You can have a great workout at home without any equipment, but sometimes a few inexpensive pieces can help you vary your exercises and increase intensity. These are five tools for your home gym with ideas for how to use them to improve your workout.
According to the American Council on Exercise, crunches on a stability ball are ranked number three in the top 13 most effective abdominal exercises. It is also useful for toning more than your core. A stability ball can improve your form and increase the intensity of push-ups, wall-sits, leg raises, and stretches.
Jump rope for only a few minutes and you will know why it is rated as a high-intensity activity that blasts calories. A 150-pound woman who jumps rope at a fast pace for just 5 minutes will burn 73 calories. A jump rope can also be used to intensify stretching. When stretching your calves and hamstrings, wrap the rope around the ball of your foot, grasp an end of the rope in each hand and gently pull back to increase the stretch along the back of your legs.
Using a medicine ball for resistance gives your hands and wrists a break from the stress caused by gripping dumbbells. They come in a variety of weights and sizes that allow you to pick the best fit for each exercise. Hold the medicine ball close to the body at chest height as you do squats, lunges, or crunches.
You don’t have to do step aerobics to enjoy the benefits of having the step at home. A step can be used for incline push-ups, one-leg squats, and reverse lunges. It can also be used as a bench for chest press, triceps dips, and crunches. Increase the intensity of your cardio while using little space with step-ups or jump-ups.
These lightweight blocks can be used for more than yoga. Place a block between your knees when doing abdominal exercises or double leg raises to keep proper alignment and tone the inner thighs. Pass the block from side to side when doing oblique twists or through your legs when doing scissor crunches.