For so many people out there, going to the gym is an unattainable expense. The good news is that with the right small home gym exercise equipment, you can get an effective workout without all of the expense and time suck that is the gym (not to mention avoiding people!)
And as so many people struggle with increasing gym fees, and of course, right now, social distancing, the best option for many is to exercise at home.
Even though there are so many resources online to make sure that your whole body gets the benefit of exercise, for many it is still a major obstacle.
And with this in mind what can you do to make sure that you are able to exercise at home effectively? Build your own small home gym!
Use Your Small Home Gym Wisely with Apps
One way to use small home gym space optimally is to use apps that focus on body weight movements or use small exercise equipment.
If you’ve got a smartphone there are so many apps that can guide you through fitness programs for those that don’t have the space (or money) for a gym. Some excellent apps to try for a small home gym are:
- Athex —this app lets you input what small exercise equipment you have and gives you workouts based on that!
- Seconds Pro —helps you to design tabata workouts with timers for work/rest periods. You can use it to time sets or AMRAP and WOD style metcon workouts for bodyweight or compact gym equipment.
- HASfit —it’s like having a personal trainer right in your small home gym! Short workouts for whatever time you have and for every fitness level
- Aaptiv — award winning audio based fitness app so you can listen and focus on what you are doing without having to look at a screen. You can choose any type of workout and there’s a free trial to check it out.
Regardless of what app you choose, finding one that caters to a small home gym by using body weight and small, low impact movements will help you take advantage of whatever space you do have.
HIIT Box comes with a free 30 Day membership to Aaptiv! Check out their offers below.
Think Quality over Quantity for Small Home Gym Equipment
There are so many people out there that don’t have the time to fit in a 45-minute workout.
It’s time to focus on quality.
A very good example is the trend towards strength-based resistance training. And specifically, focus on super slow movements to really target and efficiently exhaust your muscles.
The super-slow rep workout technique can have as much of an effect if not more of an effect than a standard exercise routine.
When you perform exercises slowly, concentrating on the muscles you are using, you can feel the burn, and effectively use time-under-tension to work your muscles without the need for large barbells or heavy weights.
Also, research shows that focusing on the eccentric contractions —that is the lengthening portion of your repetition (not the contracting portion) has multiple benefits.
For one, greater forces are generated. Eccentric contractions are also ideal for sport training and rehabilitation since they use less energy with greater force.
Focusing on eccentric contraction can improve maximal muscular strength, power as well as coordination during eccentric tasks. You can easily do this is resistance bands or compact home gym equipment that uses bands.
If you only have 10 or 15 minutes if you focus on the “big five” movements like the squat and the overhead press, performing them really slowly you are going to fatigue the muscle far greater than a typical workout where you are relying on momentum to do a push-up or a squat.
(If you want to read more about this, I interviewed badass powerlifter Nick Rizzo about strength training with the compound lifts)
Some great options for body weight compound exercises using little to no equipment are:
- pushups — Jillian Michaels and I created this push up challenge for Healthline if you want a guided 30 day program
- bodyweight squats
- bodyweight lunges
- triceps dips
- planks —check these core exercises that actually work
- jump rope workout —like this on I created for Openfit (and here’s a article I wrote for Livestrong on the topic!)
Not only will you be able to use small workout equipment, or just your body weight, but you’ll save time as well.
Try using just dumbbells and resistance bands to perform this Shoulder Supersets Workout.
Awesome and Effective Small Exercise Equipment
One genius product you can try if you are looking for small exercise equipment is the the X3 Bar.
This bar is really nifty as it can replace large bulky barbells and weights with a simple bar and resistance bands.
You can use this bar to perform all of the standard compound movements that you could with a barbell including squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and rows.
Some other excellent pieces of compact gym equipment for a small home gym include:
- BOSU ball or exercise ball
- Exercise bands
- Pull-up bar
- Agility ladder (use it in your hallway!)
- TRX suspension trainer —this is some of the best compact exercise equipment for small spaces because it can be put up and taken down and stored away in a compact space. All you need is a door frame and you have a small home gym. You can perform so many traditional exercises with it for your whole body.
