These days, more and more people are trying to figure out ways to accomplish their fitness goals at home. You may be avoiding going to your local gym for safety concerns or simply because you are pressed for time and don’t want to waste those precious minutes driving back and forth. Whatever the reason, you’ll need the right equipment.
Unfortunately, the sheer variety of fitness products on the market can make it difficult to know where to start. There is no shortage of infomercials and ads selling the latest in fitness fads. It’s easy to be lured in by them too. However, many of those products are just that — fads.
Instead of buying yourself the latest and greatest new thing, when it comes to fitness, it’s often better to stick with tried and true equipment. And to help you do that, we’ve rounded up some of the best fitness products that are actually worth it, because they actually work.
Many people like to workout at home but simply don’t have the necessary space for dumbbells, barbells or an exercise machine. Not only that, those products can be expensive and not everyone wants to spend hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars for a home gym. If you fall into either of these categories, you are in luck. For a reasonable price, you can get yourself the WODFitters resistance bands. These stretchy bands are so versatile that they can be used to work on every major muscle in your body. And they come as a set of five, each of which is color-coded for different levels of resistance, allowing you to increase the difficulty as you get stronger. Plus, you can easily toss them in a closet or under the bed or even in your luggage so you don’t have to give up your fitness routine when you go on a trip.
Another fitness product that can help you save space in your home is an adjustable dumbbell. This pair from Merax takes the place of 12 sets of traditional dumbbells, but only requires the storage space of a single pair. They start at 11 pounds and can be adjusted all the way up to 71.5 pounds, making them ideal for casual and serious lifters alike. The dial to raise or lower the weight can easily be adjusted when wearing gloves, and they come with small storage trays so you don’t have to worry about damaging your floor when you put them down.
If you ever wanted to feel like Rocky, yet aren’t fond of the idea of fists flying at your head, you can try working out with a medicine ball instead of stepping into the ring. While he may have used an old-school leather one, you’ll be better off with the modern version. They are great for exercises like supermans, Russian twists, lunge twists, ball push-ups, ball planks and squats. Rubber balls like the SPRI Xerball are less likely to slip out of sweaty hands too. They also come in several weight options, you’ll easily be able to find one that matches your current fitness level.
With the popularity of CrossFit, plyo boxes may seem to have become all the rage recently, but these are actually another oldie but goodie. They are great at increasing explosive strength and performing basic body weight exercises like dips, decline pushups and step ups. We prefer a foam option like this box from Sunny Health and Fitness because there is no risk of whacking your shins against it and coming away with a painful bruise or cut. Plus, thanks to its rectangular shape, it offers three heights to workout on.
Ok, ok. We know we said not to get sucked into the latest new fad or product, but even we have to admit that this one is totally worth it. Though the Moulyan Portable Home Gym essentially only consists of a couple of platforms, some bands, ankle straps and handles, you can use it to get a total body workout. And you’ll be doing so for a fraction of the price of buying a traditional home gym machine too. We also like that it requires almost no storage space and can easily be packed in some luggage to take along on a vacation.
So you may be noticing a bit of a theme here, but we are big fans of exercise equipment that is effective yet doesn’t take up a lot of valuable floor space in your home when not in use. This system of straps, handles and buckles lets you use any sturdy anchor point and your own body weight to get a muscle-building and fat-burning workout. It is essentially the same as the popular TRX suspension trainer you see in most gyms but costs less than a third of the price, so you really can’t beat the value.
The lowly workout bench is actually one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in any gym. From bench rows to bench presses to single-leg squats to skullcrushers, the number of exercises you can perform are nearly endless. The makers of the Escape Fitness V2.0 Workout Platform apparently weren’t satisfied with that, though, and somehow managed to come up with an even more versatile option. This workout bench is both angle and height adjustable, the latter feature of which makes it useful as a step platform, and even has a storage space inside of it for a few small dumbbells, workout bands or weightlifting gloves.
Speaking of lifting gloves, this pair from Fit Active is a top choice. Unlike many others, they don’t make your hands all sweaty, thanks to their minimalist, open-back design. Despite that, they still have a nice, supportive wrist wrap to help protect this commonly injured area. The palms are made with a combination of neoprene for cushioning and silicone dots for a secure grip on barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells.
Yeah, we know. Pull-ups and chin-ups are hard and, for most, not that much fun. However, they are one of the best exercises for building upper body strength because they hit essentially every muscle in your torso, back and arms. In fact, they are considered one of the best exercises for building bigger, stronger arms. To perform these exercises at home, the Ultimate Body Press XL Doorway Pull Up Bar stands out as our top choice. It offers several hand positions to put more focus on specific muscles and has a 300-pound maximum weight capacity to accommodate most users. It is expandable from 24 inches to 36 inches wide too, so it can fit in practically any doorway.
Home trampolines may bring to mind images of women in the 80s wearing spandex and baggy scrunchie socks, but put that aside for a minute and consider that you can burn an impressive 300 to 400 calories in just 30 minutes of rebounding. You’ll be doing this without that heavy impact running places on the joints in your knees, ankles and back too. This model eliminates all the annoyances of those old 80s trampolines. It uses bungees rather than metal springs, so it is completely silent and you don’t have to worry about getting pinched. Plus, it can fold in half when you are done using it, making it easy to store in a closet or under the bed.
If you don’t have the time or desire for a dedicated workout every day but still want to burn some extra calories, an under-desk elliptical machine like the Cubii JR1 may be just the ticket. It allows you to turn the normally sedentary act of sitting at a desk all day into a calorie-burning activity. And it does this without taking up that valuable time that you probably need for running errands, taking care of your kids or just catching up on some of your favorite shows. The JR1 has eight resistance levels, makes almost no noise during use and will track your fitness metrics so you can check to see how many calories you’ve burned or how far you’ve pedaled throughout the day.
For those of you who prefer to get your workout in the pool, on the trail and/or just around the neighborhood, the Garmin Instinct can help you track your activities. It is incredibly rugged, rated to withstand depths down to 100 meters, and charges via solar power, which helps extend the battery life. In addition to fitness activities, it also measures your heart rate, oxygen levels, stress levels and the quality of your sleep. The downside, it only works for Android devices. Sorry iPhone users, but you’ll have to stick with the Apple watch.
There is no doubt that regular cardio and weightlifting helps keep you healthy, but we’ll be the first to admit it often leaves you sore and tight too. That’s where a foam roller like this model from TriggerPoint can help. It allows you to get those knots and kinks out yourself, without having to rely on the services of an expensive professional or constantly beg your partner for a massage. This one is particularly effective thanks to its multi-density grid patterns with different shapes that replicate the feeling of palms and fingers.
Traditional scales only show your weight, which isn’t the best metric for tracking progress. If you’ve been lifting a lot of weights, the number on the scale might not go down because you’ve added on muscle at the same time you’ve been losing fat. This can result in some people quickly losing motivation, which is why it is so important to get a model like this one from Renpho that can measure your body fat percentage and 11 other useful metrics. It also pairs with an app on your phone via Bluetooth, making it easy to stay on top of your fitness levels.
Not everyone prefers to work out at home these days, and if you still feel strongly about hitting your local gym, you’ll need a convenient way to take your gloves, towel and change of clothing with you. We recommend the Under Armour Undeniable because it’s durable, has a large opening for loading and unloading contents and features a vented pocket for shoes or dirty laundry. We also like that it comes in several sizes, so no matter how much or little you take to the gym, there is an option that perfectly suits your needs.
Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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