Building up your Home Gym
If you're just getting started, then bodyweight exercises can already do the trick and you don't need any equipment at all. All you need is a space, a mat and some water, and you're good to go. Chairs or other furniture can double as steps and provide elevation.
Bodyweight exercises can be among the most difficult and challenging workouts (just check this video out if you need proof!) but eventually, you're probably going to want to add more resistance and variety, and that's where the equipment comes into the picture.
If you want to start investing in equipment, I would recommend you start with a pair of dumbbells, preferably with adjustable weights so you can pile them on as you get stronger. If you can find weights that have sides (vs. round ones like the ones I have pictured below) those are better, so you don't have to worry about them rolling around when you set them down or if you need to do exercises like plank rows or push-ups while holding on to them.
…and Everything Else.
For a home gym, everything else is pretty much an add-on, since there are usually alternative ways of getting exercises done, such as substituting high knees or tuck jumps for skipping rope, or dumbbell swings instead of kettlebell swings. Still, yes, you're going to want to build up that arsenal to change things up, so here are some items to consider, all of which can fit in a little corner in your room:
Jump rope - Perfect for getting in good cardio especially when it's too hot outside to run. I like those skinny speed ropes.
Lebert Equalizers / Challenger bars - super versatile strength training apparatus. You won't run out of exercises to do with these things! Check out this video for examples of beginner to advanced-level exercises.
Weighted vest - these make everything harder! Push-ups, dips, ab tucks and tuck jumps get crazier. There are options at Toby's and Chris Sports but because I'm petite and couldn't find any that could fit me, I bought my 6-pound vest from Bodyrock.tv.
TRX / suspension system - takes your bodyweight exercises to the next level! Combine with the weighted vest for a killer workout!
Medicine balls - Throw 'em, slam 'em or use them to introduce some instability to your mountain climbers and planks
Balance trainer - Adds an element of instability to improve your core and balance. Increases the level of difficulty for everything from squats to planks and even simple leg balances.
Sandbag - I love my sandbag! The contents shift around and that makes it a little more challenging. This is awesome for functional fitness training.
There are a gazillion workout videos online and many of them are free. My all-time favorites are from Bodyrock.tv, since the hosts work do the entire workout (instead of just demonstrating them) and it feels like you've got a training partner working out with and motivating you.
Ready to get started? What's in your home gym?