The market is flooded with affordable home gym equipment, some are plain garbage – while others are worth twice their price (and then some).
Combined with calisthenics, your living room can be turned into a full-blown home gym in just a couple of minutes!
The following pieces of home exercise equipment will form the foundation of your living room gym:
- A suspension training system
- A doorway pull up bar
- A set of resistance bands
- A set of adjustable dumbbells
- An ab wheel
- An exercise mat
In addition, you will need to make use of the following items from around your home:
- Two sturdy chairs
- A low bench
- A sturdy broomstick
Okay, let’s consider each piece of equipment one at a time.
The Top 9 Affordable Home Gym Equipment
By investing in a selected range of targeted home gym equipment and combining it with the furniture already in the room, you can transform your living area into a training zone in just a couple of minutes.
Suspension Training System
Suspension training will form the core of your living room gym.
With a suspension training system, you’ll be able to perform over 300 exercises to target every muscle group in your body. This is simply by far the best home gym equipment available, a must-have!
So, What Exactly Is a Suspension Trainer?
A suspension training system consists of a mixture of straps, cords, and buckles that comes in a nifty carry bag and weighs less than two pounds. By hooking an attachment to a closed door or your roof, you will be able to perform the work of dozens of bulky pieces of gym equipment.
The suspension system uses body weight to add resistance through a range of angles that you can’t achieve without the system. And, unlike standard bodyweight exercises, you can vary the amount of resistance by adjusting the strap length or foot position.
There is a reason why I replaced a 400 pound weight set, bench, squat rack with the TRX – it works.
Reference: Stew Smith, military.com – TRX – The Science of Suspension Training
Former Navy Seal Randy Hetrick pioneered the Suspension Training market.
Hetrick began selling his TRX suspension training system in 2005, and it has gone on to dominate the industry.
Here’s what you will get when you invest in a TRX system:
- Suspension Trainer
- Carry bag
- Doorway anchor
- Suspension anchor for outdoor training
- Modular workout videos
At around $200, your suspension trainer will be your biggest home gym investment.
However, the versatility, range, and effectiveness of this piece of equipment more than justify that price.
Don’t have the cash?
Make your own Scooby-style SRX suspension trainer that works just as well!
Doorway Pull Up Bar
The pull-up is the ultimate upper body exercise, period!
It allows you to directly stimulate the upper back’s ‘v’ shaped muscles while also working every other muscle group in the upper body.
It is essential that you have a solid, reliable home doorway pull up bar as part of your arsenal of home workout equipment.
The best type of bar to provide long-term, secure home training is a door-mounted bar.
This type of bar will feature sturdy construction, a maximum load of around 300 pounds, an easy to secure attachment method, and a variety of gripping options.
Look out for a bar that offers more than the standard palms horizontal position. Neutral and extra-wide grip options will allow you to work the latissimus dorsi (lat) muscle from various angles.
The Ultimate Body Press XL Doorway Pull Up Bar is an excellent option with loads of happy customers!
Here’s the deal:
A good doorway pull up bar will feature a detachable bar that can be placed on the floor to allow the user to perform elevated push ups, dips, and feet anchored crunches.
You can pick up a quality doorway pull up bar for around $50.00, or if you are a “do it your self guy or girl,” you could follow these instructions to build your own Doorframe Chin-up Bar.
This genius piece of equipment is definitively one of the best home exercise equipment around the block.
Resistance band training has been with us for over a century, but in the last 20 years, they have had a resurgence due to slick new designs and marketing campaigns.
The quality of many of the band systems now on offer is very high, making bands the third integral part of your training mix.
So, why Add Resistance Bands To Your “At Home Gym Equipment Must-Have List”:
- Resistance bands are flexible, lightweight, and extremely portable.
- Resistance bands allow you to work out on the go – when you travel simply take the band with you.
- Because resistance bands don’t work against the force of gravity, they can provide a freer range of motion, allowing you to work in ways that you simply cannot when using barbells and dumbbells.
- Resistance band training works the muscle through both the concentric and the eccentric parts an exercise.
- Resistance bands provide your fitness zone with an great variety of exercises.
There are several different types of band systems on the market.
- Resistance Tube Bands – Tube bands vary in thickness according to the strength of the band. Most manufacturer’s color code their tubes in relation to the equivalent weight of resistance. Most tube bands come with plastic handles to allow for gripping, placing over feet or attaching to a fixed object.
