There’s nothing like coming home from work for a great workout. Pumping iron is great for your body and soul.
Do you know what isn’t so good though? Monthly gym fees. Having to drive to your gym all the time. Dealing with other people in the gym when perhaps you would rather be alone.
For some, home gyms are often the better solution, especially when you’re stuck at home to look after your children, or you simply want to be able to blast your tunes while you work out because that helps you to stay more motivated.
Building a home gym is a great thing, it’s also pretty simple.
It may feel a little overwhelming at first to know what you need for a home gym and how to take advantage of your home gym, but with our help you’re sure to get great results in no time at all.
So, without further ado, here’s our ultimate guide on building your very own home gym.
Benefits Of Having A Home Gym
So why not just go to the gym every day – why exactly should you invest in your own home gym? Studies have actually suggested that working out at home can be very beneficial for some. Here are just a few of the benefits.
No Need to Worry About Commuting
The last thing that most people want when they’re on their way home from work is commuting. Alternatively, perhaps you’re a stay at home parent that doesn’t get many opportunities to leave the house as a result of childcare arrangements.
When you’re visiting a gym every evening, you need to spend money on fuel costs, maintenance of your car and so much more.
When you have a home gym though, you can get home from work and walk to your home gym a couple of rooms away. You will save yourself a lot of time that could be otherwise spent on different things, like truly giving your workout your best effort.
This means that you get to make the most out of your workout and it also gives you extra time to spend with friends and family too.
You Can Make Your Own Rules
Sure, we all love the gyms, but some things are just plain annoying. Some gyms may not allow you to drop the weights, maybe you aren’t allowed to use chalk, and possibly the worst part – you have to keep all of your clothes on, even if you’re sweltering.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of gyms are required to have certain rules in place, and sometimes these rules can be a hindrance to your workout. This means a less successful performance, and you may not see those results that you want as soon.
When you have your own home gym, you aren’t restricted by anyone else’s rules. You can blast your music, you could exercise in the nude… The possibilities are endless.
Though, if you do plan on exercising in the nude, it may be a good idea to make sure your neighbors can’t see you!
Ideal For Awkward Work Schedules
Let’s face it – we are often working from 9 to 5 in many cases. If your gym is only open during those hours, how exactly are you supposed to get a workout in at your gym?
When you’re with a public gym you’re working on someone else’s schedule – to a degree. With your own home gym the only person’s schedule that you need to worry about is your own.
You can go to the gym whenever you feel like it, and this gives you less of a reason to make excuses not to workout. You could even do a workout on public holidays – something that’s not always an option with a public gym.
No Waiting For Equipment
Perhaps one of the most annoying things about going to the gym is the fact that you will have to wait for equipment when it’s busy. It’s pretty irritating, especially if you’re driven all the way to the gym to use that one piece of equipment.
When you use your own home gym you don’t have to stand around for potentially hours waiting for a piece of equipment to become free.
You also won’t feel the pressure to rush your workout either because someone else is waiting to use the equipment. This means you can really take your time to perfect your reps.
Choice of Equipment
Everyone trains differently, and while most gyms accommodate different training styles well, they sometimes don’t provide you with the range of equipment that you may be looking for to successfully execute your workout.
Your equipment can be tailored to you in your home gym. If you’re a fan of CrossFit for example you can get workout equipment that will fit that training style, rather than gear that will just fit the general public.
When you tailor your equipment to you, you can often get better results.
If you’re looking to start your own home gym, you may be wondering how exactly you’re saving money. After all, a lot of gym equipment is not even remotely cheap.
Sure, in the short term you may be paying a lot up front, but through the years you are actually saving money. For one, you won’t need to spend money on a gym membership, which can easily cost you a couple of hundred or even thousands of dollars every single year.
Secondly, you are saving money on transportation costs too. You don’t need to commute to the gym so you don’t need to spend money on fuel expenses. That extra money can really add up.
