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10 Essential Items to Outfit Your Home Gym

If you have the space – and it doesn’t take much – a home gym can be a worthwhile investment. We are all busy people and most of us are pretty adept at finding reasons to not get back in the car and drive to the gym. If we only have to make it to the garage, life suddenly gets a lot easier!

So, now you’ve made the decision to build a gym in your spare room or your garage, but what does this mean? How exactly does one “build” a gym?

If I were your coach, I would emphasize exercises and protocols using free weights and a variety of movement patterns. We would incorporate strength and conditioning training while also working on flexibility and core stabilization.

So, what tools do you need to accomplish this? To get started on a great home gym, you should invest in the following 10 items:

1. Dumbbells

The exercises you can do with dumbbells are seemingly endless so they justify their purchase immediately. Look for hex shaped dumbbells with black rubber coating – these last the longest and are most comfortable for working out. Get 3-5 sets in a range of weights to accommodate for different exercises and for the strength you will be gaining.

2. Kettlebell

A lot of people will tell you kettlebells are not essential. Many kettlebell movements can be done similarly with a dumbbell. Certain kettlebell movements are unique, however, and some movements just work better or are more challenging with a kettlebell. I think they are a worthwhile investment for the variety they can add to your workout routines. Look for kettlebells with big smooth handles and without a painted coating.

3. Pull Up Bar

Pull up bars aren’t just for pull ups! There are a number of basic gymnastic exercises you can practice if you have a pull up bar installed at home. While you can get pull up bar systems built for doorways, ideally you would have an archway or part of a wall where you could mount a bar. If you can’t yet do pull ups, you’ll also want to buy some resistance bands for assistance.

4. Rings

Great for the home gym or for traveling, rings are light weight and add another level to your bodyweight exercises. Rings also give you the ability to increase the variety in your workouts by adding a whole lexicon of gymnastic exercises. When looking for rings, make sure you get a brand that is light in weight and easy to hang.

5. Jump Rope

If you haven’t jumped rope since you were a kid, you’re in for a surprise! Turns out it’s harder than it looks and it’s fantastic cardio. Jumping rope also works your coordination in a big way. If you are a beginner, just get a durable rope and don’t worry about details. If you have some jumping skill, look for either a wire lightweight rope to work on speed and timing or a weighted rope to work on strength.

6. Medicine Ball

A great tool for plyometric exercises as well as core strength movements, a medicine ball is an essential purchase. Whether you are throwing it, carrying it, or doing abdominal exercises with it, a medicinal ball provides you with many, many options. Look for a SOFT medicine ball so that it is forgiving when you do exercises involving throwing or catching it. If you are not sure about weight, err on the lighter side as many medicine ball exercises emphasize speed and power.

7. Plyo-Box

What’s more fun than having something to jump on? Boxes are a great item for building explosive power and quickness. You can also use them for squatting, for bench dips, and for other non-jumping exercises. You may want to build your own wooden box if you have the ability, or hire a friend. In a pinch, you can also just go down to the hardware store and purchase an irrigation box.

8. Barbell

Your home gym, of course, would not be complete without a barbell. Barbells, like other free weights, are much better than the machines at the gym because of the stabilization and coordination aspects they bring to your workouts. Look for a sturdy, not too cheap and not too expensive bar. If you have small hands, pay attention to the diameter of the bar and consider purchasing a “women’s” bar.

9. Weight Plates

Now you need to some weight to put on that bar! Buy a variety of weights – 2.5#, 5#, 10#, 25# and, if you are fairly strong, 45# plates. If you plan to train Olympic lifting make sure you get rubber bumper plates.

10. Stereo System

Seriously, you have to rock good tunes while you work out.

With these ten items and a little time spent on the internet, I am confident you could generate hundreds of excellent workouts for yourself. If you can’t see buying all ten at once, slowly start building your gym, one piece of equipment at a time. If you’re on a budget, check the local classifieds or Craig’s List for great deals on exercise equipment. If you live near a college or university a great time to check listings is in the springtime when students are moving back home for summer and selling off their possessions.

Working out on your own isn’t for everybody. Some people would buy this equipment and never use it, because they actually find better motivation in group classes. But for those of you who are under a time crunch and are self-motivated, remember this – even if the initial outlay is more, if investing in a home gym has you actually working out on a regular basis, it’s a better investment than spending monthly dues on a gym you never attend!

7 Trainers Share Their Home Gym Essentials

Personal trainers make their living working with clients at gyms, but many of them also train clients in their own homes, meaning they have to think on their feet — depending on the tools and machines available. A talented certified trainer can take one look at the gear you have on hand and craft a unique workout that’ll push you to your max. Whether a trainer walks into a full-on basement kitted out with the best gear possible, or just a cleared out corner of your apartment, the key is making do with what you have — creating a challenging workout with what’s available.

To help you get your home gym ready for any trainer (not to mention help you prep for summer), we talked with eight experts to hear about what you need in a home gym. We asked how each of them works out, what tools they always keep on hand and what a perfect home gym looks like. Here are the gear items you need to stock your gym and work your body to the max.

Lindsey Clayton

Barry’s Bootcamp Trainer

Clayton teaches coaches at Barry’s Bootcamp — the intense weights and treadmill workout that has a cult-like following. She also coaches Brave Body Project classes and still finds time to exercise on her own while training for the New York City Marathon. “For me, a home workout needs to be something that I can do with virtually no equipment (hello tiny NYC apartment), and it needs to be fun, quick and have an element of stretch/restorative movement to it as well,” Clayton says. Here are her top five picks.

Woodway Treadmill

“This is hands down the best treadmill on the market. The slatted belt reduces impact and provides more cushion when you land. It feels like you’re running on a cloud. I’m a runner, so on days when the weather isn’t cooperating, it’s perfect to hop on and log your miles that way.”

TRX Trainer

“The TRX trainer and suspension system is the perfect addition to any home gym. TRX uses gravity as your resistance, so you can get an amazing full-body workout and make it as easy or as hard as you want. Because you’re working against gravity on all of the exercises, you’ll automatically get in extra credit work. It’s easy to set up — all you need is a door for the anchor.”

Power Systems Gliding Discs

“ another one of my favorite tools that weigh nothing and takes up virtually no space. They are a great way to mimic moves you’d see on a Megaformer,” Clayton says.

B-Force Bands

“I love resistance bands, especially for glute activation before my run, but they are so versatile you can essentially do an entire workout with just one band.” Check out some exercises using resistance bands here.

Rep Fitness Heavy Weight

“If you don’t want to take up a lot of space, but still want to lift heavy, get one weight or heavy kettlebell that you can use for a unilateral work. Unilateral exercises have been shown to increase muscle mass and solve strength weaknesses between the right and left side of the body,” Clayton says.

George Foreman III

Owner of Everybody Fights

In 2013 George Foreman III opened up The Club in Boston to help share his methodologies. Foreman III finished his boxing career with a perfect record of 16-0 back in 2012, and continues to train to this day. Foreman III’s gym EverybodyFights has expanded since then to include five locations across New York and Boston, with a sixth studio in Philadelphia in the works.

“The key to a great workout at home is to have the ability and space. Treat it like a gym: buy a great mat, maybe set up a rubber floor. A big part of the being consistent and enjoying a workout is the atmosphere,” Foreman III says.

Aquabag

True to his roots, Foreman III recommends a punching bag — and a double-ended bag. “A double ended bag is filled with air, has bands on top and bottom, and helps you work on precision. The more you learn how to box, you can throw fast, powerful and precise punches, and the double-ended bag will give you a great workout without hurting your hands,” he says.

For beginners, Foreman III recommends the Aquabag. “The beauty of an Aquabag is that for a person who doesn’t know how to box, it’s hard to hurt your hand because it bounces back off the bag,” he says.

Concept 2 Rower

“I would not have a gym without one. Especially as a boxer, most of boxing is pushing out and you have to do the recall, pulling the punches to balance it out.”

Sonos

“For music, I stream a playlist on Spotify through my Sonos,” Foreman III says.

Bianca Vesco

Personal trainer and coach at NYSC Lab

Bianca Vesco teaches some of the toughest classes at New York Sports Club Labs. For her perfect home workout routine, Vesco has a winning combination: “a cardio burst, balance and stability training, and strength training,” she says. “I usually have clients do strength and stability together and cardio on its own. There are a million ways to train the human body, and there’s no right or wrong here. You will find a routine that your body responds to through trial and error, so continue to mix it up.”

NordicTrack Treadmill

“A treadmill is necessary for cardio purposes,” Vesco says. “Especially if you live somewhere with a cold winter and can’t run inside, there are no excuses when you have cardio equipment inside.”

