Cross-Training

The Runner’s Guide to Building a Better Home Gym

You don't need a ton of equipment—here are the essentials.

No costly memberships, no sweaty strangers, no stressing to get there before it closes—it’s no big surprise that people with home gyms were 73 percent more likely to be active than those without one. But if you’re wondering how to build a home gym or feeling daunted by the task, here’s the good news: You don’t need a ton of equipment at home to get into great shape.

Runners can get a great full-body strength workout that will reduce injury risk and boost running performance with simple, inexpensive equipment that fits in a closet. Sure, more equipment gives you more options, but there’s nothing stopping you from adding items as you go. We polled 10 top trainers for the must-have home gym equipment worth investing in.

How to Build a Home Gym With 10 Pieces of Essential Equipment

Dumbbells

a single Perform Better rubber hex-shaped dumbbell on white background

Fancy? No. But dumbbells were voted the single most essential tool for working out at home. There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do with them. The hex-shaped Perform Better Rubber Encased Dumbbells won’t roll away, get slippery when you sweat, or destroy your floor. Get at least two pairs (one light, one heavy) to cover your exercise bases. BUY NOW

Pull-up bar

essential home gym equipment, pull-up bar

Bodyweight exercises cover every basic movement—except pulling. Nothing trains you better than the classic pull-up and chin-up. You can find a number of at-home, removable options—like this one from Perfect Fitness—that easily attach to a doorway (and comes down scuff-free) so you can do upper-body work anytime. BUY NOW

[RELATED: Why Runners Need Pull-Ups (And How to Do One in 6 Weeks)]

Foam roller

must-have home gym equipment: optp black foam roller
trigger point mini foam roller in orange

Soothe sore muscles and loosen tight fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles) for improved recovery, better performance, and a more lithe look. There are endless options, but I like having a full-length roller (like OPTP Black Axis Firm Foam Roller) and a smaller, more portable option (like Trigger Point Grid Mini).

[RELATED: 8 Post-Run Recovery Tools That Are Seriously Magical]

Sliding Discs

A pair of green Valslide sliding discs for home workouts

These discs increase the friction of almost any surface—turning your hardwood floor, carpet, or tile into a skating rink. The result: Your muscles are under constant tension during every exercise, which boosts the effectiveness. We like Valslides, which come with a pair of Valslide booties to use on hardwood, tile, and linoleum floors. BUY NOW

Stability Ball

Gymnic Classic Plus Exercise Ball in blue

It’s a great tool for core exercises and can also substitute for a bench in some exercises to increase the difficulty and up the core activation. The Gymnic Classic Plus Exercise Ball is just one of numerous choices.; we like it because it’s practically burst-proof, and it’s free of latex so it won’t smell or irritate your skin. BUY NOW

Suspension System

must-have home gym equipement: TRX home gym suspension trainer

Gyms love the TRX, which uses your body weight to change the resistance of any move. Now there are plenty of at-home versions, including the TRX GO Suspension Trainer System. Setup is simple—just flip over a door or around a (sturdy) stair banister—and it packs into a small bag so you can stash it when you’re not using it. BUY NOW

Resistance Bands

Perform Better Superband at-home resistance band in neon greenGo Fit Power Loop 3-Pack in yellow, purple, and green

Big ones (like Perform Better Superbands) can make bodyweight squats extra challenging or help with assisted chinups, while smaller bands (like GoFit Power Loops 3-pack from gofit.net) are one of my favorite tools for waking up the underworked muscles in your hips and butt.

Kettlebell

A 22kg blue neoprene coated kettlebell

It can be used in the same way as dumbbells, but because of its unique shape, it’s even more versatile. The First Place Neoprene Coated Kettlebells are traditional cast iron balls with a color-coded, neoprene encasement that helps protect your floors and reduce noise in a home gym. You can also find adjustable kettlebells like the Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weight Kettlebell that allow you to choose the exact weight you need for different exercises (and makes it easy to share with numerous people in one household).

Jump rope

SPRI speed jump rope in black

For just a few bucks you can have a portable, calorie-incinerating tool that’s perfect for picking up your heart rate during a warmup, or spiking your calorie-burn totals during your workout at home or anywhere. BUY NOW

[RELATED: Try This Jump Rope Warm-Up to Increase Your Speed]

Bench, step, or box

FLYBIRD Adjustable Bench in black

Adjustable benches add variety to free-weight training; a basic cardio step or box can be a great starting point for beginners, while FLYBIRD Adjustable Bench is a great investment for runners looking to step up their strength training.