Here’s how you can transform your home with a few well-chosen strength training items that can cost less than a monthly gym membership.


Psst! There’s a little secret your local sweat box doesn’t want you to know: working out at home offers just as many benefits as that deluxe gym membership. Even if you live in a single bedroom apartment with minimal space, you simply have to ignite your exercise imagination via a few inexpensive purchases to gift yourself a lifelong gym membership. You don’t need a massive selection of barbells, dumbbells or machines to build serious levels of muscle and strength. Too often, a gym membership can even inhibit your progress because it requires that you be in a specific location during set hours to get your workout done. Fortunately, bodyweight training combined with a few well-chosen pieces of home workout equipment is an excellent option for anyone just starting out. Here’s how to decide on the best equipment so you can combine it with bodyweight training and exceed all your performance and physique goals.


Entry level budget

Cost = One month’s gym membership


Swiss ball

Why: It offers you more moves than Jagger and will build total body strength with particular emphasis on the core. Upgrade it: If you buy adjustable dumbbells you can use the ball as a substitute for a weight bench, which will allow you to do almost every exercise imaginable.

Pull-up bar

Why: It turns any doorway into a musclebuilding station that uses your body weight to train your back, biceps and abs in particular. Upgrade it: Buy a medicine ball or dumb-bell to hold between your legs to increase the resistance.

Resistance band kit

Why: These offer you a flexible form of resistance that can be used on their own or combined with the Swiss ball to burn fat and build muscle. Upgrade it: Double up the bands to provide additional resistance.

Ab roller wheel

Why: The wheel isolates your abdominals. Move it to the left or right to target your obliques and you have a complete core workout. Upgrade it: You can use it on soft surfawes like grass or carpet to add more resistance, as you get stronger.


Intermediate level budget

Cost = two to three months’ gym membership.


Light medicine ball

Why: Combine it with the Swiss ball to make ab work tougher or toss it in the air to add a sports conditioning and plyometric element to your workouts. Upgrade it: Buy a 10kg ball to do your heavier sets and warm up with the 5kg ball.

Power block adjustable dumbbell set

Why: These let you work each limb individually and are the crux of just about every fat-burning and muscle-building exercise imaginable. Upgrade it: As you get stronger, buy additional plates to make them heavier.

Home suspension trainer

Why: Based on the same principles as the Olympic rings, suspension trainers are completely portable, so you never have to stop training, even on holiday. Upgrade it: Invest in a weighted vest to increase the resistance from your bodyweight.


Advanced level budget

Cost = 1-2 years’ worth of gym membership


Adjustable cable machine

Why: The cable crossovers keep your muscles under tension during the lifting and lowering phase of every exercise and are fully adjustable. Upgrade it: Purchase a rack with adjustable pulley system and bench press system included.

Power rack

Why: You’ll never need a spotter if you have a power rack. Do risk-free exercises such as squats, bench presses, military presses and deadlifts. Upgrade it: Buy a rack with Olympic weight plate holders so you’ll never have to stub your toe on weights left lying around.

Weight set

Why: Both the barbell and dumbbells can be used on the bench, giving you the full remit of gym exercises that you can use to achieve any goal. Upgrade it: Choose an exercise you’d like to increase your weight in then buy new plates for either the barbell or dumbbells.

Adjustable weight bench

Why: This multi-angled platform lets you work absolutely every muscle in your body. There are even training options such as step-ups for legs. Upgrade it: Get a barbell rack that positions over the bench, which will let you perform exercises such as bench presses.