Bosu Ball

“This piece is an absolute must. When I take on a new client, I make sure they have a Bosu as part of their home gym. It is one of the most beneficial, versatile pieces of equipment and doesn’t take up much space. Balance and stability work should be part of everyone’s routine. It doesn’t matter how strong you are if you can’t stabilize your movements at the same time,” Vesco says.

Dumbbells

“Having free weights is a no-brainer when it comes to strength training. Not everyone has the room or money to put an entire cable system or barbell rack in their home gym, but there are a few options. Most people I train have a few sets of weights — usually 7, 12.5 and 15 or 20-pounds — however, Bowflex makes an incredible adjustable set that I love.”

David Reavy

Founder of React Physical Therapy

If you’re lucky enough to have a session with David Reavy, he’ll evaluate you from head to toe and tell you what’s working and what’s not. He’s the founder of React Physical Therapy in Chicago and has worked with athletes like Jerome Randle, Mike Magee, Alshon Jeffrey and Paul Davis, among others.

Lululemon Yoga Mat

“ great for body weight movements. I enjoy doing exercises barefoot whenever I can to make sure my foot muscles are working,” Reavy says.

Indoor Cycling Bike

“When my time is limited, I can hop on this bike for a quick ride. I typically do 45 minutes for cardio,” Reavy says. “You don’t need much of a warm up since it’s not as high impact as running.”

Lacrosse Ball

“Ideal for self-releases, it’s easier to get at hard-to-hit areas such as hip flexors,” Reavy says.

Mat Forzaglia

Creator of In Time Bootcamp at NEOU

NEOU is the latest streaming workout app (that’s available now through January 1 at no cost) and Mat Forzaglia is one of its lead trainers. A former coach at Fhitting Room, and now coach at CrossFit Fifth Ave, he’s a motivating trainer for the app. He’s the creator of In Time, a HIIT class that streams on the app and is available to play anytime throughout the day as well. To check out NEOU simply download the app, sign up and scroll through classes to find one you’d like to try out. Class times range from 15 to 60 minutes with plenty of variety.

MB Slingshot Hip Circle

“Hip Circle is a must in a home gym or even just my backpack because I use it to activate my hips (i.e. glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors). When sitting for periods of time or getting ready to work out, doing some lateral walks or monster walks will wake your hips right up!” Forzaglia says.

RPM Jump Rope

“Always have a jump rope on hand! I like the RPM jump rope because it is a speed rope. It’s lightweight and thin, allowing me to jump rope faster for a great cardio/endurance workout. Any jump rope will do, but for me, RPM is the way to go.” Forzaglia says.

Rogue Ohio Power Barbell

“A barbell is extremely universal, no matter what exercise you are performing. With a creative mind, the barbell is actually the only piece of equipment you need! I specifically like this barbell a lot because it has very little whip or bend in the bar making it great for building strength no mater what movements you are performing. Also, it will last a long time!” Forzaglia says.

Charlee Atkins

Le Sweat Founder and Master SoulCycle Instructor

Charlee Atkins has been with SoulCylce since 2011 and loves everything about movement and mobility. She’s a certified strength and conditioning coach who also runs Le Sweat, wihch focuses on stretching classes as well as full-body classes. She also plans retreats centered around fitness. Here are a few of her at-home gym picks.

Yoga Blocks

“Every at-home gyms needs a recovery section. Yoga blocks double as props used in yoga/stretching routines, but also add the option of adding elevation or imbalance to your workout – creating the ability to manipulate the intensity of your workouts.”

Pull-Up Assistance Band

“These resistance bands are a step-up from the traditional exercise band. By adding the door anchor (must have!) you can do pull exercises (targeting your back muscles) and these also double as a mobility/recovery tool. The real gem is the door anchor!”

Julian Chua

Master Trainer at CruBox

Crubox has quickly become the go-to boxing gym in West Hollywood. When you walk into a class, you can expect a mix of heavy bag work, HIIT, shadowboxing and core work all with the lights off paired to music. Chua is one of two master instructors at the gym. In addition to the below items, he also recommends dumbbells, a TRX system and a cable machine — “it takes up most of the room in my home gym, but with all the attachments it is the most versatile piece of equipment in my gym.”

Stability Ball

“Workouts with a stability ball are important for a good fundamental base in fitness. If your stability muscles are weak, you’re much more prone to injury.”

Heavy Bag

“The heavy bag is the perfect form of cardio — it can provide both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. It will build total body strength and explosiveness to put the icing on the cake for your fitness. Grab a pair of gloves and a heavy bag — there’s no better way to release your stress than smashing a heavy bag.”

What Trainers Pack When Traveling

Four trainers and fitness professionals share all the gear they stash away in their suitcases so they can keep up their training routine while traveling. Read the Story

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Meg Lappe

Meg Lappe is Gear Patrol’s Editorial Coordinator, handling strategy across our digital, print, video and social teams. She can typically be found running around.

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There are a lot of great reasons to set up a home gym. Maybe you’re tired of schlepping to the local fitness center or maybe you hate wasting time waiting for people to get off the exercise machines you want to use. Maybe you prefer to grunt, groan and sweat in the privacy of your own home.

Whatever the reason, if you’re ready to set up a home gym but don’t know where to start, read on to learn how to create one that works well for you.

Just be sure to buy equipment you’ll actually use so you don’t end up with a $1,200 clothes rack.

Primary Home Gym Considerations

When planning your home gym, there are four essential questions to answer before you spend that first dollar on equipment.

  1. What are your fitness goals? The most important question here is: What do you want to accomplish with your home gym? Are you training for a triathlon, hoping to improve your golf game or looking to boost overall health and fitness? You should also consider others in your home who will use the gym. Do they have similar or different goals?
  2. What type of exercises do you enjoy? That will help you decide on the equipment you’re most likely to use day after day. Because, no matter how effective something might be, the only way it can help you reach your goals is if you actually use it.
  3. How much space do you have? Now that you have some idea of what you may want to buy, look up the dimensions for all possible equipment and consider if and how it will fit in the space you plan to use. You can even use painter’s tape to mark out the location for each piece of equipment. Don’t forget to consider overhead clearance, especially if your space is in the basement.
  4. What’s your budget? Set a reasonable budget for your home gym, based on the factors above. You can set up a great home gym for about what you’d pay for a full-year membership at a fitness center, but it’s possible to build a bare-bones setup that gets the job done for much less. And don’t dismiss what you already have! You can spend hundreds of dollars on a shiny new cardio machine, but 30 minutes walking up and down the stairs will give you just as good a workout. Likewise, if you can’t do 15 pushups, you don’t need a bench press setup yet.

What Equipment Is Best for You?

When you’re ready to buy your home gym gear, take some time to research the features and quality of different brands of equipment. Remember, there’s no substitute for actually trying something out before buying it.

Curl bar

If you have a gym membership, note the brand and model of your favorite machines, weights and other equipment. You can also try out your friends’ home gym equipment or go to a sporting goods store and try out their test models.

If a pre-purchase test run isn’t possible, then read as many online product reviews as you can find. Pay attention to the dates of those reviews because product quality and manufacturing processes can change significantly over time.

Home Gym Bargain Hunting 101

One of the most important things in setting up your home gym is knowing when it’s OK to bargain hunt, and when quality should be your top priority.

When durability (as in the case of cardio machines) and safety (as in the case of weight machines, pull-up bars and squat racks) are factors, choose quality over price. That doesn’t mean you have to buy new, though.

It’s possible to get gently used, top-quality equipment for a fraction of the cost if you’re willing to be patient and diligently check sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and the local classifieds.

Just be sure the items you buy secondhand are in working, safe condition before you get them home. Never buy a piece of equipment that’s been disassembled or that you can’t try before buying.

The best opportunity to save money on your home gym is with weight. After all, 10 pounds weighs 10 pounds whether it’s shiny and new or starting to rust. Always buy weights and medicine balls secondhand if you can.

When it comes to “soft” equipment like mats, resistance bands and stability balls, you should buy new. But it’s not necessary to choose brand-name products. The less expensive, no-name brands likely will be built very similarly. Let customer reviews be your guide.

Three Sample Home Gyms

Basic strength training setup: $50 to $500: If you’re willing to do your aerobic exercise outdoors or use bodyweight exercises, you can set up a strength-only gym quite cheaply. A great set of resistance bands (loops and longer bands with handles) can be purchased for under $100. If you need more weight, opting for an EZ Curl bar (a shorter, wavy barbell) with a variety of plate weights is a great, low-cost option. And adjustable weight dumbbells save a ton of space and money over individual dumbbells.

