Do you find yourself wanting to get in shape, yet having no clue where to begin? These 5 must-have fitness items are a great place to start!
Truth is - you need nothing more than your own body for an effective, full-body workout that can have you looking beach ready in no time. Unfortunately, we are constantly bombarded with clever marketing and gimmicky gadgets that convince us we need the latest waist trainers, or six pack building electrodes (yeah - these are a thing unfortunately. Some companies have even gone as far, as having major celebs to market their nonsense products! C’mon…people don’t stand a chance here!!). Do you really think that sticking on a this weird thing, is going to make you look like that? All whilst you sit and eat ice cream and drink beers? Yeahhhhh, not gonna happen. Although it would be nice, there's simply no replacement for some good old fashioned hard work.
In complete honesty, though, you don't even need the items that I am about to talk to you about. They’ll certainly help, they are very useful, portable and cheap but you actually don’t need any fitness equipment to achieve the body of your dreams. Hell…you don’t even need your body weight. Achieveing your optimal physique is at least 80% diet, sprinkle in some important lifestyle factors such as optimizing sleep, reducing stress and getting adequate sun exposure, and a splattering of well timed, properly executed workouts, and you have the remaining 20%.
Sadly, changing peoples eating habits is like trying to convert someones religion - it is hard. Most people don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to give up their fake, sugar-laden carbohydrate heavy foods, and instead they will turn to the gym, or take up an aggressive cardio habit to compensate. We all know how that turns out...
However, If you do have your diet dialed in, and you want to become more supple, athletic, muscular and toned (I HATE myself for saying that word - but I know people are obsessed with "Toning up” so there ya go) - then these 5 items are a must have, and I will tell you why.
1: Gymnastic Rings
The gymnastics rings are the funnest workout you will ever have. They are a ridiculous amount of fun!
Can’t do a pull up? Don’t worry about it, you don’t even have to do any of the fancy stuff to have a blast on the rings. Hang, swing, push and pull yourself around on them, for a functional, full-body, workout that can be done just about anywhere, in just a few minutes.
Hang them from a tree, a door frame, pull up bar, support beam - you may have to get creative but as soon as you find your spot, you are set for life.
Work your way towards pull ups, skin the cat, L-sit hanging variations and even some advanced fancy stuff like meathooks or muscle ups!
The infamous Ido Portal, Master of human movement goes as far as to say' "The Gymnastic rings are the single best tool out there for upper body strength development" - I wouldn't argue with him, would you? (please watch this beautiful video for a look at Ido and human movement!)
2: Elevated P bars
P bars (Paralette bars) are a cheap, durable and great tool to add some variety to otherwise classic and mundane movements. You can even get creative with the source - here I am using two kettlebells to mimic the exact same effects, as if I were using P bars.
You can pick them up just about anywhere online. The Smaller they are, the cheaper they will be. You can get a beginner set for under 20 bucks but expect to pay 30-50 for larger, sturdier sets. Even better. . .make your own!
Do push ups on these, buy a higher set and do horizontal rows, practice gymnastics style movements such as L-sits, work your way up to hand balancing movements, and eventually handstands and the many varieties. Parallel bars really open up a whole new world of movement expression and are a great investment!
P-bars also offer a straight arm aspect to strength, which can help take strain off of the wrists and offer a different stimulus to develop strong and defined arms. Just watch some videos of elite level gymnasts and take note of their superior arm development. That kind of strength doesn't come from bicep curls - sorry bros!
3: The Ab Wheel
In my opinion, the trusty Ab-Wheel is the single biggest bang-for-your-buck piece of equipment, for developing a rock solid core.
Ab wheels go for as little as 10 bucks on popular retail stores like amazon and you’ll often catch one on sale for next to nothing at sporting goods stores or yard sales. This little beast will really help you develop a bulletproof core.
When I say core, I’m not exclusively talking about abs - although training your core will certainly help in the quest for visible and defined ab muscles - More specifically I am referring to the corset muscle and overall mid section development. When we hear the word core, often times we are hearing about the transverse abdomini. Conversely, the ab muscles you see on fitness models, the "six-pack" is made up of the rectus abdominis.
The beautiful thing about the ab wheel is that it will strengthen both, giving you a great return on investment for your time spent executing this exercise. The Ab muscles will be worked eccentrically, as you lower toward the ground and the transverse abdomen will be worked in the stabilizing portion of the movement and keeping your balance. The ab wheel will also force you to focus on keeping your lower back strong and tight, accomplish this by focusing on tightness and contracting your gluteal muscles to keep the back from hyperextending. Couple all of this work with the added challenge of straight arm strength required for the movement, and the mobility aspect of shoulder flexion, and you have a phenomenal piece of equipment that, coupled with the right dietary habits (abs are made in the kitchen, after all), will have your mid section cover model ready in no time!
4: Resistance bands
Available in numerous resistance levels and colors (in case you want to match your banded pull parts with your snazzy new lulu leggings).
Use resistance bands to add resistance to a huge variety of movements such as squatting, bench pressing or push ups, deadlifts, you name it.
If you're a gym goer, you have most certainly seen girls using these, strapped above their knees, which adds further Glute Medius stimulation. Essentially, aiding in the quest for the big booty! What a wonderful tool, huh?!
Use them for rehabilitation and rehab purposes completing exercises such as banded dislocates for bulletproof shoulder of Terminal knee extensions to get your knees feeling nice and juicy after a long week sitting at your work desk.
You can even use the bands to help give you the aid you need to do certain movements. One of my favorite way to use assistance bands with clients is when training chin ups or pull ups - hang the band from the bar, or even better - the rings, slip your knee of feet in the loop and perform the desired movements in its entirety, until you’re strong enough to complete on your own!
Cheap, effective, portable and so varied in their application, a must have in your gym bag!
5: Tank of fuel OR bus pass OR train ticket OR Uber, to the nearest beach or park!
Ok, Ok - you got me. Whilst technically not a piece of fitness equipment, this is undoubtedly one of the best ways to spend a few dollars, get some all-important sun light and outdoor exposure, and invest in your health and wellness.
I’ve talked before about the importance of play and how it can help you be a better version of yourself. Spending a few bucks on transports and carving out just 30 minutes to get outside and move is a huge investment to your fitness and overall health.
Whether you head to the park for some movement practice or a frisbee catch, or head to your nearest trail for a nice hike out in nature, the benefits of getting outside and moving are irrefutable.
Mix things up. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. Head to the beach and do some sprints, find a climbing gym and try that out, go to your local yoga studio, or just find a patch of grass and run your own vinyasa. . .the opportunities are endless.
Movement is the key, and there are no right and wrong ways to do it. . .just do it!
Let me know if you pick up any of these tools and I can give you some creative ideas as to how to use them in your workouts :)
Yours in health,