An expert trainer says you only need these five items to build full-body strength at home—and they're all under $50

Build muscle all over and improve your fitness at home with these five Black Friday fitness deals

A woman exercising in a home gym with a personal trainer
(Image credit: Getty Images / Fly View Productions)

Exercise equipment can be expensive. A good rowing machine costs around $1000, the ever-popular Peloton bikes can cost up to $2000 and a top-tier treadmill can be an eye-watering $7000.

But home workout solutions don't need to be costly. You can actually do a cardio workout or a strength training session at home for less than $50. 

We asked top personal trainer and Fit Labs Kensington founder Ali Malik what budget equipment he'd recommend for beginners—here are his affordable suggestions. 

1. Dumbbells

Two people working out with dumbbells in dark gym

(Image credit: Future)

Malik's first suggestion for your home gym is a simple set of dumbbells, which will allow you to practice various strength-training moves. 

"You can start with a basic set of fixed-weight dumbbells or invest in adjustable dumbbells that allow you to change the weight as you progress," says Malik.

"I prefer using hex dumbbells at home as the flat bottom allow for stability when doing exercises like renegade rows and planks."

Signature Fitness hex dumbbell 10lb pair: was $93.99, now $29.99 at Amazon

Signature Fitness hex dumbbell 10lb pair: was $93.99now $29.99 at Amazon

Save 68% These rubber-coated cast iron dumbbells from Signature Fitness are robust and cheap. Their hex shape means that they're sturdy enough for moves like the renegade row and they won't roll away mid-workout. You can also pick up a heavier 20lb pair for a little over $50.

2. Resistance bands

Woman using resistance band outside

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"Resistance bands are affordable and versatile. They provide resistance for both upper and lower body exercises," explains Malik.

He recommends looking for a set with multiple bands offering different resistance levels, "to accommodate your strength progression".

In addition to their strength-training benefits, you can also use resistance bands to deepen yoga stretches and to correct your form when squatting

TOMSHOO 315lb eight-piece resistance band set: was $27.99, now $24.99 at Walmart

TOMSHOO 315lb eight-piece resistance band set: was $27.99, now $24.99 at Walmart

Save $3 The discount here isn't mind-blowing, but this eight-piece set is great value even at full price. There are five bands of varying thicknesses, each offering different levels of resistance, as well as a handle attachment and a door anchor for exercises like banded rows and flyes. Long looped resistance bands like these can also be used to learn pull-ups. 

3. A kettlebell

Man lifting kettlebell in gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Malik is a big fan of kettlebells for at-home workouts, which can be used for a variety of fun strength training moves like swings, squats and snatches

"Consider starting with a moderate weight then gradually progressing to heavier weights as you grow stronger."

Malik suggest that women start with a kettlebell weighing between 13lb/6kg and 26lb/12kg, while men might consider beginning with a kettlebell that weighs between 35lb/16kg and 53lb/24kg. However, this will depend on your individual strength level. 

Amazon Basics cast iron kettlebell 35lb: was $43.13, now $34.59 at Amazon

Amazon Basics cast iron kettlebell 35lb: was $43.13, now $34.59 at Amazon

Save $8.54 The best kettlebells are the ones that keep it simple and this Amazon Basics 'bell nails that brief. It has a wide, lightly textured handle for greater grip and a no-nonsense cast iron design that's made to stand the test of time.  

4. A pull-up bar

Woman using pull-up bar installed in her home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The pull-up is an excellent exercise for developing muscle in your back and biceps, and you don't need to do any drilling to install one. 

"A pull-up bar that can be mounted in a doorway is an excellent addition for upper-body strength," Malik says. 

"Look for one that is sturdy and can support your body weight. Some models also allow for push-up and dip variations."

You can also use them for things like chin-ups and hanging abs exercises.

Ally Peaks pull-up bar for doorways: was $31.89, now $22.99 at Amazon

Ally Peaks pull-up bar for doorways: was $31.89, now $22.99 at Amazon

Save $30 This door-mounted pull-up bar will transform most standard doorways into back and biceps-strengthening stations in seconds—just slip it into place around the frame, no nails needed. Make sure you double check the measurements match up to a doorway in your house before hitting "buy". 

5. An exercise mat (or yoga mat)

Man doing plank on an exercise mat at home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Malik's final entry into this list is an exercise mat or yoga mat.

"A comfortable and non-slip exercise mat is essential for floor exercises, stretching, and yoga. It provides cushioning and stability while protecting your floors," he says.

"Fable do excellent quality mats. They are sold as yoga mats but I find them very practical for home use and any type of exercise. My personal favourite is the Pro Grip."

Fable Pro Grip Yoga Mat: was $60, now $36 at Soxy

Fable Pro Grip Yoga Mat: was $60, now $36 at Soxy

Save $24 You can currently get a good deal on Malik's favorite mat, thanks to the Black Friday fitness sales. It's made with biodegradable materials and is a little wider and longer than your standard yoga mat. 

If you want to find out more about any of Malik's selections above, take a look at our tried and testing buying guides below. 

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.


Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.