Cardio and strength setup: $800 to $1500: If you want at least one indoor cardio machine, a reliable, mid-range model will add $300 to $800 to your gym cost. To upgrade the basic strength training setup described above, you can add an adjustable bench and more weights and bars for another $100 to $200.

High-end cardio and strength setup: $2,000 to sky’s the limit: If you want to make your home gym the best room in your home, plan to spend a few thousand dollars or more. Decent “total-gym” cable machines start at around $1,500 and they allow you to do many different strengthening exercises.

You can get more weight for the cost by opting for a high-end squat rack (around $500) and a barbell and plate weight set ($200 to $500). If you’re in the market for high-end cardio machines, those can range from $800 to over $2,000 each.

You could add a TV and audio system — at a wide range of cost — and turn your home gym into something your friends will want to use, too!

Whatever your budget, setting up a home gym is a great way to save time, boost exercise adherence and save money over the long run. Just be sure to buy equipment you’ll actually use, so you don’t end up with a $1,200 clothes rack.

By Rashelle BrownRashelle Brown is a long-time fitness professional and freelance writer with hundreds of bylines in print and online. She is a regular contributor for NextAvenue and the Active Network, and is the author of Reboot Your Body: Unlocking the Genetic Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss (Turner Publishing). Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @RashelleBrownMN.

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Did you ever notice that your self-improvement pacts with yourself are action oriented? Walk 10,000 steps a day. Fix that leaky faucet. Register for VolunteerMatch.

But “get organized”? It’s a goal so broad that just trying to figure out what action to take makes you wonder what you were thinking in the first place. It’s like you need an organizing plan for your organizing.

Ta da!

Here it is. Follow these steps, spending less than an hour day (sometimes just a few moments), to a better organized home:

1. Do That Project

“What about your space is making you feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed?” asks Amy Trager, a professional organizer in Chicago. Is it the paperwork disaster in your office? The pile of clothes teetering on your dresser? Or that mess that surrounds your doorway? Start with what’s annoying you, she says. One hour on that task will get your organizing engine revving.

2. Create a “Go Away” Box

Put anything you’re planning to donate in it (or give to a friend, or take to recycle). And keep it by the door so you can easily grab it when you’re leaving.

3. Deal With the Decorations

Hallelujah — the holidays are over! When you’re putting away your décor, donate anything you didn’t bring out last season, and separate decorations by holiday. No need to dig through your St. Patty’s clovers when you’re searching for a menorah.

4. Create a System for Your Entryway

Set up a “command center” so your front door doesn’t become a lawless accessories arena, especially during winter months. Add hooks for coats, bins for shoes, and a mail sorter if you need it. (Remember to keep a place for your “go away” box).

5. Wrangle Your Pet Supplies

Minimize the time spent scrambling when your pup is desperate for a walk or eager for a meal. Hang hooks and cubbies near the door and keep leashes, kibble, bowls, and toys in one convenient spot.

6. Organize Your Spices

Arrange your herbs and spices alphabetically, by cuisine, or by brand — whatever makes them easier to find when you’re in the middle of your noodle stir fry.

7. Pare Down Your Utensils

You’ve accumulated several dozen kitchen utensils in your culinary career: can openers, microplanes, four (what?!) wine openers. Pare down the collection and use drawer dividers to keep the remainders in order.

8. Reconfigure Your Pots and Pans

Stop digging around in your shelves for the oversized, cast-iron skillet. Donate the pots and pans you hardly use, and install cupboard organizers to help manage the rest.

9. Throw Away Expired Foods

You never use Worcestershire sauce — except that one time. Go through your refrigerator and pantry and ditch or donate anything past its prime.

10. Stack Your Pantry Staples

Make better use of your pantry by sorting through your staple dry goods — think flour, sugar, pasta, oatmeal, dry beans — and putting them in airtight, stackable containers. You’ll free up a ton of space, too.

11. Downsize Your Kitchen Gadgets

You had noble intentions when you purchased that spiralizer. (Zucchini noodles every night, right?) Give those space hogs to someone else with lofty dreams.

12. Say No to Coffee Mug Over-Saturation

Every time you lose a sock, a new coffee mug appears. Keep one or two mugs for every coffee or tea drinker, and donate the rest.

13. Sort Your Food Storage Containers

No singles allowed. Toss any tops or bottoms that have no mates.

14. Reassess Your Display Shelves

Shelves crammed with knickknacks, books you’ll never read, and stuff you somehow accumulated are just a waste of space. Donate books to the library, discard the junk, and arrange what’s left in a way that pleases you.

15. Deal With Your Cables

With a Roku, PlayStation, DVD player, and a cable box, it’s no surprise your entertainment center is a mess. Create ID tags for each plug from bread tags or cable ties, and bundle the clutter together with velcro strips.

16. Put Clothes on New Hangers

Switch your clothes over to the slimmer, grabbier hangers. They use less space and keep your clothes from sliding down to your closet floor. As you do this, discard the clothes you never wear.

17. Corral Your Accessories

Belts, scarves, purses, hats — all the accessories that don’t have a drawer or spot in the closet can end up everywhere. Buy an accessories hanger or install a simple series of hooks to give your wardrobe’s smallest members a home.

18. Purge Under the Bed

Under-bed storage is ideal for out-of-season clothing. But when out-of-season becomes out-of-sight and out-of-mind, clear out those clothes you’ll never wear again from this precious storage space.

19. Declutter Your Desk

When your workspace is swimming with collectibles, staplers, Post-its, and more, paring down can keep you focused when it’s time to hunker down.

20. Shred Old Paperwork

Not every form, statement, and tax record needs to stay in your filing cabinet forever. Check out this list to make sure you’re not wasting space. Shred the rest to ward off identity thieves.

21. Tidy Your Files

Now that you’ve shredded the paperwork you don’t need, tidy up your files by organizing them and labeling them clearly. Colorful folders can help organize by theme (home stuff, tax stuff, work stuff, etc.).

22. Get Rid of Mystery Electronics

Admit it. You’ve got a drawer where black mystery cords, chargers, and oddball electronic bits go to die. Free that drawer up for better uses, or at least get rid of the ones you know for sure are “dead.”

23. Pare Down Your Personal Care Stuff

Your intentions were honorable when you bought that curl-enhancing shampoo — but it expired two years ago, and you haven’t used it since. Throw away any expired potions, salves, hair products, and medicines.

24. Tackle Under-the-Sink Storage

Clean everything out. You’ll be amazed at what you find (like those Magic Erasers you could never find). Then put back everything you’re keeping in bins you can easily pull out so nothing gets lost again.

25. Hang a Shelf

Wall storage is so often overlooked. Find a spot in your home where a shelf would solve a problem, and hang it. Maybe it’s for some toiletries in the bathroom, or laundry supplies, or for your kid’s stuffed toys.

Related: Yep, You Can Put Shelves There: 5 Inspired Storage Ideas

26. Reduce Your Towels and Linens

There are the towels you use — and the stack of towels you never use. Donate them to the animal shelter. Those torn pillowcases? Convert to rags or toss. Same for napkins, dishtowels, pot holders, etc.

27. Hang a Shoe Organizer

Hanging shoe organizers can solve a ton of storage problems beyond the obvious. They can store scarves, mittens, cleaning supplies, craft supplies. You can even cut them to custom-fit inside a cabinet door.

Related: Ideas for Using Shoe Organizers

28. Organize Your Junk Drawer for Good

There’s no shame in a junk drawer — but why not organize it? Dump the whole thing on one surface and sort everything into piles. Use drawer dividers to keep each pile in its own space.

29. Store Your Tools the Right Way

Finding the right Phillips-head screwdriver to put together that cute IKEA bookshelf shouldn’t be so hard. Track down your hammers and screwdrivers, and arrange them in one easy-to-access spot, such as a pegboard.

30. Plan for the Future

See how much you’ve accomplished! Take a look around your newly organized home, making note of any spaces you missed. Then dream a bit about your next home project. Maybe paint that dining room, finally?

Related: Genius Entryway Storage Ideas to Get You Out the Door Faster

Personal Training Services

Setting the Standard for Mobile Personal Fitness

Achieving the fitness results you want can sometimes feel overwhelming with so many experts giving advice on diet, exercise, and even sleep. Joining a gym can be equally perplexing. From navigating the exercise machines to developing a routine that achieves your personal goals can be daunting tasks. If you’ve been trying to increase your fitness activity but keep making excuses or are unsure of the best course of action, the GYMGUYZ team of certified professionals can help. We are the largest in home personal training service in the United States and Canada. We bring the workout to you: the equipment, the coach, and a personalized workout to match your goals and your skill level.

