From resistance bands to exercise balls, here’s what you need to do a workout from the comfort of your own home
Remember what at-home workouts once looked like? Bouncing on the command of an on-screen, over-enthusiastic instructor in our sitting rooms, and rocking back and forth on an abs roller.
Thankfully, the fit kit has come on leaps and bounds since then, and effective exercise is 100 percent achievable outside of a gym environment. The key? Getting your hands on the right equipment.
Fitness is fashionable right now, which means that the market is saturated with gimmicks that claim to tune, tweak, transform – and so on – your bod when, often, this isn’t the case. In fact, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. So, steer clear of kit promising an overnight transformation or a six-pack sans workout, and instead opt for simple yet efficient equipment.
Bear in mind the type of training you enjoy too – be it strength, HIIT, cardio or bodyweight – and invest in pieces that can advance your workout and assist you in achieving your goals.
Unsure where to start? Scroll down to see our highest rated at-home fit kit, judged on everything from function and practicality to appearance and price. All are compact pieces – assuming you don’t have an in-house gym – and, when used correctly, can offer significant benefits without the need to ever step foot in a studio.
From £2.99 for a single band (price correct at time of publishing), AmazonBest for: Boosting lower body workouts
Key specs – Sizes: Mini band, power band, and glute band. Various strengths also available depending on requirements
If building a peachy booty, mastering pull-ups or simply increasing allover strength are among your fitness goals, then resistance bands are your new best friends. How so? Well, by doing what their name suggests; adding resistance – or in some cases, such as when performing pull-ups, assistance – to exercises.
Available in a variety of sizes and strengths, Teknifit bands have multiple uses. The mini bands are great for activation – getting your muscles warmed up to work out – and progressing bodyweight exercises to increase intensity.
The power bands, which are longer in length, can help you crack chin-ups and train full body, while the glute band is for adding resistance to squats and glute bridges when bodyweight just won’t cut it.
Small and easily transportable, the bands take up minimal space and are ideal for when exercising on the go. Plus, with prices starting at just £2.99, it’s a no-brainer buy that can enhance almost any at-home workout.
From £16 for a 2kg bell, KettleboobsBest for: Full-body training
Key specs – Sizes: 2kg, 8kg, 10kg, 12kg, 16kg (plus 20kg and 36kg on request); Colour options: Multiple, including custom designs
Favoured by fitness instructors across the globe, kettlebells are a compact piece of equipment that can be used to target most muscle groups. Incorporating kettlebell exercises, such as swings, goblet squats and – for the advanced – Turkish getups, into workouts can increase full-body strength, mobility and stability, all of which are required in everyday life.
And the best part? They can be completed in the comfort of your own home. But, where once you may have squirrelled them away out of sight, it’s entirely possible you’ll want Kettleboobs’ designs to take pride of place on your mantelpiece.
Featuring cactus, spot and cartoon boob motifs, they’re the sassiest kettlebells you can get your mitts on, but if you’d prefer a personal phrase or pic you can have one custom made.
Available in a range of weights, it’s recommended you purchase at least two; one heavier for compound movements – deadlifts, for example – and one lighter for single arm or ab exercises.
£19.97 (price correct at time of publishing), AmazonBest for: Cardio on the go
Key specs – Size: Adjustable; Extras: Comes with an outdoor use protector and a lifetime guarantee
10 best sports bras
While running may be the go-to cardio training of choice for many at-home exercisers, skipping is a happy alternative for those who aren’t so keen on pavement pounding.
Beneficial for its ability to raise heart rate, burn fat, increase core strength and improve coordination, it’s an exercise that’s accessible to almost everyone – from speed skippers to those just starting out.
Beast Gear’s Pro Rope is ideal for all levels. It’s lightweight, easily adjustable and coils up small, making it easy to store. It’s best suited to indoor skipping (so perfect for packing in your gym bag), but does come with a protector to prevent wear and tear when you choose to use it outdoors.
It’s a little pricier than those you might find in high street stores, but its premium quality is worth the extra few pounds.
Key specs – Size: 40 x 20 x 23 cm (each dumbbell); Extras: Workout DVD
Offering benefits such as a decreased risk of osteoporosis, a more efficient metabolism and improved posture, strength training is a form of exercise you don’t want to skip.
The difficulties? When working out at home, there often isn’t enough space for the equipment required, and the set of 5kg dumbbells you bought to boost your squats will soon need to be supplemented with 7kgs as you gain strength.
Adjustable weights offer a space-saving alternative, and Bowflex’s SelectTech Dumbbells are some of the best on the market. Sold singularly or as a pair, the weights have an adjustable range of 2-24kgs, making them suitable to lifters of many levels. Oh, and there’s no removal of weights required to alter the resistance – just a turn of the dial does the job.
Plus, if you’re training without a plan, the accompanying DVD provides access to over 30 exercises.
£56.95 (price correct at time of publishing), AmazonBest for: Yoga
Key specs – Size: 180cm x 66cm with a 4mm thickness; Colour options: 2
Whether you’re into hot yoga or high intensity training, a good mat will make all the difference when you’re working out at home, and one of the best options is by Yogi Bare – a British brand specialising in eco conscious yoga products.
Designed for seamless flowing through yoga poses, its super-grippy top prevents palms and feet from sliding, while its thick, cushioned base also makes it ideal for softening landings during barefoot workouts.