- Flat Resistance Bands – The majority of flat bands are looped together. They are often used for yoga and pilates applications.
- 8-Shape Expander – This apparatus specifically targets the hips, thighs, and glutes.
Resistance bands have a similar restoring force to spring-loaded weight equipment.
Unlike springs, however, the force is applied only when the ends are pulled away from one another. Just like springs, however, resistance bands have a spring rate. That means that as the bands are lengthened, the resistance that they provide increases.
This form of resistance is known as linear variable resistance. It offers benefits over exercising with free weights as follows . . :
- Fast twitch muscle fibers are more readily targeted, allowing you to develop greater muscle power.
- Rubber band training can be combined with free weights to provide both isotonic and linear resistance training in one workout.
So what about resistance then?
The resistance level of most tube systems follows a color-coded system based on the thickness of the tube. Thicker bands will provide greater resistance.
Many systems also allow you to attach more than one band to a pair of handles to instantly double the resistance level.
Most manufacturers will produce tubes with the following resistance levels:
The resistance levels of tubular bands are measured at 100 percent elongation and twice the un-stretched length. They should not be stretched beyond this point.
A pair of dumbbells is an excellent investment, allowing you to work on every muscle group in your body as well as giving an extra intensity boost to many cardiovascular exercises.
For home gym trainers, however, dumbbells have presented a challenge:
Progressive resistance exercise is based on the principle of lifting more as you get stronger.
When you don’t have access to a complete weight range of dumbbells, what do you do when the weight gets too easy?
Buying a heavier pair of dumbbells when you get stronger is a surefire way to financial hardship. In recent times, however, we have seen the introduction of adjustable dumbbells.
For a couple of hundred dollars, you can now have a complete range of dumbbells, from 1 to 80 pounds, all in a compact, simple-to-use format.
Adjustable dumbbells don’t just save you money.
Instead of a row of bulky weights to find a home for, you now have one stylish pair of future tech-looking dumbbells that you can pre-select your desired weight from with the turn of a dial!
I have had a look at the two most prominent adjustable dumbbells on the market; Bowflex SelectTech vs PowerBlock Elite. If you consider getting yourself a set of dumbbells, one of these would be my preferred choice.
BEGINNER TIP: Don’t want to buy a pair of dumbbells yet? No problem! Check out these DIY dumbbells to get you started lifting right away!
The ab wheel is one of those inexpensive pieces of training equipment that just keeps on going.
It’s been around forever, while all sorts of ab gimmicks have come and gone.
The reason that the ab wheel is still around is that it works. This makes the ab wheel a clever addition to your home fitness equipment portfolio.
The ab wheel allows you to target the abs and lower back to strengthen and tighten the core.
As well as providing a superior core workout, the ab wheel will help to improve posture.
It is a great functional trainer, allowing both sides of your core to work in unison.
Note: The ab wheel does place pressure on the erector spinae muscles of the lower back. If you have a history of lower back problems, you should consider skipping an ab wheel and focusing on suspension training exercises that target your core.
An exercise mat is an essential piece of the home gym setup. Without it, you’ll be sweating all over your carpet and furniture.
Also, the carpeted or tiled surface of your floor area just might not be suited to working out.
Okay, but which mat do I choose?
When choosing your exercise mat, focus on the grip of the mat. On the underside, you’ll want a grip that will secure itself to the surface under it, rather than sliding around when you are moving on it.
The upper surface shouldn’t stick to your body when you lie on it.
You’ll want a thickness of between 1.5 and 1.9 inches to provide you with a comfortable base to work from. Go for a mat that is made from thermal plastic elastomer (TPE).
Stability Ball: The Stabilizing Factor
The stability ball has become a great addition to modern gyms, and you need one in your home gym -period!
Using them as your exercise bench may mean that you have to lift slightly lighter weights until you get used to them, but it will dramatically improve your posture, balance, and lower core strength.
Of course, there is a whole host of strength-specific movements you can perform with the ball as well.
But watch out!
Shop at a fitness store to make sure that your ball isn’t going to pop when put under pressure.
The URBNFit stability ball is a great choice if you are looking for quality at a reasonable price!
Getting a great cardio session is extremely cost-effective.
Forget about those bulky, expensive cross-training machines and ellipticals.
Instead, pick up a decent skipping rope, and you’ll have the means to an awesome aerobic workout (it’s still the best way to lose those love handles).