You may even save for your trip to Disneyland with the family with that extra few hundred dollars. Either way, you’re winning in the money department.
Planning Your Home Gym Setup
So now that you know the main benefits of having a home gym, it’s time to plan how you’re going to set it up. Perhaps the most important thing to think about though? Having the right space.
Finding The Right Space + Storage Room
When you’re making a home gym, the very first thing that you need to think about is where you’re going to put it. There are a few different places where you can set up a home gym, but the most popular option is in the garage.
For starters, the garage (if you have one that’s free to use and not currently occupied) is generally on the ground floor, so you don’t have to worry about dropping heavy barbells and panicking that they’ll come through the ceiling.
In addition to this, you also won’t have to worry about making too much noise as garages are usually quite some distance away from the rest of the home. They tend to have a lot of free space for gym equipment too.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a great deal of space then you could opt for a spare room. You may need to be a little more careful if you are using a spare room, especially if it’s upstairs, but this is a great choice if you don’t have a garage.
If you have a basement, a home gym would fit perfectly in there. Many basements are also large enough that they can be used for many different things – you could even have a home gym and a kid’s playroom in the same location.
Just make sure that you’ve had some waterproofing done in the basement before using it as a liveable space! Alternatively you can put your home gym in the attic.
No matter what you do though, you should make sure that the location you use has decent ventilation in order to ensure that you are cool during the hot summer months. You should also have good heating for the winter months. If you’re gym is in the garage or basement, a space heater is a great option.
Of course, not everyone has a great deal of space for a dedicated home gym. In this case, you should consider whether you have the storage space available where you can put your equipment after use.
Essential Equipment You Will Need:
Now you’ve found your space, it’s time to get your equipment. Here’s everything that you might need.
A rack is absolutely necessary for anyone looking to improve their strength.
It’s essentially the center of your home gym and you can do so many things with a rack and barbell combo.
There are a range of different racks – some may be used in conjunction with free weights, whereas others are mechanically operated, making it easier for you to do certain things like deadlifts and back squats with good form.
It’s a good idea to get a power rack if possible. These usually have safety bars on the sides, and this means that if you drop the barbell the safety bars can catch it, which helps to ensure that you don’t get injured.
One of your biggest priorities though when it comes to buying a rack is ensuring that you get one that can handle the weight that you intend to lift.
Of course, if you are only just getting started with lifting weights then the chances are that you aren’t going to need a rack with a massive weight capacity.
If you’ve been training for a while though you are going to need something that can handle a lot more weight.
If you aren’t ready for a high weight capacity yet, then you could opt for something that can handle less weight but can be upgraded later down the line.
Or you can get something with a higher weight capacity if you’re serious about lifting and want to have a rack that will give you room to grow.
Cap OB-86B - AKA “BeastBar”
Your rack and your barbell are like soulmates – they’re meant to go together!
Your barbell is going to be one of the most important pieces of equipment in your home gyms – it’s necessary for a wide range of different exercises.
For this reason, it’s something that you need to pour a little bit of extra budget into to ensure that it can handle higher amounts of weight.
One great barbell option that you can invest in is the Cap OB-86B, which is aptly named ‘The Beast Bar.’ This bar has a high weight capacity and it’s comfortable to use. It’s fairly affordable whilst still giving you the level of performance that you want.
Of course, an olympic barbell is good in itself, but you should also take other things into account such as plates for the barbell so you can increase the amount of weight that you’re lifting when you’re ready. A typical Olympic weight plate set will include a pair of plates in the following weights: 45 lbs, 35 lbs, 25 lbs, 10 lbs, 5 lbs, and 2.5 lbs.
It’s the staple cardio machine for any gym!
Treadmills will give you an entire body workout all from your home gym – there’s no need to go running outside on a rainy day!
Treadmills are versatile exercise machines, and you can often get a good workout just by walking on one, whether fast, slow or on an incline.
