Home Workouts: What Equipment do I need?

My first in-home gym with kettlebells, a pull up bar with rock rings, and a picture of Marilyn Monroe lifting weights. It was conveniently right off my kitchen so I could workout while waiting for things to cook.

Here’s a started pack and intermediate version of workout equipment you’ll want at home. Pick any items you have, can find, can afford, or would enjoy using. You don’t need the complete list to have, easily, two month of workouts. Click the links to lead you to the cheapest and best options (I receive no $ for my endorsements). Also, I’ll denote weights with options A/B, or lighter/heavier. You don’t need both. Start where you feel comfortable.

Starting Equipment

  • Clear Floor Space
  • Yoga Mat*, towel, or carpet
  • Yoga Block
  • Dowel: wood, PVC pipe cut from Home Depot, a Swiffer or Broom
  • 18′ Foam Roller
  • A steady, elevated surface like the end of a kitchen island or couch to do push ups (DON’T LET IT MOVE)
  • A hard box or step
  • Band (sprint, resistance)*
  • TRX (if you have somewhere to attach)
  • Dumbbell (5lb, 8lb, or 15lb), these are OK to start. You can graduate to tougher handles.
  • Kettlebell (8kgKB/12kgKB), (18lbs/25lbs), the link sends you to my favorite bells…but most are out of stock right now. Fine to use a department store brand, just try to match these in texture. No color ones with painted or “metal” handles
  • Sand Bag (8lb/15lb), or a bag of rice or something in a back pack. Books kind of hurt 🙂 Also, the sandbags don’t come filled.
  • Mini-Band (light/medium)*
  • Ab Wheel
  • Medicine Ball or Slam Ball (10lbs/20lbs)

*Careful if you have latex allergy

Slightly More Advanced Equipment

  • Two Dumbbells (20lbs/35lbs), recommend octagon shape and textured handle
  • Single Kettlebell one size up (16kgKB, 24kgKB), the link sends you to my favorite bells…but most are out of stock right now. Fine to use a department store brand, just try to match these in texture. No color ones with painted or “metal” handles
  • Pull Up Bar (if safe to attach over door or to wall)
  • Jump Rope (regular or speed rope your preference)
  • Battle Ropes, need a lot of space and tolerant downstairs neighbors
  • Body Bar or light bar (5lbs pair of plates, 15lbs of plates each side –so two fives and two 10’s), or a plain barbell

Tip: The heavier the weights, the more likely you’ll want to put something under them to protect your flooring. Child’s puzzle piece flooring is a good/cheap option. A yoga mat or piece of wood also work.

My favorite places to order from are Rogue Fitness and X Training Equipment. If you can support these businesses, I recommend them.

Final thought: You’re thinking, “This is silly, why isn’t a bench on there?” Well, if you can’t stick to the basics at home, regularly, then why buy a bunch of bulky equipment you won’t use? A couple of bands can be tossed in a closet. Also, at this moment, most racks and heavier weights are hard to order. If you really want a barbell set up, you’re probably best off buying a squat rack (with safeties) and removable bench. If you want to Olympic lift, make sure you have the space and proper setup.

As always, if you have questions, please email me at strengthinprogress @ or join below.

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Should You Work Out with a Buddy?

Does one person have more of a drive than the other? Sure, it can be great to have someone who is more dedicated at first, as an accountability buddy. But you want the same level of respect for the work. If you’re both there to have fun and goof around, OK. If one person is really anxious, the other might pick up on that energy.

women comparing yoga mats
Photo by Elly Fairytale on

Fill out this buddy checklist to see if you’re on the same page:

  1. How much of the session is spent chatting/goofing around versus working out?

  2. Will you both be on time and able to commit to a schedule or will you need to frequently adjust last minute?

  3. What happens when someone has to cancel?

    • Here, I like the little-used bet “no show pays…unless they make up the workout on their own.” Careful though, once someone gets in the hole too far it’s just another excuse to give up.

  4. Do you have similar goals?

    • Do you understand the differences between working to increase general fitness?

  5. Do you have the patience to work with other people?

    • If someone is going at a slower pace, are you going to get all huffy? Will you get frustrated if someone is doing a “more cool” move than you?

  6. Are you at similar pain levels?

    • Honestly, it’s almost more fun working with a newbie and someone who is more fit. But if there’s pain involved, that takes a lot of attention at first. The group might want the newbies to have a few private sessions or more of an intro class at first. 

  7. Are you going to be comfortable sweating, struggling, and sometimes failing in a group, as well as succeeding?

If any of these questions made you re-think your buddy system plan, let me make some recommendations:

Get a gym membership and sign up with a buddy. Don’t rely on them to teach you anything to feel comfortable. Pick a place where you think you can use with only mild discomfort. Maybe the staff is nice and shows you things (NOT THE SALES PEOPLE). Maybe it is clean. Whatever gets you in the door without overwhelming anxiety. Lots of places have semi-private or community-owned gyms. Maybe you start with a yoga studio and ask for a recommendation about a weight place later. But start moving comfortably in a space. Yes, even your home. Invite friends to try a workout routine (Zoom anyone?), but don’t be bothered if no one shows up. Same thing with attending a class or trying the free weights. Learn how to do some basics (from a professional or good class atmosphere) and try them on your own. No one is paying attention to you. If it’s weird attention, they can suck it. DO NOT RELY ON OTHER PEOPLE TO TAKE YOUR GOALS AS SERIOUSLY AS YOU.

Progress is progress. Let me know how it’s going!

Hugs and High Fives,



Getting Started Gym Tips

Kim sitting at a desk , smiling and looking mildly professional

Notice my shirt says, “Talk is Cheap.” So let’s get moving with a starter pack of introductory tips:

  1. If you need a fuck ton of motivation just to drag yourself through the door, maybe you aren’t ready to start. Or you need a different game plan.
  2. Always have extra gym clothes/shoes stowed away somewhere. The same goes for hair ties, chapstick, towels, or anything else that would make you turn around and go home without doing anything.
  3. Schedule an extra day/time to workout. If you miss a workout, you’ve still budgeted the time. If you consistently miss and use the “extra” day, cool. It’s become one of your standard days and you need to designate a new back up.
  4. Have makeup or sweat wipes ready. No sense being that stinky if you have to meet people last minute (I also have dry shampoo).
  5. Don’t push your workout until after you meet up with people. You will not come back.
  6. Learn five exercises. Do those five exercises. Hopefully you picks moves you enjoy! Write down how many times and at what weights you can do those exercises. Repeat 3/week for 3 weeks. Report any discomfort. Have someone look at those set/reps/times and advise you. Repeat.
  7. Don’t become overwhelmed by information. Internet groups can be great for support, but everyone’s got opinions. Keep your meaningful circle tight.
  8. Don’t put off asking for help. Using equipment, handling injuries, programming…everyone was a beginner. Most people still are. (tip: In the gym, the people most willing to help for free are also the most knowledgeable…except for the peeps just creepin’).
  10. Just start. Make yourself as prepared and as comfortable as possible — but just start.

If you have any questions about these, please reach out at