Whether you’re an avid lifter or a complete novice, a home gym is a fantastic idea to help you reach your fitness and health goals. But actually setting one up is a big commitment. In this guide we lay out the steps and give you ideas for how to build a home gym.
- Benefits of a Home Gym
- What to Keep in Mind
- Equipment to Buy
- How You Can Afford Your Home Gym
A lot of people are hesitant about going forward with creating their home gym, so here are a few benefits to keep in mind:
No Need to Leave the House
Consistency is one of the biggest keys to success in fitness and health. It means going to the gym several times a week to do cardio and lift weights. Yet, many people just can’t meet their goals. They either are too tired, make excuses, or life just gets in the way.
These obstacles would be irrelevant if they had their own gym. Think about it: instead of going all the way to the gym, they can simply go into their basement or garage. This makes exercising so much easier. If you have a family, or live with others, a home gym will make it easier to get them to start working out as well.
Having a home gym is going to save you big bucks. Sure, in the short term there are going to be costs to invest in your home gym, but in the long run you’ll save money. The average gym membership costs $40-50 a month. And when you add in start-up costs and other fees you’re looking at nearly $800 a year. And, that’s just for one person. If you have a large family you’re going to be looking at many more costs. You can easily create your own home gym with $800 or less. And after one year goes by you’ll be saving tons of money.
A lot of people don’t go to the gym because they’re simply embarrassed. Either they’re overweight or they just don’t want to do anything stupid in front of other people. While this is an issue that should be dealt with, a home gym is a way to get around that mental block. No one is going to judge you at your home gym, because no one else is there! You can also work out without any prying eyes, if that’s a concern.
No Waiting for Machines
How many times have you gone to the gym, only to have someone hog the equipment you want to use. Then after you’re done waiting they leave all the weight on, or even a pool of sweat! Time is precious and there is no excuse for having to wait so long. With a home gym you never have to worry about anyone else hogging your equipment.
When planning your home gym, setting aside space, and purchasing equipment make sure that you keep these factors in mind:
Remember that in a home gym you’re probably going to have limited space. Assuming you put in a garage, in your basement, or another part of your house you’re going to want to maximize space.
This comes in two forms:
- Buying less equipment than needed
- Buying equipment that takes up little space
One of the themes of home gyms is maximizing space and getting the most ‘bang for your buck’. When it comes to exercises, this means that you want to focus on compound exercises, as opposed to isolation exercises. In most gyms, you can find a ton of machines for every body part: biceps, triceps, quads, calves etc. In the home gym, you’re not going to have these machines as they’re too costly and take up too much space for just one exercise.
You want to buy equipment that allows for multiple exercises that hit multiple muscle groups. These exercises include squats, presses, rows, and deadlifts among others.
So here are some products you should consider broken down by category:
Free weights are going to be the backbone of your home gym.
No home gym is complete without a power rack. Using the power rack alone you can do a complete program of the compound lifts. The power rack will be the most expensive part of your home gym, but will also be the most rewarding. Take into account your budget and space allotment when buying the power rack.
A basic power rack is going to be like the PowerLine PPR200X. It’ll certainly get the job done, but if you want a larger rack then there are certainly bigger models out there.
Dumbbells are a huge part of any lifting routine. However, they pose a bit of a problem for a home gym. Depending on how much space you have, buying a huge set of dumbbells may not be feasible. A more space and cost-effective route is to buy adjustable dumbbells. These are a great substitute. The Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells are a superb choice. They have a 5 star rating on Amazon with over 2000 reviews!
If you’re looking for something cheaper, and don’t need as much weight, then consider something like this basic 40lb. dumbbell set.
A standard barbell is one of the most important pieces of equipment for any gym. You’ll use it for all major compound exercises so it’s really irreplaceable. There are also other bars you might want to consider, one being the EZ curl bar. This bar is great for arm exercises, as it’s designed to be less stressful on the elbows. Also, it’s much shorter than the barbell so it can be easily maneuvered around a compact gym.
For exercises like the bench press, and its dumbbell variations, you’re going to need a bench.
You don’t need anything fancy here— this one by Bowflex is the perfect fit. Getting an adjustable bench is a good idea so that you can do incline and decline exercises.
The kettlebell has become a staple in many American gyms, but it should be even more common in home gyms. The reason for this is that the kettlebell is incredibly versatile, and you don’t need a whole set like dumbbells, rather one or two will do.