Contact us at (855) 496-4899 to schedule your free first session with our knowledgeable coaches.

We’re Always Prepared So You Don’t Have to Be

During your first session, we’ll determine your starting point and your physical fitness goals. After that, we’ll work together to create a custom workout plan to help you reach those goals. One of the many reasons why people all over the country prefer GYMGUYZ over traditional gyms or working out on their own is because we’re always prepared to help you achieve success. We supply the equipment and training tools you need and take them with us when we leave. Our vans are stocked with all of the fitness gadgets necessary for your customized workouts. This helps you save money on gym equipment and avoid cluttering your home or garage with gym gear that goes unused.

We set ourselves apart from gyms and personal trainers because:

  • We bring the workout to you
  • We can meet in any setting
  • We work with your schedule
  • We help you stay motivated
  • We work with people of all fitness abilities and all ages
  • We create a customized workout plan based on YOUR goals
  • We change up workouts to keep working out fun
  • We help you achieve your fitness goals
  • We supply all of the clean, state-of-the-art equipment needed for your workout

GYMGUYZ is proud to welcome individuals of all fitness levels, regardless of ability, age, and experience. We track your progress by regularly assessing your measurements, calorie intake, and goals and restructuring your fitness plan if necessary. We’re committed to helping you get fit. We strive to teach our clients lifelong habits so they can continue looking and feeling their best for the rest of their lives.

Call (855) 496-4899 to get in touch with a GYMGUYZ personal coach for in home personal training and discover the difference one session can make!

Let me replay you the typical situation you find yourself in every time you go to your commercial gym. You wake up or get home from the office, change into your workout clothes, pack all of the stuff you need (supplements, shoes, protein shaker, etc.) into your gym bag and head out the door. You jump into your car, and, like many living in a crowded urban environment, hit traffic a couple minutes into your commute. You sit, waiting for cars to dissipate so you can accomplish the grand goal you’ve set for yourself of working out. 30 minutes, 4 near collisions, and 2 mental breakdowns later, you arrive at your destination. You warm up while waiting for the guy doing bicep curls in the one and only squat rack in the 20,000 sq. ft. facility studded with endless lines of treadmills and ellipticals. You finally sneak into the rack, perform your squats while fending off that one guy who gives you form advice while proselytizing the benefits of yoga over weightlifting. Finally, you’re done with your session (two hours later) and drive 30 minutes home to eat.

Does that sound familiar?

Now, let me share with you what a typical training session looks like for me and thousands of others who have freed ourselves from the gym membership rat race.

I throw on some shorts — sweatpants and hoodie if it’s cold; no shirt if it’s warm — and head out into my garage. I walk over to my stereo system and put on some soft tunes to get me in the right mindset during my warm-up. Squats are on the menu, so I rack my bar (the bar only I and my friends use that is superior to every bar at the gym I used to pay $70/month to attend) and begin incrementally increasing the load. I’m at my top set, so I turn on some Dave Mustaine, twist the volume knob to 11, and go to work. Around an hour later I conclude the assault on my body, walk 10 feet inside my house to the most anabolic machine in the known universe — the refrigerator — make a protein shake, and reflect on the hard work accomplished.

After reading that, you’re likely thinking to yourself, “Man! That sounds nice, but . . .” “But.” The most detrimental word to any man’s mission. “But I don’t have the money.”

I’m here to help you with that. Today I’ll show you how to build a home gym on a budget, and how it’s easier to afford than you think. By the time we’re done, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t make the switch sooner.

How to Build a Home Gym for Under $1,000: The Effective, But Budget-Friendly Equipment We Recommend Starting With

Without a doubt, a home gym can be expensive to build. In fact, I’ve seen people spend upwards of $50,000 to install a fully decked-out gym in their garage. But, just because some folks decide to spend that much on working out at home, doesn’t mean it’s either necessary or a good idea.

The reality is that it’s possible to create an effective home gym for under $1,000.

You really only need a few essential pieces of equipment to get started. We suggest the following, pretty much regardless of your goal; whether you’re looking to lose weight or gain muscle, you can see success using these items:

  • Olympic barbell
  • Squat rack with a pull-up bar
  • Weight plates (rubber or iron depending on your budget)
  • Flat bench
  • Jump rope

There are hundreds of additional pieces of equipment we could recommend, but only after these basics are met.

When it comes to obtaining these foundational pieces of home gym equipment on a budget, you’ll want to buy things that are both effective and provide a variety of different uses. Purchasing on a budget, however, does not mean that you buy cheaply made equipment. Cheaply made equipment will cause less satisfaction, less use, more likelihood for injury, a lower resale value, and a greater chance of having to purchase replacements. Thankfully, due to there being more gym equipment (largely due to the growing garage gym community) being purchased now than at any other time in history, you can get incredibly good equipment at great prices.

Below we break down our specific brand/product recommendations that meet this requirement for being both quality-made and budget-friendly:

Olympic Barbell

The Olympic barbell is the piece of equipment that we recommend being the highest quality piece of equipment in your gym. You will likely use the barbell more than any other piece of equipment, and there are big differences, both in the performance and durability, between a high-quality barbell and the cheap rods of steel that some manufacturers label as barbells.

The barbell we recommend for most people, especially those who focus on the squat, deadlift, bench, and overhead press is the Ohio Power Bar from Rogue Fitness. The OPB features a 29MM, 205K PSI tensile strength shaft with aggressive knurling, a center knurl, powerlifting knurl marks, and a bronze bushing rotation system all for under $300 (as of this writing). All of the aforementioned specifications may sound like gibberish (you can learn more about barbell anatomy and terminology here), but just know that it’s a barbell that can take just about anything you can throw at it, is made in the USA, and comes with a lifetime warranty; this is a barbell that you’ll be able to use your whole life, and maybe even pass down to your grandkids.

If you’d like a bar that is a bit cheaper and features a thinner shaft as well as no center knurl (feels better for front squats and overhead press due to the knurl not scraping your chin) then we suggest the FringeSport Wonder Bar V2. The Wonder Bar V2 is a great, imported barbell that can be purchased and shipped to your door for under $200. The Wonder Bar has a high tensile strength steel, medium-aggressive knurl, bronze bushing rotation system, and a lifetime warranty.

Squat Rack with a Pull-Up Bar Attached

The squat rack is the centerpiece of nearly every home gym. It’s the place where you’ll squat, press, do pull-ups, and a myriad of other exercises. A good squat rack will allow you to feel safe during use, lasts an extremely long time, and, as your bank account increases, will offer various attachments to increase its versatility. Thankfully, most squat racks on the market today can handle whatever weight you can lift now, plus whatever you plan on lifting in the future. Because of this, we don’t feel the need to recommend as high a level of quality as we do for a barbell.

The squat rack we recommend to most people on a budget is the PR-1100 Home Gym Power Rack from Rep Fitness. The PR-1100 features a footprint of 48” x 47.5” with a height of 84”. It has a max weight capacity of 1,000 LB (more than everyone reading this would likely ever dream of lifting), comes with a multi-grip pull-up bar, and has optional attachments like a lat pulldown and dip handles. In addition to the functional elements of the rack, it also comes in an optional red or blue powder coat version that would look good in any home gym. Although you can spend much more on a squat rack, if you’re on a budget, this is a great option that will last you many years, has good resale value, and is priced extremely competitively at under $250.

If you want a squat rack that is sturdier, features thicker steel, and offers a few different attachments, then we suggest either the Rogue R-3 Power Rack or Rep PR-3000 Power Rack.

Weight Plates

Since you now have a barbell and a place to hang the barbell, it’s only logical that you buy things to hang on the barbell. Weight plates come in various sizes, colors, and materials, but for most people, your best bet is to find some iron Olympic plates second-hand, through Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, yard sales, etc.

If you can’t find a set of weight plates worth the asking price, then there are a few budget-priced options you can order new online. For new iron plates on a budget, we suggest the CAP Barbell Olympic 2-Inch Weight Plates. They’re cheap, accurately sized, weigh close to what they state, and are readily available. Most iron weight plates are cast-iron and come from similar factories overseas, so there is little need for the average home gym owner to spend much more than what the CAP Barbell Plates are priced at.

If you plan to do any Olympic lifts like the snatch or clean and jerk, then we suggest getting bumper plates. Bumper plates can get expensive quick, so we suggest buying just enough to meet your needs for the Olympic lifts and having iron plates for the rest. The best bumper plates we would recommend for those on a budget are the FringeSport Black Bumper Plates. These are made from virgin rubber, have a precise weight accuracy, won’t mess up your foundation or barbell, and can be had for about as affordable a price as bumper plates can.

