of benefits for your body, from metabolic conditioning to total-body strengthening, said Jessica Matthews, fitness instructor and senior adviser for American Council on Exercise.
“Since it’s filled with sand, it adds a challenging new dimension to strength and power exercises, such as slams, swings, squats and more.” And with a soft neoprene cover, you don’t have to worry about damage to your floor.
According to Carter, this is a major upgrade from your basic pull up bar. It can also be used on the ground for exercises that target the triceps and biceps or anchor feet for situps.
These suspension straps essentially turn any part of your home into a workout machine, Stokes said. Attach them pretty much anywhere — over a door, a tree, a lamppost — to work your entire body and improve strength, stabilization, flexibility and cardio.
No room (or budget) for a treadmill? No problem. Jumping rope is a great form of cardiovascular exercise and an efficient way to sprinkle some cardio into your strength training routine, celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson said. Stokes is also a huge fan: “Not a day goes by that I don't use mine,” she said.
Carter recommended a plyometric box like this one, because it's a versatile addition to any home gym and it's fairly easy to put together.
14. Hero Battle Rope
Battle ropes like this one are popular for CrossFit workouts, and Carter recommended starting with the 30-foot option if you're new to the whole battle rope thing.
For more fitness picks, check out:
- Here are the best cheap workout clothes for under $50
- 10 running shorts that won't ride up (or slide down) during your run
- 7 high-tech digital bathroom scales that take make tracking weight loss easy
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