This is definitely a piece of equipment that you’ll want to spend a little bit of extra money on. A cheap treadmill most likely will not serve you well or for a very long time, so it’s worth making an investment here.
You don’t necessarily need all of the bells and whistles like built in Bluetooth players, just something that can give you enough versatility which makes it suitable for exercising even as your skill level and cardio fitness improves.
This means you should be looking for a decent number of speed options, incline and resistance.
Other features that are worth looking out for include portability – some treadmills can fold down for easy storage, which is ideal if you don’t happen to have a great deal of space available.
There are a lot of benefits to elliptical trainers.
For starters, they are a fantastic way to make sure that you’re getting cardio into your day without putting stress on your joints – a common issue for many people using treadmills.
Buying the right elliptical trainer isn’t always easy, but if you know what you’re looking for it can be somewhat simpler.
When you’re hunting for an elliptical, look out for the resistance levels as this is one of the main things that is going to dictate the intensity of the workout.
Also consider the portability of the machine if you have space restrictions. Again, since this is a large piece of equipment that’s pretty versatile, you should also think about spending a little bit of extra money to buy a truly amazing machine.
If you’ve been going to the gym for a while, you will know that the big machines aren’t the only important thing! You should also consider the smaller pieces of equipment.
Some things that are worth investing in include:
You can use weight benches for a wide range of different things – they are especially useful when used with a barbell and rack for things such as bench presses and seated presses.
You can get a wide range of different weight benches. Some are flat, whereas some can be adjusted by the user. If you’re going to buy a weight bench, then you need to think about the bench’s weight capacity.
For instance, if you’re lifting heavy then you’ll want a bench with a high weight capacity. This means that it’s important to consider what you will be using the bench for before you buy it.
Every home gym needs a set of weights. Dumbbells are incredibly versatile and can be used for a wide range of different exercises. As such, they can also be used regardless of your difficulty level.
Perhaps the main problem with dumbbells though is that you can grow out of them pretty fast. In short, you aren’t going to be using those 10 lb dumbbells for very long if you’re training on a consistent basis.
This means it can get pretty expensive after a while as you’re going to need to buy heavier dumbbell weights as you improve your strength.
The solution to this is getting a set of adjustable dumbbells if you don’t have the budget for a whole rack of different weights.
Kettlebells are another form of free weight that you can use for a variety of exercises. You can use them for exercises like the farmer’s carry, kettlebell swings, woodchops and more.
They have the same issue as dumbbells though – you can grow out of them quickly. You can also buy adjustable kettlebells though, which can be handy if you’re trying to avoid this issue.
If you’re looking to get a little bit of cardio into your day but you don’t quite have the budget to spend on a large piece of equipment such as an elliptical or on a treadmill, getting some jump ropes can be very useful.
There are a wide range of different jump ropes on the market that are all available for different prices.
While you can get some for a very low price, it may be worth getting a slightly more expensive one that’s more durable, or an option that can work on non slip surfaces. The better the quality, the longer the product is likely to last.
Whether you’re into yoga or not, having a yoga mat is always handy. For starters, you may end up doing some work on the floor when you’re exercising – for instance, certain ab exercises like push ups or lateral raises require you to be on the floor.
With a yoga mat you are well supported in these circumstances, instead of feeling the cold, uncomfortable surface of the floor.
Resistance bands should be part of every fitness enthusiast’s workout routine. You can use these pretty much anywhere you go and can be incorporated into body weight exercises to make them more challenging.
They’re also adjustable and ridiculously durable which is always handy. Resistance bands simply ooze versatility. Who said you need expensive workout equipment in order to get those muscle gains in?
Tips To Build Your Gym Cheaper
It goes without saying that we don’t all have a massive budget to spend on making our own home gyms. This may put you off from building a home gym and reaping the benefits of it.
Don’t let the expense of making a home gym put you off – there are actually some ways that you can build a home gym without spending half of your life’s savings. Here are some things to consider.
