The 5 things you actually need to exercise at home.

Image: iStock.

When you’re starting to work out, it can be tempting to buy all the fancy equipment and clothing to try and motivate yourself to exercise. But by the time you’ve bought four different sets of weights, a foam roller and maybe even an exercise machine, you may as well have invested in a gym membership.

The good news is you don’t need lots of fancy equipment to get the most out of your workouts at home.

“All you need is motivation to start, the consistency to keep going and the results will fall into place, because it’s not about having the best program; it’s simply about sticking to something long enough to yield results,” says About Phat personal trainer James Anderson.

Here are the five basic items you need to exercise at home (and some are completely free!), plus the four things that are just unnecessary costs.

What you need

1. Your body weight

Yep, for once all you really need to bring is yourself.

“Full body movements like squats, lunges, push ups, planks, burpees and mountain climbers can create some of the toughest and most inexpensive workouts you could imagine, while still giving you the most bang-for-your-buck (aka booty),” says Anderson.

2. A stopwatch

Time is the easiest variable you can mix up to increase the intensity and difficulty of your workouts, allowing you to be your own PT.

“You can increase the time you work out for, decrease the time you rest for, or try to fit as many reps/rounds as you can in a specified time period. Whatever you want to achieve, time can help you get there – faster,” Anderson says.(Post continues after gallery.)

3. A set of weights

Generally quite inexpensive, having at least one set of weights is a great addition to your circuit or workout. Go for the simple dumbbells, or try Phuket Bodhi personal trainer Sara McNeil’s recommendation of a kettlebell.

“You’ll never be bored with a kettlebell. Utilising kettlebells in your fitness routine will give you an endless variety of exercises that target every area of your body,” she says. (Post continues after video.)

4. Space

It sounds obvious, but according to personal trainer Michael Bellofiore taking your workout outside where there’s more space can have a significant impact on the efficacy of your workout.

“Whether it be in the garage, the backyard or the front yard, the more space you have to train in the better your workout will be. With more space you can do a better, harder workout by incorporating cardio exercise such as shuttle runs, burpees and sprints,” he says.


Going outside, away from kids and other distractions like the TV, can also help you stay focussed and enjoy your workout more.

Consider taking your exercise outside. Image via iStock.

5. Yoga mat

While the floor can suffice, it can be hard on your joints when performing certain exercises like the plank or situps. A yoga mat or bench makes the practise that little bit more comfy... and provides you with a good rest spot!

What you don't need

1. Cross trainer

According to Anderson, these are a complete waste of time at home.

"Seriously, save your cash and either run some stairs in your home or office building or get your butt outside and go for a walk or run instead," he says.

2. Treadmill

Again, treadmills are a big expense for a machine that does one thing (that you can do outside, anyway.) Big pieces of equipment also take up valuable space and can be an eyesore to your otherwise Instagrammable interiors.

Only good for this.

3. Anything from an infomercial

The Ab-Core-Thigh Revolver 3000 may conveniently fold up under your bed, but let's be honest — that's where it will likely stay. There are plenty of cheaper things that will do the same thing, if not better.

"Use a chair or bench for exercises like dips or step ups, a yoga mat for core exercises and dumbbells for upper body resistance work. There is no magic machine that will get you results only yourself to make it happen," says Bellofiore.

4. Swiss ball

If you don't know how to use it, a Swiss ball will only complicate your workout and you'll spend more time working out what to do with it than actually using it. Keep things simple and give this one a miss.

What equipment do you think is essential for working out at home?