During winter, maintaining your health can be more difficult. It’s harder to get out and exercise, and you’re more likely to eat unhealthy food at family and holiday events. It’s easier to prevent weight-gain than to lose weight later, though, so why not try some indoor exercises to stay in shape?
The Benefits of Working Out at Home
Sure, you could sign up for a gym membership and promise this is the year you’ll go more than twice, but let’s be honest: going to the gym is a pain. You have to deal with people, and you might have some insecurities you’ll have to overcome.
On top of all that, going to a gym requires travel. If you don’t have a lot of spare time, that’s already a big ask, but it’s even harder when it’s dark at 5:30 p.m. and snowing.
Working out at home solves all these problems. You don’t have to travel, deal with strangers, or feel like you’re being judged (if you do, that’s what grounding is for).
All you need is a safe space to exercise and some equipment. How much space depends on the equipment and type of exercise you choose.
For this list, we tried to focus on items that fit every budget and every home. For example, if you have less to spend or less room to work with, a set of weights and an ab roller are better choices than a rowing machine.
However, if you can afford it and have the room, a rowing machine works out your entire body (seriously, it’ll kick your butt) and is well worth the investment. Pick the equipment that suits you best.
It’s a good idea to choose something that interests you so it will keep your attention. A dusty rowing machine that bored you to death won’t do you any good. If all you need to maintain your stationary bike routine is a little motivational tech, go for it! Here are a few other suggestions to get you started.
Not Just for Kids: Survival and Cross Adjustable Jump Rope
Don’t be fooled into thinking jump ropes belong on the playground—they’re excellent exercise. A jump rope gets your heart pumping, makes your legs sore, and will help you improve your sense of timing along the way. If you don’t believe me, just check out this video of a world-class jump rope athlete.
However, a jump rope only does you good if it’s the right size. If it’s too long, you’ll have trouble getting up to speed. If your rope is too short, you’ll likely smack yourself in the head.
Thankfully, you can resize the Survival and Cross Jump Rope. To do so, you just loosen the screws, adjust the cord through the handles, and cut any excess if necessary. When you’re not using your jump rope, it’s easy to stow away.
If you like jumping rope, you might want to check out some other agility exercise equipment.
Survival and Cross Jump Rope - Boxing MMA Fitness Training - Speed Adjustable - Sold by FMS International
Jumping rope is a great agility exercise. You'll teach yourself timing and get a good cardio workout. Plus, jump ropes don't take up a lot of space. This one by Survival and Cross won't break the bank, and you can adjust it to suit your needs.
Resistance Isn’t Futile: Whatafit Resistance Band Set
If you want a singular purchase that won’t break the bank, but still provides lots of exercise options, check out resistance bands. You can use them for weight-lifting-like activities, pull-up assistance, and even agility and flexibility exercises. Plus, they’re versatile enough to use in nearly any space in your home.
This set from Whatafit comes with five bands that range from 10 to 50 pounds of resistance. You also get handles, a door anchor, and a carrying case. If you need more than 50 pounds of resistance, you can stack the bands to achieve it.
This is the closest you can get to a personal gym that fits in your backpack.
Whatafit Resistance Bands Set (11pcs), Exercise Bands with Door Anchor, Handles, Waterproof Carry Bag, Legs Ankle Straps for Resistance Training, Physical Therapy, Home Workouts
To create a big gym in a small space, consider a set of resistance bands. You can use them to work strength, cardio, and flexibility. This set includes five bands, a door anchor, and two handles.
A Core Workout: Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro Roller
Abs aren’t just beauty muscles for superheroes. Strengthening your core will improve your balance and help with other strength-related activities. There’s a reason they’re called core muscles! Whether it’s riding a bike or lifting your kid, a stronger core makes tasks easier.
The Ab Carver Pro Roller is a good blend of exercise that hurts and comfort that won’t leave you aching in the wrong ways. The roller has carbon steel springs to provide more resistance when you crunch those abs. The company also kindly includes a foam kneepad support, which you’ll appreciate, especially if you work out on a hard floor.
If you prefer floor workouts, you might also want to consider some equipment for push-ups.
Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro Roller for Core Workouts
If you want to work your core, the Ab Carver Pro Roller will do the trick. It provides resistance and different levels of difficulty. The included foam kneepads will also prevent you from hurting yourself.
Best of Both Worlds: Yes4All Combo Kettlebell Set
If you want to develop bulky, impressive-looking muscles, nothing beats free weights. However, not everyone wants that, nor should they. Kettlebells offer the best of both worlds because you equally lift weights and move your body.
They also work your grip strength and balance and simulate the kind of weight you’re likely to move in real life, like heavy groceries. Thanks to the swinging motions, you work more areas of your body than you would with traditional weights.
This set from Yes4All includes 15-, 20-, and 25-pound kettlebells with hefty handles that shouldn’t murder your palms. They’re also more compact than traditional dumbbells, which makes them easier to store.
Yes4All Combo Vinyl Coated Kettlebell Weight Sets – Great for Full Body Workout and Strength Training – Vinyl Kettlebells 15 20 25 lbs (D132)
Instead of lifting weights, swing them! Kettlebells won't give you bulging biceps as fast as dumbbells, but they'll work more of your body. This set includes three sizes: 15, 20, and 25 pounds.