Check Local Online Marketplaces
Facebook marketplace and Craigslist are filled with used gym equipment. This is a great place to save money on some gear. Look for dumbbells, barbell plates, kettlebells, and other weights. There’s not much difference between new weights and used ones, and buying them locally saves you the cost of shipping heavy items. For more tips on saving on dumbbells check out 3 Ways To Save Money on Dumbbells.
Building Your Own Equipment
Are you a DIY enthusiast? If you are, then you may want to try and create your own gym equipment!
This is a great way to save a little bit of money on your equipment. You may even end up creating a new hobby for yourself!
There are some things that you can’t make yourself, but there are far more things that you can make at home such as power racks, plate holders and other things like platforms.
If you built your own plate rack for instance you may spend less than $50, whereas buying one brand new online could cost quadruple that amount. These small expenses can most certainly add up over time.
If you’re thinking of building your own gym equipment, here are a few things that you could make:
Plyometric boxes are handy for many different movements, such as box jumps and step ups. These things can cost an awful lot of money if you buy them new, so you could easily make your own with a little bit of wood and a few other materials.
Pull Up Bar
Looking to impress your friends with your powerful pull ups, but you don’t have the budget for a pull up bar? Why not make your own instead?
All you need in order to make your own pull up bar is some basic equipment such as some pipes. Then you can put the bar that you’ve made on top of a beam that can handle heavy loads.
Don’t put it on a beam that can’t support high amounts of weight though, as this is not safe. Make sure that you test the device before using it too!
You may be surprised to learn that yes, you can indeed make your own kettlebells. You can make them out of a range of materials, such as concrete, metal and more.
It’s pretty easy to make them, though you may need a little bit of prior knowledge in welding to tackle it.
A water ball is a great alternative to sandbags, though they can be a little more difficult to move around. All you need in order to make them is a simple exercise ball, and then you can fill it up with water.
It won’t take you longer than around 30 minutes to make and you won’t need to spend a lot of money either.
These are just a few of the things that you can make at home, but there are many more out there if you’re willing to get your hands dirty to save a bit of money.
Make Use Of Things You Find At Home or In Your Garage
You don’t necessarily need to buy brand new equipment for every workout.
In fact, you can actually use a lot of the things that you already have at home in order to get a good workout in.
This won’t cost you any extra money either. These are just a few of the household items that you can incorporate into your home workout routine:
You thought your towels were only handy for drying yourself after you get out of the shower? Think again! Towels can be used for a wide range of different workouts. For starters, you can use them in place of things like resistance bands for arm workouts.
If you want to train your legs, you can place a towel on a smooth floor. Then, get into a plank position and put your towel underneath your feet, gliding your legs together and apart to create an epic burn.
You can also use them for lunges to make them a little easier, or you can use them for things like hamstring sliders. Very versatile!
If you don’t have a kettlebell available to you in your home gym, there’s no need to panic. Grab yourself a full bottle of laundry detergent that has a handle and use that as your kettlebell.
You can use this for so many different movements – just make sure that you keep your form in check as you would when using a normal kettlebell.
Grab your dining room chair (not with wheels!) and get ready for an intense sweat session!
You can do all sorts of exercises with your dining room chairs, such as leg raises, tricep dips and so much more. They’re handy for strength and cardio workouts alike.
Food Cans and Water Bottles
Sometimes we just don’t have the money to invest in dumbbells. That’s okay, because you can simply get a few tins from your cupboard instead. You can use them for things such as tricep kickbacks and front raises without many issues.
They’re very versatile, and you can reward yourself by eating the contents of the can afterwards!
If you’re looking for a way to make your treadmill workouts a little more challenging, weighted vests can be very useful. Of course, we don’t all have the budget for weighted vests.
In this situation, you can just use a full backpack instead! All you need to do is get a couple of cans of food or some full water bottles and toss them into the bag. You will then have extra weight to work with – try it out the next time you go hiking!
