How to Get the Best Workout at Home


Whether you’ve been working out at home for years or are new to the concept of performing lunges in your living room, the right equipment can reinvigorate a routine or inspire a fresh one. While the pieces of a home gym setup will vary from person to person, there are a few items that can help almost everyone reach their goals — bonus points if they nudge you out of your comfort zone. (As a Wirecutter fitness writer and certified personal trainer, I’ve seen how far that can go.)

Here are seven home exercise tools to help jump-start your workouts in 2021. Each recommendation is based on expert experience and what we at Wirecutter have discovered over years of comparative testing.

Self-myofascial release (SMR), also known as self massage, is a technique that manipulates connective tissue called fascia to help relieve tightness and release knots. Foam rollers are tools that can be used on specific muscle groups to get the job done. Wirecutter recommends the 36-inch AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller (about $25), which has a subtle texture that helps it stay put as you roll, and a long length. Foam rolling can be uncomfortable. For beginners or those who prefer a lighter touch, the medium-density Gaiam Restore Total Body Foam Roller (about $30) is a bit softer, though still sturdy enough to keep its shape. I foam-roll myself and have also coached clients through it. Identify a knotty spot and linger on it with gentle pressure for about 30 seconds before moving on. Try it before or after a workout or during the day as a break from sitting.

Technology isn’t always the answer to increasing activity. But a fitness tracker can help you identify patterns that could lead to healthy, long-term changes. Wearable trackers typically monitor metrics like heart rate, daily step count, workouts and sleep. (They are not perfect.) The experts we spoke with agreed that approaching the data as a loose outline versus a fixed absolute can help inform daily decisions about when and how to move. Among the most important things to consider are ease of use and battery life, and Wirecutter recommends the Fitbit Charge 4 (an updated model of our previous top choice, the Fitbit Charge 3, about $150). Among the most accurate in testing, the Charge 4 has an intuitive touch screen and a concise companion app. It also has built-in GPS, reliably detects and begins to record activities after about 10 minutes, and delivers reminders to move throughout the day — plus, it has a battery life of up to seven days per charge.


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