Home gym equipment for under $20 - and what you can do with it!

By: Molly

Alright, we’ve all been at home a little while now and things are starting to get a little crazy, you’ve just opened and closed the fridge for the 1000th time today, you didn’t even bother putting on pants for this morning’s zoom meeting, and you feel like your cat is giving you judging looks… It’s time to do the only thing in your day that gives you some sanity – your home workout of course! 

 

Ok so maybe that’s not everyone’s day… just me? Anyway, we ALL should be getting in our home workouts during these crazy times, to help us stay healthy, productive and feeling good about ourselves. Without access to our usual gym equipment, we need to get creative and start to think outside the box. I’ve got a few ideas for you to keep your workouts fresh and keep your muscles working.

1. STEP – $0

Yes, that little 4 letter word that can turn out be the most versatile of part of your home gym – and won’t cost you a cent! You can use a step for strength work, cardio, HIIT workouts – possibilities are endless! Here’s some exercises to start with – put a few from each category together to create your own step workout!

Upper Body Strength: 

  • Plank position, walk hands up and down step
  • Push Ups with hands on step (easier) or feet on step (harder)
  • Tricep dips with hands on step
  • Plank position, shoulder taps

Lower Body Strength:

  • Lunge with back foot raised on step
  • Step ups – slow or fast
  • Calf raises
  • Glute bridges – lay back on floor and feet on step
  • Single leg hip extensions – stand on one leg on the step, extend other leg straight behind 

Full body power/cardio

  • Squat jump up onto step
  • High knees up and down off step
  • Burpee – hands on step
  • Mountain climbers – hands on step
  • Fast alternating toe taps on step
  • Get ups – squat all the way down to sit on the step and stand up or jump up!

2. TOWEL – $0

Here’s a riddle for you: What dries as it gets wetter? Answer: Your new favourite piece of home workout equipment!! Towels are super handy for doing ‘Pull’ type exercises, which are the ones that can get left out when you do only bodyweight exercises. Here are some of my favourite towel exercises:

  • Back squeezes – hold each end of the towel and pull it apart, aiming to pull your shoulder blades together, you can vary this by doing it with your arms bent, straight, out in front of you or overhead
  • Bodyweight rows/pull ups – tie a knot in one end of the towel, hang the towel over the top of a door, shut the door and pull the towel through until the knot stops it. Do this with one towel for single arm rows, or 2 towels for double arm rows – holding on to the towel, walk your feet in towards the door and lean your body backwards. Engage your shoulders, squeeze back and bend your elbows to row your upper body up then slowly lower back.
  • Static deadlift hold – place the middle of the towel under your feet, and hold the ends in each hand, hinging at the hips, with your back straight and parallel to the floor, pull your shoulder blades back and pull on the towel to create as much tension through your body as possible. This is a great way to train your muscle activation for your deadlifts.
  • Overhead squats – holding the towel at each end, lift arms straight overhead and pull arms away from each other, squat down while keeping arms in this overhead position. This will work your upper back and shoulders during your squats!
  • V-sit over/unders – One of my favourite exercises for the abdominals! Sit on the floor, hover your legs off the floor, holding the each end of the towel out in front of you. Tuck your knees in towards your chest, and reach the towel over your knees to bring it under your legs as you extend into the v-sit again. Then reverse, as you tuck your knees in again you’ll bring the towel up on top of your legs. Extreme core strength and flexibility version – keep your legs straight the whole time! 

You can also use two towels as sliders, get yourself on a smooth floor surface and give this workout a try!

  • 10 Side slide lunges – towel under one foot, slide that foot sideways away from your body, keep that leg straight and bend low into the supporting leg
  • 10 Hamstring curls – lying on your back, with your feet on the towels, push hips up into a bridge position and slide your heels away from your body, then pull them back in towards your body. You can do this one leg at a time to make it easier.
  • 20 Mountain climber sliders – in a plank position, with your feet on the towels, alternate pulling one knee in towards your chest at a time, feet keep pressing the towels into the floor as they slide. For more of a challenge you can try this with both legs together sliding in and out!
  • 10 Push ups with arm extension – best to try these on your knees first, because they’re super tough! With a towel under each hand, lower into your push up, when you’re at the very bottom shift your weight towards one hand and slide the other hand straight out to the side until your arm is straight, then slide it back in and push up!

