All you really need for a decent workout are a few pieces of equipment you can do a lot with, like a box, a ball, a jump rope, something to balance on, and some light weights. "You don't need a 10,000-square-foot facility for gear that challenges your body in real-world ways," says Steve Rast, a strength and conditioning coach for the University of Oregon rugby team. Rast helped us put together a gym with six pieces of equipment that have dozens of applications for just about every muscle group, plus cardio. For a full-body workout, take on three sets of each of the pictured exercises with two minutes of rest between. Then try the other moves mentioned. Mix and match, and you have more than 1,000 combinations with less than $700 worth of equipment that has a footprint roughly equivalent to your gym's bathroom stall.
Rogue Rubber Hex 20-Pound Dumbbells
"Dumbbells are the most versatile piece of equipment you can own," says Rast. "You can do anything – squats, dead lifts, presses, rows – and work your body unilaterally. In sports, it's not often that we have two feet planted. Dumbbells give you the freedom to work one side of the body independent of the other." Rast recommends getting two sets: one that you can hold over your head with little strain for a minute and one that you can barely curl 10 times in a row. [$48; roguefitness.com]
DO THIS: 1. Push-up rows. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Do a push-up, then a row (shown) on one and then the other arm. Repeat 10 times. 2. Dumbbell thrusters: Squat with weights at your shoulders. As you come up, thrust them above your head. Repeat 15 times.
Credit: Photograph by Justin Steele
• Standing flies. With dumbbells at your waist, raise straight arms to shoulder height and then lower.
• Side lunges. Hold one dumbbell in both hands and step sideways.
• Twists. Seated with your feet in the air, hold one weight and twist left, then right.