5 versatile home gym essentials for an effective workout

Do you want to set up a home gym but don’t know which essentials you’ll need to ensure your workouts are more effective? Read on for my 5 home gym staples that won’t break the bank and will support your at-home workout routines.

If you’re working out at home exclusively or supplementing your at-home fitness regime with additional trips to the gym, it always pays off, when you have a set of fitness tools at hand that will make your workouts that much more effective. 

Here, I’m sharing what I believe is a solid basic set-up and included items that are mainly very versatile for a very wide range of activities and are adaptable to a variety of abilities, budgets, fitness plans, and available workout space.  

Let’s get started! 


5 versatile home gym essentials for an effective workout


1. Mat

What you’ll use it for

A mat is so versatile and a true home gym essential, especially when you don’t have a lot of space. Laying on a mat is much more comfortable than laying directly on the ground.

Personally, I prefer a yoga mat as they are easy to store and they are usually anti-slip so perfect for all sorts of mobility and strength exercises, whether you wear shoes or not. 

Think of sit-ups, planks, all sorts of stretches, crunches, and many more. 



Bonus: Because you can roll up a yoga mat and it’s on the light-weight side of things, it’s not just ideal for your home gym but you can take it with you for an outdoor workout in the park or on the beach, or when you’re taking a mat-based class like yoga.


My pro tip

Fold the exercise mat if you’re doing exercises on your knees as this will give you some extra knee support. 


What to look out for when buying one

Look for a mat that has some thickness to it, ideally 1/8th inch. 

My favorite workout mat is this one from lululemon as it’s designed for high-intensity training and has lots of grip. 


2. Stability ball

What you’ll use it for

Stability balls are such great tools and a home gym staple for many versatile uses. 

You can use it for core exercises, leg exercises, and upper body exercises. And if you don’t have access to a workout bench, a stability ball can take its place. 

Stability balls are inexpensive and lightweight. 


My pro tip

While they might be hard to store away, why not use them instead of a chair while you’re working from home, watching tv, or eating a meal?  


What to look out for when buying one

Choose an exercise ball size that is proportional to your height. 

You want to be able to sit on your ball with your legs at a 90-degree angle or slightly more, but not less. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground or angled slightly down. With your feet flat on the floor and spine straight (not leaning forward, backward, or sideways), your knees should be even with or slightly lower than your hips. 

Use this guide from the American Council on Exercise when choosing a stability ball.1

Height Exercise Ball Size
Under 5′45 cm
Between 5’ and 5’5”55 cm
Between 5’6 and 6’2”65 cm
Over 6’2”75 cm

Another thing to look out for is making sure you get the right thickness in relation to your body weight. Check the weight rating on the ball before buying.


3. Skip rope

What you’ll use it for

Adding a skip rope to your home workout essentials is a great return on investment. A skip rope is budget-friendly, space efficient, and helps train your full body – either indoors or outdoors. 

Skipping rope is a wonderful cardio activity that gets your heart rate pumping quickly. It’s also good for muscle coordination and stability. 


What to look out for when buying one

Finding the right size for your height is important. 

To figure this out step on the center of the rope and pull it taut. The ends of the rope should reach your armpits (not counting the handles). Zero in on the perfect length by testing out the jump rope to see how it performs.

Durable handles with a good quality grip is also important to consider when buying a skip rope. 

My rope of choice when starting out is this one because you can also adjust the length. 



4. Dumbbells 

What you’ll use it for

Dumbbells are essential to your home workout especially when you’ll be working on your muscular coordination and strength. 

Having a pair of weights that are heavy and a pair that are lighter will be a smart way to challenge yourself depending on which muscle groups you are training. 

Not only can they enhance your at-home fitness experience, but they are also very effective tools for weight loss and strength training.



My pro tip

Consider an adjustable set that will grow with you as you get stronger and fitter on your fitness journey.


What to look out for when buying one

It is difficult to establish a one-size-fits-all dumbbell that will work equally well for everyone. 

There are so many different factors that need to be taken into account when making a purchase. But, there are several factors you can look out for, which will make your experience of using the dumbbells more efficient, despite what you end up choosing.

Here are some pointers to consider when buying dumbbells for your home gym: 

  • Is the weight and size suited to your exercise regime and needs?
  • Are they suitable for your own weight and size? 
  • Do they come with a rack or storage case if you have limited storage space? 
  • Do they have a rubber coating, which offers protection against damage and helps prevent injury? 
  • Do they have a hexagonal shape to help ensure their stability?
  • Do they suit your budget?


If you take the above factors into account and can make the best decision between adjustable and fixed sets, you are sure to enjoy all the benefits that dumbbells can offer you.


5. Resistance band

What you’ll use it for

Another inexpensive, lightweight, and compact addition to your home gym are resistance bands. 

Resistance bands are very versatile and can be used for stretching exercises, balance, and muscle coordination. 

When starting out with your fitness regime, they are the safer option and easier on the joints compared to free weights. 

They are easy to take with you anywhere and also 



What to look out for when buying one

There are many different kinds of resistance bands out there, many for specific uses. 

My favorites are bands with handles and a material that is more of a fabric as I find them a lot more durable, less likely to break down, and are a lot more comfortable for many exercises. 

One of my go-to choices for resistance bands is this one here


Creating a home gym with essential workout equipment can be as easy as going through this list here, ordering online, and getting set up within a few days to make your home workouts more effective. 

All that’s left to do is join my newsletter community for workout motivation, tips on creating healthy habits, and workout routines you’ll love.