10 Cheap Exercise Tools for a Killer Workout


Getting fit can be hard for a lot of reasons. Not least among those is that it is often expensive. Buying a gym membership, paying for a trainer, or even getting the running shoes that won't hurt your feet can easily be beyond your means, especially if you're trying to save up for something or pay off debt.

But never fear! You can get the workout you need without spending a fortune. Here are some frugal, useful pieces of equipment that won't break the bank. (See also: Make These 9 Health Moves Now or You'll Regret It in 20 Years)

1. Yoga Mat

When most people think about a yoga mat, they don't really think much beyond… well… yoga. While yoga is a wonderful full-body exercise, you can use your yoga mat for so much more. It lessens the impact anytime your feet hit the ground, so try using it for jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and more. Get your cardio on and then stretch it out, all from the comfort of your yoga mat.

2. Balance Ball

Those big, inflatable balls aren't just good for your kids to bounce on, or as office chair substitutes. You can pick them up, squat with them, squeeze them in about a zillion different ways, and more. In the end, you'll definitely get a strength workout in, and you'll break a sweat, too. If you need more cardio, incorporate some jumping with — or over — the ball into your routine.

3. Resistance Bands

If a set of dumbbells are beyond your means right now, consider investing in some resistance bands instead. You can either get the type that a physical therapist will give you, or some that come with handles, or you can get the kind that are more like giant rubber bands. Either way, pulling them apart in different ways will work your entire body. You can also hang them from doors, and loop them around chairs in order to get the desired resistance and effect.

4. Bulgarian Bag

A Bulgarian bag is a training tool that many haven't heard of, and that's a shame. At its most basic, it's a narrow, heavy bag with some sort of strap. You can sling it around and even practice some Olympic lifting motions with it, or you can attach it to you for added weight while you do cardio. They range in price quite a bit, based on the weight, but it's easy to make your own for $15-$20.

5. Aerobic Step

Remember those steps that used to be all the rage in aerobics classes? Well, the classes aren't as popular anymore, but the steps are still useful. You can use them for aerobics, but you can also stack them to make a (usually short) plyometric platform. If you're really in a bind, you can also use it as a low flat bench for lifting weights.

6. Flat Bench

And then there's the flat bench. If you're going to be doing more aerobics, the step is probably your best bet. But if you want something to lie on while you lift that Bulgarian bag over your head, the flat bench is probably better. You can still use it for plyometric purposes, and even for aerobics, if you really want to.

7. Jump Rope

A simple jump rope is one of the best training tools out there. Do you doubt me? Go jump for five minutes straight and come back. I'll wait.

Seriously, though, jumping rope provides good, quick cardio, and it also activates most of the muscles in your body. Your legs will burn, and you'll even feel it in your back and shoulders if you jump long enough. The best thing about a jump rope, though, is that you can do it almost anywhere. It's easy to pack and you just need a tiny bit of open space to get your workout in. Even if your living space is teeny, you should be able to exercise with a jump rope.

8. Pullup Bar

Do you have a doorway? Great! Get an inexpensive but sturdy pullup bar, attach it, and there you go! Instant workout. Even if you can't do pullups, working toward them is great exercise for your back and shoulders. And if you add in some jumping pullups, you'll work your lower body and get in some cardio, too. Add a set of resistance bands strung around the bar, and there's not a part of your body that you can't work.

9. BOSU Ball

A BOSU ball is one of those half balls on a platform that I'm sure you've seen around. It's a little funny looking, but it's also a great way to get in shape. Exercise on it for balance and toning, or do jumping exercises for cardio. There are various routines online to help you get started, so you don't have to think it all up by yourself. It might feel a bit awkward to start, but it will be worth it when you're getting in a killer workout.

10. Your Body

Bodyweight-only exercise has become a thing, and it's a legitimate one. No matter your current fitness level, there are ways you can exercise using only your body that will help you get stronger, get in your cardio, and even lose weight. Sure, there are the exercises everyone remembers from gym class — stuff like pushups and situps — but body weight fitness experts have gone far beyond that now. So even if you can't spend a cent on equipment, there's no reason you can't get your workout on.

What's your favorite piece of budget exercise equipment? How do you use it?

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