A properly set up home gym is the ultimate weight room. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home, compete for equipment or worry about bros interrupting your workouts.
However, building a home gym can get pricey. You could end up shelling out a couple of grand for a good set of home gym equipment. But the upside is a fully equipped gym available to you year-round, regardless of the weather and without worrying about membership fees.
To help you construct a home gym that has everything you need on a budget, I’ve listed eight essential pieces of equipment you should consider when building your personal home gym.
Any good home gym will have the most basic workout tools―barbells. They provide you with basic weight resistance training for your arms and are a required part of any gym. For the sake of space and convenience, adjustable weights that plates can be added to will help you compartmentalize your gym and keep everything tidy and efficient.
A good Olympic barbell can cost upwards of $200, especially if you want a durable one that can withstand heavy loads.
Depending on your type of lifting, you will have to consider types of bushings/bearings and knurling, which is the metal grip. If you do Olympic lifts, you will need quality bushings/bearings to allow the collars to spin during the lift. If you focus more on Squats, Deadlifts and Bench Presses, an aggressive knurling is important so you can grip heavy loads.
If you’re new to lifting, you can get away with a cheap bar from your local sporting goods store, or even a used bar from Craigslist. Just make sure that it’s an Olympic bar and not a skinny bar with one-inch collars, which don’t accommodate the standard Olympic plates found in any gym.
A barbell isn’t much use without plates. The amount you need depends on your level of strength.
Plates are one of the most costly investments when setting up a home gym. Fortunately, you don’t need shiny new plates.
It’s fairly easy to find quality iron plates on Craigslist for around 40 to 50 cents per pound, which is significantly cheaper than buying new plates.
To get started, purchase a pair of 45s, 25s, 10s, 5s and 2.5s. These are all the weight increments you need to properly progress. If you need more weight, just buy more 45s. Note that there’s no mention of 35s. Don’t waste money or space on this weight, because all you need is a 25 and a 10 to create a 35.
Just make sure you buy Olympic plates with a 2-inch hole.
3. Power rack
A power rack is an important safety tool for athletes who weightlift. Workouts that include variations of the Bench Press and Squat require a power rack, which means it is a must for your home gym.
Ideally, it should have adjustable safety arms and be tall enough to allow Overhead Presses for your height and Pull-Ups.
A good power rack for private use should cost under $1,000. If space is an issue, you can opt for a Squat rack or half rack, which are compact versions of a power rack.
Although the investment might seem significant, this is something you want to do right, because it keeps you safe during your workouts. If you can, invest extra cash in a sturdy option rather than a flimsy setup that might only last a few years.
Dumbbells make a good addition to barbell lifting, especially since they allow you to concentrate exercises on one side of the body or the other, rather than exercising both arms simultaneously.
However, dumbbells can be costly when you purchase a full set. Also, most home gyms can’t accommodate a full set of dumbbells due to space limitations.
Powerblocks and other adjustable dumbbells are good options for a home gym. You purchase two dumbbells that can be adjusted to a number of weight increments, depending on the model. For a home gym, there is no substitute.
No home gym is complete without a bench. An adjustable bench is ideal, because you can alter its angle for flat, incline and overhead pressing.
A decent bench will run a few hundred dollars. For example, this unassembled, well-rated adjustable bench is available for $265 from Body Solid. If cost is an issue, you can get a flat bench for between $100 and $200.
6. Lifting Accessories
There are so many lifting accessories, it’s unrealistic to consider purchasing them all. However, some of the most versatile and valuable accessories include:
- TRX Suspension and Rip Trainers
- Med Balls
- Resistance Bands
- Ab Roller
- Landmine machine
There are many more fantastic lifting accessories, but those five are a good place to start when equiping your home gym.
7. Cardio Equipment
Now that you have a full lifting setup, it’s time to address cardio equipment. This may be the most expensive part of your entire gym, and depending on the equipment, might take up the most space.
The right type of cardio equipment depends on how you prefer to train. Do you like sprinting and jogging? Go for a treadmill. Do you want to condition without causing wear and tear on your body? An Airdyne bike is a fantastic option. Rowing machines are exploding in popularity because of their full-body conditioning effect.
No home gym is complete without some type of gym-appropriate flooring. Fitness equipment companies sell flooring, but it’s often super expensive. And the interlocking foam flooring you can find at your local wholesale store slides around easily, lacks durability and is too soft for heavy lifting.
Your best bet is to buy stall mats at your local Tractor Supply store. These heavy-duty rubber mats, designed for horse stalls, are affordable and heavy duty. However, they may have a strong rubber smell when you first buy them, so you may want to allow them to air out for a few days before bringing them into your house.