15 Home Gym Essentials on Any Budget

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From bad weather to the high price of gas, there are plenty of reasons to skip your workout and avoid going to the gym.  While you’ll still need the motivation to workout, creating a home gym is the best way to stay fit without needing to hop in the car or even leave your house. Even on the smallest budget, you can use essential gym equipment to create the perfect workout routine at home. With modern updates on classic exercises, there's no limit to what you can stretch and flex, and that includes your dollar. Here are some of the greatest in-door exercise tools, on a budget or not.

Strength Training At Home

Lower Budget

Kettlebell 

The latest craze in at-home exercise is the kettlebell, a high-intensity strength and cardio device that can burn up to 400 calories in just 20 minutes. Shaped like a small metal ball with a handle attached, the kettlebell comes with a variety of options for routines and exercises, making it versatile and convenient. Purchase one or several in a range of weights for a lighter or heavier workout. With its small size, you can store it easily under a side table, inside a decorative trunk or bench, or in a living room cabinet. (10-pound Kettlebell, $21 with DVD.)

Rubber Resistance Bands 

Rubber resistance bands are great tools for toning those hard-to-reach back, hip and inner thigh muscles. Acting like large rubber bands, resistance bands feature a handle on each end to allow the user to pull and stretch them, working their muscles against the band’s resistance, and mimicking the effects of lifting weights. Look for braided band models, which typically work the best due to their sturdiness. Purchase bands in a range of resistance levels to increase or decrease the intensity of your workout. (Braided Xertubes, $22 each.)

Dumbbells 

Classic and simple, dumbbells are easy to use and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and textures. Lighter dumbbells are perfect for easy storage and working smaller muscles like triceps, while heavier dumbbells are ideal for larger muscles, particularly biceps. The perfect exercise tool for beginners, these handheld weights are easy to find in-store and online, and don’t require technical knowledge of large workout equipment. Select a set with non-slip grip to prevent accidents while exercising. (5-lb Neoprene Dumbbell, $6.)

Kettlebell

Kettlebell

Dumbbells

Dumbbells

Resistance Band

Resistance Band


Higher Budget

Contour Weights

These strapped weights are extremely popular for people practicing agility and strength, and are frequently used while walking or jogging. Like soft, fabric covered dumbbells with hand straps, these weights conform to the shape of your hand, and are typically easier and more comfortable to hold on to. (Contour Weights, $12 and up.)

Clutter-Free Dumbbells

This modern twist on a classic exercise tool is perfect for people who prefer cleanliness and order. With one item, you can own the equivalent of an entire set of dumbbells. Simply slide individual weight discs on or off the bar handle to increase or decrease the dumbbell’s weight. (Stamina's Versa-Bell, $74 per weight.)

Suspension Trainer

This versatile concept is perfect for the advanced at-home exerciser, featuring a strap that attaches to a doorframe, goal post or other sturdy object, and handles for your hands or feet. Using gravity and your own body weight, lean against the straps for calorie burning resistance. The seemingly simple device has over 300 possible exercise combinations, and it comes in a training professional’s package that includes an instructional DVD and handbook. (TRX Suspension Training Pro Pack, $182.)

Cardio Exercise Equipment

Lower Budget

Jump Rope

By spending just 10 minutes using a jump rope, you can burn 110 calories. If you add weight to the handles, then you can also sculpt your arm muscles in the process. When using a jump rope indoors, just be sure to have at least a 9-foot-hight ceiling. Also, jumping rope is a high-impact exercise, so be careful if you have muscular or bone issues. (Reebok Adjustable Speed Jump Rope, $20.)

Incline Step

At-home step-bench products are unique in that they offer an incline exercise on a flat surface, alleviating common joint strain that comes with traditional incline exercise machines. Simply step up onto, then back down from, the plastic step, mimicking the workout of climbing stairs. This small, portable device is great for any combination of exercises and routines, and can be used while watching TV, or using the DVD that comes with it for customized strategies for targeting different muscles. (Reebok Incline Step, $50 with DVD.)

Gliding Discs

These simple products, which can be used at home or even at the gym, are great for low-impact workouts that won't strain your joints. Simply stand with one foot on each of the plastic disks and slide around for a unique and easy exercise experience. The disks help target several underused muscles in the legs, including the inner thighs. The sliding action allows you to perform more graceful, precise movements, helping to create long, lean muscle. (Gliding Discs, $23 with DVDs.)

Higher Budget

Exercise Bike

Unlike bike models of gyms past, modern stationary bicycle machines don't require you to hunch over the handlebars, causing poor posture and a strained back. Newly designed seats are becoming increasingly comfortable, and many come with handles at the base of the seat, allowing the user to sit up straight. Stationary bikes are great for garage gyms and are an easy way to enjoy your favorite movies or television shows while working your quadriceps, calves and glutes. (Vision Fitness R1500, $599.)

Elliptical Trainer 

These machines are great for no-impact training, burning tons of calories and allowing you to reverse directions for even more muscle work. Often compared to the sensation of running through sand or water, the elliptical offers the benefits of running without the side effects of heavy impact on your joints. Unlike stationary bikes, elliptical trainers are usually sleeker and take up less floor space, making them ideal for a large living space or den workout. (Nautilus E514, $728.)

Treadmill

This classic exercise machine has been revolutionized in recent years, providing low-impact, shock-resistant cushioning to allow safer and more comfortable running during your workout. High-quality treadmills are great at-home additions, and many come installed with iPod docks for easy access to your music and entertainment library. (Horizon Fitness T203, $999.)

Exercise Bike

Exercise Bike

Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical Trainer

Treadmill

Treadmill


Extra Accessories

Lower Budget

TrainerBall ($30) 

Exercising on a stability ball works more abdomen and back muscles than a typical exercise, speeding up the process of firming and toning your belly. As a bonus, the ball has the moves printed right on the side, making it easier for beginners to enjoy the process as much as experts.

Higher Budget

Beamfit Activity Beam 

Simple and easy to store, the Beamfit Activity Beam can be used while standing in your kitchen or during your other strength and flexibility workouts. Standing or sitting while trying to balance on the beam targets your core, improving stability and making you feel more balanced on your feet.

CycleOps Magneto 

Don't let the weather outside deter you from your bicycle routine. With the CycleOps Magneto Trainer, you can turn your regular bicycle into a stationary indoor cardio machine that will even provide progressive resistance, increasing in difficulty as you pedal faster, without having to shift gears. Cheaper and smaller than a full sized stationary bike, this workout accessory makes creating a home gym simpler and less expensive.

Creating your own home gym is easier than you think with these essential workout tools. From simple resistance bands to shock absorbing treadmills, you can easily find the perfect piece of exercise equipment for your home and budget. 

Last Updated: March 15, 2013
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for Idealhomegarden.com

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