Since the arrival of the coronavirus last year, gym-goers have taken to Instagram to indulge in a new social distancing-friendly hobby: bragging about their home gym equipment.
And fair play to them: we all need to take care of ourselves and raise our spirits in times like these. There are worse ways to spend your time in lockdown than pumping iron, acquainting yourself with a newly-installed pull-up bar, or posting pictures of your Peloton home exercise bike on social media.
But while there are plenty of body weight exercises to try which don’t require equipment (personal trainer Scott Laidler recommends buying Calisthenics for Beginners: Step-By-Step Workouts to Build Strength at Any Fitness Level by Matt Schifferle), we can’t pretend we’re not envious of those of you showing off the treadmills, spin bikes, boxing bags and heaving weight racks in your basements.
So, to save you from deadlifting the sofa, climbing the walls and – our favourite home workout tip of the day, courtesy of Eastnine’s fitness audio coaching app – using your bedsheets to create a TRX-style suspension workout, we’ve asked top personal trainers to recommend the best gear to get hold of now.
1. Best cardio machines
First up? Get yourself a rowing machine. “While you can run or cycle outside I believe a rowing machine is a smart choice if you looking to burn calories and get a full-body workout at home,” says Claire Turpin, personal trainer and founder of activewear brand CONTUR. “Rowing is an effective all-round activity which combines cardiovascular work and will develop endurance while strengthening the muscles of the whole body. It works the shoulders, arms, back and abs as well as the thighs and the calves.” According to our experts at Telegraph Recommended, the best in the biz is the Concept 2 Model D indoor rower (£860 direct, concept2.co.uk).
We also suggest checking out the Natural Water Rower in ash from The Conran Shop (£1,049, available for delivery in six-eight weeks).
And US brand CITYROW is shipping internationally for the first time to the UK and Australia.
- Read more: best at-home workouts
2. Best weightlifting equipment
Turpin recommends a power rack, also known as a squat rack. It looks a bit like a metal cage, and is a apparently a key component of a full home gym set up. “It can be used with a barbell for squats and shoulder presses. Add in a workout bench for a variety of chest presses or for a full range of cable exercises,” says Turpin.“This piece of kit will also enable you to do pull-up and chin-ups and add in resistance bands and suspension belts for a full total strength body workout.”
Laidler is a fan of a more streamlined “half-rack” (for squats, presses and bench presses), and recommends the Body Power Smith Half Rack, which you can do pull-ups on too. Laidler notes that you could also attach a TRX suspension strap to it. Fitness Superstore, the UK's largest specialist fitness equipment retailer, is currently out of stock but has new stock coming in soon.
When it comes to weight plates (those flat, heavy plates, usually made of cast iron, used in combination with barbells or dumbbells to produce a bar with the desired total weight), Laider says that Eleiko plates are the best – but because they’re commercial quality, they may be excessive for most home gymmers (check the Eleiko website to apply for a quote). Instead, he suggests going for a comprehensive BodyPowerTM set. He points to the BodyPowerTM 160kg Deluxe Rubber/Chrome Olympic Weight Barbell Set (£779, Fitness Superstore).
Read more: Best free online workouts
3. Fighting Fit Kit
Jay Revan, head coach at 12x3 boxing gyms, also recommends getting a punch bag to let off steam. “During lockdown one of the best ways to keep on top of your physical and mental health is boxing. Your cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and strength and mindset will all benefit from using a punch bag,” he says. Most free standing punch bags are currently sold out, but if you can face installing one, Decathlon have one that can be hooked to the ceiling (£79.99, Decathlon).
Now that you’re nearly all kitted out with the big guns, Laidler suggests throwing a 7.5kg 9T9 steel macebell (which looks a bit like a club) into the mix (£60-£90, 9t9fitness.com). “If you’ve never used one before, it’s a new skill set so it'll stimulate the mind as well as the body.
"It provides a ridiculously good workout to release energy with just one little bit of kit,” he says. More conventionally, he adds, you can also do plenty with a couple of 8kg kettlebells.
Scott Laidler offers home online personal training service and is creating workout plans for those who have purchased new home workout equipment. For more information, visit scottlaidler.com
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What is your favourite home gym equipment? We’d love to hear about how you’ve been working out at home – tell us in the comments below.