After nine months of lockdown measures, you’re probably well acquainted with a home workout routine. If not, it’s the perfect time to bring the gym to you and buy some home exercise equipment. Because let’s face it, we never know when gyms will close next.
Home exercise equipment is all the rage right now. According to a report by RunRepeat, the number of gym members seeing at-home fitness equipment as their best option for 2021 increased 115.9%, going from just 8.8% in 2020 to 19.0% in the space of a year.
When you’re looking for home exercise equipment, bear in mind that it’s all about making the best use of space, getting good value for money and most importantly, getting the most out of your equipment.
With the latter point in mind, we’ve selected the best home exercise equipment for strength, cardio, and flexibility.
Table of contents
1. Pull up bar
The pull-up bar has been a quintessential piece of home gym equipment since seemingly the beginning of time.
Its popularity isn’t surprising, given that it’s cheap, self-sufficient, and doesn’t take up too much space. Just fit one to an interior door frame, and your weight will serve as counterpressure to secure it.
Pull-ups are a great workout for upper body and core strength, and you can modify the muscles you engage by changing your grip. If you’re already a callisthenics or bouldering amateur and find pull-ups too easy, try adding a weight vest and see how you get on.
2. Ab roller
The ab roller is a serious rival to anything the gym can offer and is a great piece of home exercise equipment.
It looks innocuous, featuring just two handles with a wheel in the middle. As such, you could be forgiven for thinking it doesn’t look much of a challenge. But a few sets in, you’ll realise it is, as you drip with sweat and feel an almighty burn in your abdominal muscles.
All you need is a clear area of floor – about the size you’d need to do a push-up – and you’re good to go. You might also want to lay a mat to protect your knees. The technique for using an ab roller is to kneel, with both arms outstretched, holding each handle. From here, allow yourself to roll forwards until your stomach is almost touching the ground, and then pull yourself back up using your core.
It’s that simple to use ab rollers. Best of all, they’re pretty much all under £15.
3. Weight bench
This item is probably the bulkiest entry in this article. But if you have room for it, you’ll be able to cover loads of bases with a weight bench.
In combination with a barbell and a few weights, you can use a weight bench to work out your chest, back, arms, and shoulders. You can also perform calisthenic and aerobic exercises – the possibilities are almost endless.
Weight benches are very reasonably priced, too – you can pick up an adjustable one for around £100. Often, these are dual-purpose, so they can come with extras like a barbell rack, a dip station, or a leg lift. It’s important to research how much you can get for your money. You might also want to consider buying second-hand if you want to make your money go even further.
Depending on your goals, you may only need a barbell and a few plates to replicate what you do in the gym. With a barbell, there’s no complicated or expensive machinery involved, just back to basics lifting.
Fundamentals like deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses are key to total body strength. Throw in a barbell lunge and your quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors will get a good workout, too. If you go further still and add a weight bench, you’ve practically covered every base in terms of weightlifting.
You can get a solid barbell with some plates included for under £100. If you have plates already, make sure whichever barbell you buy has compatible dimensions. You can read about regulation barbell dimensions here.
If you already have a barbell or some weights, this might be your simplest purchase. You’ll only need some dumbbell bars, which you can pick up for under £30 a pair.
As you can see, the more gym equipment you amass for your home exercise routine, the more the pieces of kit overlap, and therefore the greater a saving you make on future purchases. That’s provided you make sure it’s all compatible, of course.
It’s possible to work your entire body using just dumbbells as they’re among the most fundamental and versatile piece of exercise equipment around. Once again, though, pair them with a weight bench and your options will increase exponentially.
If you’re serious about bicep curls, you might want to invest in a bicep isolator as well. These emulate the bicep curl machine at the gym, where your elbow is locked in position so that strength only comes from your bicep and you don’t cheat the rep. They’re only around £20, so well worth having around.
6. Exercise bike
When it comes to cardio, we’re a fan of the exercise bike. Not just because it’s been on the consumer market the longest, but because you get more value for money than with treadmills, rowing, or elliptical machines. Exercise bikes are also slightly less intrusive if limited space is a concern.
One obvious cardio alternative that doesn’t cost you a penny is to go for a run or ride your bike if you have one. However, you might like to keep your exercise routine controlled and eliminate external variables. Also, when winter rolls around and we get only eight hours of natural light per day, the prospect of going out for a run or ride in the dark and cold isn’t too tempting.
Another massive bonus of having an exercise bike is that you can watch TV while exercising, which is basically priceless. Just don’t let your favourite TV show get the better of your workout intensity.
It’s important to do your research before buying an exercise bike, as they often come with a lot of features, not all of which you’ll need. Build quality is the most important thing if you just intend to use it for all-purpose cardio.
7. Yoga mat
Trust us – if you’re performing any exercises that involve lying, sitting, or holding a position on the floor, you’ll be thankful for a yoga mat.
There’s nothing worse than an uneven bit of concrete or a knobbly floorboard digging into your lower back as you do a sit-up, let alone an entire pilates, yoga or callisthenics routine. That’s why you need a yoga mat.
It won’t set you back either, so it’s well worth having one around just to make your life easier. If you fancy getting into yoga, there are plenty of types to try out. Have a look at our yoga trends page here.
8. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are all the rage, which isn’t surprising given the constant state of flux gyms are in under COVID-19 prevention measures.
They’re arguably the piece of equipment best suited to home exercise because they offer maximum variety and portability. You can keep them in a drawer, the boot of your car, or a small bag anywhere you go. And with them, you have a whole-body workout at your fingertips.
The basic principle is simple. You stretch the band, which creates resistance as the band attempts to return to its original shape. To do this, muscles are engaged, and voilà – exercise! The genius of the resistance band is in the sheer number of exercises you can perform with it.
Resistance bands tend to come in packs in varying resistances (this is usually indicated by different colours), so you can match them to your muscles’ relative strength. They cost around £10-20 per pack as well. If you’re stuck for which resistance bands to buy, we wrote a blog on the best resistance bands so have a read before you purchase!
Modern kettlebells date back to the 18th century when they were used by strongmen in circuses around Russia and the rest of Europe. Competitive kettlebell lifting – known as girevoy – evolved out of this, and now kettlebells are a staple in most gyms. There’s evidence they even go back further than that in agriculture, though.
When you use a kettlebell, you’re not only increasing strength and endurance, but flexibility and balance as well. You feel the benefit most in your lower back, core, legs, shoulders and grip. Given the way you use kettlebells, they engage multiple muscle groups all over the body at once.
They’re a great piece of home exercise equipment as well because they’re relatively small and incredibly versatile – there are so many exercises you can get out of them. Some modern kettlebells even electronically adjust the weight without taking up any extra space. Have a read of our article on the best kettlebells to find out what suits you best.
As you’ll know, exercise comes with the risk of injury or broken equipment. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re protected.
At Insure4Sport, we offer specialist sports insurance to protect your equipment against accidental damage, theft, and loss. We also offer Personal Accident cover if you suffer an injury while exercising and can’t work for a long period. Best of all, you can tailor your policy to your needs.
Get an online quote in minutes and see what we can do for you.