Flat Bench

Although most people associate a flat bench solely with the bench press, with enough creativity, it can actually end up being a very versatile piece of equipment. I’ve used my flat bench for everything from box squats, box jumps, rows, split squats, and more. A quality flat bench will provide a solid platform, be about 17” from the ground, and have a firm foam pad.

The flat bench we’d recommend for those on a budget is the AmazonBasics Flat Weight Bench. We tested its durability and despite its low price tag (under $50 as of this writing) it stood up to just about everything we threw at it. The AmazonBasics Bench is stable, has a decent vinyl covering, and best of all, won’t break the bank.

Jump Rope

The last piece of equipment we’d recommend for those looking to start a budget home gym is a jump rope. This may sound kind of silly to those that haven’t used a jump rope since elementary school, but a jump rope is a killer conditioning and coordination device that can be used for both long and short duration intervals. In addition to running, sprinting, and jumping, the simple jump rope will provide you with a way to warm up and increase your stamina and endurance.

You can find a jump rope just about anywhere, but if you want to order a cheap jump rope online, something like the Garage Fit PVC Jump Rope works great for most people. We’d suggest avoiding a speed rope and sticking to the thicker PVC ropes as they’re more versatile and easier to learn how to use.

Once you’ve gotten our recommended essentials in place, you can begin expanding your gear selection by adding things like adjustable dumbbells, kettlebells, plyo-boxes, and other pieces of equipment that pique your interest. You may also want to grab a couple horse stall mats from your local farm supply store to protect your foundation.

The suggestion we most often make regarding adding new items to your gym is to start with the essentials, and then set a goal, such as working out four days a week for three months in a row; once you achieve this goal, reward yourself with a new equipment purchase. This increases the likelihood of you completing the goal and gives you a reward that will motivate you to keep up the exercise habit!

The Surprising Affordability of a Home Gym

Here’s how the cost of our recommendations above (using all the cheapest options, and an average number of weight plates needed to start) would shake out (prices are rounded up):

  • FringeSport Wonder Bar V2: $200
  • PR-1100 Home Gym Power Rack from Rep Fitness: $240
  • AmazonBasics Flat Weight Bench: $50
  • CAP Barbell Olympic 2-Inch Weight Plates: $350
  • Garage Fit PVC Jump Rope: $8

Total cost: ~$850

As you can see, it’s possible to build a quality, highly effective home gym for less than $1,000. And you can do it for even less if you buy the above equipment used.

While $1,000 might still seem like a lot if you’re looking at that nut altogether, compare that cost to paying for a membership at a commercial gym.

The average cost of a gym membership is $58 a month. (Yes, $10/month gyms exist, but they don’t have power racks — just Smith machines — and are thus far from ideal for effective workouts.)

This means that if you’re currently paying $58 a month for a gym membership, and cancel it to start a home gym, the money you would have spent on monthly dues will have paid off the investment in a little over a year. And after that time, you’ll start saving money month after month.

And that’s just the money a home gym will save you on the membership cost alone. There are other ways that ditching your monthly dues for a home gym will save you money as well.

According to a survey by MyProtein, Americans aged 18 to 65 years old spend an average of $155/month on their health and fitness. This number includes not only gym membership fees, but supplements, clothing and accessories used at the gym, meal plans, and personal trainers.

These are all things that can be avoided when working out at home. Beyond skipping the membership fee, you can wear whatever clothes you’d like because only you and your friends will be the ones in your gym; you don’t need as many supplements because you’re close enough to your fridge that you can eat real food; and the nutrition and training advice you’d receive from a trainer can be replaced by either an online programming/coaching company for much less, or entirely replaced by the large amount of free content online. Not to mention you’ll also be saving on the gas it used to take to drive to the gym!

Hold onto the money you save, or use it to reinvest in adding equipment to your personal gym; even if you go the latter route, you needn’t spend any more than you used to on belonging to a commercial gym.

To sum up: Building a home gym can be done on the cheap, and be more within your reach than you might have thought; within just a couple of years (months for some) worth of what you’re already spending on a gym membership, you can have a home gym that will provide you with both better workouts and greater satisfaction. And the benefits don’t even stop there; by working out at home, you’ll also have more time to do things you’d like, will set a great example for your family, and can have friends work out with you whenever you please, without ever having to worry about running out of guest passes.

Be sure to check out our podcast on becoming a garage gym athlete:

Coop runs Garage Gym Reviews, a website dedicated to helping people start their own home gym though in-depth equipment reviews. In addition to their website, Garage Gym Reviews can be found on YouTube and Instagram.

Related Resources

  • How to Turn Your Garage Into a Home Gym
  • The Pros and Cons of Garage vs. Commercial Gyms
  • How to Build a Weightlifting Platform
  • How to Deadlift

10+ Homemade Gym Equipment Ideas to Build Your Own Gym

Gym memberships add up quickly and the gym is often overcrowded when you finally do find the time to get there. Manufactured gym equipment can be extremely costly, it’s typically very heavy, and it’s difficult to move. Instead of going with one of these two traditional options, why not build your own gym equipment?

To show you that building your own gym equipment doesn’t have to be difficult, we’ve compiled 10+ homemade gym equipment ideas built by our customers using Kee Klamp fittings and pipe.

Kee Klamp fittings are strong, adjustable, easy to assemble and dissemble, and easy to work with. That’s why popular Parkour gyms and even adventure races like the Ultimate Athlete Games and the Spartan Race have chosen Kee Klamp to build their fitness structures.

But, you don’t need to be one of these huge gyms to build your own equipment. To help spark your own creative builds, here are 10+ gym equipment ideas that you can build yourself using Kee Klamp:

Homemade Dip Station

This DIY dip station was built by Erik in New York, New York. Most of the frame is constructed using 2x4s while Kee Klamp fittings and pipe are used to create the dip station bars. These bars rest in a circular grove cut out from the horizontal wood supports.

To keep the pipe bars from moving, the Collar fitting is used on the inside of the wood boards. This fitting slides over the pipe bars and locks in place to keep the pipe bars from sliding.

At the top of the dip station, there are three horizontal pipe bars. These add additional support to the structure but can also be used to do pull-ups. These pipe bars are connected using the Flange fitting.

Pipe Pull-Up Bar

This pull-up bar was built Charles Rankin in order to train for the world record for the number of chin-ups completed in 24 hours. But, you don’t need to a world record trainee to build one just like it.

The pull-up bar is completely free standing and has practically no give when completing pull-ups or chin-ups. One of the biggest advantages to building a freestanding pull-up bar like this one is that you can build it to whatever height you like. Also, unlike most gym equipment, it can easily disassembled and reassembled.

If you want to build a pull-up bar just like the one Charles built, you can read our full step-by-step tutorial for his project here.

Charles isn’t the only one of our customers to build a pull-up bar, though. We’ve seen customers build all sorts of different designs. The one above features a similar design but we’ve also seen a few wall mounted pull-up bars (as pictured below):

This pull up bar, used by CrossFit Vulcan, features different heights and has the ability to support multiple people.

Here’s another pull-up bar structure that was built by Brian in Milford, Connecticut. The pull-up bar features multiple stations that are used by Brian to run small fitness classes and rehabilitate physical therapy patients.

DIY Pipe Squat Rack

The squat rack is the workhorse of any gym. However, most manufactured squat racks or cages are quite expensive. They can also be very difficult to move or fit into your house. Especially, when trying to fit one into your basement since you need to move it down a flight of stairs.

Building a squat rack with Kee Klamp fittings, however, is a different story. Since any Kee Klamp built structure can be dissembled and reassembled, the entire squat rack can be taken apart in order to be easily moved.

The squat rack featured above uses a few important fittings. The Side Outlet Elbow is used at the top of the frame to connect the four sides. The Single Swivel Socket is used to create the supports at each corner. Lastly, the Flange fitting is used for the squat rack “feet”.

DIY Pipe Gymnastics Bar

We’ve had multiple customers build gymnastics bars using Kee Klamp. The one above was built by Brian as a Christmas present for his daughter (read the full step-by-step plans for this gymnastics bar here).

A big advantage of using Kee Klamp fittings to build a gymnastics bar is that the bar height is easily adjustable. By adjusting the set screw on each side of the gymnastics bar, the height can be increased or decreased.

This is great to practice different exercises. But, it also allows the bar to be adjusted for young ones who are growing throughout the years and need to adjust the height for their skill and ability. Lastly, the entire gymnastics bar can also be dissembled and reassembled. Thus, making it easier to move or transport.

