Home gyms have never been more popular … or more necessary than now.
Todays modern age has seen a huge increase in the amount of people looking to get fit from the comfort of their own homes. Throughout this year, it hasn’t been unusual to see workout equipment run completely out of stock as everyone looked to piece together an authentic gym experience in their own garages.
Having your own home gym is hugely convenient – you don’t have to drive to your local fitness center or stand around waiting for the piece of equipment you want to clear up when it’s in your own house!
However, the process of putting together a home gym from scratch can be intimidating. Your regular gym probably has more equipment than you know what to do with, while getting each of those pieces into your garage or workout area can be overwhelming and expensive.
We’ve broken down the art of building your home gym into a science. Here’s a guide on how to build your personal fitness haven and what equipment is needed for a home gym.
Recognize Your Fitness Goals
The first question you should ask yourself as you start to dive into planning your home gym is what your goals are.
If you are intent on burning calories and cutting fat, you’ll likely want to focus on buying more cardio-centric equipment. In this case, you may be thinking about investing in a treadmill, elliptical, or other machines that can get your heart racing.
On the other hand, if your goal is to build muscle and increase your strength, you’ll want to get an adequate set of weights and resistance-training equipment. This will help you to grow both muscle and power.
Ideally, your fitness goals are probably going to involve a little bit of both! If you want to maintain a strong physique while still working on your endurance and heart health, the best option is to incorporate both cardio and strength training, and buying enough equipment that you can get a good enough workout for each aspect.
You might also have different needs for your home gym than the traditional gym scene offers. For example, if you want to build a yoga or barre studio, you’ll need more mobility-based pieces like yoga mats and resistance bands to stretch.
Whatever your fitness goals are, they should form the building blocks for how you prioritize your home gym purchases!
Determining Your Budget
The next thing to consider as you start to build your home workout area is the kind of budget that you are working with.
The costs for fitness equipment can vary widely, just as widely as the kinds of equipment that you can buy. They can range from just a few dollars for basic pieces like resistance bands and studio weights to the hundreds or even thousands of dollars for more intense equipment like cardio machines and weight racks.
If you’re working on a budget but want to maximize what your gym equipment can do, you should aim for diverse pieces that can cover many different exercises. Some good examples of “do-it-all” pieces of equipment include all-in-one gyms and adjustable dumbbells.
Our suggestion is to start off with basic pieces of equipment (like free weights, resistance bands, etc) and then work your way up if you find that those basic pieces don’t cover your needs.
At the end of the day, though, the best strategy for building a home gym is to buy the essential pieces you need for your own fitness goals first, then fill it in with accessory pieces to add in complementary workouts.
Your 7 Essentials For Building A Home Gym
No matter what your individual fitness goals are, there are a couple of essentials that every good home gym can benefit from. These include:
This purchase is often overlooked until it’s too late, but having proper gym flooring is essential for dulling noise and protecting both your floors and your equipment.
You’ll want to buy gym flooring that is shock absorbent and thick enough to weather even the heaviest pieces of equipment. You should also buy yoga mats to add an extra layer of protection for any exercises that require you to get on the ground, like pushups, planks, and crunches.
There are plenty of different weights that you can buy to add resistance training to your workout regimen, but dumbbells are extremely versatile. Many of the movements that you would do on fixed weights machines at the gym can be replicated with a pair of decent dumbbells.
You can buy dumbbells in sets of fixed weight, or you can purchase adjustable dumbbells that allow you to have varying weights for your workout without taking a ton of space. It’s also important to consider how much weight you’ll need for your workouts, since dumbbells can vary so much in weight. Think about the weights that you use most often at the gym and get comparable weights for your home.
Barbell and weight plates
Most movements can be done with dumbbells, but having a good barbell is essential if you’re looking to train with some serious weights. Squats, deadlifts, and bench press are the three major compound movements that can work your whole body, and performing them effectively requires a barbell.
You can either buy barbells in a standard size or Olympic, and the same goes for the weight plates you can add on to them. Olympic bars tend to be the preference for powerlifting and CrossFit moves, but the standard weights can work just as well if strength training and muscle building are your main focuses.
If you do buy weight plates, you should also consider getting a storage solution for them so they aren’t laying around your floor and tripping you up. Weight trees are a good idea to keep them organized and make them easier to grab.
Resistance bands are a relatively cheap piece of gym equipment that are extraordinarily useful for all aspects of strength training. They can be incorporated into arm, shoulder, back, core, and leg training so you can get a proper warm up or workout without shelling out a ton of cash. You can also use these for stretching and mobility work, and the right bands can even be mounted to your door or a sturdy piece of furniture to replicate cable machine movements.
Look for durable rubber or cloth bands that won’t snap on you mid-workout. Virtually all resistance bands do tend to wear down and break over time, but they are relatively inexpensive to replace over time.
Having a good weight bench is important if you’re planning on working with free weights. They offer back support, encourage proper form, and can open up the possibilities of your movements, plus they’re crucial if you want to bench press. They can also be used as a step for cardio-based moves. In short, benches can be incorporated into almost any workout!
You can buy weight benches that are fixed in various positions from sitting up, lying down, and declining. The best and most versatile weight benches are adjustable and can cover your workouts from all angles, although these can be a little more uncomfortable depending on their design.
Even if you dread getting your cardio in, aerobic activity is essential for maintaining your overall health and increasing your stamina. It’s especially important to add cardio into your plan if you want to lose weight, and it’s a great way to warm up before your strength training as well.
There are several options for cardio equipment that can vary widely in price range. Popular options include treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, stair steppers, and stationary bikes, but the list can definitely go on. It can even be something as simple as a jump rope as long as it gets your heart racing!
The important thing when picking out your cardio equipment is to buy something that you know that you can enjoy using consistently. So if you hate running, for example, don’t bother with buying a treadmill.
Not to be confused with your gym flooring mat, yoga mats are essential for getting down to the ground and working on some bodyweight movements. Even if you don’t do yoga, you can use these mats to do crunches, planks, pushups, or anything else that requires you to get low.
You also can’t underestimate the importance of stretching and mobility work, and yoga mats will do their part in providing cushion and protecting you from the floor as you work on your active recovery.
Your yoga mat should give you sufficient cushion and comfort, as well as “sticky” enough to provide you enough grip and prevent slipping.
The Bottom Line
There are so many different pieces of equipment that you could buy, but the most tried-and-true workouts are relatively simple. If you invest in these seven pieces of essential gym equipment, you’ll be well on your way to hitting that workout hard and never having to go to the “real” gym again!