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How to get fit for cheap -- less than $100

May 01, 2012 by Sayan


Before I get into the specific descriptions, I’ll put the basics of this post front and center. If you learn nothing else from this article, just remember this:

The three essentials to burning fat and building muscle on a budget are: A pullup bar that hangs over the doorframe, a kettlebell, and jump rope. And the best part is that these are cheap, and can all be purchased for less than $100 total! So no more excuses, get moving!______________________________________

For many of us, the cost of a gym membership is an issue in our weight loss and fitness endeavors. Unless you get lucky with a corporate discount rate or other promotion, chances are you are paying upwards of $80 a month at many city gyms. It is a fairly expensive way to get fit, and for many this is a good enough reason to push off fitness for "some other time".

There is a simple way out of this dilemma, though, and it’s structured around a home-based workout using a few simple, inexpensive pieces of fitness equipment. For a fun, heart-pumping workout that helps burn fat, build muscle and increase overall fitness, just buy these:

1. A kettle bell (for beginners, men buy a 25 lb and women a 10 or 15 lb). Test out different sizes before buying, based on relative strength.

2. Jump rope (weighted handles for an added challenge)

3. Pull up bar that hangs over the door or door frame

Total cost for all 3? Less than $100.

If finances are currently an issue, using these simple options IS the way to go about reaching your physique, body composition and performance goals.

In my personal experience, I spent the majority of summer 2011 on a simple at-home workout. I was out of the house at least 13-14 hours a day, and money was tight. My choice was to either spend money on proper nutrition and nothing on a gym membership, spend money on a gym membership and eat junk (terrible option; diet is always priority), or combine the best of both worlds. I chose the last option and I recommend any budget-conscious person to do the same. If you are determined to get fit and have very little extra money to spend, focus on eating well and work out in your basement or backyard!

The Exercises

Sayan, at the start position for kettlebell swingsKettlebellsAs for specific exercises with the kettlebell, swings are a must! For these, you must bend over from the hips, while keeping your upper body at about a 45 degree upright angle. The kettlebell should be between the legs, and both feet should point slightly outwards. The ‘swing’ part is a driving motion originating from the hips/core. Use your hips to thrust forward and let the momentum swing your arms (and the kettlebell up). Knees should be slightly bent, but should stay in roughly the same place throughout the exercise. Kettlebell swings are an outstanding exercise to build the whole posterior chain, with an emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings (the glutes are a fat storage problem area for many).

Sayan, midway through kettlebell swings

I also recommend goblet squats (going to at least parallel or below) if your flexibility permits. With goblet squats, you hold the kettlebell with two hands (how you might hold a rounded glass or ‘goblet’), and drop down into a squat position. If weighted (or even bodyweight) squats are a challenge, start by dropping into a low squat while holding onto a steady pole or object. Proper squat form is essential to get fit especially in the lower body

it builds up strong leg muscles while burning extra fat, and reducing the risk of injury.

Squat form: People often shun squats because they are supposedly bad for your knees, but this is only true if your form is incorrect. A correctly done squat begins with the hips first! Start by moving your hips back as if you were sitting down, all the while making sure your knees do NOT move past the toes. Focus on digging your heels into the ground. Get down until thighs are parallel to the ground, then rise up (again leading with the hips). It kills me to see so many people leading squats by bending their knees in all different directions, and setting themselves up for future injuries. Attaining proper squat form may be difficult at first but it gets much easier with consistent practice! When you can do 20 bodyweight squats to parallel or below, without holding on to anything, you are ready to take the step to goblet squats.

Pull-upsPull-up bars are a versatile piece of equipment that can help build muscle in many ways. Pull-ups build the large muscles in the back, torch your arms and integrate the core for an all around workout. If you can't do full pull ups, mix workouts between one-legged pull ups, negative pull ups, and hangs.For one-legged pull-ups, place a chair about a foot ahead of a spot directly under the bar. Step up, grasp the pull-up bar with both hands (overhand or underhand grip “chin-ups"