DIY Indoor Monkey Bars

Monkey bars aren’t just for kids. They can be used to build strength in your upper body and core. In addition, they can help improve coordination. If you do any type of Parkour or Ninja Warrior training, monkey bars are a great training tool.

The indoor monkey bars featured above were built by Steve in Pittsboro, North Carolina. The monkey bars allow him and his daughter to train year round in their home fitness studio. To mount the structure to the ceiling, the Standard Railing Flange is used.

To create the actual “monkey bars”, the Single Socket Tee is used. This fitting allows pipe to slide through an open socket on one end while terminating a length of pipe at the other end. Since the fitting is locked down using a set screw, the bars can be adjusted in distance by loosening the set screw on the fitting, resetting the position, and tightening the set screw back down.

DIY Pipe Weight Rack

This weight rack uses industrial pipe to create the rack frame and cinder blocks are used for the base. Using pipe to create a weight rack like this allows you to build one specific to your weight set.

Volleyball/Punching Bag Station

This unique use of Kee Klamp fittings creates a station for Volleyball practice inside the house without having to worry about breaking anything. The station can be used to build hand and eye coordination, speed, and strength. The volleyball is attached to the frame using bungee cords. This design could also be used to support a speed punching bag.

While most of the structure featured above was built using clear PVC pipe, Kee Klamp fittings and pipe could be used instead to create a stronger and more stable structure.

DIY Leg Raise

This crazy looking structure is used to do leg raises and other types of abdominal exercises. The design is unique and looks like something out of Transformers movie. While the design goes a bit overboard in terms of functionality, it’s definitely a conversation starter.

However, if you want to build something similar, you don’t need to use as complex of a design as this person did. Some of the important fittings used in this project include the Single Swivel Socket and the Obtuse Angle Elbow.

DIY Parkour Structure

We’ve had many customers build Parkour and American Ninja Warrior training structures using Kee Klamp fittings. This structure built by Daniel in Fallston, Maryland is just one of them.

We’ve featured it in this list because it represents one of the simpler designs we’ve seen and it’s a manageable build for most people that just want to build a smaller unit for training at home. The design could also be modified to create a pull-up bar/dip station.

At the top of the frame, the Side Outlet Elbow fitting is used at each corner to connect the pipe bars. To add the two horizontal pipe supports, the Single Socket Tee fitting is used.

For more Parkour and American Ninja Warrior training structures, check out our Sports & Gym Projects Area here.

Seesaw Balance Structure

This Seesaw balance structure was built by Anthony in Decatur, Georgia. It is used in adventure races put on by Uquest in Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina. The structure is quite simple using just a 2×10 wood board placed over top the pipe frame.

The important fittings used in this project are the 90 Degree Elbow and Single Socket Tee.

DIY Balance Rail

Here’s another balance structure that was built by Micaiah in Mobile, Alabama. The structure is meant to improve balance and jumping ability for beginner Parkour enthusiasts. Again, the structure is very simple, utilizing just one type of fitting. The Side Outlet Elbow fitting is used to connect the horizontal bars to the structure’s “legs”. Plastic plugs are used to cap off the exposed ends of pipe.

DIY Nexersys Fitness Machine

This odd looking structure was built by Tyler in Arnold, Maryland. It’s a DIY version of a Nexersys home fitness machine. If you’re familiar, the Nexersys is an interactive machine that can be used for boxing and MMA style workouts.

To build the structure, Tyler used Kee Klamp fittings and pipe to create the frame. The pads are attached to the frame using homemade springs. Inside each pad is a simple pressure sensor that is wired to an Arduino microcontroller. These sensors register a hit when a pad is struck.

Tyler wrote a few different computer programs for different workouts that can be used with the machine. Here’s what Tyler had to say of the project:

“I built it because my wife has been eyeing the Nexersys unit for a few years now but there was no way we were going to spend near $3000 for a workout machine. My project is still a work in progress, but most of the functional parts are complete, working great, and all for a fraction of the cost of a Nexersys unit.”

If you need help creating your own equipment or designing your own gym, we offer free design assistance. Our team here at Simplified Building can assist you in creating a solution that will work for you. If you need a bit more inspiration, try browsing our Sports & Gym section in our Projects Area.

Building Your Own Home Gym

I recently posted a walk-through video of my home gym.

After I did so, I got a number of emails and comments from people about “where to start” for their own home gym. There are good reasons to train or workout at home:

  • You can save money on membership fees.
  • You can save money on being charged for gym services you may not use (the pool, classes, etc.)
  • Some gyms have inconvenient opening and closing hours, especially on weekends or holidays
  • At commercial gyms you might have to wait for equipment.
  • At commercial gyms some people just plain don’t have very good gym etiquette.
  • You feel self-conscious about exercising in a public setting

So, in this article I’ll outline which items I recommend you purchase for your home gym, in order of importance.

A lot of advice online says to start with a cheap squat cage and a barbell. I disagree. I think those should be one of the last things you buy! If you’ve read my work (e.g., The Abel Approach) you know that there’s more to sculpting a physique than squats, bench and deadlifts. You need to stimulate your muscles from variety of ranges and planes of motion and things like that. As you’ll see, this is why I recommend adjustable dumbbells as your first purchase.

Before we get to that, though, I do want to note that not all environments are conducive to producing actual results. There is a reason many people get better results at gyms then they do on their own trying to exercise at home. Just because you want to get results by using a single pair of 10-lb dumbbells and a corner of your laundry room doesn’t mean you will.

Do you have enough space for a home gym?

Having “a” space doesn’t mean you have enough space. I am continually amazed by the number of people who write me who want to workout at home and they think having one kettlebell and/or one medicine ball and a mat beside their washer and dryer. I’m sorry, but that’s not a good enough space for an effective workout.

Similarly people write me who want to use their living rooms for working out and they have no equipment and one yoga mat.

These situations are not conducive to achieving real results. They’re just not.

Yes, with a little know-how a lot can be accomplished with limitations. Heck, in my late teens I did push ups in my bedroom and I got to being able to do 1,000 push ups in less than 45 minutes—and my physique actually did change from this. But it didn’t change all that much, and frankly, I was also in my hormonal prime—any kind of muscle stimulation would have had some kind of cosmetic result, but I suspect that most people reading this aren’t 15 years old any more.

Similarly, I advise clients all the time on hotel room bodyweight circuits of push ups, sit ups, squats, leg raises, alternating lunges, then repeat. These are great as “fill-ins” for a larger program when you’re traveling and have to make do. However, by themselves, they won’t suffice as a permanent solution.

Another factor here is that, generally, people who want to exercise at home with limited space tend to be the kind of people who don’t have the expertise to devise a program to make do. This is true in terms of program design, but also in terms of things like intensity. Many people would benefit from going to a good gym just to get a sense of what a solid workout actually looks like.

Creating a good home training environment

So, with that out of the way, let’s get real.

Ideally, your workout space should be separate from your regular living space in some way. In my own home gym, I made the room separate from the rest of my basement. Although I don’t have drywall up for one side, I have black curtains so that I don’t have to see or look at my furnace room. Likewise, I know people who have done amazing jobs converting their garages or outdoor sheds into viable workout spaces.

The key here is that the environment is conduce to solid training. You won’t be distracted by the dog or your kids. If possible, your workout room should even include motivating and inspiring stimuli. Put up some posters of people who motivate and inspire you.

You don’t need to have every single piece of equipment from the get go and you don’t need to buy the best of the best of equipment you don’t even know how to use yet. Start with the basics and build from there.

The Must Haves

An adjustable bench and a pair of selectorized dumbbells is my “bare minimum” for a home gym. (It’s also what the Busy Woman’s program is designed around.)

An adjustable bench.

An adjustable workout bench offers seated and lying variations and gradations which themselves offer a variety of planes and ranges of motion for exercise choices.

Adjustable dumbbells (preferably selectorized) up to 50 lbs at minimum.

Powerblocks and Bowflex selectorized dumbbells are excellent. Selectorized dumbbells take up less space and they allow you to vary the weight almost instantly, which is very important. Gone are the days of changing weights between sets on dumbbells by having to unclamp them then clamp them back up again.

You need enough variety in the dumbbells to give you progressive overload.

Sometimes people will write me and say, “I have 10 lbs dumbbells; is that good enough?” The answer, unfortunately, is no. That won’t have enough for most exercises. Likewise, even if you only have a pair of 35-lb dumbbells, that might give you enough resistance for a few exercises, but it’ll be too much or too little for others.

The Very Good to Haves

A dumbbell rack.

When first setting up your home gym, I strongly encourage you to buy your selectorized dumbbells with whatever rack stations they come with. The racks are usually sold separately, but they make your training safer, cleaner, and more convenient to switch weights.

