If you’re sweating the cost of a pricey gym membership, here’s the awesome truth—you can get just as fit with a compact home gym! We’ve all seen the treadmills collecting dust and the old NordicTrack in the corner being used as an expensive clothes drying rack…
The last thing you want to do is purchase an exercise machine and let it go to waste. You’ll regret both that decision and the money spent. For a compact home gym you don’t need much!
All you need is a bit of space—a basement, garage, or wherever you are free to get your sweat on—and a few key pieces of versatile, minimalist gym gear.
Let’s talk about how to set up your simple at-home workout space. The truth is, you don’t need big trendy equipment. No need to spend on an elaborate setup. We recommend starting with a small, compact home gym. A streamlined, simple gym is a space-saver and affordable.
Putting Together a Compact Home Gym
In order to have a minimalist home gym, all that you need are a few things – a mat for stretching and floor exercises, an open space with enough room for your workout routine, and a select few pieces of equipment to target your major muscle groups.
The good news is you can have a compact gym that is anything but basic. These are our favorite tips and equipment for a small-but-mighty home gym.
The Major Muscle Groups
Before you grab your at home fitness equipment you need to know which muscles you will be targeting so you can find the right gym equipment to activate the right muscles.
The basic groupings of muscles are:
- Push muscles
- Pull muscles
- Squatting muscles for sitting and standing
- Hip hinging muscles for bending over
- Core muscles
These muscle groups can all be targeted with bodyweight movements and simple, small home gym equipment. When you’re thinking about what equipment to buy, think of which muscles you’ll be mostly focused on in your workouts.
Up next, I’ve rounded up my picks for the best home gym equipment that is inexpensive, but at the same time, don’t skimp on quality.
1. SPRI Gravity Trainer ($31.99)
TRX Home Suspension Straps are fantastic but cost upwards of $150. Yikes!
Save your money and get these comparable gravity training straps for a third of the cost. The straps attach to a doorframe and deliver a total-body workout using your own bodyweight.
I’m a big fan of these suspension straps because the exercises with the straps are challenging but fun at the same time!
2. SPRI Speed Jump Rope ($6.99)
Jump roping is an underrated exercise that delivers a killer cardio workout in a short period of time. A jump rope is also one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment available.
You can use a jump rope for speed, agility, power, and endurance training as well as an amazing workout doing just cardio. Some tips for jump rope fitness
Stretch before jumping rope to avoid injury. The muscles in your legs and back will tighten up if you’re not careful, so it’s important that you stretch them out beforehand.
Jump on both feet when jump roping for best results. Jumping on one foot may give the illusion of a more difficult workout, but it could lead to injury so start with both feet and then adjust your workout as needed.
Do not do jump roping drills that make you move side to side, jumping up onto the toes of one foot or both together at once — which can be tough on your ankles. You could also strain muscles in your hips and back by doing these types of movements incorrectly. Simply start with the classic jump rope movements until you feel comfortable enough to branch out.
Use this jump rope for minute-long intervals while varying the types of jumps and will get your heart rate soaring fast.
Plus, your arms, legs, and core will feel the burn as well. Less than $7 for all of that? Yep!
Bonus: No crowded lockers rooms either! You can jump rope almost anywhere!
3. Gaiam Premium Color Yoga Mat 5 MM ($20.20)
Any at-home gym, needs a mat, especially if you’re doing floor exercises. Depending on what your fitness routine will be you can choose a yoga mat or a larger exercise mat.
Unless you’re an über-yogi who does hot yoga on a regular basis, there is no need for an expensive yoga mat. Amazon has all the affordable yoga mats you need!
We love this Gaiam mat because it is perfectly cushioned, has a non-slip surface for when the sweat starts dripping and is double-sided when you want to mix up the color!
4. Xerball Medicine Ball ($36.98)
A medicine ball is a home gym must-have!
You can do everything from core to cardio to strength training with a weighted ball like this.
This medicine ball is one of my favorite items in my home gym and I always include it in my circuit routines! To save money, buy only one size; the 6 lb. medicine ball size is a great versatile weight!
5. SPRI Xerdisc Balance Disk ($34.98)
This disk is an awesome way to amp up the difficulty level of your workout and improve balance.
Put your hands on the wobbly cushion during a push-up or a plank and stand on top of it when doing squats for an extra challenge.
I like using the SPRI Xerdisc because it stays inflated longer and has ridges on the bottom to prevent slipping!
6. Neoprene Hand Weights ($3.49-$15.99)
If you don’t have a set of hand weights in your house, you’re missing out! And these mini dumbbells can be found on Amazon!
Hand weights are so easy to break out while you’re watching TV or waiting for the dryer to buzz. Plus, lots of my Get Healthy U TV workouts supplement with a set of your own.
If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend 5 or 8-lb hand weights. For the more advanced, get yourself an 8 and 10-lb set.
7. Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit ($21.98)
Balance ball, exercise ball, stability ball. Whatever you call it, you need one.
This awesome exercise tool (I have two in my basement!) takes basic exercises up a notch. Do you think lunges are hard? Then brace yourself for a lunge with your back foot elevated on the ball. How about planks? Try a stability ball forearm plank for an added challenge.
The exercise ball is for much more than crunches. You can use it as a weight bench, or to help with leg exercises. A stability ball can be used for so many exercises, and will not take up a lot of space.
Plus it’s a great desk chair when you’re not using it to work out (another space-saving hack!)
This Gaiam Balance Ball is a great at-home option because it is high-quality and won’t burst mid-exercise, and comes with its own pump and a workout DVD.
Resistance Bands ($12.15)
There are fewer gym items more compact than resistance bands. They can be thrown in a drawer, suitcase, or really any small space. Your small home gym can never have enough resistance bands.
My suggestion is to buy at least 2 bands of varying resistance levels. With a set of bands, you can provide loads of resistance from 1 lb to up to 100 lbs.
Wondering if resistance bands can build muscle? Research shows that resistance bands build muscle in people who have a loss of muscle mass due to aging.