Bringing in the New Year: How to build a home gym

Our basement is my favorite room in our whole house.  It all started with a treadmill, wp-1472224822536.jpgwhich also happens to be my favorite piece of “furniture”.  🙂  Then, over time, my husband and I started adding other favorite items. I’ve got to say, it’s pretty convenient to roll out of bed and head to the basement for my workouts in the morning, especially since Cadence was born.  It really doesn’t take too much investment for some basic pieces that will help build a great strength training circuit though. (I still posit that a good ol’ push-up is one of the best strength workouts that you can do, which does not involve any equipment at all!)

Here are some of the items in our gym.  Whether you work out at the foot of your bed or in your own basement, there is something for everyone.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the list.  Any one of these items will give you many options for a variety of workouts.

  1. Basic dumbbells: I use 5, 10, and 15 pounds for just about everything.
  2. Bosu Ball: I bought mine at Target, and I love it for stability training.  There are specific workouts that you can do on a Bosu ball, but you can also stand on it doing basic moves like a dumbbell curl.  Just the act of standing on the Bosu ball will help increase stability.  For an extra challenge, stand on one leg while doing your strength work.
  3. Medicine ball: I bought this 10 pound medicine ball, and it adds variety to strength work by activating more of the core when holding it.  Even just holding it while doing squats or lunges makes the exercise more of a core workout.
  4. Kettle Bells: my husband bought me kettle bells for mother’s day (he’s a romantic :), and I love to sling them around!  A great workout that forces you to stabilize and utilize your core!
  5. Two frisbies: this is one of my favorites for its simplicity and difficulty.  I learned this move in my Oh Baby fitness classes as a newly postpartum mom.  Get in push up position with one foot on each slider or frisby.  Then use your arms to “walk” yourself forward while feet slide along the ground with the sliders.  It’s a really tough workout for the core and arms and it only takes a room and two sliders to slide up and down for a great workout!
  6. A stair step: I inherited my step from my mom, but any type of step will do.  This is great for stair lunges, calf raises, and any other stair exercise.
  7. Yoga ball: other than giving birth (no, I did not bring my ball to the hospital-ha!), this ball is great for ab work, and it serves as a replacement for a bench if you want to do arm work while sitting on it.
  8. Resistant Bands: tie off the band so that it is a loop, step in, and try to do side lunges.  Then you’ll understand the beauty of these little bands.  Also good for clamshells and a variety of other exercises.
  9. Barbell: I don’t really use the barbell very much, but my husband does.  It’s a great piece of equipment, but my coach doesn’t incorporate it. I like to do squats and deadlifts when I’m not following my coach’s plan.
  10. Pull up bar: I was so excited to get a pull-up bar, but I do not use ours anymore because I had hernia surgery in May, and the force is more than I want to risk.  But, if you did not recently have hernia surgery, this little bar will humble you and make you tremble!  🙂
  11. Treadmill: this is pretty obvious, but I love my treadmill. I run at least half of my weekly runs on the treadmill, and I have found that I especially like it for “hillwork” and for some of my standard weekly runs to see how I’m responding when the variables are all kept constant.  You can read more about treadmill selection here.
  12. Spin bike: My husband bought our spin bike, but I’ve gotten more use of it for my cross training than he has.  It was great to complement running through pregnancy, and I love to use it for recovery.  It’s not just for easy riding though.  You can get a mean workout in with the spin bike if you crank up resistance, increase cadence, or incorporate standing while riding.  Read more about the spin bike for cross training here.
  13. Stair stepper: This is another piece of equipment that I love for cross training.  I used it a lot during pregnancy because I could get a great cardio workout without all of the pounding.  It was also the first machine that I used during my postpartum recovery.

A lot of items can be purchased on Craigslist or some other consignment/second-hand store.  We bought my treadmill, bike, stair stepper, and barbell set secondhand.

My training plan involves a lot of strength training, and this actually turns out to fit our lifestyle really well because Cadence enjoys playing in the basement while we strength train. I trained for my first 100 mile race this past summer with Cadence playing beside me while I trained for most of it.  We “baby-proofed” the basement as much as a gym can be baby-proofed, and it has made all of the difference to allow my husband and me to have the freedom to work out and spend time together.  I also attribute not getting any injuries despite a high intensity running schedule to the amount of strength work in my plan.

What is your favorite piece of exercise equipment? (Shoes don’t count! 😉

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