Fitness & Nutrition

Minimal Fitness Equipment on a Budget

Broke Dad Budget Syndrome

Maybe you have a exercise machines that are pain to move and ended up as places to hang dirty laundry. Never mind if you ever move to a new place and have to haul your machines with you.

And a gym membership isn’t always the answer because of the driving distance and crazy contracts. Get your first month free but they sure do make it difficult to cancel a membership. Unless you really want the social aspect of a public gym, working out at home is so much better.

Exercise equipment is expensive!

When you have a mortgage and bills and kids to feed, the idea of dropping $800 on a treadmill or squat rack is not even a question. And if you do have some spending money, that kind of purchase makes you really consider how committed you will be to working out.

Not all of us have the kind of money to let go to waste on unused exercise machines. But you can get some things to workout with that doesn’t hit your bank too hard.

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The Essential Fitness Equipment


You don’t need a full set. A few pairs of specific weights is enough to give you a challenge with your sets. For example, a pair of 20 lbs. and a pair of 40 lbs is plenty for basic exercises. And it should only cost you around $100 to get four basic dumbbells.

Depending on your strength here are some exercises to do with each set of dumbbells:

20 lbs

Bicep curls
Hammer curls
T curls
Reverse flys
Lateral raises
Tricep extensions
Jumping squats

40 lbs

Dumbbell press
Overhead press
Arnold press
Chest flys
Dumbbell rows
Dumbbell deadlifts
Dumbbell cleans
Shoulder shrugs
Goblet squats
Farmer’s carry

Weighted Vest

If you run or do any calisthenics, adding a weighted vest will spice up your workout. It’s a great way to increase your endurance by running the same distance you normally do. At the same time the extra weight improves your strength and balance.

Just wear the vest during your entire workout to make virtually any exercise a bit more challenging. Just like with any weights, it’s recommended that you start low and over time increase the weight. A 20 lb. vest is a popular option for first timers, but you won’t outgrow it that quickly either.

A vest like this should only cost around $40 – $60.


Kettlebell workouts have been growing in popularity because of the dynamic movements you can do that just don’t make sense with a dumbbell. Take a look at Onnit for full workouts with only kettlebells.

This is another piece of equipment that you don’t need to have a full set of each weight increment. Pick one or two weights that you can handle but are enough to give you resistance in your workouts.

Medicine Ball

Originally were used by Hippocrates with patients as physical therapy to rehab injuries. To this day athletes use medicine balls to focus on strengthening weaker muscles that heavier weights could risk more injuries.

Aside from rehabbing injuries, medicine ball workouts are a great way to increase your explosiveness. Medicine ball slams and air tosses engage your arms, core, and legs to build endurance and power. Plus they are also inexpensive.

Adjustable Bench

This one is not needed, but is sure makes the dumbbell exercises more comfortable. And it will give you the ability to incline or decline the bench for variations of the dumbbell presses.

Even without weights, you can do pushup and mountain climbers with your feet on the bench for greater difficulty.

And it can be used for jumps and plyometric drills to mimic running stairs. Depending on the bench you pick if it has pegs you can decline it and do sit ups. Don’t forget the tricep dips.

Bonus Step

Foam Mats

If you have the space in the garage or basement, putting down mats really defines the space as your gym area. It’s nice to walk on with socks or barefoot but, mentally you condition yourself to working out when you are in that space.

The mat space also provides area where you can do other activities like jiu jitsu or jumping rope. And the puzzle edges let you add to it over time to expand your gym area.

Get After It!

If you have read to the end here, now you have no excuses. It really doesn’t require much equipment to get a solid workout. And there are plenty of resources to find workout plans for different purposes and skill levels.

The items above can enhance your workouts and give you more variety without totally spending thousands. Once you have the basic equipment to workout at home, you can try different supplements to level up your game.

Now if you already fitness engrained into your schedule and you never miss a day – then you’re probably interested in having the best equipment out there. And you want all sizes of weight plates, a squat rack, different bars, and cable machines. If this is you, go check out Rogue – they have what you need.

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