You've seen the infomercials for fancy treadmills, stationary bikes with screens for streaming workouts and professional-grade strength equipment. If only you had thousands of dollars to spare, you'd be able to get a quality workout without ever leaving home.
Although unlimited income or a gym membership offer access to a wide variety of exercise options, it's not a necessity to get fit. In fact, you can use the privacy and convenience of home to create a budget-friendly workout routine that works for you. Often the challenge isn't what equipment to buy, but rather, what to do with it once you get it home. By learning a few basic movements, you can start simple, slowly building in complexity and difficulty to get stronger and healthier.
1. Resistance Bands
For less than $25, you can buy a set of resistance bands that will challenge your muscles in a variety of ways. A set of bands provides varying degrees of difficulty, which is useful since some muscles are naturally stronger than others. This routine targets your whole body in just five simple exercises. Do one to three sets of each exercise with eight to 12 repetitions per set.
2. Stability Ball
Twenty dollars will buy you this versatile piece of equipment. Whether you're performing a seated shoulder press, crunches or split squats, adding the ball forces you to engage your core muscles to help stabilize the body during each movement. It also helps improve balance and increases flexibility since your muscles stretch more when they aren't on flat ground. Start with this routine, which will build core strength that not only improves your fitness level but helps you perform everyday activities with ease. Do one to three sets of each exercise with eight to 12 repetitions per set.
3. Jump Rope
Jumping rope isn't just for kids—it's a challenging cardio tool that you can use with minimal space and expense. Not only does a simple rope costs $15 or less, but it can be used as a quick way to get your heart pumping quickly or add cardio bursts between exercises in your strength routine.
Beginners can start with 20 seconds of jumping, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this cycle eight times to complete a four-minute workout. While four minutes might not sound like much, it takes time to become efficient and able to jump for longer periods of time. As you get more comfortable with one cycle, add a second and third until you're able to do 12 total minutes of jumping.
4. Yoga Mat
Why yoga? Workouts vary from relaxing to intense depending on the type of practice, so there are lots of options depending on what you're looking for. It helps to take a few classes with a certified instructor to get familiar with basic poses and proper form, but there are also a wide variety of instructional videos and workouts to choose from on YouTube or through subscription-based apps. Mat prices start around $25, so what are you waiting for? This 20-minute workout for beginners will help you stay mindful and feel refreshed.
5. Deck of Cards
This common item, found at most stores for less than $2, can add unlimited variety to your workouts. Your only limit is your own imagination. To get started, choose four exercises and assign each one to a suit of a deck of cards. The exercises can be cardio, strength, stretching or any combination of the three. The number on each card represents how many repetitions of each exercises you should do. Aces are one and face cards are 10. Decide on the length of the workout, set a timer, shuffle and you're ready to go! This sample cardio workout will get you started.
Burpees = hearts
Mountain climbers = diamonds
Plank jacks = spades
Frog jumps = clubs
6. Medicine Ball
If you’re looking to add some variety and explosiveness to your workouts, consider the medicine ball. While traditional dumbbells involve only a lifting and lowering movement, the medicine ball can be thrown, which allows for greater range of motion. Most range in price from $20 to $50 and take up minimal space in your home gym. This full-body workout has three exercises and takes just 10 minutes. Set a timer, perform each one for 30 to 60 seconds before moving to the next one, continuing until time runs out.
Working out at home doesn't have to be boring or expensive. Whether you're a beginner or experienced exerciser, with minimal investment, you can create a wide variety of fun and challenging workouts.