Good flooring

Good flooring helps more than you might think. If you can’t afford to install rubber flooring then at least have rubber mats you can use. If you’re worried about damaging your floor, you can’t really have an effective workout. You can use carpets or other workarounds, depending on your situation, but it’s not ideal.

If you are on carpeted floors, then your exercise shoes are going to have to be well thought out as well with great lateral support and rubber grip.

Resistance Bands

For very minimal cost, you can add a complete set of both round and flat resistance bands, with and without handles. You would be amazed how many exercises you do with resistance bands and how good those exercises feel.

Resistance bands give you a whole new level of exercise options, and they have a different feel on the muscles than dumbbells and free weights. They are a fun added tool in the tool box to have.

But again, you want to invest in various resistance levels, just as I mentioned to do with dumbbells. Most of these now come in a “set” so it’s not much of an issue.

Pillars and solid mounts for the resistance bands.

A door mount system from Bodylastics.

If you have a structure where you can attach hooks or mounts at low, medium and high positions it’s easier to use your resistance bands from a variaty of different angles that nicely mimic cable work you’d do in a commercial gym.

Door mounts are the most the common but you have to make sure your door closes the right way so that there is no chance of it swinging open (or even breaking) from your pushing and pulling on it.

The Nice to Haves

If you have the above, you have everything you need, but it’s still possible to add some equipment that’ll improve your setup.

Dual-axis cable machine.

A “dual” axis cable machine lets you adjust the cable across two axes: upidown and side-to-side. If you have the space and the money, a dual axis cable machine where both arms of the machine move vertically and horizontally will also allow you to mimic dozens of commercial machines at a gym as well as create exercises that you can’t do in a standard set machine that has one single function only.

An olympic barbell and a squat rack.

Last, although I am much more partial to dumbbells and an adjustable bench, having an Olympic barbell and a safety squat rack can be useful for things like squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, or even barbell bench press with the rack’s safeties. But again: if your goals are cosmetic enhancement (i.e. you want to look good), the other stuff really is more of a priority!

Build Your Gym from These Basics!

Trust me once you have just a few of these basics and you have a solid program to follow, training at home will become something you look forward to. This will motivate you to keep adding to your equipment base, and build from there.

Table of Contents

A lot of the articles on this site address the issues of space and budget constraints. Building a great home gym when you are short on space and/or money can be challenging at best. But what if you have both the space and the budget? What then?

Even after limited casual shopping, you’ll find more home gym equipment than you could ever possibly use. It’s a big part of why I put this website together.

Home Gym Essentials

With just 3-9 pieces of equipment, all geared towards resistance training, you can build an amazingly effective home gym. Starting with a great barbell and building from there, you can easily stock your home gym with the gear that is truly “must have”!

I’ve spent a lot of time and money buying equipment I felt was “essential”. Turns out that most of it wasn’t. A lot of it was fun. But I could have done without most. To hopefully make things easier (and far less expensive) for you, I’ve put together a list of what I feel is essential in any home gym.

What is “essential”?

A good place to start is by telling you what essential doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean useful. Lots of things are useful yet not essential. It doesn’t mean good. Lots of gear is really good, but again, not essential. It doesn’t mean my favorites. Much of my favorite gear will not make this list.

It’s that last point that tends to convolute most compilations like this. One of my favorite articles on the equipment every gym must have lists a sandbag in the top 4-5 pieces. A sandbag is useful, a great piece of gear, and even one of my favorites.

I own this sandbag. I love this sandbag. But it’s not essential.

But I’m sorry, it’s definitely NOT essential. It’s just something the author of that article really liked.

So what then, is essential? For me, it’s equipment without which you don’t have a fully functional home gym. Without it, you can’t train effectively. It’s the stuff that can’t be substituted for or done without. I can both substitute for and do without a sandbag if needed.

Essential for what?

If you’ve read many of my articles here on Gym Crafter, you’ll know that I’m a huge proponent of knowing what you are training for before making any other decisions. Determining what is essential in a home gym is no different.

Some training goals will require equipment that I don’t list here. Some sports specific training will dictate quite a few essentials that I won’t include. That’s why I’ve written several articles on creating sports and activity specific home gyms. In those articles, you’ll find what I feel is essential for those specific activities.

In this article, I’m going to stick to what I feel is the core of a great home gym. I’ll hold to the pieces of equipment I feel everyone should have. These will be the things that I feel are foundational to almost every home gym.

No matter your sport or activity of choice, the core of a home gym should, in my opinion, be composed of the following items. If you have the room and the budget, these are the things that will be the basis for your home training set up.

Resistance training is king

There are a lot of fads in training. They come and go like the wind. They become fashionable and popular and then die away only to be replaced by the next one.

What stays true through all that is resistance training. It’s the single most versatile and effective method of building strength, health, skill, power, speed, and overall wellness that ever has been or ever will be.

There is simply no substitute for training with weights!

That’s a strong statement and I know not everyone agrees. But it’s true nonetheless. When you look at all cause mortality in elderly people, virtually all causes could be eliminated or improved through resistance training.

Resistance training improves your overall hormonal profile. It builds agility and prevent falls. It builds strength to protect from injury. It slows aging. It boosts mitochondrial function. It aids in the ability to heal from injury and infection. The list of benefits could go on almost forever!

This is why this list is composed of the must have items you’ll need to do resistance training at home. With the exception of one item, everything else is designed for this goal.

If you have people telling you that you are too old, too injured, too fragile, too weak, or too anything else for resistance training, I would advise you to look elsewhere for advice. Build your home gym to facilitate a great weight training program and never look back!!!

Prioritizing your purchases

I’m going to list these essential gym items in the order they should be purchased. I’m sure a case could be made for altering this order, but if you came to me tomorrow and asked me what you should buy, I’d give you this list and tell you to buy it in order from top to bottom.

This is for two reasons. The first is that the items at the top are more versatile than those at the bottom. You can do more with the earlier items on the list than the later.

The second reason is that the items at the top of the list will generate more results than those below. You’ll build more muscle, strength, and athletic ability using item number one than you will item number nine.

The big three

If I was to pick the most essential out of this list of 9 must have items for your home gym, it would be the first three. These three give you the biggest bang for your workout buck. They will provide the most visible and noticeable results of anything on the list.

A quality barbell

As the only thing you actually touch when weight training (outside of dumbbells which we’ll discuss later), this has to be at the top of the list. Not to mention you can’t really weight train without it.

I won’t go into how to pick a great barbell here (I already wrote a really great in depth guide for you that you can see here), but I do want to take a moment and discuss the reason I recommend a “quality” barbell.

If you look on Amazon, there are a plethora of cheap barbells. While I’m not saying you should spend a ton of money, I am saying to avoid the cheapest options.

A cheap barbell will corrode very quickly. The finish will chip and crack. It will not have a quality knurl and will either be hard to grip or tear up your hands. It will squeak and rattle and eventually fall apart under even the lightest use. Some will even bend easily and become totally unusable.

For a complete list of the bars I either own or those that I’ve used and highly recommend, check out my recommended barbells page here!

If you just want to skip straight to the makers of the best barbells for home gyms in the world, head on over to the American Barbell website. They’ve been doing it longer and better than just about anyone else in the game. They also make the bar I use and love every time I lift!

Always start your home gym with a great barbell. It’s a foundational piece of gear that will allow you to train effectively for years to come.

A squat rack

Spotter pins inside a deeper rack.

This will probably be your biggest investment when building a home gym. Item number 3 may come close, but for most it will be a rack. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, but you should budget for something nice. If you do, it will last you forever.

It’s really important not to make a mistake on higher dollar items like this. Because of that, I put a ton of effort into a complete step by step guide to selecting the best squat rack for your needs that you can see here.

A rack is what allows you to get your barbell in position for most lifts. Without it, you will never be able to squat or press meaningful weight. This is especially important when training alone.

Speaking of training alone, your rack is also your spotter. With the inclusion of built in safety and spotting devices, your rack will allow you to lift heavy without the risk of serious injury. This is a huge benefit of a garage or basement gym!

Also, a rack will typically have one or more integrated pull up bars. I would recommend buying one separately, but luckily, you’ll get one already built in to any quality rack.

Make sure to check out my recommended racks page here. I’ve taken the time to list the racks that I think are amazing in several different size and budget ranges. I’ve used and tested all of them and am confident that you’ll find one that’s perfect for you on that page!

A set of weight plates

Rounding out the top three essential home gym items is a set of weight plates. In reality, items one through three all compliment each other. You can’t really use one without the other.

As with the first two, I wrote a complete guide to selecting the best weight plates for your home gym that you can see here. There’s a lot to choose from and that guide will walk you through the complex land of materials and types and wildly varying prices.

