Sometimes, the sheer number of ways you can get fit can stop you moving forward and doing some exercise. This page is for people who would rather not go to the gym, preferring to increase their fitness level from the comfort of their own home. Below you will find 30 ideas to get fit at home, along with a short explanation of each one.
I’d like to add to this a sense of ‘action’. Choosing an item from this (or any) list is all very well. What you really need to do is take a positive action to get started. This can be committing to a friend that you will be starting a routine (accountability helps), or getting the right equipment ordered today, giving you an incentive to put it to the best use.
#1 – Get a Treadmill: These are inexpensive items, with solid multi-featured models starting just above the budget price range at around £150. I recommend a folding model, and something that has a 12km / hour top speed for those sprints. The best thing about treadmills is that there are different programs as you improve – from a brisk walk through to a solid cardio workout. See this Treadmill Reviews page for a detailed guide to what to expect in different price ranges.
#2 – Climb the Stairs: This activity is free! Sure, you’ll climb the stairs a couple of times a day anyway. How about you do it deliberately 3 more times, those extra calories add up over a year to a significant number.
#3 – Pull Up Bars: A simple though very effective piece of equipment. Home pull-up bars fit onto the frame of your doors, and the workout they give can be intensive. After all, you’ll have your body weight in-play each time you use them. These are covered alongside a lot of other smaller pieces of equipment in my Weight Training Accessories page.
#4 – Pilates: This form of exercise focuses on the core and is increasingly popular. You can get started with just a mat and some online videos, though there are benches and balls (along with professional instruction videos) to help you improve.
#5 – Exercise Bikes: One of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment year-in and year-out. What I like about bikes is that they are relatively quiet, and allow your hands to be free (for example for reading). A lot of people watch TV while cycling indoors. Check out this section on Exercise Bike Reviews for a detailed guide to what you can expect for your money. The best-selling bike at amazon.co.uk is below (more than 1000 user feedback entries left!
#6 – Kettlebells: These have been around for many years, though have had a recent surge in popularity. There are a lot of routines possible, though I recommend you get some instruction first – as it is all too easy to give yourself a strain if you lift these incorrectly. The big advantage is that they are easy to store away after use. Check out this review of the DKN vinyl kettlebell set for a great example of what is available.
#7 – Steppers: Specifically referring to mini-steppers here, these are around 30cm high and a little wider and are one of the smallest ‘fitness machines’. Not only do steppers give you a serious workout (cardio and fat burn), they will help you tone up your thighs and butt too. See the range (which goes from mini-steppers to large machines) and compare their features on this Steppers Review page.
#8 – Cardio Gym Workout Videos: If you do not have the time (or maybe inclination) to go to the gym and join a group class for cross training, aerobics or any other variation – then you can do these in the comfort of your own home too. There are 100’s of workouts available online, some free and some paid. Finding an instructor you are happy with, and the time to do it can unlock a lot of possibilities.
#9 – Weights Multi-Gym: For those with the space, there are some amazing multi-gyms available for home use at between £500 and £1000+. These include solid weight stacks and functions which cover all of the major muscle groups. There are plenty of bench options at lower prices too. The main decision is whether you are aiming for a full workout only at home – or will do your main workout in the gym, and then use your home setup for extras. See my Weight Training main page for many detailed guides.
#10 – Burpees: These are fun exercises which are deceptively intensive. All you need is a mat (or maybe a carpet!). You start with a push up, then stand up and do a jump and then repeat… sounds easy, though you try 10 of them and see how you feel after that!
#11 – Sex: This deserves a mention, think of the calories burned as well as the opportunity to get close to your loved one. Of course, this assumes you have a loved one in the first place – though if not then the other 29 suggestions will get you in better shape to go out and find someone!
#12 – Suspension Training: Sometimes known as the brand name TRX, this involves a system of ropes and straps along with special exercises using your body weight for a workout. This can be very effective, and you can get kit which attaches to your door frame. Another area where I recommend getting professional instruction first.
#13 – Hand Grippers: Not all fitness equipment needs to be big or vigorous. Hand grippers are great for strengthening your lower arms, and are small enough to be portable. For those who are feeling more adventurous, the more recent ‘powerballs’ have possibilities too.
#14 – Rowing Machines: This is a full body workout from a sitting position, and has been a favourite for many years now. There are several categories, depending on your budget you can get a standard model for around £125, with the top end water-rowers costing £600 to £1000. My tip is to go for a nice quality folding model, as otherwise these take up a lot of floor space.
