Home is where the Heart is

Following on from my previous article, I wanted to share with you some of the equipment I have found make up the perfect home-gym. In this post, I have concentrated on those good for Core routines and Functional training in particular.

Core/Functional training equipment

Swiss ball

The Swiss Ball is an inflatable rubber ball, ranging from Basketball size to several times bigger, depending on the requirement. There are a few styles to choose from, however I would recommend one with ridges for better grip such as this one from Viavito. They are a versatile addition to the home gym, as they not only provide a great core workout option, but can also double up as good alternative to the office chair (see article on Posture). Their benefit comes in their instability, requiring you to engage your core whenever in use.

Besides the number of primary exercises possible using a Swiss Ball (see workout routine in later posts), I have found them useful when I want to engage my core whilst performing weighted exercises too. This adds a further aspect to your workout and helps to tone the whole body. A good example exercise would be the Lying Fly or Lying Reverse Fly.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are basically a large Elastic Band and come in different lengths and resistance levels. The shorter bands tend to be used for inner and outer thigh workouts, whereas the longer for pull exercises or to assist with bodyweight exercises like Pullups.

Although some come with handles, personally I prefer the bands without handles, due to their greater versatility. I bought these bands from Starwood Sports as I found them not only good quality, but also they retain a constant resistance over a long range.

Resistance bands are a great way to add extra resistance to weight loaded exercises too. They are beneficial since they can be removed during a set; allowing a safe way to perform drop sets, for those looking to more advanced training routines.

Foam Roller

The Foam Roller is simply a foam textured cylinder, approximately 30cm (1 foot) long. Like the Swiss Ball, it can add instability to a workout, ensuring you engage your core. I use this item to perform push-ups where I place a hand on the roller when pressing, this I find adds a greater stretch to the press and forces me to engage my obliques.

There are variations on the Foam Roller, however I prefer a strong tube design, since it tends to be light-weight and firmer, a good example is this one from FFEXS.

Foam Rollers can also be used to assist with circulation and relieve soreness to tight muscles. By placing the roller under the body whilst lying on your back for example, you can massage the lower back and shoulders.

Ab Roller (Wheel)

Last on my list, but by no means the least is the Ab Roller, also known as the Ab Wheel. Although this piece of equipment is less versatile that those mentioned above, it is still a good addition to your home-gym. Exercises with the Ab Roller will work the whole body, rather that isolation exercises. I tend to use it as a exhaustion exercise at the end of a upper-body workout; such as the exercise shown in the image above.

The width of the wheel on the Ab Roller defines the difficulty level; whereby the narrower the wheel, the harder you need to work your core. For those new to its use, I would recommend the Trideer roller, since it is strong, light-weight and has a wide base.

Exercising at home will become the new norm I believe post-CoVid, due to the rise of a work-from-home culture. In this article and the previous, hopefully I have shown how easy and cost effective it can be to deck out your home gym, whether you are a weight-trainer or functional trainer. You should not need alot of space or money to do so. Using the equipment shown, I have managed to equip a perfectly acceptable alternative to the local gym in half of my garage.

Let me know what you think, and I would be keen to hear how you get on with yours.

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