3. BRICKS – $0

No dumbbells? No worries! Pick up those bricks you’ve got laying around in the back shed (maybe) and you’ve got yourself a 3kg weight in a great size, easy enough to hold on to, and plenty that you can do with it. Bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, overhead press just to name a few. 

And really, it doesn’t need to be a brick. Think of all the other things you have around the house that weigh 2-3kgs – a 2L bottle of milk, washing detergent, etc.

Remember, if there’s an exercise you want to do but the weight feels a little light, there are plenty of ways to make that weight feel a lot heavier!

  • Slow the exercise down: using a bicep curl for example, lift the weights (bricks) up fast, then count to 6 as you lower them down. It’ll start to burn a whole lot quicker!
  • Hold the weight further away from your body: while doing squats for example, hold a weight slightly out in front of your body, rather than close to your chest. The further away, the harder it will be to hold.
  • Add a pulse: using a lateral raise for example, you’ll start holding the weights in each hand by your sides, with a slight bend in the elbows, you’ll lift your arms straight out away from your body, when you get to shoulder height, you’ll add 3 little pulses of the arms up and down an inch, before lowering all the way back to your sides. Hello shoulders!

4. FIT BALL – $7.50 (I love you kmart)

https://www.kmart.com.au/product/75cm-gym-ball/205330

Fit ball workouts are awesome for activating your core muscles, and also adding variety to your at home workouts!

Here are some of my favourite fit ball exercises:

  • Sit ups: the ball allows you to get more range of motion, therefore activating more of your abdominal muscles! You can arch back over the ball to start your sit up, just make sure you keep your balance as you crunch up!
  • Push ups: you can adapt your push ups using the ball to vary the difficulty level – with your hands on the floor, put your hips on the ball for easier push ups or roll further down towards feet on the ball to make it harder
  • Oblique crunches: set up kneeling beside the ball, lean sideways onto the ball and extend your opposite leg straight out to the side for support. Crunch up to the side and feel those obliques work!

5. RESISTANCE BANDS – $8 – $15 (again, kmart for the win)

https://www.kmart.com.au/category/sports/shop-by-category/exercise-&-fitness/tone,-yoga-&-pilates-/464540#.plp-wrapper

The advantages of resistance bands are that in one small piece of equipment, you have a range of resistance levels! Depending on where and how you hold the band, you can make it heavier or lighter. They are also great for ‘pull’ exercises like a row. 

Small looped bands or ‘booty bands’ are fantastic for adding to your squats and glute bridges, to fire up more of your glute muscles and protect you from hip and knee problems. 

7. FOAM ROLLER

In my opinion EVERYONE needs a foam roller in their life! And you don’t just need one sitting there on your floor that you trip over every now and then… you need to USE IT, I recommend doing 10 minutes every day. Especially if you are spending a lot of time sitting down at a desk, get up and foam roll your upper spine regularly, as well as your hips and quads, and your body will thank you for it. 

6. SKIPPING ROPE

Again, super affordable, and more versatile than you’d think! Skipping will quickly get your heart rate up for a perfect quick cardio session, a great way to break up your work day. Also, did you know – bouncing up and down helps activate your lymphatic system, which can help to remove toxins from your body and boost your immune system!

For some inspiration on this one, check out Jess’ awesome 20 min skipping rope workout in our online fitness library here

For Exercise Strategies to Maximise Results, PLUS loads of other tips to help you feel amazing, fit and healthy –  Download our FREE Energy, Motivation and Mindset Ebook.

https://takeshape.com.au/virtual-personal-training/