“I’d say a Swiss ball is probably my top pick for home work-outs,” says James Stark, a personal trainer and co-founder of Bristol based gym chain Starks Fitness. “There’s a lot of different exercises that can be done with a Swiss ball, especially stuff that’s core based.
“They generally come in 55cm, 65cm, or 75cm. You can work out whether you’re short, medium or tall to choose which one you need.
“A swiss ball can provide you with a slightly unstable but safe and fun platform to sit on, lie on, stretch on, push and lunge from,” adds Nigel Stockill, performance director of Firstbeat.
Swiss ball and pump, £20.25, Amazon
2. A decent pair of dumbbells
“A pair of small dumbbells should definitely be in your home equipment arsenal,” says Angela Ioannou, area fitness manager and personal trainer at Everyone Active. “One, two and five kilogram dumbbells are a great weight to add additional resistance to exercises like lunges, side raises, bicep curls and tricep extensions. You don’t need to go heavy, if you keep your repetitions strict then you can get an amazing full body workout with them.
“Adjustable dumbbells are an amazing alternative, as you can create one heavy dumbbell and use for unilateral training, overloading one side.”
If you can’t buy dumbbells, that tin of beans might come in handy after all. “Large bags of rice or sugar can even be used to make any exercise that bit more difficult.Combine weighted squats with shoulder presses, lunges and upright rows, press ups and bent over rows for a full body workout that, when done in quick succession will be sure to get your heart racing.”
Xn8 Neoprene Dumbbells, from £25.99, Amazon
3. A weighted vest
Bodyweight workouts like press-ups and squats are some of the easiest workouts to do at home because they don’t need any equipment. However, for those used to lifting at the gym, they don’t really cut the mustard. And while dumbbells and kettlebells are great, they too are in short supply at the moment.
So what’s a fitness enthusiast to do? Well, why not consider a weighted vest? Pretty easy to get hold of right now, prices aren’t crazy, they are compact enough to be easily delivered, and they can be used for all the same exercises as hand weights or kettlebells, and more. In fact, they’re arguably even more versatile because they keep your hands free.
The weight of the vest is generally created via small sand bags weighing around 300g which can be added or removed, allowing you to customise your workout, and add more when things start getting easier. While a vest isn’t great for abdominal exercises, for squats and press-ups, it’s ideal.
Xn8 Adjustible Weighted Vest, from £35.99, Amazon
4. A kettlebell
“The kettlebell is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment out there,” says Tommy Wanless, head of training at Speedflex. “Training the whole body, it is great for building muscle and also working your cardiovascular system – really getting the heart pumping.”
Wanless recommends using a kettlebell for squats, deadlifts, swings, and shoulder presses to start with before graduating to more complex moves like the Turkish get up, clean and press, and snatches. “The offset weight nature of a kettlebell means it recruits more muscles as you have to stabilise the weight, and when used unilaterally requires a huge amount of core stability and balance. An 8-12kg kettlebell will be plenty for most exercises.”
If you don’t have a kettlebell then Wanless suggests using a rucksack or bag for life with some packs of sugar or rice in them. “Creating a distance between the weight and the handle is key to having the weight offset – to recruit those extra stabilising muscle groups.”
TRX Kettlebell, from £21.95, TRX Training
5. Skipping rope