(click the pic to see my detailed guide to buying a rowing machine)
#15 – Mini-Bike: These are distinct from exercise bikes, in that you really just get a small unit with pedals. The idea is that you can set this up under your desk while you work, or you can sit in front of the TV and pedal there. Sure, this is not the most vigorous of workouts – though you’ll be surprised how many calories it is possible to get through this way. Check out this page at amazon.co.uk for some great examples (along with equally great discounts in many cases!)
#16 – Smith Machines: This is a variation on home weights gyms which solves the issue of needing a spotter for many types of exercise involving heavy weights. Your bar is enclosed, and a series of pegs can set the lowest possible reach. Check out this search results page, where all of my Smith Machine reviews are listed.
#17 – Push-ups: A tried and trusted method of combining cardio and weight training. If you are not experienced with push-ups, you’ll be surprised how difficult it is to do a lot of them! You can now buy mini-stands, which help get your position and technique right.
#18 – Free Weights: Here I am referring to a dumbbell set, which has a lot of possibilities. You’ll have a choice of sets where you change the weights, or buying fixed ones as a set of predetermined weights. These are much easier to store than a full gym setup, and great for those extra workouts between more intense sessions using other equipment. This page here at fitness review covers the options for Free Weights in detail.
#19 – Squats: Whether you have extra weights or not then the humble squat is an exercise that everyone should have in their arsenal for home use. Think how many calories you could burn just doing a short squats session whenever you boil the kettle!
#20 – Yoga: Many people prefer to do Yoga with an instructor in a group – though there are increasing numbers who do this alone at home too. All you need is a mat, some instruction and maybe even some relaxing music – and you are good to go.
#21 – Elliptical Cross Trainers: Sometimes called Ellipticals, sometimes called Cross Trainers, this is the same machine! The idea is that you move your legs in a semi-circle, with arm resistance too. The effect is an intensive cardio workout which also tones up those legs and butt. These are popular pieces of fitness equipment for home use. Look out for combined Cross Trainers / Exercise bikes in the same machine. See my guide to Elliptical Cross Trainer Reviews here.
#22 – Sit Ups: This would also include crunches, and a whole raft of different exercises and ways to strengthen those core and abs muscles. Your choices include doing these type of exercises on a mat, having a sit-ups bench, an abs trainer (back / headrest with arms), an abs roller, or even something like a Power-Tower (which you can also use for pull-ups and so on).
#23 – Resistance Bands: Elasticated Bands with grips which you can use for home strength training. This is yet another deceptive piece of fitness equipment. They look like they are easy / mild, though pack a big punch when it comes to giving you a workout. Check this search at amazon.co.uk for a lot of discount offers on the most popular resistance bands.
#24 – Skipping and Jumping: This section was going to only refer to the humble skipping rope (you can now get these with built-in counters). I’d like to add jumps too, star jumps and other cardio type activity which is quick and easy to perform at home. If you find some activity you are comfortable with, then right now is the time to get it started!
#25 – Stairmills: This is for the richer people among us, as Stairmills, which are like mini-escalators for your home do not come cheap. If you enjoy stepping or simply climbing the stairs, then this is the ultimate machine for recreating that.
#26 – Gym Balls: A very versatile piece of equipment is an inflatable ball about 60c high. The size depends on your needs and your own size. Pilates and many sit up type exercises use these. A cheap and very effective way to get started with home fitness.
#27 – Planking: Holding a position still might seem like the opposite of exercise to many readers, I can assure you that after planking you will not feel the same! If you are feeling a little more adventurous, then you could try the ‘Thai Plank’, details (and a video) can be found in my MMA Training Guide.
#28 – Skiing Machines: You will be able to work out both your lower and upper body at the same time with home skiing machine. This recreates the skiing movements, and can be very intensive for those not used to it. Of course, there is the extra advantage that you will not suffer on the first few days of your next real skiing trip.
#29 – Body Weight Exercises: Here I am referring to the type of exercises you can perform with a chair or on the edge of your sofa, though push-ups, sit ups and pull ups would all fall into this category.
#30 – Turn off the TV: I saved the best until last. Sitting and watching the TV when you could be exercising is not only unhealthy, it is (mostly) a waste of your time. Even if you start slowly, get choosing an area of home fitness, and start today – you’ll soon be feeling fit, healthy and full of life!
#31 Vibration Plate Trainers: A new addition to this list (I can already think of several more additions). Vibration plates / Power Plates are becoming increasingly popular. Best selling models like the BlueFin Fitness Ultra Slim have more than 600 buyer comments, that is more than many treadmills. You can read all about them in this dedicated guide.
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