Dumbbells are essential. I currently have 3 sets and I use them all. I have 5 pound, 10 pound, and 15 pound. I would say 2 sets are the bare minimum. If you start to progress past those weights, you can always find new ways to push yourself. For example, I love switching up normal dumbbell deadlifts by doing single leg deadlifts-- the weight becomes challenging all over again. There are a lot of single leg variations for lower body work, for upper body you can get creative with supersets and triple sets.
Yoga mats are great for a lot more than just yoga. I love using it to add a little extra cushion while doing ab exercises, stretching pre & post workout, and various abduction exercises on leg day like fire hydrants and banded clam shells. You can also fold it up and use it as a barbell pad while doing hip thrusts.
Once you start adding in barbells and plates, things start to get expensive. But if you are serious about weight training, it might be worth it to invest in. I still haven't bought one of these yet, but it is on my wish list!
Benefits of a home gym
The convenience has got to be the biggest benefit of working out at home. This is especially key for anyone who has a busy schedule.
After Farrah was born, I used my home gym to workout during the kids’ naps. I was able to get in a great workout with very limited space and equipment (shown above).
Affordability can be a benefit, but there is a small investment you need to make initially. However, you can just add equipment as you go. You don’t have to buy everything all at once. When I first started, all I had were a couple sets of free weights and I slowly added to my collection.
When working out from home, you are a little limited in your equipment. Unless you have a full set of weights, you will have to get creative with your workouts to make them harder as time goes on.
This is where the loop bands I mentioned earlier come in handy. They add in extra resistance in addition to weights. You can also double up on loop bands.
Also, try adding in supersets and trisets and higher rep ranges. Another great tip is to be very deliberate with your reps. Go slow and controlled during each phase of the rep. Slowing down makes it a lot more challenging.