Bonus: 10-Workouts To Try At Home!
If you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises listed below, YouTube is filled with exercise tutorials to make sure your form is correct.
1. Treadmills & Dumbbells
For this workout, start off on the treadmill for a warmup.
You’re going to need to make sure that you have a suitable pair of dumbbells near your treadmill for this workout – 5 to 10 pounds should be sufficient, though you may want more if you’re more experienced.
Walk on the treadmill for around 5 minutes, gradually progressing to a brisk walk. Make sure you are not holding the hand rails – swing your arms while doing this workout.
Then, walk faster or jog for about a minute, then get off the treadmill.
After this, it’s time for the dumbbell part of the workout. You can follow your own program for this, but if you don’t have one you can follow this, doing one set each for around 12-15 reps:
- Bicep arm curl
- Overhead press
- Tricep extension
- Front raises
- Lateral raises
To start with, just do one set, then return to the treadmill for one minute. After this minute is up, return to the dumbbells to do the next exercise.
Repeat this treadmill and dumbbell circuit for around 20 minutes if possible. When you’re done, cool down with a slower paced walk on the treadmill.
2. Upper Body Workout with Dumbbells and Barbells
Looking to build on your six pack? This upper body workout will give you killer abs and biceps in no time, so long as you have perseverance.
This is a strength and resistance based workout, though it’s definitely worth your time to do a quick warm up beforehand.
You don’t need to do anything particularly fancy – just five minutes exercising on your new treadmill and a few stretches that will get your muscles fired up will be sufficient.
Alternatively, you could start with a lower weight for the exercises and use this as your warm up.
For the chest and back, you should follow this workout:
- Bench Press for 8 sets and 8 reps. Take a 30 second rest before heading onto your next workout. You will need a barbell and a bench for this. Do Bent over rows for the second part of this set, again for 8 sets and 8 reps. You can increase your reps if you feel comfortable doing so. Take a 60 second rest after doing this. Again, you will need a barbell for this.
- Chin Up – If you have a chin up bar or a suitable alternative, you can try a chin up here for 3sets and 6 reps with a rest of 20 seconds after the exercise. Of course, not everyone can do chin ups, in which case you can do some wide grip resistance band pulls instead. Then do incline flys for 3 sets and 8 reps with a 20 second rest in between. You’ll need a set of dumbbells for this and a bench. To do it, stretch out your arms so the dumbbells are above your face, then lower them to the sides, returning back to the initial position afterwards. Your third part of the set is a diamond push up for 3 sets and 12 reps, taking a 60 second rest. This is a slight deviation on the standard push up as your hands must be close together rather than shoulder width apart.
3. Elliptical Interval Workout
This workout by personal trainer Leanne Weiner is a real fat burner that you’re sure to enjoy. It’s classified as a High Intensity Interval Training Workout, so it’s ideal if you’re looking to get an intense workout into a limited time frame.
It’s a fairly simple workout to follow. For the first 2 minutes or so of the exercise, select a low resistance on your elliptical and go at a moderate speed. Then, for the following 3 minutes, put that resistance on high as you go at a lower speed.
Minutes 7 through to 8 should be a short recovery time, then the next 3 minutes or so you should work on a moderate speed and resistance.
During minute 13 – 14 you should have another recovery break before tackling the next section.
For minutes 15 to 18, you will need to work at a low resistance and a high speed which can be pretty challenging! Finally, use the final two minutes to cool down.
4. Full Body Rack and Barbell Workout
Once you’ve done your workout on the treadmill or elliptical, it’s time to hit the barbell and the rack for a full body burn.
You’ll be starting off with a back squat for roughly 4 sets at 10 to 12 reps each time. Again, you should do only what you feel comfortable with – if you’re using higher amounts of weight you could easily reduce this number if you feel you need to.
Check out your form in the mirror, because this can sometimes be tricky.