Convert a Doorway into a Gym: Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pull-Up Bar
Pull-ups are a great strength-building exercise, and if you don’t believe me, remember how many you could do in your high school gym class? Exactly! As long as you have a good doorframe (not too wide, with clearance on both sides), you can attach a pull-up bar to it and get to work.
The nice thing about the Multi-Gym Bar is it doubles as a push- and sit-up device, so you get multiple exercises out of it. It’s easy to put together and has various grip-width options to work different muscles.
If you want something with more options, check out our other suggestions.
Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar and Portable Gym System, Pro
Whether you want to do wide or narrow pull-ups, sit-ups, or push-ups, the Multi-Gym Pull-Up Bar can accommodate you. It slips on and off a doorframe easily and stays put when you're ready to work out.
Hit Something: Everlast 70-Pound Heavy Boxing Bag
Sometimes, you just need to hit something. Whether it’s punching, kicking, or both, a good heavy bag offers some satisfying exercise. If you want to tape a picture of someone to the bag, we won’t judge!
The Everlast Boxing Bag is 70 pounds, so it can take a beating and make you tired along the way. Unlike other brands, Everlast doesn’t fill its bags with a mix of cloth and sandbags—this one is an all-cloth interior. That’s important because sandbags tend to drop over time and make a bag an uneven weight.
Everlast 70-Pound MMA Poly Canvas Heavy Bag (Black)
Boxing and kickboxing are great for a sweaty exercise that works your arms and legs. The Everlast 70-Pound Heavy Bag will give you lots of resistance and, just like the name, last a long time.
Best Running Replacement: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
If you love to run in the summer, you probably dread the cold, dark winter months. Sure, you can jog in place, but not only do you get less of a workout, but it’s also hard on your joints. An elliptical machine is a good alternative. You get a similar cardiovascular workout without the high-impact stress on your joints.
Ellipticals do tend to be expensive, so this affordable option from Sunny Health & Fitness is most welcome! It features eight levels of magnetic resistance and pulse monitors in the grips while maintaining a reasonably compact layout.
If you need more features, though, you can certainly spend more to get more.
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer Machine w/ Tablet Holder, LCD Monitor, 285 LB Max Weight and Pulse Monitoring - Endurance Zone - SF-E3804
The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer is a good machine that won't set you back a grand. You get levels of resistance and pulse monitoring, which is everything you need to get started with low-impact fitness.
Best Budget Stationary Bike: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike
Cycling can change your life. If you don’t believe me, just check out how Review Geek’s Editor-in-Chief got into the best shape of his life on a bicycle.
In much of the U.S., though, the winter months are not friendly for cyclists. You can get winter cycling gear, but not everyone is that hardcore. An indoor bike can help, but they’re expensive and bulky.
Exerpeutic’s Folding Magnetic Bike bucks that trend! It’s relatively affordable (compared to say, a Peloton), but has all the basic features, like varying levels of resistance and pulse tracking. Plus, when you’re done with it, you can fold it in half and slide it under a bed or into a closet—just don’t forget to get it out again!
If you want something with more features, you have plenty of options.
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike with Pulse
Stationary bikes can be incredibly expensive, but they don't have to be. The Exerpeutic bike sells for less than a Peloton by giving up the lessons and subscriptions. You still get levels of resistance and pulse measuring, and it folds up when you finish.
Bring Your Own Bike: Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand
If you already have a great regular bike, it might seem superfluous to buy a stationary one—and you’re right. You can buy a trainer stand instead and convert your bike for indoor winter workouts. You just attach the main stand to the back wheel—which lifts it off the ground slightly. Then, drop the front wheel on a pad, and you’re cycling indoors!
The Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand uses magnets to provide resistance against the rear wheel as it spins.
This is a budget trainer, so you don’t get a lot of features, and it’s also somewhat noisy. If this is your first trainer, though, it’s an excellent place to start.
If you decide later that you want and need more, you can always move up to a more expensive option.
Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand Steel Bicycle Exercise Magnetic Stand with Noise Reduction Wheel, Black
The Sportneer Bike Trainer is a good starter trainer. It costs far less than others but still gets the job done. It features a resistance adjustment dial so you can make your workouts harder or easier.
Work All the Things: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Do you want a low-impact workout that hits your core, legs, arms, shoulders, and even your back muscles? Do you want all of that in a singular exercise?
Well, my friend, what you want is a rowing machine. It will kick your butt and leave you begging for mercy.
Rowing machines come in many styles and at many price levels, but for the money, you can’t beat the Concept2 Model D. Sure, you could try to find a used model, but they often go for nearly the same price as a new one, so you might as well get the latest and greatest.
The Model D uses a fan to provide resistance, which, while noisy, keeps you cool. You can also save your workout data and take it to other compatible Concept2 machines. When you finish, it rolls around easily and separates into pieces.
Concept2 Model D with PM5 Performance Monitor Indoor Rower Rowing Machine Black
When it comes to rowing machines, Concept2 is a leading brand, and with good reason. The company builds solid, reliable machines, and you can take your exercise data with you from one machine to another. The built-in fan on the Model D provides resistance and keeps you cool.