Since starting a full time job as a physical therapist at the beginning of the year, my free time has diminished greatly. Working long hours with a long commute to and from work has left much less time for training. Add in a dog with separation anxiety at an all-time high, and I’m left with 1 day a week to get into the gym.
Of course I know 1 day a week is not enough to meet my training goals and needs, but luckily, I have enough equipment at home to get in what I need and maximize my training time.
I know I am not the only one who has experienced this time barrier. While many people can get over the barrier by re-assessing priorities, many people simply are unable to make it into the gym on a regular basis.
The good news? You can definitely still achieve your goals- you just need to be smart about how you maximize the time you do have. One of the ways I have made this work is quick workouts in my living room! I’ve gathered some equipment over the years that help me train what I need in my apartment. This takes away the time involved in driving to the gym, parking, waiting for equipment to be free, etc. (and decreases the anxiety my dog has from me being gone all the time- yes that’s real life-he’s been destroying our door).
You’ll see below the top 10 pieces of equipment or tools I recommend for those of you wanting to maximize your training time but don’t have a garage or a ton of spare cash to create a home gym. For each tool I mention, I have even linked my recommendation, making it easy for you to get started right now! Check them out and click on the link to get over the time barrier and start tackling your health and fitness goals!
I own several because I love them so much. Kettlebells are the #1 tool I recommend having at home to maximize your training time and reach your goals. They are super versatile, portable, and are the perfect way to get a high intensity training session in. Combine resistance training with cardiovascular training helps you maximize the time you have available to train!
Ideally, you will want 1 heavy, 2 moderately heavy, and 1 lighter kettlebell. But you can definitely get away with one moderately heavy kettlebell to start! I linked a 16 kg kettlebell here, which is usually a good starting point.
Of course this is a more expensive tool, but it is an investment in your health. Plus the kettlebell skills are endless, so there is always something fun to try or work on. You’ll never get bored!
Pro tip: these are pretty expensive-I get it. And the shipping cost when purchased online is usually just as much as the kettlebells cost. My husband and I bought ours on a Black Friday Sale that included free shipping. So watch out for sales during holidays, especially Black Friday. You don’t want to skimp on kettlebells. Get the heavy duty ones, so they last. None of the plastic pink kettlebell stuff.
2. Mini Bands:
One of my key pieces of equipment for glute training. The little extra band helps me really target my glutes. Especially when I don’t have access to a heavy barbell. And when I am performing heavy barbell thrusts, these little bands give an added edge that light my glutes on fire!
3. Monster Band:
I have one the thickness/resistance level similar to the purple one linked here. Of course owning multiple is beneficial for variety, but you can definitely get away with just one! This band is a great resistance for banded goodmornings, banded hip thrusts, assisted pull-ups, suitcase deadlifts, and a ton of other great exercises.
This is also the 1 piece of equipment I always travel with because it takes up a small amount of space and can be used to create a full body workout almost anywhere!
This is one of the classics most people have. I love using my physio ball to train abs with a stir the pot exercise or to train my hamstrings with a physio ball hamstring curl.
While it’s not necessarily one of my prioritized pieces of equipment, it definitely provides a different stimulus and various options other equipment doesn’t allow for.
5. Val Slides:
These are another extremely versatile training tool. These are great for a variety of lunges, hamstring curls, and added challenges to planks. Plus they’re super cheap!
6. Foam Roller:
With foam rollers, any size will do, but I personally have and recommend the 36-inch foam roller. I love foam rolling right before bed and on days that I feel particularly sore from heavy training days.
Foam rolling has some great benefits. It works to aide in some of the inflammation that happens with delayed onset muscle soreness. It also works to calm the nervous system down. This is why we usually feel our muscles are less tense and that we have better mobility after. Foam rolling is a great pre-sleep routine for this reason!
Foam rolling does not, however, break up scar tissue. You would need a scalpel or knife for that (seriously, we can’t break up scar tissue with a roller or our hands).
You don’t need to go crazy with these; although it is easy to do so. I have about 3 or 4 of various thicknesses. I use these for warm-ups or finishers for my shoulder workouts or added resistance to various exercises.
I linked the one that I have which is the most popular, TRX. This is a more expensive piece of equipment and definitely not necessary. But due to it’s versatility and ability to put up literally anywhere (in a door in your house or apartment or even on a tree branch outside), I had to include it.
I love using this for almost any exercise from assisted exercises like single-leg squats or lunges, to inverted rows. I also love using this for mobility training and strengthening my joints at ranges I don’t own yet!
9. Pull Up Bar:
This is a must if you are looking to getting your first pull-up or improving the number of pull-ups you’re able to rep out. This was one of the key factors that helped me get to 10 unbroken strict pull-ups. I had this hung in the doorway and did a pull-up every time I passed under it for weeks!
Of course if you don’t have a pull-up yet, you’ll need a little assistance to do so, but this will help you get a pull-up faster than ever. Use a chair to help you get to the top and lower yourself down, as slowly and with as much control as possible.
10. Jump Rope:
Since I live in an apartment, I don’t use this as much in my living room. I don’t want to do that to my neighbors. But this has come very handy for keeping my heart rate up during circuits when I go to my apartment gym, when I’m traveling, or when I train outside. Which is why this definitely made the list.
Plus I love how jumping rope challenges our coordination. We tend to neglect training things like coordination and balance. Things that we take for granted until we are affected by a disease or injury that compromises them.
So there you have it. My top 10 tools for training at home. Most of them are super affordable and hardly take up much space! Stop stressing about missing your workouts when you aren’t able to make it into the gym. And if you’re someone who is afraid to start lifting weights in a gym, you can easily start in the comfort of your own living room!
Last but not least, I will be sending out my living room workouts with these pieces of equipment regularly, so get your email on my list if you haven’t already!