When you hear the words “home gym” you probably immediately think of a fairly large room filled with expensive machines, but it’s possible to create an extremely effective home gym for a few hundred dollars—and in a very small space. In fact, there are many effective pieces of exercise equipment small enough to take on the road with you.
Don’t believe us? Check out these amazing home gym items you can get for under $50:
1. Jump rope
Skipping ropes might bring to mind images of the schoolyard but jump rope is one of the most effective exercises you can do, improving your reflexes, challenging almost all your muscle groups and strengthening your heart. Best of all, you can usually find a good jump rope for less than $10.
2. Exercise mat
An exercise mat might not seem like a big deal but it allows you to do dozens if not hundreds of different home exercises, many of which require only your own body weight. A good exercise mat can also double as a yoga mat or a comfortable place to meditate. To get a thick one that will last you several years you’ll usually spend $30-40.
3. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are essentially massive elastics you pull apart to create resistance. They’re small, easy to take with you anywhere or fit into any apartment, and don’t even require as much space to use as your typical jump rope. Most sets cost around $20-30. A quick Google search can show you dozens of different exercises using resistance bands.
4. Exercise ball
Exercise balls can get pretty expensive but you usually don’t have to spend any more than about $40 to get a high quality one. These are good for a variety of core exercises, especially planks, and often come with exercise DVDs to help you get used to using them. Make sure the exercise ball you purchase comes with its own pump so you can easily refill it once it starts to deflate.
You could spend a lot of money on dumbbells if you’ve got an intense strength training regimen in mind but if you’re only looking to get fit and stay that way you should only need a couple pairs. If you’re new to exercising, 3 kilogram and 4 kilogram dumbbells (2 x those for most males as a starting point) are a good start; if you’ve been at this for a while choose a pair of 5 kilo weights and a pair of 7-8 kilo weights (again, 2x for most males). You can often find dumbbells on sale for as little as $10.
6. Soft medicine ball
A medicine ball opens up a whole range of exercises including lifting, throwing and catching exercises. Make sure you get a soft one so you don’t risk injury when throwing and catching. Carrying a medicine ball while doing cardio exercises is also a great way to intensify your workout. High quality medicine balls will usually be found around the $30 price.
7. Chin up bar
Chin up bars can be used for a wide range of upper body and core strengthening exercises and usually only cost $20-30. You can set up a chin up bar in pretty much any doorway. Most pull up bars can be installed within a few minutes without the use of any intense tools. Make sure to choose a bar with comfortable hand grips to reduce the risk of cramps and fatigue.
8. Fitness dice
Looking for a fun way to spice up your routine? You can get a pair of fitness dice—one die has numbers and the other chooses the exercise you have to do. These dice don’t cost much at all and can help you enjoy every exercise session. You do not need to have any other equipment to perform the exercises listed on the dice, making this an excellent first fitness buy for some fun and variety? Want the no cost option? Just use normal dice and your own DIY exercise list!
9. Jumping stool/box
You can actually get boxes specially made to not break when you jump on them or simply use a box/stool you know is strong enough (but make sure you know it’s actually strong enough). These boxes are excellent for step ups as well as jumping exercises, providing an excellent addition to your circuit training routine. Usually these boxes will cost around $50, but shop around. Some will come with DVDs including workout routines but you can find hundreds of tutorials on Youtube so these models aren’t worth the extra money.
10. Suspension trainer
Suspension trainers attach to the wall or the space above a doorway and provide two long straps with handles for you to hook your hands on. You can attach these pretty much anywhere. The original brand is TRX Straps, created by a Navy Seal and sold for upwards of $250, but you can find suspension trainers from other brands for under $50 by looking around online.
11. Balance board/disc
Balance is one thing too many people ignore when they start building up an exercise routine. Balance is essential to performing well outside of the rigid workout setting. A balance board is exactly what it sounds like—a small board elevated slightly off the ground. Using it is simple: stay on the board for as long as you can. A quality balance board will cost you up to $50. Some are more expensive but the extra money rarely makes a difference in durability.
12. Foam roller
Foam rollers are an excellent tool for increasing the difficulty level of many mat exercises, particularly Pilates. You can also use a foam roller to literally roll the tension out of sore muscles at the end of your workout or between workouts. Since you can buy a high quality foam roller for as little as $20, this item definitely provides incredible value.
13. Push up bars
Ready to take your fitness routine to the next level? This handy piece of equipment raises your chest further off of the ground so you can do deeper push ups, increasing the challenge level. It’s probably not an ideal option if you’re just starting out, but given that they generally cost under $20 for a set of push up bars, they do make a nice low-cost addition to a home exercise equipment list for intermediate and advanced users.
Getting fit does require hard work but it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of money. Expensive home exercise machines can be nice to have but you can get an equally effective workout to complement your gym membership using your own body weight, a little creativity, and the occasional piece of affordable equipment. You might even discover that you like these simple pieces of equipment more than any of the flashy machines we’re sometimes tempted to buy.