Some people love working out at a gym surrounded by other people, but if you’ve been thinking about canceling your gym membership and bringing your workout to your home, we’ve got a few home gym ideas to help you get started.
Don’t worry if it seems overwhelming when you’re starting from scratch — you can build a perfect home gym.
Before You Build Your Home Gym
You may have already done a lot of research for home gym ideas, but before you buy equipment or remodel you home, think about how you will use your gym. Have you figured out your fitness goals?
Some goals you might have on your list are weight loss, gaining strength, increasing flexibility, or running longer. Whatever it is, every goal comes with different equipment needs. This is a weakness of commercial gyms that you can overcome in your home gym. Many gyms have a heavy focus on strength training and cardio, but it can be hard to find floor space for flexibility training or body weight exercises.
If you know those two things are important to you, you can dedicate space for floor work. Your goals will determine what you will need in your best home gym so determining your goals will put you on the path to gym building success.
What Should I Put In My Home Gym?
When you are starting your home gym, there are some essential pieces of equipment that need and the ones that are optional. To help, we grouped our home gym ideas for equipment into the following four categories:
Obviously, if you have a pre-defined, specific workout that you know you will be doing, you can cater your equipment around that.
Essential Home Gym Equipment
No piece of workout equipment is more versatile than a dumbbell. They can be used to work any part of your body and help you see real muscle gains faster than most machines. They allow you to take advantage of your full range of motion so that you’re not restricted the way you are with machines or barbells.
The best dumbbell set for a home gym is one that both fits in your space and has the weight range you need. When looking for a dumbbell set make sure to take into account space, budget, and quality of dumbbells. The cheapest dumbbells out there may seem like the best choice, but if they break and you need new ones then you didn’t really save any money.
You can get just the amount of dumbbells that you need to save space or you can get a full set. They are easy to store and look very organized when you put them on a good rack.
For a money and space saving option you can look to adjustable dumbbells. They are good for the home gym because they take up only the space of one dumbbell, but you can get up to 8 different dumbbell weights. Additionally, they are usually cheaper than buying a set of dumbbells, but they have some limitations. Adjustable dumbbells are often clunky and move around a lot.
They also tend to just have a different feel than traditional dumbbells. If you want to go for traditional dumbbells, you don’t have to break the bank. 4-5 pairs of dumbbells should be more than enough to start with. You can always buy more as you advance in your fitness levels.
Since this is for your home gym, there is also the option to buy some more extreme weights. Most gyms don’t have 150lb (or more) dumbbells, but if that is what you need, you can have them in your home gym and have the peace of mind that no one else will ever be using them.
You will regret it if you don’t get a good set of dumbbells for your home gym, so make sure you find some solid ones that will last you a long time. If there was one area on your home gym we don’t recommend going ultra-cheap, it would be with your dumbbells.
Bench Press Kit
Another essential for the best home gym is a basic adjustable bench coupled with a barbell and plates.
When picking your bench always look for one that has incline and decline capabilities. You may want to look for a high quality bench even if it is more expensive. Your bench will be getting a lot of use and you don’t want a cheap one that is going to fall apart on you. If you are able to get a secondhand bench from a commercial gym this might be a good option since the one made for gyms are typically sturdier.
When picking a barbell always go for a true Olympic bar. This way you will know for certain that it is tough enough to handle all your workouts and you won’t end up needing a new one. When you get your plates, if you can get some bumper plates these will be your best option. If bumper plates are cost prohibitive, steel or iron will get the job done. Getting some with good grips so that you can easily move them by yourself.
One of the best weight sets for your home gym you can buy is from Rogue Fitness. Additionally, the Rogue Bar 2.0 is one of the sturdiest barbells you can buy.
The adjustable kettlebell is the best compact home exercise equipment. This is because it takes up very little space, it has a big weight range, and it has all the benefits of a traditional kettlebell. Working out with kettlebells is unique because you can get a strength training and cardio workout in one shorter session. This is because of the fact that kettlebells are weighted off center. This forces you to utilize your stabilizer muscles, even when you’re doing cardio moves.
Even if you’re not used to working with kettlebells, you can still benefit from having one in your home gym and learning how to use it. Kettlebells are a unique piece of workout equipment because they really do provide some of the most effective workouts in the shortest amount of time.
Stability Balls are essential in your home gym because they are the premiere piece of workout equipment for improving balance and coordination. They can also be used in workouts like weight training or Pilates. They can be used by anyone from children to the elderly and are a great way to force yourself to work on your posture throughout your moves.
You won’t regret having one in your home gym as they are relatively inexpensive and highly versatile.
Resistance bands are another home gym essential because they are so easily used even by the most inexperienced of people. They are popularly used in rehabilitation routines, but can be just as effective for strength training. Resistance bands are an excellent choice of equipment for lower body workouts, especially for moves like lateral walks or squats.
