By: Carolyn Kierulf-Monaghan

With COVID-19’s impact on gym closures and the constant uncertainty of when gyms will be open again, or how long they will stay open for – many people have adopted home workouts.

But how can you exercise at home without the heavier weights or machines from a gym? (Especially since we all know dumbbells have been very difficult to find throughout the pandemic).

Here are a few pieces of equipment that our clinicians find to be essential components to your home gym:

Yoga/exercise mat

This one is important to provide some cushioning and grip during your workouts. There are many different types on the market – so figure out which one is best for you depending on what type of workouts you’re interested in. A thin/firmer mat may be better for more stability and balance work, but if you’re doing more plyometric and jumping in your workouts, you may want a bit more cushioning.

Foam roller

These can be great tools to help address muscle tension or soreness. Integrate foam rolling into your warm-up or cool downs as it can be a great strategy to improve your flexibility and range of motion. Not only can foam rolling be a recovery tool, they can also be used to level up some of your workouts to challenge core strength and stability.

Check out this video on Foam Rolling low back

Lacrosse ball

Another one you can use for muscle tension and soreness- but to get in those harder to reach areas. Lacrosse balls can be effective to roll out your feet, pecs, rhomboids, neck, and more.

Check out this quick video on using a lacrosse ball for foot pain

Resistance bands

These are a great low-cost, low-space alternative to dumbbells to add resistance into your workouts. Bands often come in a set with a variety of resistance levels (light-medium-heavy-extra heavy) which makes it easy to quickly upgrade your workouts if you need more of a challenge. Minibands are great for lower body workouts, but consider getting open-ended long bands that you can tie into a loop if needed, but also can tie one end onto something for upper body exercises.

Dumbbells/weight alternatives

Weights can be another useful tool to add resistance to your workouts. Be creative – many household items can be perfect to add a bit of resistance to your workouts. 4L water bottles, soup cans, full bottles of laundry detergent, a backpack filled with heavy books, etc can all be used as alternatives to traditional dumbbells to level up your workouts. Remember, if you find the weights to be too light, you can always consider increasing your volume (more reps/sets) or slowing down the tempo of your exercises.

Most of these items can be found at any fitness retailer, or online. If you have any questions about finding the right piece of equipment or if you would like more ideas as to how to use some of these items, don’t hesitate to ask your PhysioDNA therapist to get recommendations on what will be the best fit for you.


About the Author: Carolyn Kierulf-Monaghan

Carolyn is a Physiotherapy Resident who graduated from the University of Toronto with a Masters in Physical Therapy (2020) and completed her Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Kinesiology at Queen’s University (2018).