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Ask anyone what the toughest part of starting a workout routine is, and chances are, they’ll say “cost.” Whether you’re looking at monthly gym memberships or trendy home equipment, getting back into shape can be an expensive proposition. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little know-how, you can build a cheap home gym full of fitness basics that will get your heart beating and your blood pumping.
Yes, you read that correctly. Convert that extra room, that corner in the basement or that small, unused foot space into your own personal fitness center. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to create an atmosphere that will inspire you to sweat instead of sit. In fact, you can do it for less than $100.
The cornerstone is a cheap home gym is finding a personal trainer—for free. Thanks to livestreaming workouts, all you need is a smartphone or computer to search YouTube for countless, free workouts. Search formats that are unique to your goals, using terms such as bodyweight, beginner, HIIT, weight loss, yoga, and more.
You’ll need some weights for your cheap home gym, and besides the price, one advantage of dumbbells is that they fire up more of your synergistic and stabilizer muscles than machines. Exercises done with free weights are similar to the neurological patterns used during sports skills. They are versatile and can help you reduce body fat, improve muscle tone and increase your range of motion. Training with weights will have a positive impact on your metabolism, as well, creating a more metabolically active muscle that will be revved up throughout the day. And the icing on the cake? You can find a set of dumbbells for less than $25.
Kettlebells are another staple of our cheap home gym that are used by a variety of fitness-minded people—from soccer moms to professional athletes. By including this piece of equipment in your home gym, you will build core stability, coordination, endurance, strength, power and flexibility. They are extremely versatile and can be used for traditional swings as well as a replacement for dumbbells while doing shoulder presses, arm curls, squats, lunges, Russian twists and more. You can find a basic kettlebell for $20–$30.
A simple jump rope is a key component of any cheap home gym. Not only does jumping rope improve balance and coordination while burning major calories, but it also decreases foot and ankle injuries by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Another unique benefit to jumping rope is improved bone density. When subjecting your bones to weight-bearing exercises, you will improve their bone density while decreasing your risk of osteoporosis. You can find a perfectly workable jump rope for $10–$20.
No cheap home gym would be complete without an exercise mat. While you may think this staple is only necessary for yoga, it’s an excellent prop for stretching, Pilates, and other bodyweight movements. Indulge in your post-workout restorative stretches with a basic exercise mat for $20–#25.
With some creativity, resistance bands can provide a full-body workout for around $10. With elastic resistance, your body is able to perform more functional movements that mimic both daily activities and sport-specific movements. Unlike free weights, elastic bands do not rely on gravity to provide resistance. In general, the thicker the rubber band, the greater the resistance and the more difficult a move will be.
And the final component of our cheap home gym? Another freebie—bodyweight. Even without any equipment, you can still get an efficient and effective workout with bodyweight exercises. Wall sits, planks, squats, lunges and push-ups can be extremely effective ways to build muscle and improve strength. Check out our 4-Move Circuit that you can do anywhere, without any equipment.
Regardless of where you live, what your fitness goals are, or how much money you can afford to spend, overcoming the reasons not to work out is your first step toward a fitter, healthier life. And setting up a cheap home gym is an easy way to remove one of those obstacles and start getting back into shape.