There are a few types of resistance bands, there are some that are just flat loops, some that look like giant rubber bands with handles, and some that are specifically for therapeutic purposes. All of these have different exercises you can do with them and it would be worth your while to get some of each type.
Helpful Home Workout Equipment
While not essential, there are several more pieces of home gym equipment that will allow you to expand your workout routines, but not cost you much space or money.
You may want to skip buying a power rack for your home gym because it will likely be the most expensive piece of equipment you will buy and it will take up a lot of space.
However, if you have the space and the money it is a good piece to have for safety reasons and to expand your workout options.
Since you will probably be training alone, without a spotter, having a rack can give you some peace of mind that you will be able to rack the bars.
Another essential feature of a power rack is safety bars that can be raised and lowered. Since you never know what height will be most comfortable for you, it is best to pick a rack with adjustable safety bars over stationary ones. Another feature that is nice to have when buying a power rack is one that can easily handle attachments such as pull up bars.
Pull Up Bar
The benefit of having a pull-up bar in your home gym is that it is a great way to work your upper body. Plus, it is not difficult to install yourself. When picking a pull up bar think about where you want it to be. Many are simply placed in a door frame but some can be drilled into the wall.
Drilling into the wall can be more sturdy, but requires proper installation and if you don’t want to make holes in the wall it might not be the best choice.
Foam rollers can be used for both massage and exercise. They’re helpful for relieving tension and stress. They can help make you more flexible and aid tight muscles in recovery after a tough workout. Additionally, they provide balance challenges for workouts like Pilates and yoga.
When choosing a foam roller the most important aspect to consider is the density or firmness. The denser the roller the tougher the massage. Softer foam rollers are more important for people who are looking for comfort instead.
Extra Home Workout Equipment
These are some items you may want to include if you are looking for more of a luxury feel in your home gym or if you have some leftover money in your budget. Not essential, we recommend waiting to add these until after you’ve been using your home gym for a few months.
Suspension Strap System
A suspension strap system training is a way to use bodyweight exercises to sculpt your core and gain overall muscle tone. It is useful because there are more than 300 exercises you can do with suspension straps and you get to choose the difficulty of each one.
Suspension straps work well for a home gym because they take up minimal space, are easy to set up and take down, and are highly versatile. If you have opted to add a power rack, your suspension straps should readily attach to it and you will be good to go.
When you buy a suspension strap system, sturdiness is the number one factor you need to take into account. You can also consider how easy it is to set up and if it is portable.
Bumper plates are traditional Olympic sized weight lifting plates that are made of rubber instead of steel. They allow the plates to be dropped if needed without causing damage to floors or lifting platforms. Many people prefer bumper plates because they reduce noise, but they are typically only used by professional weightlifter who regularly drop their weights. The biggest problem with bumper plates is that they are more expensive than steel or iron plates.
Competitive Weight Lifting Discs
Competitive weightlifting discs are made of rubber just like bumper plates but come in different colors. These are typically reserved for competitive weightlifters. If you are, or aspire to be, a competitive weightlifter you may want to have a set for your home gym.
Economy Bumper Plates
Economy bumper plates are more affordable bumper plate options. If you’re looking for a cheaper option for your bumper plates take a look at 360 Fitness or Kamparts.
Ghetto Bumper Plates
Ghetto bumper plates refer to bumper plates that are not made out of traditional rubber but are made out of old tires. You can assemble these yourself and they are a much more cost-effective option for your home gym. For anyone who loves a good DIY project, this is the best choice for you.
A dip belt is a nylon or leather strap that allows you hang weights from your waist so that you can add resistance for moves like tricep dips. You can also use it for pull ups, chin ups, or even squats. They allow you to progress quickly to the next weight level and help you build functional strength.
This is another piece of equipment that takes up minimal space and provides a killer addition to your workouts. They can also be purchased at low rates. A high quality dipping belt will run in the $50 range, but you can find them at much lower prices. If you are looking for the best dipping belt for your home gym you will want to look at the Rogue Dip Belt from Rogue fitness.
Cardio Home Workout Equipment
Cardio equipment seems like an essential piece of a home gym, but the fact is, you don’t always need it. Most of your cardio needs can be served by running or biking outside. But, if you live in an area where the weather is notoriously bad, you may want to include some cardio equipment in your home gym. Strength training often provides a more complete workout than cardio, but that doesn’t mean you should exclude cardio totally.
Incorporating some cardio into your routine will help keep your heart in tip-top shape. Overall, if you prefer to get your cardio in just now and then, you might not need to spend the money on cardio equipment. However, if you are a dedicated runner or cyclist then including some indoor equipment for when you can’t get outside will be a good idea.
