Sports gifts for teenagers on a budget

It’s goodbye to half the fun this winter as contact is not allowed in most sports.

No live spectators, no fixtures, and gym restrictions… Now is the time to find that inner determination you need in the last minutes of any sports competition, and apply it to solo fitness training instead.

I’ve drawn up three home gym shopping lists for teens. I have mixed shopping on a budget with exercise science and a tonne of personal experience as an athlete and coach. Plus, I won’t go into too much detail about every single exercise, but rather motivate you to find new ideas!

First of all though, let’s have a look at the basic rules that apply to any training regime:

  1. Very often, especially for beginners and younger people, it is not important what you do, but HOW you do it*. Good form, decent intensity within the session**, consistency through a long period of time and adequate rest between workouts. If these ingredients are all there, choosing what exercise to do is the last of the problems.
  2. No need for expensive stuff. Seriously, your body is already capable of many awesome movements. Yes, we can vary a little with the help of some kit but don’t fall into the illusion of more costly = more effective. Rather the opposite. If you learn to calibrate movements with your own body everything else will become easier. Plus, bodyweight exercises are safer to do at home, unsupervised and in your own, smaller space.
  3. Have fun. Find something that you enjoy. It shouldn’t feel like a duty, it should be something you look forward to. Anything. As long as rule number 1 is respected, you pick. It doesn’t even have to be the same thing all the time!

With a £30 budget

Skipping rope
A skipping rope is an insane tool to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Price: £5-£15

What can you do with it? Skipping – Double Skipping – Burpees over the rope

Hula hoops
No, I don’t expect you to do the actual rotational movement we all know (nothing wrong with it of course). You can use the circles as targets for jumps!
Price: £5

What can you do with it? Two foot jumps – single leg jumps – agility drills

Yoga mat
A soft, grippy base that will help every exercise we’re going to perform on the ground.
Price: £5-10

What can you do with it? Push ups – Sit ups – Plank – Inverted plank

With a £50 budget

….all the above plus….

Gym ball
Pick a ball with a diameter at least the length of your arms, so that you’ll be able to use it for upper body exercises as well as lower body. The instability of the ball makes us use a lot of those little stabilisation muscles which are good for posture and sports.
Price: £5-£10

What can you do with it? Balance exercises – unstable planks – glute bridges – overhead carry/squats

Resistance bands (4/5 different strengths)
This extremely versatile tool will allow you to add a selected amount of difficulty to many bodyweight exercises.
Price: £10 for the lot

What can you do with it? Banded good mornings – triceps extensions – shoulder presses 

With a £100 budget

….all the above plus….

Adjustable dumbbell
A dumbbell doesn’t need to be heavy, 10-15% of your bodyweight at the very most. Adding resistance favours the build of strength but remember: you will be unsupervised. Don’t be a hero, follow rule number 1 and ensure perfect form.
Price: £30-£40

What can you do with it? Bent over rows – weighted arabesques – floor presses

Abs roller
Simple and effective tool to build rock solid abs. This is the piece of kit that requires the most attention, since if not done correctly it might hurt your back. Watch this video to check if your form is correct –
Price: £8-£12

What can you do with it? Rollouts – Rollout holds

How do we organise a workout? Here is a simple recipe: pick any 5 exercises, in any order. Start by doing as many reps as you can for 30 seconds, and rest for the same time. Then move on to the second and so on keeping 30seconds on / 30 seconds off format. When all 5 of them are done, rest for a little longer and then repeat the circle 2, 3 or even 4 times! 

Next time you work out pick different exercises, with different timing, different pattern, mix everything up as creativity allows, enhancing fitness and recreating unpredictable game situations. Routine is the enemy!


*Lloyd, S. R, Oliver, L. J. (2014) Strength and Conditioning for young athletes: science and applications. London: Routledge.

**Laursen, P, B., Jenkins, D. G. (2002) ‘The scientific basis for High-intensity Interval training.’ Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(1).

Further reading

CrossFit (2020) ‘What is fitness?’ Available online at :