A Home Gym for £50? How 4 Simple Pieces of Kit Deliver a Total Workout
February 01, 20195 min read
The average Brit pays out £32 a month on gym membership. Yet despite this hefty price tag of almost £300 per year, most of these people (a staggering 82%) won’t become regular gym bunnies.
Life, work, family - everything squeezes and pressurises time. So you may think a savvy answer is to splurge on a home gym, but at what cost? With the typical middle-of-the-road treadmill coming in at around £500, few can afford to hit the motorised road at home.
Far from being just for budding yogis, a yoga mat is actually a staple item for any home gym. This type of non-slip mat cushions you from the floor underneath; it helps you keep your balance - and can also give you an extra layer of ‘springiness’ (useful for high-impact floor work).
Why you need it
Protection for the danger zones. Many yoga and Pilates exercises can put a lot of pressure on your hips and tailbone. Meanwhile, with the likes of modified push-ups, it’s your knees and wrists that take the strain. A mat helps you shield these vulnerable areas from hard surface contact.
An extra confidence boost. Your mat is a bit like a safety net: if you know you’re going to have a soft landing, the thought of tackling those tricky one-handed planks becomes much less daunting.
Leave no trace! Is your video workout routine taking its toll on your living room floor? A good mat means no more hand or footprints on your carpet. After a sweaty workout, just wipe down your mat, roll it up - and you’re done.
From pull-ups through to calf raises, this is your essential companion for ALL your floor work. Tip: if you want something that’s easy to carry to exercise classes, make sure you opt for a roll-up mat with an integrated handle.
These lightweight inflatable balls might not look very hard-core - but gym balls (aka Swiss balls) have plenty of hidden strengths.
The gym ball adds a healthy dose of instability to your routine. This might not sound like something you’d want, but actually, it’s incredibly valuable for boosting balance and endurance. From the rear deltoids in your shoulders down to the abductors in your thighs, your gym ball helps you target hard-to-reach and overlooked areas.
Why you need it
Add some variety. With the same old crunches and planks day in, day out, it’s easy to lose focus. By blending the use of a gym ball into your routine (with elevated push-ups or a ball-assisted lateral crunch, for instance), you can instantly spice things up.
Feel the benefit in all areas. The wobbliness of the ball is a good thing - especially when it comes to working your core. Working your stabilizer muscles helps you boost your range of motion (ROM). With improved ROM comes improved posture, balance and coordination.
Ideal for your back. Regular use of a gym ball for core and trunk training can help improve the stability of your lower back, reducing the risk of pain in this area. It can help make up for all that time you spend sitting at an office desk!
The incline press-up is an excellent starting point. Begin in a press-up stance with your hands on the ball, shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows as you lower your upper body to the ball. Then press back up to your start position.
This is another beautifully simple device: two handles connecting a rod and wheel (you can also opt for an ultra-stable twin-wheel model).
As the name suggests, this piece of kit is focused on working your abs. But it’s worth knowing that everyone can benefit from an ab roller (it’s not just for people who want to carve out a huge six-pack!).
Why you need it
It delivers more than just an ab workout. When that wheel rolls out in front of your body, lots of muscles are in play - including your hips, shoulders, triceps and back.
It can increase core stability. The core refers to all those muscles that make up your midsection. When you roll out with an ab wheel, practically all these muscles are engaged. It makes the ab roller an incredibly valuable piece of kit for improving your posture and keeping back pain at bay.
Better coordination. More so than the likes of crunches and sit-ups, ab-wheel workouts tend to use lots of muscles in synergy. This has the knock-on effect of improving mobility, coordination and flexibility.
With ab roller exercises, you’ll feel the burn right from your very first rep (and that’s definitely a good thing). The modified (i.e. kneeling) ab rollout is a great starting point.
For this exercise, kneel on a mat with your legs at hip width, while gripping the ab roller handles. Roll the wheel forward as far as you can before rolling it back underneath your body. Easy does it: you can start with short ranges of motion at the beginning - and then gradually work the wheel our farther with each workout as your abs toughen up.
So you’re keen to tone up - but not exactly thrilled by the idea of cluttering up your home with a bunch of free weights. With resistance bands, you don’t have to.
Each band consists of a rubber loop, colour-coded according to the level of resistance. Gym kit really doesn’t get much simpler than this - and they do the job well, too!
Why you need it
Ideal for toning up. In fact, many people find that they’re actually better than free weights. One study for the European Journal of Sport Science found that elastics can boost muscle activity up to 15% more than dumbbells.
Easy to handle. Drop a slightly-too-heavy kettlebell on your toe and you instantly know about it. Resistance bands certainly work your muscles but they’re also self-regulating: if your muscle reaches its limits, the band contracts safely back to its natural tension level.
Stay in control. For any exercise, start off with a light resistance band and then gradually scale it up as you get stronger.
For a simple yet effective bicep curl, just wrap the loop band around your wrists with your arms shoulder-width apart. Stretch the band until you feel the resistance, lower your arms and then curl up.
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