6 Must-Have Home Fitness Tools

Simple Ways to Burn Major Calories

You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get fit. Choosing the right at-home workout equipment will maximize your exercise routine so you get the weight loss, strength training, and fat burning results you want.

Here are 6 simple tools to get you started, recommended by Prevention fitness expert Chris Freytag – choose the ones that appeal to you. “Resist the temptation to pick up a few random items on sale,” Freytag says. “If the item is poorly constructed or doesn’t really interest you, it’s not a bargain.” Stick with these basics and you’ll have a home workout routine that gives you real results.

1. Resistance Bands

Exercise bands are useful for beginners and advanced exercisers alike. They come in different resistance levels, which are usually represented by different colors, so you can choose what you need depending on your ability and what type of moves you’re doing. Rubberized resistance helps you build muscle just like hand weights, and these bands are easy to store and handy for traveling.

To start, choose a medium-strength resistance band. Increase the resistance by folding it lengthwise or shortening the band by holding it closer to the anchor. Make it easier by attaching one end to an anchor point instead of folding it, and hold the other end in your hand. (An anchor point is a sturdy place that holds the center or one end of the band.) For a high anchor, simply put a tight knot in the band and close it securely in a door. For a low anchor, slide it under a heavy piece of furniture, like a couch. Be sure the band is taut when you begin a move.

Control is key to maximizing toning and avoiding injury. Don’t let the band snap back once you’ve reached the top of the move; pause, then release slowly, resisting against the band’s pull.

2. Balance Ball

Exercise balls can be used alone for ab workouts and stretches, or used in conjunction with hand weights as a balance-challenging weight bench. When you sit on or lie across a stability ball, you engage all the muscles in your core to keep yourself supported.

A proper fit will help you work your way to a toned body with better posture, more-defined abs, and a healthy spine with less back pain. Here’s a guide:

Your Height/Proper Sizing

Under 4′ 6″ / 30-cm (12″) ball
5′ 1″ to 5’7″ / 55-cm (22″) ball
5′ 8″ to 6′ 2″ / 65-cm (26″) ball
Over 6′ 2″ / 75-cm (30″) ball

3. Yoga Mat

This is a home workout must. An exercise mat (they’re not just for yoga!) will cushion you from a hard floor and give more support than a carpet when doing ab workouts, floor exercises, and warmup stretches. Plus these rubbery, non-slip mats make it easier, safer, and more comfortable to do yoga or Pilates. Mats come in many colors and designs, so just pick one you’ll enjoy. Another use for a rolled-up yoga mat is as a lumbar support to lie over on the floor after a stressful day.

4. Dumbbells

Dumbbells, or hand weights, are great for building muscle and sculpting your body. One pair each of 3-pound and -5 pound weights will be enough to get you going on a beginning strength-training regimen. As your strength improves, add 8-pound and 10-pound weights.

5. Heart Rate Monitor

Monitoring your exertion level and keeping track of calorie burn helps you chart your fitness progress and feel in charge of your workouts. Exercising too hard can lead to injury, exhaustion or burn out. Not working hard enough can be ineffective and leave you seeing little to no results. Using a heart rate monitor with your at-home workouts will allow you to see exactly where you are at all times. You will learn which of your workouts are high intensity, and which workouts are focused on building strength and stamina for harder moves.

To keep your fat-burning fires stoked, you’ll want to maintain a heart rate between 80 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 200. Calculating 80 percent and 85 percent of this number provides you with your target heart-rate zone.


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