Check out this model of kettlebells. They come in different weights, but don’t worry about getting them all at once. Start with one or two different weights and go from there.
If you’re going to be using a barbell and a power rack, you have to have weight plates. Depending on your level of strength, you’re going to have to gauge how much you’ll need to buy. Also, you should buy a variety of weight plates, such as 2.5 lbs., 5lbs. 25 lbs., etc. This way you can add small amounts of weight to periodically increase how much you’re lifting.
Additionally, consider what exercises you want to do. If you’re going to be doing Olympic lifts like the snatch, then you may want to consider getting rubber bumper plates so you don’t damage your floor.
If your goal is to gain muscle then the items below will be needed.
Pull Up Bar
Pull ups, chin ups, and their variations will build a muscular back and a strong grip. You can also use this bar for ab exercises.
When buying a pull up bar, keep in mind where you want it to go. Can you hang it from the ceiling? If not, consider the ‘iron gym’. It’s fantastic, as it can go on most doorways and lets you use a variety of grips. You should also consider something like the Weider Power Tower. It’s fairly compact, and allows you to do a few different hanging exercises. Keep in mind that many power racks come with pull up bar, so no need to have two.
Using gymnastic rings make a great addition to any workout. They take bodyweight exercises to a whole new level. When looking for rings, make sure to look at the dimensions and structure. You want to make sure they’re lightweight, easy to hang, and will fit comfortably in your gym.
The items listed below are definitely not mandatory, but they do add a nice touch. It’s better to have too much equipment than not enough equipment.
Jumping rope is an excellent cardio workout. Not only that, but it can improve coordination footwork, and agility. It can be used as a warm-up, or in between sets to really get your heart pumping. It’s best to invest in a quality jump rope. Cheap models not only fall apart easily, but they can make your workouts more frustrating. Go with a reputable model like the FitSkuad brand.
The medicine ball is a must-have piece of equipment for all gyms. They’re incredibly useful for plyometric exercises and adding difficulty for core exercises. They can also be used for throwing and carrying. They are just incredibly versatile. When buying a medicine ball, it’s best to go with a soft one. This is because if you’re going to be holding it, catching it, or throwing it then you don’t want to have it roughing you up.
In terms of weight, start on the lighter side, unless you’re an advanced trainee. Medicine balls are not about lifting a lot of weight to build brute strength, but rather to develop stability.
A lifting belt is not entirely necessary. Yet, it’s a good idea to have on hand, as it can provide for stabilization and safety for certain exercises. Go with a quality belt, as it’s the difference between getting an injury and staying healthy. This belt from Olympiada gets the job done at a low-cost.
What’s a gym without awesome music? If you’re going to invest in a home gym, then you should definitely consider getting a quality home sound system that you can use to play your favorite pump-up music. Working out at home can get lonely, where at a public gym you’d be surrounded by others working out.
It’s a good idea to have a few resistance bands. Not only are they good for working the arms and shoulders, but also for increasing your mobility. These are the types of bands you want to buy as they are very versatile.
The TRX is a suspension training kit, similar to gymnastics rings. The TRX allows you to build strength, muscle, power and mobility by hitting your body from all angles. If you prefer bodyweight exercises, or just don’t want to invest a ton into free weights, than the TRX is a must-have.
The flooring of your home gym is something that most guys don’t even remotely think about. You want to have a surface that is comfortable to work out on. It shouldn’t be hard so that your knees are hurting, or if you need to do exercises on the floor it won’t kill you. It also shouldn’t be soft enough where you don’t have any grip. Balance is key here. You may want to consider going to a local hardware store and checking out various tiles, mesh or other types of flooring. Here are some samples from the Home Depot.
Although we’ve already shown you how you will save money in the long run, with having your own home gym, a lot of people might be skeptical about putting down so much money at once. Fortunately, you don’t have to!
Instead of plunking down a lot of money at once, build it up slowly. For example, you could start out with a power rack. This is a big investment, but it will be your largest investment overall, one that you can build your home gym around. At the beginning, just workout with your power rack and barbell and throw in some bodyweight exercises for good measure.Then consider getting a pull up bar. You can add pull ups and ab exercises to that. After that, maybe get a set of dumbbells. You see how it works. Buy what you can afford, and slowly over time you will have an awesome gym.
The products provided are a pretty comprehensive list of home gym equipment. Remember, unless you have a ton of space, you’re not going to be able to fit in a ton of equipment. Go for the most compact equipment that allows you to work your muscles from all angles and positions.