Confined to your apartment? With gyms closed and work-from-home and/or shelter-in-place orders becoming more frequent, building your own apartment gym—or having some basic equipment to hand—is important. It’s also easy. But what equipment do you actually need for a simple apartment gym?
Depending on your fitness goals and how spacious your apartment is, there are a variety of ways you can craft your exercise area. Here we look at the most basic equipment you need for a minimalist apartment gym and how much space you might need for it.
Tightening & Toning
As much as fresh air and sunlight are essential workers, if your goal is to slim down and tone up, you may not even have to leave home. For this fitness intent, you’ll want to ramp up your heart rate and complete high rep strength exercises. And since you often don’t even need to have a dedicated exercise space, it’s easy to make this work for smaller living quarters.
Grab a crate or use a storage ottoman (a great way to make your storage work double time!) and fill it up with this easy to stow tone-up ready gear:
Recommended: DEGOL Skipping Rope with Ball Bearings, Rapid Speed Jump Rope Cable with 6” Memory Foam Handles. Ideal for aerobic exercise including speed training, extreme jumping, endurance training and a home or apartment gym.
02. Yoga Mat
Recommended: Pido Yoga Mat. 1/4-inch-thick, non-slip yoga mat for women and men. Eco-friendly exercise mat with carrying strap for Yoga and Pilates.
03. Resistance Bands
Recommended: Booty Bands with three levels of resistance for leg and butt workouts, p90x, crossfit, yoga, hot yoga, pilates, and beach body workouts
04. Push Up Discs
Recommended: Perfect Fitness, Perfect Pushup Elite. Designed to rotate slightly and engage more muscles to build strength and improve definition in the arms, shoulders, chest, back and abs.
05. TRX Straps
Recommended: TRX ALL-IN-ONE Suspension Training: Bodyweight resistance system for a full-body workout for home. Build muscle, burn fat and improve cardio.
If you can sacrifice some floor space to fit in fitness equipment, splurge on some larger pieces. This can turn your workout collection into a home mini gym. Plus, it’s harder to turn down a workout session when your bike is staring at you from across the room.
Add these cardio power punchers to your home gym when you have some extra room to spare:
- Stationary bike: Ever heard of Peloton? Hordes of cyclists have invested in these home bikes and engage with their instructors and friends in recorded and live rides through the attached interactive screen
- Fold up rower: You can even get a beautiful wooden one with a real water vessel, so you feel like you’re rowing on real water
- Affordable treadmill: Burn through calories instead of your budget
Buffing Up & Bulking Out
It’s all about the bulk, is it? If you’re in the “bigger is better” camp, you can still hit your goals with a home set up. To work through the bulk-building process, you’ll complete low reps on heavier weights. For this purpose, you’ll need more equipment than the simple toners above.
So, find a corner of space to house your gear and start setting some fitness goals. Here are some ideas for compact strength training equipment to outfit your home gym:
- Kettlebells: a set of three is great to start with
- Adjustable dumbbells: these take up a heck of a lot less space than your standard set.
- Resistance bands: go for high resistance here.
- Ankle/wrist weights: to take any bodyweight or TRX exercise to a serious level
When you want to add bulk to your bod, you’ll be adding bulk to your gym setup. Keep it organized with weight racks and storage systems. This will help keep the space tidy, but also better differentiate between your chill space and your get-in-the-game zone.
Rest & Recovery
Not to be forgotten, recovery plays a big role in any fitness routine. Don’t be fooled thinking that it’s just fluff. Research shows that proper recovery leads to better performance, so don’t skip out on it.
Below are some great recovery tools you can add to your home gym to help keep your body fresh and ready to train.
- Foam Roller: mash out those sore muscles and tight spots
- Lacrosse Ball: pinpoint those hard to reach spots for some deep tissue massage
- Stretch Strap: in case you need a little help reaching your toes
It’s clear the tools above need little to no space, so there’s also no downside to including them in your set up.
When you want to take your home gym to the next level, you can make some easy additions to help the space feel more active and less home-y.
- Mirror: Hang one on the wall to help perfect your form and keep motivated
- Towel hook: Keep that sweat from dripping into your eyes with an easily accessible wipe
- Fan: Stuffy gym? No thanks. Even a small personal fan can add enough of a cool breeze to cut back on the stifle.
- Stopwatch: Enough fussing with your phone’s clock app. Grab a cheap stopwatch and keep it hanging on that towel hook to time your Tabata reps and HIIT sessions.
Tips for Small Spaces
A small space shouldn’t prohibit you from getting your sweat on. You can get crafty with your storage solutions to make better use of the area that you do have. Don’t compromise on your health and fitness, just because you don’t think you have the room.
Refer back to those exercise items in the Tone It category above. They take up hardly any space at all, and could even be stored in a grocery bag in your closet. Stash items under your couch or bed to keep them accessible but out of sight.
You’ve got walls, don’t you? Go vertical and hang some shelves—even from the ceiling! If you’re dealing with roomies, see if they’d be willing to relent some common space to make a shared gym. Having a workout buddy also helps you better stick to your plan.
If you really can’t, or don’t want to, add equipment to your home gym, no stress. Who said you need equipment to exercise? Try holding a plank for 2 minutes, then tell me who’s sweating. You can get a legit workout from just using the weight of your own body.
Take some inspiration from the following exercises for equipment-free training:
- Squats and Lunges (ever done 100 squats in a row without stopping?)
- Planks and pushups: try inclined from your couch or bed
- Pilates and strength centered yoga
- Box jumps onto a step or the couch
If you thought you were limited before reading this article, think again. At the beginning of the original coronavirus lockdown, a French man ran a marathon on his 23-foot balcony So yes, it’s possible to stay fit at home. Tune out that lazy angel on your shoulder and get to reaching those fitness goals you’ve always dreamed about by outfitting a home gym. All during stay-at-home orders at that.
- Dupuy, O., Douzi, W., Theurot, D., Bosquet, L., & Dugué, B. (2018). An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in physiology, 9, 403. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00403
- Healthline, “Are Rest Days Important for Exercise?”
- CNBC, “This man ran a marathon on his 23-foot balcony during COVID-19 lockdown—here are the mental tricks he used to finish”