Some cardio pieces you might consider are a folding exercise bike, an entry level economic treadmill, elliptical, or a standup functional fitness training system. When considering a spin or exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical make sure you pick models that have many adjustment points so that you can mix up your workouts. You will also want to be sure you can test these pieces of equipment before you purchase them. Every treadmill feels different and you often know as soon as you start running if it is right for you or not.
You will want to pick one with adjustable arms so you can use it to train in any position. There are many exercises you can do with this machine for strength training, cardio, or rehabilitation practices. They are low impact on your joints so they are good for people with shoulder problems.
How Do I Start A Home Gym In A Small Space?
Quite possibly the biggest challenge you will face in building your home gym is finding the space in your house. Part of what determines how much space you will need is what you are planning to do in your gym. If you want to put in a dance floor for activities like Zumba or dancing, obviously you will need a little more space.
If you want lots of machines you will also need to make sure you have a space that can accommodate that. But, if your fitness needs are a little simpler, you can find some small exercise equipment your home and make the home gym fit even in the smallest apartments.
Garages and basements are popular options but you can utilize some smaller spaces with small exercise equipment for the home. A good choice may be making half of your office a home gym. If you do a lot of work from home and don’t like to break up your workflow, you can design your home gym with compact exercise equipment for the house so you also have room for your desk and computer.
This way if you are unable to take formal breaks to work out, you can do some squats while you’re on a call or take ten minutes to lift a few weights. Then you can take advantage of that extra blood flow and get right back to work.
If your workouts are your “me time” then you should try to focus on making your home gym a refuge from the outside world. Finding a private space and making it your own can be the difference between whether you decide to workout, or sit on the couch and watch TV.
One of the best things you can do is to make your gym motivating for yourself. Make it an appealing place to be so that you are excited to use it. The atmosphere of your home gym is everything.
You should do your best to give your home gym some fitness feng shui. In home design, feng shui is a school of thought that spatial arrangement of objects influences flow of energy that can positively or negatively impact you.
These principles apply to your home gym, just like they would the rest of your house. The way you arrange your space can help give you positive flows of energy, which is essential for good workouts.
Whether or not you believe in the practice of feng shui, you can still benefit from a good arrangement of your space to give you a clear head. In the end, it will all depend on how you like it, but generally, try to think about keeping an open and clear space and avoiding clutter.
How Can I Make My Home Gym Look Good?
Once you’ve settled on the idea of creating your own home gym, now comes the process of putting it together. We’ll outline all of the different facets to consider, but know that you don’t have to do all of them right off the bat. You can pick and chose what is most important to you, and add on as you go. Or, spend the time to do everything at once – your call.
When it comes to the flooring for your home gym you have almost infinite choices. But when it comes to using quality flooring for your gym space, your choice depends on a few different factors. You have to consider the purpose. If you have specialized needs, like a dance floor or a basketball court, then obviously you need to take that into account. If your goals require mostly basic equipment and space for yoga or body weight moves, then a multipurpose floor should fit your needs.
You also need to think about your budget. Flooring can get expensive quickly, and in many instances, you might not even need to change the floors of your space. For example, if you are going to use a garage or basement with concrete floors, you likely won’t have to do much work.
You should take into account ease of cleaning as well. You don’t want to pick a floor that will get dirty and then be a pain to clean up like thick carpet. Some of the best options for gym floors can just be placed on top of your existing floors such as interlocking tiles. These are also great because they can be removed when you move. They are also able to be personalized with different color and style options.
If you want to do yoga or mostly bodyweight activities, bamboo flooring looks great and provides a nice, even surface for you. If you have ample space and want something great for endurance training, you can try indoor turf or grass mats. If you don’t feel like changing the floors of your home too much, but don’t want to damage the existing floors, you can always try using removable gym mats. They prevent your floors from getting damaged and are easy to clean, plus they are a better option if you’re looking to build a cheap home gym.
It would also be wise to check to make sure that the floor is capable of handling the weight of your equipment. In the U.S. residential buildings are required to be able to support 30 pounds of weight per square foot.
How you like to set up your lighting is based on your personal preference. Maybe you want to feel like you’re in a trendy spin class and keep it mostly dark. However, this is not usually the best lighting choice for all your workouts. One of the best options is to take advantage of natural light when you can. If you happen to have a room with many windows, try keeping them all open while you exercise. Not only will you feel closer to outside but the natural light will keep you more alert and focused.
If you don’t have a room with many windows or prefer to work out at night, you will have to go with artificial lighting. When working on your home gym design make sure to set up the lighting so that the room has full coverage. Dark corners and weird shadows will make the room unappealing and even creepy. It will also be best to look for lights in the same hues as daylight and not harsh fluorescent lighting.
Another lighting option to consider is a dimmer. This is helpful if you like to do yoga, or if you prefer a peaceful vibe for cooling down and stretching. With a dimmer, you can make your room whatever you want it to be.