Top it off with a pair of plastic discs to allow you to do lateral shuffles, and you have everything you need to get in the ultimate fat-melting cardio workout!
You will want to get a rope that is as lightweight as possible. Leather is preferable to nylon but will cost more.
To get the correct length of rope, stand on the rope, and bring the handles up. If the rope is the correct length for you, the handles should be at the level of your armpits.
- 6 Good Reasons Why You Should Own And Use a Skipping Rope!
- What is the Best Exercise Equipment for Home to Lose Weight?
An agility ladder is a multi rung ladder made of webbing material that can be placed on the floor to perform speed and agility drills.
They are the best thing you can use to enhance your speed, flexibility, balance, and coordination.
Ladders can be purchased with anything from 4 to 20+ rungs. For in-home training, you should select a 5 rung ladder, which you can pick up for around $15.
I personally love my GHB Pro Agility Ladder; it’s affordable, robust, and overall an amazing piece of equipment!
- How to Make Your Own Agility Ladder (Free and Easy)
- What is an Agility Ladder? The Ultimate Agility Ladder Guide
To complete your living room gym, make use of the following items:
- Two sturdy chairs
- A low bench
- A sturdy broom handle
These items will allow you to perform exercises like:
- Dips between chairs (make sure that both chairs are weighted down)
- Step ups
- Chair push-ups
- Modified pull-ups (position the broom handle between the chairs)
To add further equipment to your home workout gear tool pool, it’s highly recommended to check out this excellent article; 21 DIY Gym Equipment Projects to Make at Home.
An obvious challenge when working out at home involves motivation to sustain the needed intensity during your sessions.
The answer to this dilemma is as simple as popping a DVD into your entertainment system:
There are some tremendously effective – and motivational – DVDs out there (like P90X, INSANITY, and RIPT90 FIT, to name a few) that will not only get you in tremendous shape -but will do so while oozing motivation and fun.
When to Train: It’s All About Habits
It’s vital that you plan your workouts at times when you won’t be distracted and when you can stick to it. Early mornings, when the kids are still sleeping, works well for many.
Make it your resolve not to miss a workout. That way, you’ll have all the benefits of your own home gym while avoiding the major pitfall – talking yourself out of your workout.
The best way to motivate yourself to work out at home is to find a routine you truly enjoy, so your at-home workout doesn’t feel like work
Reference: Greatist.com – Tips for Working Out at Home When It’s The Last Thing You Want To Do
If you are training first thing in the morning, which I recommend, it is a huge advantage to set up your living room gym the night before.
Take the few minutes before you go to bed to position the suspension system, place the doorway pull up bar, and get your adjustable dumbbells in position. Be sure to tidy the room so that you’re not going to slip on anything, and position a sweat towel alongside your workout mat.
Now you know that as soon as you get up in the morning, your living room gym will be waiting for you with open arms.
Yet, all of your planning, effort, and investment could be for nothing unless your workouts become a habitual part of your routine.
To help motivate yourself, have a wall planner with your workouts on it and place an ‘x’ over each day’s completed session.
Set goals and challenges to keep yourself motivated and record your progress in a training diary. Check back periodically to see how far you have come.
Final Words: Set up Your Personal Home Gym Heaven
Setting up your own comprehensive living room gym is an investment that will pay for itself many times over.
Here’s the deal:
The equipment in your gym can be easily stored away when not in use.
Then when you’re ready to work out, setting up the suspension trainer, doorway pull-up bar, and adjustable dumbbells will take just minutes.
You will always have your training session on tap, ready to go at a moment’s notice when the time is right.
You’ll be through your workout and in the shower in the time it used to take you to drive to the gym.
And while the old you would have to waste time fighting for a park, only to then wait for equipment in an overcrowded meat market, the new you can get your workout in and then get on with the rest of your day – all without leaving your living room.
Now, that’s time efficient!
Before you leave, head over to my MASSIVE at-home strength training archive, PACKED with super-helpful stuff!
See you there.
Other Helpful Resources
- The 16 Best Exercise Equipment for Upstairs Apartment: The Ultimate Guide
- How to Make a Home Gym With no Money: The Beginners ABC
- What is the Best Single Piece of Home Exercise Equipment EVER?
- What is the Best Exercise Equipment for Home to Lose Weight? Reviews and Top Picks
- How to Get Motivated to Work Out at Home (Even if You’re Busy as Hell)