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  • Ciaran O’Connell

Top 5 pieces of fitness equipment for home



  1. Resistance bands

  2. Suspension trainer

  3. Kettlebell

  4. Bench

  5. Swiss ball

Resistance bands

Resistance bands have always had their place in the gym. Hung up and left on a hook… But not longer!

These pieces of elastic are probably THE most versatile pieces of exercise equipment that someone can buy, yet most people neglect them.

There are varying strengths of resistance bands. The lighter and thinner bands tend to be used for more rehabilitation work, warm ups and activation. But they have their place for individuals at the cusp of hitting their first pull up or want to add an extra level of resistance to their lifts.

Heavier and thicker bands will be used for beginners in some exercises like a pull up to assist in the upward movement. However they are also used for the athletes looking to utilise the force-velocity benefits of lifting with bands.


Resistance bands need to be thought of as the same as dumbbells and barbells for lifting. I might even say they are better.

Resistance bands provide a continuous level of tension when lifting, where weights cannot. Muscles reach a peak velocity and slow down at the top of a movement, however with a band the elastic forces muscles to keep working all the way through a movement, and then control on the lowering phase.

Pros

  • Cheap

  • Easy to travel with

  • Versatile

Cons

  • Tricky to use if new to them

  • Hard to pick the right resistance level

Suspension Trainer

When you think of a suspension trainer, you probably think of ‘TRX’ - there are cheaper versions available, but TRX are the godfathers of this piece of kit.

This very simple strap and handle combo is a staple for everyones home gym.


Why? They allow a beginner to become advanced, and an advanced exerciser to become elite.

Suspension trainers can be taken anywhere. You can hang them from the back of a door, over a bar, over a tree, or whatever you can find.


Having a strap allows you to regress an exercise to take away weight and make a movement easier, such as a squat. Or to develop the strength in the back to build towards a pull up. The possibilities are endless.


Pros

  • Strong material

  • Versailte

  • Easy to carry around

Cons

  • Can be expensive

  • Need something to attach to

Kettlebell

Kettlebells can look scary. A big ball of weight with a hand attached to the top of it, makes sense.

But fear not, these humble pieces of equipment are among the best to have at home. One weight can do so much.


The kettlebell has been around for years, and there’s a reason for this. Where a dumbbell has weight either side of a handle, the kettlebell has the weight at the bottom which provides a new range of exercises that can be performed.

Functional fitness is a buzz word in the industry at the moment, but the kettlebell is at the forefront of any functional fitness class or exercise. Swings, carrys, racked squats, turkish get ups, and so on all involve multiple muscle groups in order to perform the exercise. This one piece of kit can create a multitude of compound exercises that are joint friendly and superhuman strength builders.


Pros

  • Limitless exercises

  • Functional

  • Practical

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Heavy weight usually needed

Bench / Box

Many things can be used as a bench or box such as a sofa or step. However, it’s better to purchase a bench/box designed to take weight and movement.


What a bench/box provides you is the ability to progress and regress exercises. Take a press up for example, to make it easier you could do an incline press up against the bench, or to make it harder you could do a decline press up by putting your feet on the bench.

What’s even better is if you already have weights such as dumbbells then you can use the bench to lie down and create exercises.


It’s not all about upper body work, but benches/boxes provide a platform to jump or step on to, or to create a single leg exercise.


Pros

  • Versatile

  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Large

Swiss ball

No, an exercise ball is not only for the elderly population or a pilates class.


The exercise ball (not sure why it’s called a Swiss ball) is perfect for joint friendly movements, pelvic floor training, ab training and stabilisation. This is why it is associated with a certain population. However, all those benefits should be focused on by everyone.


This piece of equipment is cheap as chips and fun to play around with during a rest. Try using the ball between you and the wall and performing a squat. What you’ll find is that the pressure on the hips and knees is far less than just bodyweight alone.


This can also be used as a ‘bench’ for multiple exercises like a shoulder press, chest press, chest fly etc. It just makes it slightly more difficult by engaging the core more.

Pros

  • Cheap

  • Versatile

  • Perfect for all abilities

Cons

  • Assistance can be needed

  • Takes up space


What piece of equipment would you put as your top 5? Let me know.

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