Staying active is important for our overall health. It can improve mood and memory, relieve stress, and aid sleep quality.

However, repeating the same workouts over and over can not only become boring, but it also leaves little room for improvement.

So, if you’ve found yourself in a bit of an exercise rut, are looking to try something new, or simply want to find new ways to push yourself, then investing in simple fitness equipment could make all the difference.

With that said, here are eight types of fitness equipment to boost your workouts. From dumbbells and resistance bands, to yoga mats and foam rollers, hopefully there’s something to suit every exercise style.

What are the benefits of using fitness equipment?

What are the benefits of using fitness equipment

When it comes to exercise, everyone has different preferences. But if you’ve become bored of your current workouts or have noticed your progress plateuting, using fitness equipment can help to up the intensity, offer new challenges, and keep things varied.

For instance, performing exercises on a Bosu ball is much more challenging on your body’s balance and stability than if you were to perform them on the floor. Equally, using dumbbells rather than just bodyweight can encourage strength and muscle growth by adding more resistance to your exercises.

So what type of fitness equipment might be most suitable for you?

8 types of fitness equipment to boost your workouts

1. Dumbbells


Of all fitness equipment, dumbbells are arguably the most versatile strength and resistance-training tools. Whatever your experience level and fitness goals, dumbbells come in a range of shapes, sizes, and weights which allow you to train the entire body.

The benefits of training with dumbbells include improved coordination, muscle activation, and stability – as well as their ability to activate a number of different muscles.

Adjustable dumbbells tend to be more expensive than regular dumbbells but allow you to continually challenge yourself by gradually adding weight to your workouts.

However, other methods such as performing more repetitions, increasing range of motion, and slowing the pace of each exercise can also be used to advance your workouts. So a pair of regular dumbbells are a good option too.

Popular dumbbell exercises include squats, lunges, arm curls, and lateral raises. You can find guidance on how to perform all of these exercises and more in Coach’s article; The best dumbbell exercises for all levels. Or, you might like to have a go at Joe Wicks’ full body dumbbell workout below.

2. Yoga mat

Yoga mat

Yoga mats may not seem like a game changer – but they can make a huge difference to your workouts. They’re not solely reserved for yoga either, and can be used in a variety of different workouts such as pilates, strength training, HIIT, and stretching.

A key benefit offered by yoga mats is comfort, as having a soft surface to exercise on is much more inviting than having to stand, kneel, or lie on a cold bare floor while you workout.

The mat also provides a barrier between yourself and the floor, which allows your muscles to retain their warmth. This can help to make moving into new positions smoother and safer.

Plus, most yoga mats are also slip-proof, which can aid balance and help you perform moves safely without risk of sliding around.

Amazon has a range of yoga mats starting at around £20. One, you’ve got a mat, why not try it out by following the 30-minute pilates workout below?

3. Ab wheel

Ab wheel

An ab wheel is an excellent tool for core workouts and boosting your abdominal strength. In simple terms, the equipment is a wheel with handles attached to the sides that allow you to roll outwards.

Ab wheels mainly work the rectus abdominis muscle, but the upper back and shoulders are also targeted.

Doing ab wheel rollouts is similar to doing a plank because they rely on your spine being stabilised. However, ab rollouts are more challenging than a plank, so it’s generally advised to build core strength with regular planks first before transitioning to an ab wheel.

Ab wheels are available to buy on Amazon, and the video below will take you through some basic ab wheel exercises.

4. Hand grip strengthener

Hand grip strengthener

Hand grip strengtheners are a type of portable compact equipment that you squeeze in order to build hand, wrist, and arm strength.

Not many people focus on the hands when it comes to building strength and muscle. But virtually all upper body strength exercises (and many lower body exercises) rely on our hands being able to effectively grip some type of free weight. In fact, research shows that poor grip strength can be the most limiting factor in your workouts.

Alongside strength workouts, strong hands are also essential for performance in various other sports including tennis, badminton, netball, gymnastics, and cricket.

The health benefits of grip strength are well documented too. Science has identified a link between grip strength, endurance, lower mortality risk, and overall quality of life. In fact, this study found that every 5kg decrease in grip strength was associated with a 17% increase in mortality risk.

Hand grip strengtheners are available to buy on Amazon for around £10 or less. The video below also demonstrates a number of simple hand grip exercises that you could try.

5. Resistance band

Resistance band

Resistance bands are used in strength training to build muscle and are a great alternative to free weights.

Benefits of using resistance bands include improved strength, mobility, and core activation as well as their ability to activate muscles in the same way as free weights, with less chance of injury. They’re also affordable, easy to transport, take up less space, and are valuable tools for muscle rehabilitation.

There are a few different types of resistance bands, including resistance bands with handles, flat resistance bands, loop resistance bands, and leg and arm tube resistance bands. You can read more about picking the band for you on the Pro Source Fit website.

You can also buy resistance bands in a variety of different strengths – for example, light, medium, or heavy resistance – to suit your fitness level and goals. On Amazon, packs of resistance bands are available to buy from around £10 and up.

Alternatively, Instepp also sells an advanced version of regular resistance bands – featuring foot hoops, body clips, and up to 2.3kg of resistance. Based on the established methods of exercise therapists, Instepp combines resistance training with fundamental movements to tone, activate, and strengthen the whole body. Why not try one of the banded workouts to try over on the Instepp YouTube channel?

6. Ankle weights

Ankle weights

Ankle weights make great exercise tools for people of all fitness levels. Not only are they easy to transport, they also provide an accessible and easy way to perform strength training exercises everywhere.

Research has shown that ankle weights may be beneficial for improving walking dynamics, reducing body fat, and lowering risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, this study found that wearing 0.5kg ankle and wrist weight three times a week for 20 minutes over a six-month period lowered participants waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and body fat percentage.

