7 Pieces of Home Gym Equipment to Boost Your Socially Distant Workouts
Health's top new tools for working out without leaving the house.
A modern spin on an old-school workout
What is it?: Weighted jump ropes—¼, ½, 1, and 2 pounds—that are great for cardio and strength training. The ball bearings in the handles make the movement super smooth, and the fast-clip system lets you swap out ropes quickly. The Get Lean package ($99) includes the two lighter ropes: The ¼-pound is great for endurance and HIIT workouts; the ½-pound is ideal for beginners and advanced cardio (a heavier rope activates more muscles for a more efficient workout). When you become more advanced, you can upgrade to the 1- and 2-pounders ($139 for the Get Strong pack).
Why it’s awesome: Outside of the gym, I count on running as my main form of cardio, but I get bored if I don’t mix things up. Jumping rope makes you feel like a kid again, but trust me, it’s seriously adult-level exercise! You get vastly different workouts from each weighted rope, which makes the set worth the investment. I started as a beginner and am already doing double unders!
Good to know: Jumping rope burns more calories (10 calories per minute!) than swimming, cycling, and jogging. It also exercises the brain because it involves a combination of timing, rhythm, coordination, and mental strategy. Crossrope offers a free app and a premium version ($10 per month), where you’ll get access to 200+ workouts, fitness challenges, and tutorials. — Vanessa L. Powell
An entire weight rack in one
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells (bowflex.com)
What is it?: Adjustable dumbbells that let you smoothly shift from 5 to 52.5 pounds with a dial, allowing you to gradually increase your strength and easily transition between various exercises.
Why it’s awesome: One system ($329) replaces 15 sets of weights, so even though your home may be your new gym, it doesn’t have to look like one. I was having trouble making progress with my static 10-pound dumbbells. Weighted squats and glute bridges were getting too easy, yet overhead triceps extensions were still a struggle. Being able to switch to different weights as I worked different muscle groups took me out of maintenance mode and helped me get stronger.
Good to know: You can track your weight-lifting progress through the free SelectTech app. It also has more than 70 step-by-step coaching videos as well as preloaded workouts, so even if you’re new to weight lifting, this is a good place to start. — Vanessa L. Powell
The fast track to a better booty
The DB Method (thedbmethod.com)
What is it?: A machine ($229) that targets all three buttock muscles with 220 pounds of preset resistance (don’t worry, the machine itself doesn’t weigh that much!) to lift and sculpt the booty. As you sit on the seat and begin a squat, your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus are fully engaged on both the descent and ascent; the movement really isolates the glutes so other muscles aren’t jumping in to pick up the slack.
Why it’s awesome: It’s the most efficient butt workout I’ve ever done! I used it for 10 minutes a day for two weeks and could already see a difference; after a month, my butt was lifted and sculpted in a way I was never able to achieve through body-weight squats or glute bridges. Plus, the machine folds and rolls easily for storage and will fit under your couch or bed.
Good to know: There are free on-demand workouts available online, which are really helpful while you’re getting accustomed to the machine. There are also accessories like a weighted belt if you’re ready for more. And although it’s specifically designed for the glutes, the machine can also be used to target your abs, arms, and chest with different sets of movements. — Vanessa L. Powell
An app that brings your gym buddies home
Gymshark Conditioning App (gymshark.com)
What is it?: An app (free, or $5 per month for premium) that offers customized workout plans from professional trainers, which help you create an approach based on specific body parts you want to target. The Home Workouts & Plans section shows you how to use your couch for high-intensity circuits or a yoga mat for mobility and body-weight exercises. Gymshark also has gear—my favorites are the loop resistance bands (from $12), used to strengthen the core and glutes, and add definition to the arms.
Why it’s awesome: Gymshark has a passionate following on Instagram, and once you try it, you quickly find out why: You’re not exercising alone at home, you’re working out with a whole community! The various plans help you track your progress and hold you accountable for a sustained fitness journey over time, so it really feels like you have a gym buddy right there, encouraging you to stick with it. Plus, resistance bands are so small and portable that I take them everywhere.
Good to know: I’m someone who’s always had trouble being consistent when I work out alone in the gym—I do much better with an instructor—so I like that with Gymshark, in addition to the targeted body-part workouts on the app, you can work with specific trainers. I rotate through my three favorites each week; it doesn’t take long to find one you like and get attached. — Vanessa L. Powell
Low-impact moves to strengthen and sculpt
The P.volve System (pvolve.com)
What is it?: A collection of resistance-based weights and proprietary equipment that provides a head-to-toe high-intensity/low-impact workout through slow, controlled reps. The Transform Kit ($140) has the three best tools: the p.ball for firing up the glutes, thighs, and core; the p.band for sculpting arms; and the p.3 trainer, which stabilizes and aligns your whole body.
Why it’s awesome: It activates hard-to-reach muscles and increases your range of motion, all without overstraining the body. I tend to love high-energy, butt-kicking HIIT and boxing classes, but these focused, intentional movements have taught me precision and muscle control. It’s a great workout, without getting (too) sweaty!
Good to know: The gear seems a little unusual at first, but you get used to it quickly. And you’ll never get bored: You can stream more than 200 videos (with or without their equipment) on the app or website for $20 per month or $179 for the year. — Vanessa L. Powell
Theragun Mini (theragun.com)
What is it?: Theragun has become synonymous with percussive massage devices—you’ve probably noticed them popping up all over fitness Instagram the past few years. The motorized massager pounds out knots and helps relax general muscle tightness. That came with a steep price tag, though, prohibitively steep for most of us. Now, the Theragun Mini offers all same benefits at a fraction of the price ($199).
Why it’s awesome: The Mini is more portable and very quiet. Whether you want to loosen up before, ease cramps during, or take care of any aches and pains that crop up after your workout, the Mini offers multiple levels of relief. It also has three different speeds—1750, 2100, and 2400 percussions per minute—depending on your needs.
Good to know: Prior to trying the Theragun Mini, I took the DIY route and converted a power saw into a similar device. The result was, well, powerful…and loud. The Mini runs smooth enough that I was able to clear up a stiff neck (something the ma-SAW-ger would have been way too rough for). And a 5-minute session here and there even helped loosen up the tight quads that caused flare-ups of knee tendonitis, so I was able to keep squatting without any disruptions to my routine. — Rob Tutton
Bring the cycling studio to y0ur living room
Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX5S (echelonfit.com)
What is it?: An indoor exercise bike ($1,639.98) that allows you to stream live fitness classes straight from your home, on your schedule. The bike is fully adjustable to your size, and has a large monitor to stream workout classes, as well as cage pedals with an option for clip-in shoes.
Why it's awesome: Lots of at-home exercise equipment tends to feel flimsy, especially in comparison to the machines at the gym you're so used to using. This bike is exceptionally sturdy—a testament to its quality—so you won't need to worry about it possibly moving around while you're working out. The large screen and ability to connect to any set of wireless headphones also ensures that you'll feel as close to being back in the studio as possible. Also important: With many of us taking our workout routines outside more (read: possibly running on harder surfaces like roads), injuries are bound to happen, and bikes are a fantastic way to get in a sweat if you're recovering from aches and pains.
Good to know: Another note about the bike's quality and sturdiness: It's heavy—like, two-people-will-have-to-help-set-it-up heavy—and takes up quite a bit of space. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but something to take note of if you live in a smaller space. — Amber Brenza
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
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