With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting gyms around the country, many people are scouring the internet to find at-home fitness equipment, only to be met with products that are out of stock. Online stores are selling out quickly. And while there are dozens of fitness programs out there, it can be time-consuming and expensive to test them out until you find the one that’s best for you.
That’s why we’re introducing a comprehensive, crowdsourced guide to help you stay fit at home. This guide covers the basics you need to know to build a home gym; includes a checklist of places to search for fitness equipment; and reviews several workout programs and apps so you can find the one that’s best for you.
Keep reading to learn more about how to get in shape right from your living room – no gym membership needed.
Building your own home gym? You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of options out there! If you’re new to the idea of a home gym, take a look at this list of basic equipment to include. You can mix and match the equipment you want based on the amount of space you have and your fitness goals. We’ve also included standard pricing for each item to make sure you don’t fall prey to inflated prices.
Resistance bands are elastic bands used for workouts, physical therapy and rehab programs. They work by adding extra resistance but not much extra weight. Some are thick and wide, meant for intense strength training workouts. Others are smaller and designed to provide light resistance. To use a resistance band, you’ll anchor the band in place and push or pull against it.
Resistance bands give you a great strength training workout while going easy on your body. If you are new to working out, have joint pain, or your body is just getting older, physical therapist Jennifer Heberton tells Popsugar that bands are a good choice because they promote stability and are easier on your joints. They’re also affordable and give you a wide range of options as far as exercises to perform – including stretching and mobility exercises in addition to just strength training.
Since resistance bands are so small and light, they can cost as little as $5. High-end resistance bands can range up to $100 for a set of four. In general, $15 will probably get you a durable, high-quality resistance band.
Dumbbells are free weights that range in size from one pound to about 60 lbs. They can be used for strength training exercises that target muscles all over the body.
Dumbbells are a must-have piece of equipment for any home gym. They’re incredibly versatile, lending themselves to just about any exercise – cardio workouts, strength training moves, core activation, and more. And since they’re a free weight, they help improve your range of motion. Try purchasing adjustable dumbbells so you can tweak the amount of weight you’re holding as you progress.
Dumbbell pricing really depends on what you want. Purchasing a whole set of dumbbells, for example, will set you back a lot more than just purchasing a pair. Depending on how heavy the weights are, you can likely find a good pair of dumbbells for $30; as a general rule of thumb, dumbbells often cost about $2 per pound. Adjustable dumbbells normally cost around $300. And if you want a full set of dumbbells (multiple pairs of dumbbells in different weights), expect to fork over $1,000 or more.
A kettlebell is a ball, often made of iron, with a handle on the top. Kettlebells offer a great full-body workout – they’re most often used for exercises that incorporate several different muscle groups. And since they’re free weights, they’re easy to have in a home gym.
Kettlebells are also a versatile equipment, while providing a better grip for workouts like squats. Swinging around the heavy piece of equipment will help your balance and stability, too. Kettlebells can combine cardio and strength training workouts into one. Finally, many kettlebell workouts are short and intense, saving you time that you can spend on other things.
Kettlebells are somewhat expensive, although the final price depends on the weight. Low weight kettlebells (think 5-20 lbs) generally cost between $15 and $100 (or higher depending on the brand). True cast-iron kettlebells commonly cost a couple of hundred dollars for a set of two.
A barbell is a bar (ranging from four feet long for curl bars, to over seven feet long for Olympic bars) that’s used for strength training workouts – put weights on either end and you can perform various weightlifting exercises. Squats, rows and curls are all examples of effective barbell exercises.
Barbells are an integral piece of equipment for your home gym. They allow you to lift heavy weights and to safely work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
For a basic barbell, you can probably expect to pay around $250. Specialized products like a deadlift bar, powerlifting bar or Swiss bar will cost more. But to get the true benefits of your barbell, you’ll want to purchase plates to put on either end and a squat rack, too.
A squat rack or squat stand is the most basic, large piece of equipment that allows you to add weight and get into position. If you want a rack that supports your weight and your form, power racks are made of four tall posts with two horizontal bars on the sides that you can adjust.