In addition, for mature adults, wearing ankle weights may improve knee joint repositioning and be beneficial for improving balance.

Since ankle weights usually weigh between 0.5 and 1.5kg, users shouldn’t expect to gain muscle mass from an ankle weight workout. In addition, it’s advised not to wear ankle weights during cardio exercises like running as this can strain your ankle joints and leg muscles.

Ankle weights are available to buy on Amazon. Why not try some of these ankle weight exercises from Healthline to get started? Or check out the video below.

7. Pedal exerciser

Pedal exerciser

A pedal exerciser is a simple and compact machine that helps to strengthen the legs, with little to no risk for injury.

The benefits of pedal exercisers include how easy they are to use, their ability to work different muscle groups, and variable resistance levels, which allow you to continually challenge yourself. Research has also shown pedal exercisers to be an effective tool to combat knee pain, arthritis, and improve joint health.

Pedal exercisers predominantly work the lower body in a similar way to a traditional bike, but can also be used on a stable countertop as an upper body workout tool too.

They’re also easily portable and allow you to multitask. For example, if you have a fairly sedentary job, you could try pedalling below your desk as you work – or, you could even peddle while watching the television!

Regular indoor exercise bikes can be expensive and take up a lot of space, so pedal exercisers make a great price-friendly alternative. They’re available to buy on Amazon for between £20 and £50. For help and advice on what product to buy, you might want to check out this article on 10 best pedal exercisers of January 2022 from Best Reviews Guide.

To get started, check out the 15-minute pedal exerciser workout below.

8. Medicine ball

Medicine ball

Medicine balls (or slam balls) are firm, weighted balls that come in a range of different sizes, weights, and variations – including inflatable, rubber, and grip balls.

Medicine ball training is effective for developing strength, balance,and endurance, and boosting the intensity of your workouts – all of which are key elements in total body fitness. Interestingly, this study found that medicine ball training requires the same cardiovascular demand as intermittent running or cycling.

There are also specifically designed medicine balls that can be used for particular exercises – for example, medicine balls with fitted straps for Russian Twists, and medicine balls filled with gel or sand to absorb impact when slammed.

Amazon has a range of medicine balls and prices usually start from around £15. To get an idea of what a medicine ball workout might involve, have a watch of the video below.

9. Bosu ball

Bosu ball

At a first glance, a Bosu ball looks like a regular exercise ball cut in half – they’re inflated on one side and flat on the other.

Bosu balls are essentially a balance trainer and provide the user with an unstable surface to perform exercises that engage a variety of muscles. Using a Bosu ball will make your workouts more challenging by forcing you to recruit your core strength, balance, and mobility – so it’s a great way to mix things up.

Another benefit of Bosu balls is that they’re extremely versatile and can be used to work your entire body. For example, you can perform single leg holds to work on your balance, pushups or tricep dips for strength, or mountain climbers for cardio. You’ll find directions on all of these exercises and more in Healthline’s article; 11 exercises you can do with a Bosu ball.

Bosu balls are available to buy on Amazon and prices start at around £40. The video below will take you through a guided Bosu ball workout.

10. Kettlebells


Kettlebells are cast iron weights in the shape of a ball with a handle for easy gripping. They offer a different kind of training based on dynamic moves that target almost every aspect of fitness – endurance, balance, strength, agility, and cardio. Kettlebell training is popular because it’s challenging, efficient, and (unlike with dumbells) only requires one piece of equipment.

As well as improving physical fitness, research found that working out with kettlebells could improve core strength by 70%, as well as improve dynamic balance, aerobic capacity, and grip strength. You can read more about the benefits of kettlebells on the Set For Set website.

Kettlebells are available to buy on Amazon. To get started, why not try some of these 14 beginner kettlebell exercises that work your entire body from Self? Or, you could try the beginner’s kettlebell workout below.

11. Foam roller

Foam roller

If you suffer from sore muscles, poor mobility, or you’re particularly prone to injury, then using a foam roller could make all the difference. Designed for use before and after exercising to release muscle tension, you’ll find that foam rolling can significantly improve your performance during workouts.

Foam rolling is essentially like having a deep tissue massage for your muscles. It’s used to break down developed scar tissue and increase blood flow to the muscles. It also works soft tissue called fascia that’s meant to be mobile, elastic, and stretchy, and connects muscles together.

Among other things, research has shown that foam rolling can improve range of motion, mobility, and posture, relieve muscle soreness and speed up recovery, and correct muscle imbalances.

Foam rollers are available to buy on Amazon for between £10 and £15. For guidance on how to foam roll different areas of your body, have a read of Grenade’s guide; How do you foam roll?

The video below will take you through some of the foam rolling basics.

How can I look after my body while working out?

How can I look after my body while working out

Giving your body a chance to rest in between workouts is just as important as working out itself, to allow your body to recover and repair.

It’s generally advised to take at least one day of rest in between workouts – but if you feel your body needs more, don’t be afraid to take it.

It’s also vital to warm up and stretch after every workout that you do. Alongside rest days, this will help to improve your sporting performance and prevent fatigue, injury, and muscle soreness. Why not give this quick and basic warm up and this five-minute cool down next time you workout?

For more information on how to take care of your body while working out, have a read of this advice from a world-class PT on GQ Magazine.

Final thoughts…

Staying active is important for maintaining our overall health at every age. If you’ve found yourself getting bored at the thought of exercise, then fitness equipment can be a great way to boost workouts, add new challenges, and keep things fresh.

If you have specific goals too – for example in terms of mobility, strength, stamina, or balance – fitness equipment can also be a very valuable tool.