My ideal home gym will have a top of the line stationary bike and an Alter-G treadmill. The cost? A cool $100,000.
But until I hit the lottery, I don’t have an extra hundred thousand dollars lying around to spend on a few fancy pieces of gym equipment.
Thankfully, I don’t NEED the fancy stuff – and neither do you.
And if you think you don’t need a home gym, let me beg to differ. Whether it’s a small corner in your living room or simply a stash of equipment under your bed, every runner should have a few key items to help them with their training.
So the other day I got lost on YouTube watching running videos. Shocking, isn’t it?
Well, as I studied these runners, trainers, and coaches, I kept noticing a common theme: running was never the only exercise they did.
There’s ALWAYS other components to a workout. This isn’t anything groundbreaking – I’ve written before that runners need to be athletes and focusing on strength exercises is vital to reaching your potential and staying healthy.
But what I really liked about these videos was that every runner had a few pieces of simple equipment that allowed them to get stronger, manage injuries, and recover faster. And so should you, which is why I want to share some of the best home gym ideas from my own collection (plus others as well).
Every runner needs a home gym – but not in the traditional sense. You don’t need a separate room with expensive, enormous gym equipment that requires a forklift to get into your house.
Instead, practical gym equipment that’s specific to the needs of runners is what’s most helpful. So while a squat rack would be great, it’s not necessary.
Let’s dive in and see what gym equipment you can use to help you prevent injuries and run faster.
Video: My Home Gym Equipment
I’ve included everything in my home gym – even though some of the items aren’t necessary at all. There’s no reason why I need a Stick AND a foam roller AND an EvoFit roller. And while the Ankle Foot Maximizer is a good idea for those with recurring foot injuries, it’s also not a need-to-have piece of gym equipment.
If you’re on a budget and just want to stockpile your home gym with the must-haves, you can’t go wrong with only five items:
- Foam roller for general, light self-massage to enhance the recovery process
- Tennis ball for more targeted, trigger point massage
- Thera-band for making bodyweight exercises more difficult (like the ITB Rehab Routine)
- Pull-up bar for upper body work
- Medicine ball for more advanced exercises (like the Tomahawk Medicine Ball Workout)
You can get all of this gear on Amazon for $102 – or less if you shop around or choose a lighter medicine ball than my 8-pounder. Considering a gym membership costs an average of about $50 per month, this is a steal!
Don’t want to watch the whole video? No sweat. I listed all the items below, plus even more home gym ideas.
The Stick: A handy tool that works best on the hamstrings and calves. I used to love this thing (I got it 9 years ago and it still works great) but I hardly use it anymore. Now that I have a foam roller, it’s only for days when my calves are particularly tight.
Foam Roller: Every runner’s best friend (or worst enemy?). This classic self-massage tool can be used on virtually every muscle and it’s easy to control the pressure to give yourself a light or deeper massage.
EvoFit Enso Adjustable Roller: A slightly expensive alternative to a traditional foam roller, the Enso roller has adjustable aluminum discs so you can vary how your muscles are massaged. It provides a deeper massage than a traditional roller.
I find the Enso roller is better suited to the quads and hamstrings.
Tennis balls: This shouldn’t even count towards the $102 total since you probably have a spare tennis ball lying around your house somewhere. But they’re perfect for more focused, targeted massage on specific trigger points.
Thera-band: Indispensable for runners, it makes body weight exercises more challenging by adding extra resistance. A Thera-band is an integral piece of equipment in the popular ITB Rehab Routine.
Medicine ball: There is hardly another strength tool that’s as versatile as a medicine ball. They can be used for upper body, core, abs, or lower body exercises and serve as a great transition between body weight exercises and more advanced lifts in the gym. Check out the Tomahawk Medicine Ball Workout for example exercises.
Pull-up Bar: No gym? No reason not to do your pull ups and chin ups! This “Door Gym” hooks onto almost any door frame (even my 100+ year old frames) and allows you to do multiple variations of upper body exercises.
Ankle Foot Maximizer: This strength tool allows runners who are prone to foot and lower leg injuries to focus exclusively on these areas. Easier and more comfortable than Thera-band for these exercises, it makes rehab and prevention easier to accomplish. See this more detailed article on foot exercises here.
Gym Equipment Wish List
Want more options? I don’t blame you. These are addition home gym ideas that are on my list for future purchase:
Dumbbells. A few sets of dumbbells are a no-brainer in any home gym. I left mine at my in-laws, but once I have more space they’ll definitely be added to my arsenal of gym equipment.
Exercise ball. Perfect for more challenging ab exercises and core work, an exercise ball is an inexpensive purchase that can be used for many types of strength exercises.
Precor Treadmill. This is the one I’d realistically buy (an Alter-G would be nice, but at about $60,000, it’s outside my budget) – it can go up to 12mph (5:00 per mile) and the incline increases to 15%. Holy hill workouts!
Yoga mat. I’m lazy and just use a towel for core work, but in my ideal home gym I’d have a yoga mat for added comfort. Plus, they don’t slide around as much as a towel.
Second, heavier medicine ball (always be progressing!). As you saw in the video, right now I have an 8-pound Valeo medicine ball, but I’d like to get a 10 and 12 pound ball so I can do more challenging exercises. Now that I don’t have a gym membership, it’s important to have heavier weights at home.
What’d I Miss?
These are MY must-have pieces of home gym equipment – but I’m curious what YOU use at home to help yourself stay healthy and build functional strength.
I know we are all training for different races and are at different fitness levels, so I’d love to hear what strength and rehab tools you use at home.
Leave a comment below and let us know!