Making it to the gym isn't always an option (or a priority). Craziness at home, fear of the frigid temperatures, and a general lack of motivation have all made our list of excuses. But skipping the gym doesn't have to mean skipping a workout.
As long as you have a few pieces of equipment and some empty space, you can get sweaty from the comfort of your own home. Our friends at Wirecutter hooked us up with all the tools we need to get started—trust us, they tested hundreds of products so you don't have to. Now drop and give us 20.
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If you can't justify spending $90 on a piece of workout equipment, the CAP Cast Iron Competition Bell clocks in at under $30 and is Wirecutter's budget pick. It's got a wide handle ideal for two-handed moves, but its cheaper coating and rough finish might make it a bit uncomfortable for one-handed reps. Still, it's a good one for beginners.
Surprise: Stability balls aren't just fun for bouncing around. "Exercise balls are staples in commercial and home gyms, as well as in physical therapy clinics, and are recommended by a variety of health and fitness professionals," Wirecutter says. Wirecutter recommends the TheraBand Pro Series SCP Exercise Ball because it provides the most supportive seat and has a tight seal, so you don't have to worry about it deflating during use.
The GoFit Pro Stability Ball is Wirecutter's budget pick because it's less than $30 and doesn't require you to scrounge around the garage for a bike pump—this bad boy comes with its own. This ball isn't as supportive as its higher-end counterpart, but it'll certainly do the trick in a pinch.
If you want to get fit, you have to take care of your muscles. Stretching and foam rolling are two important and easy ways to give your body some love. "By targeting muscle groups and using both gravity (placing the muscle atop the roller) and friction (the rolling action), you can effectively break up and ease out tight tissue," Wirecutter says. Wirecutter recommends the AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller because it's simple, easy to use, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
Don't let the idea of installing a pull-up bar (or doing a pull-up) scare you off—both are easier than you think. "Pull-ups provide a simple (but not easy) and effective way to increase strength and coordination across multiple joints and muscle groups," so it's worth the installation, according to Wirecutter. Wirecutter suggests the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro because it has multiple grip options and doesn't leave a trace on moldings or doorframes.
Resistance bands are amazing because they "offer an easy way to challenge your strength without the clutter and expense of bulky, heavy weights," Wirecutter says. The best part? They're super easy to store and take up minimal space. Wirecutter's faves are the Bodylatics Stackable Tube Resistance Bands because of the built-in safety guards and additional tubes in higher tensions that come included. The set is easy to use and won't break the bank.
If you live and die for resistance bands, you may be willing to spend a little more money to get something really top-notch. If you're down to splurge, Wirecutter recommends the Resistance Band Training Economy Fitness Package for its durability and resistance. It's stronger and provides more resistance than most tubes and even comes with a four-week starter workout program.
Mini bands are great for rehab and physical therapy workouts. If you're looking for something that's going to actually work you out, Wirecutter recommends the Perform Better Exercise Mini Bands. The 10-inch bands are slightly smaller than the average 12-inchers, so they provide more tension and a harder workout.
There's nothing worse than a bad yoga mat. You're sliding all over the place, you can feel the hard floor beneath your hands and knees... it sucks. If you're looking for something squishy and sticky, Wirecutter recommends Lululemon's The Reversible Mat 5mm. Each side has a different texture to provide exactly the kind of padded support and nonstick grip you need to make it through a flow. Namaste to that.
If the thought of spending $68 on a yoga mat makes you say, "Ommm no," don't sweat it. Wirecutter tested out a few less-expensive mats too. The best of the budget finds? This YogaAccessories 1/4" Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat. It's 6.2mm of thick PVC foam, making it super squishy, and it's cut six inches longer than the standard yoga mat, so you have a little extra room to spread out.
Jump ropes aren't just for the playground. According to Wirecutter, "jump-roping burns the equivalent calories to running a 7:30 mile" (!!), and you don't need a treadmill or trail to do it. Wirecutter's top pick is the XYLsports Jump Rope because of its comfy handles, durability, and smooth rotation. Not to mention it's under $10, so you can stock up for when you inevitably lose it.
Speed jump ropes are different from traditional ropes, in case you didn't know. These ropes are intended for fast jumpers (no skipping allowed!) and just don't work as well when you're jumping slower. While speed ropes tend to be a little pricier, Wirecutter loves this budget one: the Survival and Cross Speed Jump Rope. It swings efficiently and is easy to adjust to different lengths.