Interested in finding the best home fitness equipment for weight loss?
Learn about why it can be helpful to be able to get a great workout from home and the simple pieces of equipment that can make it possible!
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The Importance of Home Workouts
The benefits of having a plan for working out at home have never been more clear, given the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders most of us experienced over the past year.
Working out at home is convenient for everyone. If you work from home, you can fit in a quick workout between meetings. If your primary responsibility is childcare, then you could do a session while your child is napping or playing, or invite your whole family to join in on the fun!
Science Says THIS is the Best Workout Plan
I want to first share with you what the science says about working out for long-term weight management.
Researchers have consistently found that the best approach for working out for weight loss is a combination of aerobic cardio (e.g., walking, jogging, swimming, biking) and strength training (e.g., doing bodyweight exercises, lifting weights).
Donnelly et al. (2004) summarized the literature by stating that 30 minutes of daily cardio exercise was most important for weight loss but integrating strength training 2-3 times per week helped preserve lean muscle to improve body composition (keeping/increasing muscle mass while decreasing fat mass).
In addition, Wing (2005) highlighted that regular physical activity is the key for long-term weight loss maintenance, meaning that staying active helps your progress last forever!
Given the benefits of both cardio and strength training for long-term weight management, I strongly advocate for having convenient, enjoyable options for at-home workouts!
Best Home Fitness Equipment for Weight Loss
The most important aspect of developing your home workout routine is to be honest with yourself and think about the types of physical activity you would enjoy. Ideally, you’ll find at least one form of cardio and one form of strength training that you like! While I encourage you to try new forms of activity to figure this out, please know that you can have an effective activity plan with any of these options!
Fitness wearables are devices that log the number of steps you take throughout the day and may also track more advanced statistics, like your heart rate, the number of calories you burn in specific types of workouts, and GPS-based data on your pace/distance for outdoor workouts.
Wearables are best for people who want to know the impact of their daily life activities (e.g., walking at school/work or cleaning the house), as well as structured workouts.
The most basic fitness wearable is a pedometer like this one that simply tracks your daily steps.
If you are interested in more advanced technology, I recommend looking into a Fitbit, such as the Fitbit Charge or Fitbit Versa. Fitbit wearables have a battery life of 3-6 days, depending on the model you get, so you can also track your sleep patterns!
For a splurge, the Apple Watch not only includes advanced technology for tracking your steps, calorie burn, heart rate, and GPS-based stats, but it also can be linked to your iPhone over Wifi for integration with emails, calls, and texts. The Apple Watch also has features for guided deep breathing and direct control of your music/podcasts. I’ve been a loyal fan and daily Apple Watch wearer for 5 years and counting!
In addition to walking or running outdoors, you may be interested in having some staples for cardio workouts in your home for rainy days.
Something as simple as a jump rope can provide you with a quick and effective cardio workout. My patients have also shared how they get creative with fun cardio activities like dancing with a weighted hula hoop or wearing adjustable ankle weights around the house while doing chores.
You may also consider ways to stay active while you are working from home, like having an under-desk elliptical or under-desk stationary bike to pedal while you’re in meetings or studying. If you love the idea of staying active while you work, you could consider a standing desk or treadmill desk.
Traditional cardio equipment may be the right choice if you’re looking for a “home gym” experience and are willing to make a more substantial investment. My picks include interactive personal training features, such as live and archived classes and structured programs. This keeps your routine exciting and fresh! Examples include the NordicTrack Treadmill and NordicTrack Studio Bike.
My personal favorite is the Peloton, which I added to my home gym in December 2020. I’ve appreciated the variety of the classes (cardio and strength), the instructors’ motivating energies, and the ability to select classes ranging from just 5 minutes to 90 minutes. If you decide to purchase a Peloton, please consider using my referral code WEWGG3 to support my website and also to get $100 off Peloton apparel (essentially gives you the required shoes for free!).
For beginning strength training, I recommend having several sets of dumbbells, resistance band loops, and resistance bands with handles. These pieces will allow you to do all the most fundamental strength training exercises for your upper body, core, legs, and glutes.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge or are going for the “home gym” experience, it may be helpful to have heavier weights available, such as an adjustable barbell and adjustable dumbbells. With more intense strength training, you may find it helpful to look into an adjustable strength training bench or an all-in-one power rack that includes the bench and adjustable barbell.
If you’re purchasing heavy-duty strength training equipment, make sure to protect the floors in your home with appropriate non-slip exercise mats.
Yoga is my go-to recommendation when working with patients who are seeking low-impact exercises. Yoga equipment is fairly simple, so you’ll be well set up to get started with just a yoga mat, yoga blocks with strap (to assist with modifications of poses), and a yoga blanket (to put under your hips for certain poses). My favorite free resource for yoga that I use personally and recommend is Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Adriene is a calming instructor who always knows how to bring a bit of lightheartedness to her classes.
Stretching and Cool Down
It is essential to stretch out your muscles after a workout. If you find it difficult to stretch, especially as you are getting started, the stretch-out strap used by physical therapists can be helpful. I also recommend getting a foam roller to help with muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation.
Another aspect of cooling down from your workout might be to grab a high-protein shake. Check out more information about that here.
Dr. Schulte’s Summary
Our experiences with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have highlighted the importance of having enjoyable options for physical activity at home. A combination of 30 minutes of aerobic cardio activity daily with 2-3 strength training sessions per week is an evidence-based key to long-term weight loss maintenance. I encourage you to have fun trying out the types of physical activity you truly enjoy doing, and I hope that this guide helps you make decisions about the equipment that can help you meet your goals!
Questions? Drop a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Donnelly, J. E., Smith, B., Jacobsen, D. J., Kirk, E., DuBose, K., Hyder, M., … & Washburn, R. (2004). The role of exercise for weight loss and maintenance. Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology, 18(6), 1009-1029.
Wing, R. R., & Phelan, S. (2005). Long-term weight-loss maintenance–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 82(1), 222S-225S.
Disclaimer: all opinions are my own and are not affiliated with my employers. Please seek medical guidance before pursuing weight loss or making significant changes to the way you eat or your physical activity routine.