I’ve also written a nice piece on how many plates you’ll need. Once you decide on the type of plates you want, you’ll have to decide on how many.

If you’d like to see which plates I own and recommend, check out my recommended plate page here.

No matter the type or the amount you decide on, you’ll find that once you add the plates to the bar and the rack, you can start using your home gym to great effect. There’s very little you won’t be able to do. But of course that’s where the next items on this list come in!

While you can do a whole lot with the first three items on this list, I don’t think they make a complete home gym. There are still some items left that fill “essential” roles. That’s where the next three items come into play.

Adjustable bench

While not as important as many might think, a bench is still a critical component of your home gym. Getting your body safely in the correct position for some exercises is a key function of a solid bench.

Another key function is allowing you to do exercises not possible without one. Basic exercises like the bench press come to mind, but others like chest supported dumbbell rows are also in the mix. Having a stable adjustable bench facilitates a wide array of movements not possible without one.

I recommend an adjustable bench for both cost and space saving reasons, but I know several people who use multiple fixed position benches to great effect. It really comes down to how much room and how much money you have.

In my opinion, the absolute best adjustable bench for the home gym is the Rep Fitness AB3000. It is reasonably priced, built like a tank, has every option you would want or need in a bench, and is a bench I cannot recommend highly enough!

I recommend you always buy Rep Fitness direct from them. You’ll get more options, faster shipping, and better service than ordering their products through other sites. Check out the AB3000 on Rep Fitness here!

For other options and bench types you might like, check out my recommended bench page here.

My original garage gym set up. An adjustable bench and dumbbells.

Adjustable dumbbells

I’ve written quite a bit about this implement. As I was putting together my own garage workout space, I bought adjustable dumbbells before any of the first three items on this list.

Dumbbells have multiple benefits. They are critical for isolation movements, provide an improved level of safety, and facilitate movement patterns not possible with a barbell.

My favorite benefit of using dumbbells is that they recruit stabilizing muscles that a barbell does not. The recruited muscle fibers of a dumbbell overhead press are far different than that of the barbell version. The same can be said of quite a few different movements.

You can also go lighter with dumbbells than with other pieces of equipment. This is critical in many ways. In some cases, even a 45 lb. unloaded barbell is too much weight. This is where dumbbells come into play.

To see why I recommend an adjustable set for most home gyms, you can see my full article here. To see which dumbbells I use and recommend, see my recommended dumbbell page here.

One kettlebell

While I own and use quite a few different kettlebells, when it comes to recommending what is essential, all you need is one. This, of course, assumes you are using it in addition to the aforementioned barbell and dumbbells.

A single kettlebell was my original home gym. That combined with Pavel Tsatsouline’s book “Kettlebell Simple and Sinister” got me through almost an entire year of home training. In that year I gained size, strength, and stamina. All with only one bell.

One of the biggest benefits of kettlebell training is their simplicity. The number of movements you can perform with a single bell is staggering. The list of benefits of using one in conjunction with traditional free weight training is equally impressive.

My prized Primal Bells. I started out with just the chimp.

If you are buying only one, a common question is what weight to buy. When using a kettlebell as a supplement to standard resistance training implements, I’d go with a 45-50 lb bell for men and a 30-35 lb bell for women.

The primary movement these will be used for is swings, but get ups, presses, snatches, and carries all come to mind an key movements you can perform with that single bell.

***Before anyone gets all bent out of shape, this is a general recommendation. Pick a weight that is challenging for you regardless of your sex.

As for which kettlebells to buy, I’ll refer back to Pavel: “If you get quality bells and take care of them, they will outlive you. You might as well get good ones.” I have several recommendations that will fit this description on my recommended kettlebells page here.

If you want to go straight to the only place I’ll ever buy kettlebells from again, check out the Kettlebell Kings website here! I’m absolutely blown away by the company and their products.

The final three

I guess technically speaking you could live without these last three. But I’m still going to include them as “essential” because the roles they fill are essential. You could use different implements, but I strongly feel that for each role, these are the best choices for the job.

Gymnastic Rings

The category these fall into is suspension training. Until you’ve used something in this category, you may not see just how amazingly impactful this type of training can be.

There are several well known suspension training devices and I review the two most popular in an in depth comparison you can see here. In the end, for a dedicated home gym space, I think that traditional gymnastic rings are the best choice.

There’s simply no better way to do bodyweight pushups, pullups, dips, and rows. They are easy to loop over the pull up bar that’s already on your rack. They are inexpensive and one of the most versatile pieces of gear you could own.

Sure, I guess you could train without them. But once you’ve owned and used them, you’ll never go back to training without them again! And that’s why they are on this list.

Rope

I’m going to list two kinds of rope here, but they both serve the same purpose. So far I’ve only addressed implements for resistance training. Now is where I deviate from that and throw in one conditioning tool.

There are a million different ways to get conditioning into your program. You could go run hill sprints. You could get an air assault bike or rower. There are lots of options. So in the end, I guess the two items I list here are my preferences more than anything. But I’ll still put them up against any other option when it comes to effectiveness.

What’s essential is that you have something for conditioning. It’s good for your heart. It’s good for your stamina. It’s good for your overall health and well being. In other words, conditioning is definitely a “must have”.

For me, that comes in the form of either a battle rope or a jump rope. If it’s nice outside, I prefer jumping rope. If not, I’ll go indoors with a battle rope. In either case, they are ideal conditioning tools.

In just 10-20 minutes 1-2 times a week, these simple and cost effective tools can impart benefits that last your entire life. Get yourself a rope or two, you won’t regret it.

Battle ropes can get expensive unless you know where to look. It’s amazing to me what people want to charge for a 50’ length of rope with some tape on the end! To me the best value is this set over on Titan Fitness. Don’t forget this anchor so that you can securely attach them to your rack!

For jump ropes, there are too many options to list. I own a few, but my favorite for those that don’t want to spend much and still get a great rope is this set by WOD Nation. You can get it over on Amazon for a really reasonable price!

Resistance bands

This one is simple. If you are injured, you can’t use your home gym. Of all the things I’ve used to alleviate aches and pains as well as warm up to lift safely, resistance bands are by far the best.

With the right assortment, you can also use them to enhance your weight training by attaching them to your barbell. They can even be used to assist with pull ups and dips for those not strong enough to do those movement unaided.

You can pick up a set up 4-6 bands relatively cheaply and they will serve you well for a very long time. Don’t go too cheap, though. Having a band snap mid pull can be extraordinarily painful.

In my opinion, you can’t do any better than a set from the Rubber Banditz. Check out their pricing and resistance levels here on Amazon.

The Most Essential of all

If you build a home gym with the above 9 items, you’ll have all you need to train at home for years to come. You won’t ever find yourself wanting for anything when it comes to effective resistance training in your garage or basement.

That said, I want to add a 10th essential… Consistency.

You can have the best gym in the world, but if you don’t use it regularly, you’ll get nothing from it. Consistency is the key to your results above all else.

So go build yourself an amazing home gym. Start with these essentials. And then use them consistently to build a strong and healthy body.

Happy Training!!!

Whether you’re a part-time dumbbell curler or you’re pumping iron on the reg, the fast-growing fitness industry is not short of equipment to kit out your home gym set-up. And while we always have a special place in our hearts for the extravagant, today we’re bringing you fitness items with wallet-friendly appeal.

Covering all bases, we’ve scoured the best of the health and fitness landscape for products that impress both on spec and cost, with options starting at just $16.

From ape-shaped kettlebells and 30kg power bags to the more classic jump rope and aerobic step, our selection below has everything you need to swerve your budget gym membership and shape up from the comfort of your own home.

View more of the best affordable home gym accessories and equipment below.

Gravity 16 KG Kettlebell

TRX

$58 Buy at Browns

Heavy Strength Band

TRX

from $34 Where to shop

Floor Multi Set

Enter Sports

$22 Buy at amazon

Speed Jump Rope

WOD Nation

$18 Buy at amazon

Interlocking Foam Mat

VViViD

$16 Buy at amazon

Foam Roller

Trigger Point Performance

$33 Buy at amazon

Aerobic Step Platform

Yes4All

$50 Buy at amazon

Primal Kettlebell

Onnit

$85 Buy at Onnit

30 KG Power Bag

TRX

$129 Buy at Browns

HOME2 System Straps

TRX

$199 Buy at Browns

Our designated Selects section features products that we love and want to share with you. Highsnobiety has affiliate marketing partnerships, which means we may receive a commission from your purchase.

  • Onnit
  • TRX

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Building a home gym

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