Home Workout Must-Haves
With this pandemic failing to surrender anytime soon, most gym enthusiasts have been forced to make due at home, and for those who don't happen to have a full gym in their garage (or their teensy New York apartment) staying active and making gains has been quite difficult. But we shouldn't let quarantine and closed gyms stop us from living our best lives and becoming our best selves. Besides, Broadway will return eventually, and other performing opportunities will be available even before then. Our Broadway Bods will be ready.
This list is by no means exhaustive, rather I think it lives on the side of minimalistic. With sites like Amazon, you can get pretty much get anything you need for your workouts without even leaving your bedroom. Below are the items that I have found essential for crushing workouts at home.
1. Yoga Mat
A yoga or exercise mat is a no brainer, which is why it's first on the list! Whether you're working out outside or indoors, a yoga mat will keep you from getting dirty and will keep joints like your knees and wrists safe from hard flooring. A mat will also provide grip for your hands and feet so that you may go deep into your stretches or maintain proper control during exercise.
My personal favorite yoga mat is by Jade Yoga. What's great about Jade Yoga is their mats have an amazing grip on them (and for someone like me with sweaty, slippery palms, this is a major win). Jade Yoga also plants a tree for every product of theirs that you purchase, which is simply amazing. If you don't already have a mat and Jade Yoga is out of your price range, I suggest Healthyoga or TOPLUS.
2. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are great for working out at home because they take up virtually no space and if used properly, you really feel the burn! Additionally, they're versatile and able to assist with the need to "get creative" that's presented when working out at home. My personal favorite banded exercises are squats, side step-togethers, leg lift abductions, and rows. Of course, resistance bands come in multiple sizes so you'll need to figure out what size will be most optimal for your desired workout. I use Fitsimplify and Perform Better mini bands, but I'm thinking about adding Perform Better super bands to my collection for additional versatility.
3. Foam Roller
Myofascial release is important for maintaining mobility, flexibility, and overall recovery from workouts. The better you are at recovering, the more likely you are to make gains! It is my firm belief that all households should have a foam roller at their disposal as people of all ages and activity levels can reap the benefits. Make sure you're doing a bit of rolling before and after your workouts (and maybe even on your rest days) in order to optimize your body for those gains! I use a very basic foam roller (Lux Fit) that is affordable, sturdy, and gets the job done!
Now, I'm not harping on body-weight workouts here. If that's your jam, then great, because a lot of good can come from using just body-weight! However, if you're looking to maintain muscle mass that you developed pre-pandemic, or your goal is muscular hypertrophy then you're gonna want to be using weights. I find a few sets of easy to store dumbbells can do wonders for an at-home workout. One way some fitness enthusiasts have gotten creative during quarantine is by using adjustable dumbbells like Powerblocks. These are especially great if you're looking to lift heavy, however they can cost a pretty penny. I've opted for a couple pairs of typical dumbbells. These Amazon basics dumbbells do the trick for light weights, otherwise opt for these heavier weights.
4. Heart Rate Monitor or Fitness Tracker (Fitbit)
When working out at home, it's super easy to slack on ourselves. I have to be honest here--for me it's because I don't have eyes watching me as I potentially would at the gym. As a result I find it difficult to maintain an intensity that will truly be effective for burning calories and putting in work. Having a heart rate monitor can be very helpful for tracking workouts and making sure our heart rate reflects a level of intensity that indicates an efficient workout. The least you need for this is a basic heart rate monitor, however if you wish to track your workouts in more detail and save the information in an app to refer to later, definitely go for a fitness tracker. I use my Fitbit Charge 3 to track my workouts (they just came out with the Charge 4).
5. Protein Powder and Shaker Bottle
Okay okay, maybe this one isn't absolutely essential, but let's face it--if strength gains, muscle gains, and other changes in physique are your goal, then yes, protein powder is going to be super helpful. An increase in protein intake will help your muscle fibers adapt, repair, and grow and protein powder allows you to up your intake without adding extra fat or carbs to your diet. Of course don't just buy any old protein powder, as their are a million and one on the market, and not all of them are as nutritious as they may advertise. Please do your research. My personal favorite is Built By Strength's grass-fed whey protein (get 15% off HERE). I love it is because it's NSF certified for sport, grass-fed high quality protein, made with a 3:1 isolate to concentrate ratio, and 100% natural. Plus the chocolate flavor tastes like straight up chocolate milk! Built By Strength also sells their shaker bottle for you to prepare your protein in, or check out Blender Bottle which I've been using for years and is wonderfully sturdy.
Lastly, one of the products that has helped me immensely with my at-home workout routine is my Spotify subscription. With a practically unlimited amount of music available, on Spotify you can listen to what ever your sweaty heart desires! Plus there are thousands of podcasts available for listening. I'm currently obsessed with a podcast called "My Favorite Murder," a true crime and comedy podcast that has been keeping my workouts alive and motivated. If true crime isn't your thing, don't worry. Spotify has podcasts that touch on pretty much any genre you can think of.
Well that just about sums up everything you need to kill your at-home workout! If you have the storage space at home, you could expand your collection to include a medicine ball (I have this 10 pound one), yoga blocks for stretching, a lacrosse ball for deeper myofascial release, kettlebells for versatility with weights, or a jump rope to up your cardio game!
If you have a home workout must-have you think I should know about, I'd love to hear it! Comment below or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Whatever our home workout routines may look like right now, we should be proud of ourselves for continuing to move during these difficult times. We might not be able do some of our favorite activities, but we will always have our fitness.
Go forth, be healthy, and break a leg!