Best Gym Equipment For Home Workouts

Remote Fitness Gym Equipment: My Top Picks

Gym equipment is expensive and can take up a ton of space. I have put some thought into what equipment I would personally choose if I was very limited on both space and money or living in a van for a while. Having a large variation of stimulus and movements in my workouts is important to me and my workouts. I love the creative process of writing workouts. Having many options and constantly trying what I do helps me to never get bored or stuck in a routine. 

I have to decide which piece of equipment is the most valuable and provides me with the most options and variability for workouts while staying in my van for a while. I also have to take into account the space they take up or if they could be used for other things as well (not just working out).

 My top 4 and why:

  1. Dumbbells: A moderately heavy pair of two

  2. A Box

  3. Kettle Bell: moderately heavy

  4. Jump Rope

Why Dumbbells?

DBs can be used in so many different movements I probably won’t come close to the possibilities in my list here. They challenge people to use more stabilizer muscles than a barbell would and can be used as a pair or one by itself. They allow you to add some weights into your higher heart rate/cardio workouts or can be used for strength movements by themselves like strict press or rows.

Examples of movements done with dumbbells:

  • DB Thrusters
  • Devils Press
  • Man Makers
  • Double DB snatch
  • Single DB snatch
  • DB squat snatch
  • Single DB clean (hang or squat)
  • Single DB clean and jerk
  • DB Deadlift
  • DB Burpee
  • Strict Press
  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk
  • DB Squat
  • DB Upright Row
  • Curls
  • Tricep Extensions
  • Farmers Carry
  • And The List Goes On!!

Almost anything you would do with a barbell can be done with a dumbbell and THEN alot more. Here are some videos explaining some of the movements listed above that are not as commonly known:

Why A Box?

I chose a box because it adds more opportunities for plyometrics that someone is more likely to get themselves to do (Let’s face it, no-one likes running).

It’s lot more inconvenient to have to go find space in your yard or around town to go on a run. You do not need much space to use the box and you can stay where you know you’re safe… whether it is by your van where you’re camping for the week or at home.

This is a great way to get your heart rate up and can be used for cardio and strength movements just like the dumbbells. Variations of box jumps have been one of my favorite movements for the past few years.

Movement options with a box:

  • Box Jumps
  • Box Jump Overs
  • Burpee Box Jump Overs
  • Burpee Box Jumps
  • DB Box Step Ups
  • Burpee DB Box Step Overs
  • Weighted Step Ups
  • Body Weight Step Ups
  • Assisted Tricep Dips
  • Assisted Push-Ups
  • Depth Jumps

Below are two videos explaining two of the box movements I listed.

Burpee Box Jump Over: Check Out This 16 Second Video

DB Box Step Overs: Check Out This 29 Second Video.

The other reason a box is a GREAT choice for van lifers is because when you’re not using it to workout it becomes a storage unit. Maybe it even becomes a seat. Either way, there are many ways to use this box outside of working out. Keeping one end open (no wall) or making it so it CAN open allows you to use it as storage like I do.

Why A Kettlebell?

The kettle bell is my most recent purchase for my home gym and I love it more than I thought I would. The movements you can use with this are very similar to a DB so I would recommend choosing one or the other and then a different piece of equipment like a jump rope.

KBs force you to move in efficient ways that you would in every day life. With a very odd center of gravity, they force you to use your stabilizer muscles more than usual and have explosive power from the hips which can translate to many other movements. They are also easier on the wrists to squat with than a barbell.

Examples of KB movements:

  • KB Swings
  • KB Deadlifts
  • KB Squats
  • KB Slingshot
  • KB Sumo Squat
  • KB Turkish Get Up
  • KB Reverse Lunge
  • And many many moore. 

There is an extremely large amount of movements you can perform using the kettle bell. This piece of equipment is often overlooked and not used much. My third would have been a barbell but I did not choose it because of how expensive it will be to get everything you need. With a barbell you would have to buy plates, preferably bumper plates which are much more expensive. Also, not many people would have enough space at home to even use the barbell especially that they can drop it at without cracking their floor.

For movement options with a kettle bell, check out this link: https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/kettlebell-exercises/

For those with a higher budget and more space… I highly recommend purchasing either a Concept 2 Rower or a Rogue Echo Bike.

Having a piece of cardio equipment like this opens up a ton of doors for programming. The bike (my favorite) is a great full body workout itself. By increasing your heart rate and making you really work for each and every calorie/ meter, it can be put into any workout to create a better fat burning stimulus. I often just bike for a workout when I don’t feel like making something up or am short on time.

I wish this was practical for my van situation but it just simply is not. What it is great for is anyone who is living in a permanent home and wants a way to get fast and effective workouts remotely.

There are  workouts all over the internet specifically written for the Rogue Echo Bike. I had a Rouge Assault Bike at home which is very similar and also great but I would pick the Echo over it if I could go back in time.

Another great equipment choice is the jump rope. If you just want to pick between the dumbbell and the kettle bell since they have similar capabilities, this is another option! The jump rope takes up VERY little space and is great to mix into your workouts. 

Once you master the rope you can start working on double unders. Double unders are when the jump rope goes under your feet twice every time you’re in the air after jumping.

One last very important accessory to add to your home gym stash is some type of band. These bands are definitely worth the purchase. There is a large variety of movements you can perform using a band like this. These exercises can strengthen your glutes to further protect your knees form injury and keep them tracking correctly. 

I highly recommend keeping a quality band in your van for some outside workout sessions.

Having some euipment at home is a game changer. Sometimes it just feels easier to stay at your house or near your campsite to get a workout in. I personally don’t feel comfortable going to a gym late at night, it just feels creepy to me. Having a home gym has been one of the best things for me and I used it all of the time. Now my missions is to create something similar out of my van no matter where I am.

I hope this has helped you decide on what gym equipment to bring with you on your van life journey. Maybe you have a home gym and want to have a few more options for your workouts. Try out the ones listed above! They are my go-to options whenever I workout and are still my favorites.