If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I do not have a gym membership. I haven’t had one since I was put on modified bed rest 2 months before my kids were born in 2010.
Since then I’ve built up a nice little home gym for myself. I still think about joining a gym every now and then when I get bored with my equipment or if I’m injured (like right now) and want more variety.
It doesn’t take much gear to build up home gym essentials for runners. The majority of my workouts are done in my unfinished basement. It’s not pretty at all. I don’t have motivational posters covering the walls or even great lighting. It’s bare bones. I think I’ve said it before but the best way to describe my workout style is like Rocky in Rocky IV. Well, maybe I’m not exactly like Rocky. I don’t squat logs, chop wood or run in waist deep snow up mountains while wearing a leather jacket. What I mean is that I don’t need super fancy equipment.
Of course, I do like some toys to make it more fun.
Here’s some of my favorite strengthening and recovery tools for runners:
When my PT suggested I get my own BOSU Ball a few years ago when I was discharged from her care, I thought I’d never use it. Now it’s the most used piece of equipment I have in my runner’s tool box. I love to use it for balance training. It’s effective in working the small muscles that surround your feet, ankles and knees. It also builds core stability. THIS workout has some of my favorite BOSU moves.
After many years of use, I finally bought a new set of resistance bands last month. It’s quite obvious my old bands had lost the majority of their resistance when I tried out the new ones. So much harder! A 5 pack of bands is less than $15. I use these every single day for exercises like Monster Walks, Clam Shells and Bear Crawls. This is a great workout with bands.
I bought my Dynamax Ball about 10 years ago at a conference that had us working our butts off with the different ways to utilize this squishy ball. It’s great for ball slams, wall balls, squats, lunges, and core work.I use my med ball just as much and with the same exercises.
If you don’t have access to a weight bench, a stability ball is your next best bet. I actually prefer to use it over a bench. An added bonus is that you have to use your core when performing exercises on it. It’s a great tool for building upper body strength (push ups, plank jacks, etc) as well as lower body (lunges with back foot elevated on ball).
I’ve had my Kettlebell for over 11 years. It’s great piece for building lower body strength (KB Swings are perfect for firing up the posterior chain, especially the glutes). Kettlebells work more muscles than you would typically with dumbbells because of the wide handle. A heavier weight is on my wish list but it’s always better to start with lighter resistance to get the hang of kettlebell exercises.
Any set of dumbbells is great for free weight exercises. I’ve got the old school plates and bar set so it takes up less room. I really miss the heavier weights and a squat rack that a gym has. If I could add more to my home gym, it would be more weights. The key with dumbbells is to make sure that you are lifting a heavy enough weight. That means 5 pounds is too light for the majority of us. Pick up the heavier weights. You won’t be massively bulky, only massively awesome.
Recovery Tools for Runners
If you don’t have a foam roller or something equivalent to it yet, get one now. It’s a non-negotiable item in a runner’s home gym.
I personally like using The Stick on my calves. Scratch that. I like Ron to use The Stick on my calves. If you have someone to roll out your calves for you, do it. Bribe them or make huge promises. Do whatever you need to make it happen. It hurts like hell but it hits spots that I can’t get by myself. Btw – Thank you Ron! xoxo
This is my latest addition to my recovery tool box although I haven’t had too many opportunities to really test it out for running recovery. I got it for my birthday which was when I got injured. I have used it for my sore hamstrings and quads after killer strength workouts. It’s a little awkward but once you get the hang of it, it’s all good.
My friend Nicole suggested these balls to me after we shared all our feet problems while out on a run. I like to stand on the balls while I’m getting ready in the morning in the bathroom. It massages the bottoms of feet while waking up all areas of the foot. I’ve never had plantar fasciitis but I’ve heard people swear that Yamuna helped a ton with it.
A simple yoga strap is fantastic for aiding in stretches. I love it for hamstring and ITB stretches. It’s also what I use when doing my daily Egoscue exercises.
As someone with chronically tight calves, I need all the help that I can get in keeping those puppies loose. Hanging my heel off a step or up the side of the wall can do the same work as the Calf Stretcher but I think I feel it more so with this tool.
FYI – This post is not sponsored by any of the brands listed above. However, this post does contain Affiliate Links.
What would you list as an essential for a home gym?