Basic squat stands are essential for lifting and squatting heavy weights, and a minimalistic option compared to power racks. But for a home gym where you might be working out alone with no spotter, a power rack helps you safely lift heavy amounts of weight. Power racks are also very versatile and can extend to many other exercises beyond just squats – add a dip station to your rack or some pull-up bars.
A squat rack will set you back a few hundred dollars. While you may be able to find a used squat rack for under $100, in most cases, squat racks cost around $300. Power racks will be pricer.
Plates are weights that you put on either end of a barbell to create a balanced weight to lift. There are two primary types of plates: bumper and steel. Rubber bumper plates can be dropped from overhead (while doing Olympic lifts) without hurting the plates or yourself. Steel plates work better for exercises with a smaller range of motion, such as basic curls.
Once you start accumulating plates, your barbell has a whole new range of workout potential! Barbell training is a good workout for athletes or weekend warriors of a variety of levels. Doing exercises with a barbell and plates works multiple muscle groups at the same time, and as you increase plates, you can increase strength and muscle volume as well.
Plates typically run around $2 per pound, meaning a set of 50 lb plates could set you back approximately $100. Bumper plates normally cost more than steel. And the higher the weight goes on either type of plate, the more the price will rise.
Adding a bench to your home gym gives you more options for the workouts you can perform. Benches are typically a few feet high and range from simple flat-top benches that you can lean on, to adjustable benches with add-ons to aid with other exercises.
The right bench will provide stability and keep you safe as you work with free weights to get stronger.
Benches can cost $30 to a few hundred dollars, ringing up at $100 on average.
With the COVID-19 pandemic creating shipping delays and making home gyms more popular, you might be struggling to find enough choices for fitness equipment. Use these sources as a checklist to make sure you can get all the workout gear you need.
Online marketplaces can be a good way to find fitness equipment. Since the equipment is used, it’ll be much cheaper than the original retail value, offering a budget-friendly way to stock your home gym. Marketplaces are also convenient because you can find sellers who live in your area and meet up with them in a safe, nearby location.
However, you do have to be careful when it comes to buying from marketplaces. Make sure you aren’t being cheated due to price gouging – which refers to a seller increasing the price of goods that are in high demand (like fitness equipment during the pandemic). At the end of the day, you might be better off buying new equipment at a slightly higher price than purchasing price-gouged secondhand equipment.
If you decide an online marketplace is a good choice for you, use this list of marketplace options to know where to look.
If you want to purchase your fitness equipment brand new, check out the websites of the following stores.
Want to go all out with your new home gym? Consider investing in a new and trending product. Here are three up-and-coming options.
Once you have the equipment you need, it’s time to plan your workouts. For best results, use a workout program created by a certified trainer who walks you through the exercises step by step. Lea Badenhoop, a health coach from the leading Mark Lauren fitness team, provided some advice for your fitness journey:
“The true gatekeeper of fitness is consistency. Long-term, staying the course requires finding the right starting point and progressing smartly. The drive to keep going does not come from will power or phony motivation techniques; it comes from getting meaningful results without wasted effort! The key is to start tiny and to make it as rewarding and convenient as possible.”
As you continue your fitness journey during this time, here are a few workout programs the community recommends!
These apps and programs aren’t specific to any one type of workout. Instead, they’re great for simply gaining an overall fitness base.
Use these apps to improve your aerobic fitness.
You can do bodyweight exercises wherever you are without having to spend money on supplies – and you can still get a great workout. Use these apps to help.
Worried about losing your weightlifting progress while gyms are closed? These apps can help you maintain (and improve!) your current fitness level from wherever you are.
No gym? No problem! Use these retailers, apps, and websites to build your own home gym and find a workout program that will keep you in shape during quarantine. And your home gym isn’t just a one-time investment. Putting time and money into a home gym now allows you to enjoy the convenience of a home gym long into the future.
Have more questions? Reach out to others on our COVID-19 community Facebook group.