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The essential pain cave.

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

In late 2015, when I began this journey into fitness and wellness I had a couple of items in my arsenal: a tv, a DVD player, some workouts on DVD, a few weights, a resistance band, a couple of medicine balls and a BOSU ball. Since then, I've added on additional tools to help make my pain cave a kickass home gym. My goal when adding equipment is to find tools that continue to challenge me in strength, balance, stability, agility, and aerobically.

I'm super grateful to have a basement that offers me enough space for all of my equipment. I've been able to organize all of the tools in a pretty economical way, using a towel rack for resistance bands, TRX, and an agility ladder, and a $20 stainless steel rack for weights and other tools. The one piece of equipment I've splurged on was a $55 tower for the medicine and slam balls, which is worth it as it keeps the balls safely stored so I don't trip on them.

Tip: YouTube and Beachbody have an endless number of exercise videos using all of the items I list below. Just be sure to choose workouts that are safe and appropriate for your fitness level.

What are the tools that I find most useful?

TRX Suspension System: There are so many reasons to love TRX. It's easy to use, time-efficient, and I appreciate that by simply adjusting your body position you can add or decrease resistance. It's highly versatile and thus there are endless exercises you can perform with this one piece of equipment. TRX is a whole body workout and engages your core in just about every exercise — and strong core improves your body stability, balance and flexibility. It allows the user to do multi-planar exercises, which is invaluable for activities of daily life and of course, sports. The TRX suspension comes with a door and suspension anchors. I didn't have a door nearby in the basement, so I bought a heavy duty mount for the ceiling. If you travel, the TRX is the perfect tool to bring with you so you never have to miss a workout.

Resistance bands: Like TRX, resistance bands are incredibly handy and inexpensive. I have a variety of bands that can be used for different exercises and muscle groups. The most common resistance bands are the ones that are used with handles. I've had to buy several bands over the last few years as my strength increased, ergo the rainbow of bands. I use these bands with the TRX mount and hooks mounted on the wall. They can also be used without a door or ceiling mount. For example, you could do bicep curls with them by simply putting the band under your feet and curling up with the band. You can always substitute bands for weights as well. I also use smaller loop bands, which come in light, medium, and heavy resistance. These loops can be used for so many moves, like the clam shell exercise and lateral band walk. This past year, I found 41' bands, as they are are also quite functional and can be implemented in a variety of ways, including being used as an assist band for the pull up bar. When I pack for a trip, the first thing that goes in the suitcase are resistance bands, as they can be used anywhere.

BOSU Ball: There are countless ways to use the BOSU ball for balance, stability, and flexibility work. The domed side can be used for aerobic exercises and drills, and when the BOSU ball is inverted, it becomes a tool for balance training. Many workouts can be enhanced by incorporating the use of a BOSU ball, as it requires you to use more muscles to stabilize your body.

Weights: I love using weights and the benefits of strength training are numerous: can decrease the risk of osteoporosis, lose body fat, reduce risk of injury, and much more. I have a range of weights from 2 lbs. to 15 lbs, and eventually I'll purchase 20 lb. weights. There are several reasons why I have a range of weights: as my strength increased over time I purchased heavier weights to keep challenging myself and I do a large variety of strength work and exercises that require different resistance. For instance, I do lateral raises, which require a lighter weight, while a deadlift requires a heavier weight.

Pull Up bar: I chose to begin doing pull ups about a year ago as it complements the strength training and has been quite beneficial for my swimming. Pull ups are a "compound” exercise that involves a large number of big and small muscles, most notably your lats, biceps, rhomboids, trapezius, deltoids, and pecs. Pull ups are also beneficial for improving your posture. As you strengthen your back and core muscles, you can achieve better posture. The beauty of this $26 bar is that it offers you the ability to perform a variety of moves by changing your hand position. In essence, you can do multiple targeted exercises without having to adjust weights. When I started out with the bar, I used an assist band, which I eventually took out.

Other equipment in my little home gym that I love include: kettle bells, battle rope, sandbag, jump rope, sliders, agility ladder, stability ball, balance discs, yoga mat, step with risers, slam balls, and medicine balls.

For recovery: R8 Roll Recovery, rollers, yoga blocks, tennis balls, The Stick, and Trigger Point massage ball.

Splurges: Apple tv and Denon sound bar.

Check out my strength training|core page for a variety of workout videos.

New move of the week video up on my home page: Mountain Climbers with Resistance Band

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