Most people in the world like music when they exercise. It is motivating and can be a good distraction from the pain, so you probably will want to incorporate music into your home gym design. If your goal is to build a cheap home gym then the easiest option is listening to music on your phone or getting a small portable speaker. You can also get portable speakers that have extremely high sound quality with the option to get very loud if you want to spend a little more money.
Either way, getting a portable speaker is probably the easiest option in terms of set up since you won’t have to worry about complicated installations. There are so many portable speakers out there that you will be able to find something that meets your exact specifications.
However, if you want to go for a surround sound effect, you can opt for a large scale speaker system with wires and all. Just keep in mind that this option will get costly.
You may also want to consider putting a TV in your home gym if you like to watch the news or find a nice distraction for your cardio. A simple wall mounted T.V. should do the trick. You won’t need anything too fancy since you’re not going to be really paying attention to it anyway.
When thinking about the question “What do I need in a home gym?” mirrors seem like an essential since every commercial gym has them. You can certainly put up a whole wall of mirrors if you want your gym to have the look and feel of a traditional gym, but this is also expensive, and not totally necessary.
Mirrors are good for checking your form but they can throw off your energy if you’re getting distracted by looking at yourself. It is nice to have one or two mirrors to see how you look every now and then, but it is probably best not to put a mirror in front of your cardio equipment.
Definitely avoid putting two mirrors facing each other. This will create reflections on reflections that will get annoying as you’re trying to work out.
Color is an important element of your home gym design. Utilizing some colors over other can impact the way you exercise. Most people would probably think red tones are best for a gym since they are firey and passionate. This may work for some, but for the majority of people, reds are actually distracting for working out because they can get overstimulating.
Your best bet is to go with cool earthy tones, particularly blues. Blue produces a calming effect that can help increase productivity. This makes blue a great color choice for both high-intensity workout rooms and more peaceful rooms such as yoga rooms. The color you choose will bring about psychological and physiological responses so it is worth giving it some thought and not just leaving the room whatever color is already there.
Besides painting the walls, there are other ways to incorporate color into your home gym. One way is by picking weights that are painted or have a vinyl coating. You can find dumbbells and kettlebells in almost any color scheme you could possibly want. You can also add some color with the accessories in your gym like your floor mats or yoga equipment.
Picking the color of your room is a great way to personalize it and really make it feel like your space. Making your space look nice will help motivate you and make you want to get your workouts in.
How to Save Money on Your Home Gym
When deciding to build a home gym you have probably worries about how much a home gym will cost. It does require an initial investment, but it will pay off in the long run. There are plenty of budget friendly options for building your gym as well. You can get a great gym without breaking the bank.
One of the best ways to save money is to look for second-hand equipment. If you have a friend or family member who is looking to get rid of their old dumbbells or kettlebells, scoop them up because those pieces last forever.
When building a home gym on a budget you should take a hard look at what equipment you actually need and what is going to be extra. For example, you can save some money by only buying weights that you will actually use. As you progress in your weight training you can buy heavier weights, but until then stick with what you know you need.
You also don’t need to purchase specialized equipment for every muscle group. Your basic free weights will get you a full and complete workout that will have you toned in no time. It might also be a good idea to skip the expensive cardio equipment in favor of some cheaper options like running outside or getting a jump rope.
Additionally, you will want to scour the internet for the best deals you can find. Amazon is always a good option for less expensive products. Compare all the prices online and check in store prices.
To build a home gym with no money you can use a space you already have like your garage, and build up the equipment you need over time. You can start with a few basic items, and plan for which things you would like to buy when the money becomes available to you. Also, make use of natural light to keep your energy prices down.
Another idea for a home gym on a budget is to do all the set up yourself. For all your painting, mirror hanging, lighting, and flooring pick items that you know you are capable of installing without a professional. This will seriously help you keep the costs down so you can enjoy your best home gym without going broke.
Staying Motivated to Use Your Home Gym
It would be a shame if you invested your money into a home gym that you eventually just didn’t use. To make your investment worth it you have to keep working out in your home.
Of course, life gets in the way and there are millions of excuses to let your workout routine fall by the wayside, but by keeping your gym your personal refuge you can continue to stay motivated. One of the best ways to keep yourself wanting to go to the gym is to keep the space looking clean and fresh.
Make sure everything has a place and stays organized. This way walking into your gym won’t be stressful, it will be calming and get you ready to sweat. Another way to keep yourself motivated to use your home gym is to add personal touches. Using things like paint color and posters and fun yoga mats can help make the gym feel like your own.
When your mind knows that it is yours, you will want to be in the space because it will feel like an escape.
Finally, you can keep yourself motivated by consistently mixing up your workouts. Doing the same weekly routine can get boring and your progress will quickly plateau. If you keep changing it up, you will get excited to try new things and you will keep seeing results.