The nearest gym is too far? Don’t like paying every month? Are there too many people at the gym that you have to wait 30 minutes to use the equipment? I’ve been there and I get it.

Working out at home saves the time and hassle of having to go to the gym to get your daily exercise. However, just like at the gym, home workouts require at least some basic equipment. Whether you are doing cardio training, trying to build muscle or a mix of both, there are certain tools you will need to ensure you reach your fitness goals as efficiently as possible. Here are the top 10 essential pieces of equipment you will need to optimize your home workouts.

Whether you are doing cardio training, trying to build muscle or a mix of both, there are certain tools you will need to ensure you reach your fitness goals as efficiently as possible. Here are the top 10 essential pieces of equipment you will need to optimize your home workouts.

Here are the top 10 essential pieces of equipment you will need to optimize your home workouts.

Exercise Mat

Exercise Mat

Regardless of the type of exercise you are doing, chances are you’ll need a cushioned surface on which to perform your workouts. Though an exercise mat is useful for those who are doing weight training as well, it is absolutely critical to anyone doing high-intensity cardio exercises at home.

Having a good exercise mat under you while you exercise will help to absorb some of the shock from your workout, reducing the risk of injury and relieving some of the stress from your joints.

It is especially true if you are doing any sort of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and need to do jumps or planks on your elbows.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Adjustable Dumbbell

Weight training in the home has certain limitations compared to the gym because of the absence of machines capable of isolating specific muscles with varying levels of resistance.

Dumbbells, however, are just as useful in either environment. To save money and space in a home environment, it is better to purchase a set of high-quality adjustable dumbbells instead of having to accommodate a complete set of fixed-weight dumbbells and a rack for storing them.

Trust me, adjustable dumbbells are more expensive than regular dumbbells but they will save you some money in the long-term as you get stronger. They will also save some space in your home gym area.

I highly recommend the Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells (Get on Amazon) because of their quality and ease of use but there are definitely cheaper ones out there.

Exercise Shoes

Exercise Shoes

When I first started working out at home, I had a tendency to do the workout barefoot or wearing flip-flops. Bad Idea.

This could lead to all sorts of injuries and it is simply not a good practice. More importantly, having comfortable shoes will make your workout more pleasant.

Much like an exercise mat, a top-notch pair of exercise shoes is important for anyone who is planning to do cardio exercises, especially high-intensity ones.

A good pair of exercise shoes will fit you well and feel comfortable on your foot, but will also offer ankle support and shock absorption enough to keep you from damaging your ankles and knees while exercising.

It is also useful if the exercise shoes you select are breathable, as your feet will likely sweat quite a bit throughout your workout sessions.

Pull-up Bar

Two of the best exercises for building overall upper body strength are pull-ups and chin-ups. In order to do these exercises, however, you will need a bar set up in your house. If you have the room and the money, you can set up a free-standing pull-up bar. For most people, however, it will be more practical to purchase one that can be set up in an interior doorway using the door frame for support. Be sure when setting up your pull up bar to test it carefully before using it, as doing a pull-up on a bar that is not properly secured could lead to injury.

Barbell and Weights

Like dumbbells, a barbell is one of the most basic pieces of equipment used in almost any type of training. Buying a bar and a few standard disc weights will suffice for most beginners, and the weight of the bar can be added to by buying more or heavier weights as your training progresses. Barbells do take up some space, but with their weights removed, can be easily leaned up in a corner or set against a wall. Weights for barbells stack easily, allowing them to be stored without taking up too much space.

Resistance Bands

In addition to weights, anyone wanting to do strength training in a home environment will also need an assortment of high-quality resistance bands. Because they supply resistance by stretching rather than because of mass, resistance bands can be used to target muscles that are not easily worked with barbells or dumbbells, such as legs, abs and obliques. Resistance bands can also be used to supplement weights by providing resistance for muscle isolation exercises that standard weights are not well-suited for.

Bicycle

Whether you are trying to improve your endurance, build leg strength or just lost a few pounds, a bicycle is one of the best tools for getting a great overall workout. Of course, there are exercise machines that simulate the movements of riding a bike, but it is far more convenient for most people simply to purchase a decent bicycle. If you live in an area with off-road trails, a mountain bike may be in order. Otherwise, a standard road bike should meet your needs.

Weight Vest

Arguably one of the best ways for even the most athletic people to challenge themselves, weighted vests can increase the difficulty and intensity of even the simplest exercises by forcing you to do them while carrying substantially more than your normal body weight. Some vests can add as much as 50 pounds to your normal weight, though it is best to get a vest that can be adjusted by adding and subtracting weights. Be cautious not to use too much weight when you start training with a weight vest, as starting out by maximizing the weight your vest can add could lead to injury for those who are not physically ready.

Weightlifting Gloves

If you plan on lifting weights on a regular basis, you’ll likely want to spend a few extra dollars and get a decent pair of weightlifting gloves. These gloves will protect your hands and help you to grip your dumbbells and barbell without being thick enough to make it difficult to maintain a good hold. Weightlifting gloves are an inexpensive and easy way to improve your overall lifting experience, whether at home or in the gym.

Inclining Weight Bench

In order to get the most out of your dumbbells and barbells, you’ll need a weight bench that can be set up to lay flat or to incline. This will allow you to target different muscle groups and increase the variety and versatility of your workouts. If you want to vary your workouts even more, some weight benches can lay flat, incline and decline. Some weight benches will also offer a rack for your barbell, which is both a convenient storage feature and allows you to keep one of your most important pieces of equipment in the place that it will be used most frequently.

Although there are literally thousands of home exercise products, these 10 are the most essential for someone who is serious about getting in shape at home. Using these simple pieces of equipment, you can get in excellent workouts while building strength and improving your body.