Budget Friendly Equipment For a Home Gym
So you're hesitant on returning back to the gym, paranoid about the sweaty germs from Cardio Candice and Grunting Gary that visibly drip all over the gym equipment. Fear not dear reader, for I have a simple guide that may be of assistance!
While there's the right equipment for everyone - because we are all special little individuals - if your goals are general strength gain and fat loss, there are some tools that are very bang for your buck, don't take up much space, and are usually very portable. In this post, I'm going to go over some super budget friendly options for a small home gym setup.
I know this one is really a piece of "equipment", but it's free, you don't need anything but the floor and gravity, and you can do it anywhere. Remember:
you are only limited by what you believe you are capable of, which is usually all in your head anyway.
I personally love calisthenic movements, as most of my training revolves around them. I feel great knowing that I'm not limited to a gym, or any piece of equipment. Anyone who thinks that bodyweight exercises are too easy is simply not doing the right exercises or using the right methods.
Gymnastic Rings (or TRX Straps)
What is this, the Olympics? No, but rings are an amazing tool that can build upper body strength and muscle like nothing else. The reason why they're so effective is instability: where as a single dip on some bars might be relatively easy, try doing the same on a pair of rings. This forces your muscles to stabilize overtime so you don't fall and crack your head open.
The other reason why they are a great tool is that they are versatile. You can literally hook them up anywhere, which is why i recommend them if you are travelling. I've put mine on rafters, monkey bars, tree branches, and bicycle hooks (I do not recommend that last one). Some examples of different exercises you can do:
- Body weight rows
- Single arm rows
- Face pulls
- Pull aparts
- Push ups
- Pull ups
- Hanging leg raises
- Isometric holds (front lever, iron cross, L-sits, etc).
That list is only what I could think of off the top of my head. There are a plethora of different exercises you can perform with rings, they just require a bit of creativity.
Note: you can also use TRX straps, which are a great alternative, but they are limited in the sense that you can't perform certain exercises like dips, pull ups, and isometric holds. A plus is that you can still attach them nearly anywhere, including door frames (if you have a door anchor attachment). The brand "TRX" is quite expensive, although there are knock-off brands that are just as good but at less than half the price. Whichever you choose to buy, they're both relatively cheap, around 30-100 bucks depending on the brand.
Bands are another piece of equipment that are cheap, portable, and provide great challenge and versatility. Bands are great for accommodating resistance, which means they are great at adding a bit of extra resistance to an already loaded exercise, and you can use them on their own for certain movements as well.
I usually like using them for deadlifts when I can't make deadlifts heavier due to lack of weight, or as added resistance to a push up. My favorite band set is bodylastics bands, and that's because these bands come with door anchors and handles. You can take them when you travel, and requires minimal space. Did I mention the price? They are pretty cheap, with some of the sets coming out to 30-40 bucks. That's a steal considering what you can do with them.
I love me some barbells and kettlebells, but for the sake of this article I wanted to stick to only one traditional piece of iron: the dumbbell.
The dumbbell is versatile, easy to store, and easy to load. It's easier on the joints than a barbell, has more uses than a kettlebell, and is usually cheaper than both. My top pick for dumbbells are adjustable ones, and you can either go for the more expensive powerblock type (VERY expensive), or opt for a much cheaper (and in my opinion, better) by getting a plate-adjustable dumbbell set.
I like the plate loaded ones because they are less bulky, and it makes it easier to do things like goblet squats and swings with them. I also think that they just look more aesthetic than big rectangular blocks. And again, they are cheaper: most dumbbell plates are sold at $1 per pound (before tax), so you're getting what you pay for. I started off with a small 40 lb set, and I've added more weight to it over time.
These things have two uses: #1, you can use them on your next big move, and #2 they are a great addition to small budget home gym. I have an old pair that I've been using for a few years, and while they have taken a beating, they are holding up just fine. These things will only cost you 10-20 bucks, and you don't need a super heavy-duty type either. You can buy these at your local hardware store.
Bonus: Odd Objects (Sandbags, Chains, Rope)
I wanted to throw this one in there, in case anyone is willing to get their DIY on and make some equipment. I personally love the feeling of making an effective tool that I can use for training, knowing that it didn't cost me an arm and a leg. Some "odds and ends" that I have:
- Sandbags, made using rubber mulch to avoid spillage ($30 for about 50 plus pounds).
- Bulgarian bags, made out of tire inner tube and sand ($30 for about 70 plus pounds).
- 20 lbs of chains I bought at Home Depot.
- Old, thick nylon rope re-purposed for pull-ups, rows, and various other exercises.
These different options are merely that, options. The most important thing is that you get the right tools for you, and hopefully this post was informative and gave you some ideas. No matter what you're limited to, just remember that there is a whole world out there, and there's no limit to what you can use to train with.