Weighing 2.5kg, it’s light enough to ship between studio and sitting room, and rolls up for easy stashing in a cupboard or behind the sofa. It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and dish soap, but likely won’t cope well with wear and tear caused by trainers and exercise equipment, so consider limiting it to bodyweight workouts (and yoga, of course) without shoes.
It’s reasonably priced compared to others on the market, and is available in different shades. For more yoga mat options, check our our latest yoga mat reviews.
From £4.99 per pair (price correct at time of publishing), AmazonBest for: Challenging your core
Key specs – Size: 17.8cm diameter, 0.7cm thickness; Colour options: 3
Innocuous in appearance (though you won’t think that for long), sliders are small disks used to kick training up a notch.
How so? Well, they introduce an element of instability to whichever move you’re performing – be it lunges or push-ups – and require core engagement in order to control the body part on the slider (which, unsurprisingly, is easier said than done).
Mirafit sliders are dual sided for use on most indoor surfaces – the smooth side is suited to use on fabric surfaces, while the fabric side is better for use on wood, laminate and tiled flooring – and comes in three colours.
They’re lightweight, portable and easy to store, and are perfect for progressing bodyweight moves. At less than £10 a pop, they’re a bargain buy that you’ll likely have a love-hate relationship with, but they have serious potential to increase strength, stability and control.
£157.99 (price correct at time of publishing), AmazonBest for: Maximising bodyweight workouts
Key specs – Included: Suspension trainer, two anchor solutions and storage pouch; Extras: 5 year warranty and 1 year free app access
Recognised by athletes and coaches globally for their versatility and ability to train full body, suspension trainers have become a staple in studios far and wide, and for good reason.
Created by Navy SEAL Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick while on deployment back in the 90s, the first design was made using just a jiu jitsu belt and parachute webbing. These days, the TRX – an acronym for total body resistance exercise – is, thankfully, way more high tech, and offers users great results.
Featuring padded handles and adjustable foot cradles, it can be utilised to both progress and regress all manner of exercises. TRX mountain climbers – where feet rest within the cradles – for example, provide more of a challenge than regular mountain climbers, while pistol squats are made achievable by holding onto the TRX handles for stability.
The TRX Home requires only a simple set-up and can be anchored almost anywhere, including doorways.
It’s light and compact, therefore needn’t take up unnecessary space, and is sold with access to the accompanying app, which provides workout videos for inspiration. That said, it doesn’t come cheap.
Key specs – Size: Fits door frames of 80-120cm and can support up to 100kg
Designed with at-home exercisers in mind, the ‘No Excuses’ pull-up bar is for those who aren’t prepared to compromise their workout on account of their location. Pull-ups, chin-ups, hanging leg raises (and the like) are among the trickiest exercises to master, therefore practice is crucial: that’s where the Freeletics bar comes in.
Made predominately from stainless steel, it’s a sturdy and unfussy bar that makes those hard-to-do-at-home moves achievable. It’s adjustable, and can be installed into door frames of 80-120cm with or without brackets and screws (though they are recommended for the additional security). The bar can support up to 100kg, and foam padding allows for a more comfortable grip.
It’s a low-cost piece of kit that could offer great return in terms of results, but is more suited to advanced exercisers. If you’re new to pull-ups, be sure to purchase a long loop resistance band too for assistance.
From £14.94 (price correct at time of publishing), AmazonBest for: Improving balance
Key specs – Size: Available in 5 sizes; Colour options: 4
Perfect for progressing workouts, improving stability and increasing strength, Theraband’s exercise balls can easily be incorporated into most training sessions.
Everyday exercises, such as dead bugs and glute bridges, can all be made more or less challenging with the introduction of a stability ball, and provide you with a broader range of moves for when you’re training at home.
Although not the easiest piece of equipment to conceal, they can be inflated and deflated with ease, and stored out of eyesight. They’re available in five different sizes, depending on your height, and are wipe clean for faff-free care.
£51, P.VolveBest for: Strengthening thighs and abs
Key specs – Size: 14cm diameter; Colour options: 2; Extras; Pump
This unusual-looking piece of equipment was created by personal trainer Stephen Paterino, who’s known for training Victoria’s Secret models. It’s essentially a ball (14cm in diameter) that you place between your upper thighs using the attached thick band to secure it in place.
It feels weird, although not uncomfortable, and makes exercises such as lunges and leg raises harder to do. The focus here is toning hard-to-reach muscles such as the inner thigh, bottom, or lower abdominals by doing a series of small, precise movements while keeping the ball snugly in place. It’s not about sweating loads, rather activating certain core muscles to tone and define.
We found it fairly simple to use and followed Stephen’s YouTube videos to gather a range of exercises. We felt the burn after doing each workout, which was rather satisfying. If your looking to tone rather than build cardio, it’s a great little device to help you on your way.
Key specs – Size: 1 and can support up to 225kg; Colour options: Variety; Extras: 1-year warranty
If performance is important then recovery should be a priority – even when working out at home. Rest is crucial, while mobility, dynamic stretching and foam rolling can all assist with a more efficient recovery. But be warned, foam rolling isn’t for the faint hearted.
Triggerpoint’s grid roller is designed to replicate a therapists hands, and the idea is to release tension and encourage blood and oxygen flow to muscles by rolling different body parts.
It’s effective, but can be painful if you come across a particularly tight spot. Its tubular shape means it likely can’t be stashed under a sofa in-between rolls though, but is small enough for easy concealment in a cupboard.