When it comes to small cardio machines, exercise bikes can be a fantastic option if you have a small home gym space.
One of the top choices are bikes that sync to fitness apps and allow you to stream workouts while you cycle.
- The IC7 Indoor cycle is one of these. (this link will get you $370 off!) — this cycle uses aluminum flywheel and magnetic resistance for smooth transitions
- GR3 Indoor Cycle — more affordable option with LCD console offers real-time feedback and a variety of workout programs, plus unique Glow Ride lighting system that leads riders through three different phases of riding to simulate road cycling.
Best Small Home Gym All in One Gym Machine
Some of the best bang for your buck small home gym equipment is an all in one gym machine.
With a single compact piece of equipment, you can effectively train your whole body without having to store a bunch of weights and gear.
- Total Gym Fit —Over 85 exercises on one small home gym, 450lb user weight capcity, so even if you are beginning a weight loss journey as a heavier individual, you’ll be safe.
If you really want to be able to crush workouts at home with an all in one gym machine, the Total Gym GTS is incredible. Here are some features:
- Soft grip LAT bars fold down for pull-ups.
- Folding features to save space
- Large, wide-based Telescoping Squat Stand with three height adjustments and non-skid tread. Pilates Toe Bar.
- FREE Strength Package ($871 value) includes:
- 3-Grip Pull-up Bar: pull-ups in three different grip positions—wide, narrow and hammer grip—for maximum variability. It lets you put the focus where you want it—on the upper back, biceps, lats or any combination.
- SCRUNCH: Facilitates simple to advanced progression of abdominal workouts, sculpts abdominal and oblique muscles, supports proper posture, offers ballistic functional exercises for power and speed. With a stabilized upper body, closed-chain exercises fortify muscles and bones.
- Weight Bar: Take your Total Gym workouts to the next level with the weight bar accessory. The weight bar adds increased resistance to your exercise program by allowing for the addition of plate weights to the glideboard.
- Squat Handle Bar: The Squat Handle Bar provides increased stability and control of the glideboard during squats.
- Press Bar: The Press Bar attachment permits Military-style press exercises and creates specificity for performing a military press or shoulder press with both wide and narrow ergonomic grips to target the upper back, shoulders and triceps.
- Retractable Dip Bars: Retractable dip bars provide specificity to dip exercises targeting the triceps and pectorals for strength and conditioning. Retracts for small home gym use.
- Dynamic Unilateral/Bilateral Arm Pulley System: Adjustable cable-pulley force angles on LAT Bars adjust to a person’s height and girth to create an accurate line of pull in upper body exercises; enhances specificity in muscular contraction.
Best Portable Gym Equipment for Strength
If you don’t have a dedicated small home gym space and you need compact exercise equipment that you can move around, there are several options, including some of the gear already mentioned.
- OYO Personal Gym— I haven’t used this personally but I decided to include it because it is very portable exercise equipment that can be used anywhere. This device is super unique and takes the place of bands or dumbbells for a large range of exercises. It’s been used for over 10 years on the International Space Station to keep astronauts fit. NASA study proved SpiraFlex increased muscle size and strength as much as free-weights. Pretty cool.
- Suspension trainers
- Bowflex adjustable weights —I absolutely LOVE these. I’ve had my set for many years and it is still going strong. So convenient, takes up much less space than a full weight set, saves a ton of money and is portable. I used to move them aside when I wasn’t using them and then bring them to the middle of my living room to workout. Perfection.
Build The Best Compact Home Gym
Here is a list of things to consider when choosing small home gym equipment.
- Do you have a dedicated space or can you make one? This picture from above is from a small home gym made out of an entryway. Do you have a spare room that can double as a multifunction home gym?
- What is your budget? Will you be adding to your home gym equipment later?
- How much space do you have? You’ll want to take detailed measurements before you purchase even compact home gym equipment just to be sure.
- What are your favourite workout activities? You don’t want to buy anything you’ll regret or not use.
- Where will you store foldable exercise equipment and portable gym equipment? Can you purchase storage for this purpose?
- How will you organize your small home gym space? Do you need hooks, bins, baskets, etc?
- Do you have downstairs neighbours that you still like? Be careful of the equipment you choose.