After this you will move onto an overhead press using the barbell – do this for around 10 reps and 3-4 sets.
Tackle the inverted row after this to give your biceps and back a good workout. Do this for 10 reps before moving onto barbell reverse lunges. If this is too challenging for you then you can do it without the weight until you feel more comfortable.
It’s a fairly simple workout that has a bunch of key compound movements to target your whole body – perfect!
5. Leg Workout with Just The Dumbbells
All you need is dumbbells – is that how that song by The Beatles goes?
Well, even so – all you need is a set of dumbbells for this killer leg workout! This is ideal if you’re just getting started on your home gym and don’t have a great deal of equipment yet. It’s fairly simple too!
- 10 reps and 3 sets of Bulgarian split squats. You may need a chair or some form of raised surface for this. Take a 60 second rest after finishing.
- 10 reps and 3 sets of side lunges, taking a 60 second rest after finishing.
- 12-15 reps and 3 sets of sumo squats – take a 60 second rest afterwards.
- A reverse lunge for 10 reps and 3 sets with a 60 second rest.
- Side step up for 10 reps and 3 sets, taking a 60 second rest between sets.
And you’re done! Feel the burn!
6. Abs Workout
Do just 3 sets of this abs workout to see some amazing results! This workout is fairly simple – just get your warm up in and follow the workouts listed below. You don’t even need a lot of equipment to pull this one off.
- Start with a dumbbell crunch for 10 reps, taking a 10 second rest afterwards. Make sure that you maintain control – this move can really burn!
- Follow this up with a tuck and crunch – you don’t need any weights for this, it’s a full bodyweight exercise. Do this for 15 reps and rest for 10 seconds.
- Next you will need to do a V sit for 12 seconds, resting for 10.
- Finally, just do a standard crunch for 20 reps, followed by a long 90 second rest before returning back to the first exercise.
7. Barbell Fat Burning Workout
Grab your barbell and get ready to torch those calories with this killer workout! This exercise routine consists of around four to six reps, depending on what you feel most comfortable with.
- Start with a barbell back squat for 12 reps
- Follow the squat with a good morning for 12 reps. Here, instead of squatting down you are bending forward with the barbell positioned across your shoulders on your back.
- The push press is next for 12 reps.
- Then you will need to do a floor press for 12 reps to work your chest.
- Upright row for 12 reps.
- Bicep curl for 12 reps.
And that’s the whole workout done!
8. Advanced Back and Biceps Workout Routine
Looking to define your back and bicep muscles? Follow the below routine:
- Barbell shrugs for 3 sets at between 15 – 20 reps, depending on what you prefer.
- Pullups for 3 sets of around 10 reps
- Barbell Rows for 5 sets of 20
- Rack deadlifts for 3 sets of 12 reps
- Pulldowns for 3 sets of 10 reps
9. Full Body Workout
The next workout is a fantastic full body burn, so you’re going to want to find a coping strategy for the DOMS!
- Start out with 3 sets of 5 reps with the barbell bench press
- Chin up for 2 sets, do as many reps as you can
- Deadlift for 3 sets of 8
- Push up for 8 sets of 10
- Dumbbell goblet squat for 3 sets of 15
- Barbell bent over row with overhand grip for 3 sets of 6 reps
- Dumbbell reverse lunge for 2 sets of 10 for each leg
10. Quick Dumbbell and Barbell Workout
Don’t have a lot of time to spare? Tackle this short 15 minute workout to build some muscle in your upper body!
- Triceps extension for 8 to 12 reps
- Wrist Curl using barbell or dumbbell for 12 to 15 reps each way
- Hammer curl for 8 to 12 reps
- Dumbbell overhead press for 8 to 12 reps
- Lateral raises for 8 to 12 reps
Conclusion: Let’s Workout
It’s time to kiss your gym membership goodbye, because you’re now all set in your home gym! With a little bit of preparation, you can enjoy the glory of home workouts – no waiting for equipment required!