Whether you’re an avid outdoor runner or cyclist but the weather makes getting out next to impossible or you can’t get to the gym for whatever reason, it’s nice to have a backup plan. And that’s where having a makeshift home gym comes into play.
It just takes a few (we argue five) key components, not counting your body weight, and — boom! — you’ll be working out in no time. “Fat loss and increasing conditioning levels, relative strength, mobility and flexibility can all be achieved with the right items at home,” says Andy Speer, co-owner of Soho Strength Lab in New York City.
Here’s what you’ll need for your impromptu home gym:
1. TWO SETS OF DUMBBELLS
Have one set of lighter weights and one set of heavier weights, Speer says. Use the lighter weights for exercises like lateral raises, chest flyes and overhead presses, and use the heavier ones for things like squats, deadlifts, chest presses and rows.
2. A MAT
It could be a yoga mat, but it could be something with more substance. “Select a thick mat, because most likely you will be either on concrete or a hard surface, so having that extra cushion is key,” says trainer Natalie Uhling, creator of NUFit. Speer adds that it also should have some grip so you don’t slip around when doing planks or downward dog.
In addition to core work, yoga and basic stretching, you can do some exercises you’d do on a bench (like chest presses) on the mat.
3. RESISTANCE BANDS
You can work your entire body with basic resistance bands because you can do almost any exercise with them that you’d do with dumbbells or other equipment. “They add variety and resistance to many classic body-weight movements,” Speer says.
You can also step into the loops to add resistance to exercises like monster walks, squats and other lower-body exercises.
4. A FOAM ROLLER
“This is a must for tissue health and recovery, regardless of your workout style,” says Speer, who recommends foam rolling for 5–10 minutes daily. “The more frequently you use the roller, the less time you’ll have to spend on it each day, and it will become less painful,” he says.
Choose a basic foam roller that’s about 3 feet long and 6 inches in diameter. At the beginning of every workout session, be sure to foam roll to loosen up and soften your muscles so you have greater mobility. Then, at the end of your workout, roll any remaining tight spots to ease that tension.
5. A COMPUTER OR TV HOOKUP
If you’re spending hours riding on an indoor trainer or simply prefer having instruction, set up your space so you can stream workout videos or watch DVDs. “Having accessibility to trainers from all over the world is a huge help,” Uhling says. You can learn proper form, ensure you’re working the right muscles and get motivated to work harder.
The best tip of all is to start simple. “Don’t get stressed out if you don’t have a certain piece of equipment,” Speer says. “A body-weight workout done twice a week for two months is far more effective than having a room full of fancy equipment that collects dust.”
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT