The results of our latest exercise survey show that more and more of us are swapping gym visits with exercise programs that can be tackled in the living room.

In fact, about 50% of it? Members who responded to our survey told us they are now exercising more at home due to the lockdown.

Although many gyms have reopened across the UK, it is extremely convenient to be able to work out at any time (without the possibility of getting into a car or using public transport). In the following we therefore emphasize the following:

  • Some of the best compact exercise machines to use at home
  • Tips for workouts that don’t require any equipment at all – including sitting exercises suitable for those looking to improve their mobility
  • Some free smartphone apps to keep track of your progress.

Here’s how to set up a home gym – stay fit and burn calories from home

Compact training equipment

When buying fitness equipment for the home, you need to consider how much space you will need. A treadmill or rowing machine will undoubtedly help you burn calories, but may not always be practical if you work out in a small room or have neighbors who don’t like loud noises.

As we explain in our buying guide for exercise equipment, there are some larger pieces of equipment – such as Or you could consider investing in smaller home fitness equipment that is easier to move around the house. For example, you could try:

Resistance bands

Expect to spend £ 10-20

When you want to focus on getting certain muscle groups to work harder, an affordable resistance band can do the job. As you pull on the band, you will feel more force move through your body.

You can use a resistance band to strengthen your arms, legs, and chest. For example, if you’re working on your arms, you can put both feet on the belt, grab the handles, and stand up straight. As you raise your arms high by your side, you will feel some resistance.

Medicine balls

Expect to spend £ 10-30

These weighted balls are designed to be thrown around. So think about your neighbors before buying a kit. They come in a variety of weights and can help you train different parts of your body, including your upper body, hips, and core.

For example, to build your core, sit on the floor, put your feet in the air, and tap the floor left and right with the medicine ball in hand. This twisting movement trains your abdominal muscles.

Foam rollers

Expect to spend £ 10-20

These affordable training accessories are available in different sizes and densities. They can help prepare your body for a workout (by stretching it) or for muscle recovery after a workout. You need to be on the floor to use a foam roller.

Foam rollers can work effectively on your calves, hamstrings, and upper back. If you want to focus on your calves, you need to place the roller on your calves, lift your hands off the floor, and slowly roll back and forth.

This repetitive movement puts gentle pressure on your calves, and the texture of the foam roller will hopefully provide some relief to tired muscles.

For more expert tips on fitness equipment suitable for smaller spaces, including foldable exercise bikes and treadmills, see our guide to setting up a home gym

Buy and use weights

If you don’t mind a little drizzle, you can go outside with a run or bike ride to keep up the cardio work, but the experience of using weights in a gym can be more difficult.

This could be why weights have been the most popular of all the exercise machines our members use. Fortunately, they’re also pretty compact and easy to store, and can be one of the most affordable exercise tools – you can buy a set of fixed weight dumbbells for as little as 20 pounds.

Lifting weights has its advantages. For starters, activity increases lean mass and EPOC (excess post-workout oxygen consumption) and burns more calories while you are resting. And burning calories means losing weight.

Using weights regularly will also improve your balance, posture, and coordination. There’s evidence that physical activity can also improve your mood, which is great news if you’re not a fan of those dark, cool winter evenings.

For more information on the health benefits of using weights, tips for beginners, and advice on what and where to buy, visit our Buying advice for weights and weight bench

Staying Fit Without Expensive Equipment: Which Tips? Members

As part of our recent exercise habits survey, we asked: Which? Members how the lockdown had affected their exercise habits. We also asked respondents for advice to other people considering starting their own exercise routines.

Here are just a few of the comments we received:

  • “My previous yoga class will not resume, so I practiced with friends twice a week through a shared WhatsApp group.”
  • “Having a routine and doing a ‘Walk at Home’ workout on YouTube every morning gave my day some structure. ‘
  • “I trained more indoors during the suspension. Everything used to be outside, running, cycling and walking. During the lockdown, I used online exercise videos and tried boxing and yoga. To anyone who thinks about starting, I say go!

Free training apps to try out at home

Fitness apps are handy because you can use them to exercise at your own pace and track the days when you worked the hardest.

The two free smartphone apps we featured below can be used without special equipment. In other words, you could start your new exercise regimen today if you wanted, so no more excuses.

One You Couch at 5K

Couch to 5K has grown to be one of the most popular exercise programs in the world, and this free app will help you take on the challenge yourself. You can complete the entire course with regular runs over a nine week period, or you can work at your own pace.

To tackle the runs in the rain, you can put on headphones and listen to motivational messages from your virtual trainer. The countdown timer will tell you how long you have left and a notification will let you know when you are halfway through.

Each of your completed runs are logged in the app so you can track your progress over time and see how you are progressing.

Home workout

This smartphone app for iOS and Android is designed to help you stay fit without paying for a gym membership. It focuses on providing daily workout routines for all of your major muscle groups. You don’t have to invest in home fitness equipment to get started.

Home Workout offers routines that can help you build strength in your stomach, chest, legs and arms, with the app maker claiming that “all workouts are designed by experts”. Your training progress is automatically saved and you can regularly log your weight in the app to see whether the exercise has any noticeable effects.

Sitting exercises

Not being as agile as it used to be shouldn’t be an obstacle to training. The NHS website runs a series of simple sitting exercises that can be done from home that are designed to improve your mobility.

All you need for these exercises is a solid, sturdy chair with no wheels attached. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are bent at a right angle. Then you can try:

Chest stretch

Good for Posture improvement

  1. Sit upright and slightly forward in your chair so that your back is not supported
  2. Extend your arms to your sides and point slightly downwards
  3. Push your chest forward and then up – you should feel a stretch in your chest.

Torso rotation

Good for Maintaining flexibility in the upper back

  1. Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor
  2. Cross your arms and put your hands on your shoulders
  3. Keep your hips still and twist your torso to the side as much as possible (without making it uncomfortable)
  4. Repeat this movement in the opposite direction.

Arm raises

Good for Build shoulder strength

  1. Sit upright with your arms by your side
  2. Raise both arms (palms facing forward) outward and to the side
  3. Raise your arms above your head as much as possible
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat the process.

Source: NHS website


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