Beginner’s Guide to Home Gym Equipment
How would you like to become the best version of yourself from the comfort of your own home?
I believe that investing in home gym equipment is an investment in yourself. An investment and commitment to being better.
There is usually a dollar amount involved in personal development though. Especially when it comes to home gym equipment.
However, building a home gym does not have to be expensive.
This beginner’s guide is for those just starting out. Especially those who would like to create a home gym on a budget.
Building a Home Gym
Before we go any further, it’s important to ask the question… Should you build a home gym?
Working out from the comfort of your own home has many benefits. More on this in the next section.
However, you should have a basic understanding of proper lifting technique and training principles before building a home gym. This will help prevent injury and maximize gains via intelligent exercise programming. All of this will help you buy the right gym equipment.
So, can you perform functional compound movements with good form? e.g. squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench press, push ups, etc. i.e. do you understand what it means to perform these movements safely?
I’m sure you do, but just in case you don’t, it’s worth investing in a Personal Trainer to teach you proper form, progressive overload and basic exercise programming principles.
The one thing I don’t want is for you to injure yourself at home. Especially after just investing in a home gym setup. An injury early in a new program or a new mode of training often leads to abandoning it all together.
This would be the worst outcome after investing in building a home gym.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into the benefits of a home gym!
20 Reasons to Build a Home Gym
1. 24/7 Gym Access
One of the best things about a home gym is the 24/7 access that you obviously get. You can use it any day, any time. Even on public holidays!
2. Saves money
Investing in a home gym saves you money in many ways. The biggest savings come from not paying monthly membership fees and savings in fuel that you would otherwise use.
3. Saves time
Imagine the time you’ll save by not driving to and from the gym? Not to mention the time it takes to park your car, walk inside and find a locker. Oh and there’s always someone that just keeps talking and talking.
I think it’s fair to say there are a million distractions that always seem to make your gym sesh take longer than planned. And if you’re on a time schedule, there’s nothing worse than cutting your workout short!
Take a moment to calculate the hours of time you save each year. Let’s say you go to the gym 4 days per week. And it takes 20 minutes by car each way. 10 minutes to park, find a locker and get into the gym. And maybe 10 minutes to get back out. That’s an hour of travel time every day. With 52 weeks in a year, you spend 208 hours travelling. 208 hours!
Imagine what you could do with 208 extra hours per year… By buying home gym equipment, you are getting 208 hours back every year of your life.
4. Create a gym environment suited to your goals
Going to a commercial gym is ok for absolute beginners, but they usually don’t specialise in any one thing. e.g. calisthenics, crossfit, powerlifting, etc.
By choosing to build your own gym, you can create the perfect space to achieve your goals. Whatever they may be.
5. Less Distractions
Every time I’ve been to the gym, I’ve been distracted by something. And I’m sure the distractions are similar for most people. Grunting from people doing big lifts. TV screens. The terrible music. Yoga pants. People that don’t stop talking to you. The list goes on and on.
One of the best distractions is when someone is performing some weird exercise or doing it completely wrong. All you can do is film it, post it on youtube and hope to make a heap of money from a viral video. Haha jokes.
6. No more waiting to use equipment
It’s always kinda awkward when you’re at the gym after work. The busiest time for most gyms. Which means waiting ages to use equipment. At this time of the day everyone wants to use the power rack. Everyone wants a weight bench. Everyone wants all the best gym equipment. So when you finally get your turn you feel like you need to rush your sets. The worst.
7. Invite your family, friends and neighbours to work out with you
By setting up a gym at home, you can easily work out with your partner, kids or even your neighbours. Something that is always difficult at a commercial gym due to the effort required for everyone to travel and meet up.
8. No more shitty gym music
Not all gyms play shitty music but most of them do. Actually, all of them do. Lol. So this is an excellent benefit to building your own gym. You can now play those epic tunes that get you super pumped! Lately I’ve been listening to Saliva.
What kind of music do you listen to when you workout? Drop a comment below.
9. Your gym, your rules.
Because your home gym is all yours, you make all the rules. You could work out barefoot if you wanted. You could even work out nude! Or grunt and scream as loud as you want when going big. It’s your gym, your rules.
10. Getting creative with your workouts.
Instead of staying within your space at a commercial gym, you can now use all the floor space you have. This allows you to be creative with your workouts. I’m a big fan of circuit training and creating a brand new high intensity workout each week.
My high intensity workouts are usually outside flipping tires, smashing the sledgehammer and swinging kettlebells. It’s amazing how many different workouts you can do using a few pieces of equipment mixed with bodyweight exercises.
11. Less germs from other people’s sweat.
How disgusting is it when you go to use a weight bench and dripping with someone else’s sweat!? Problem no more.
12. Your home gym becomes an asset.
Home gym equipment is a great investment. Not only for your health but as an asset for years to come. If needed you can always sell everything.
13. Become a Personal Trainer and use your home gym to train clients
This is one of the first things I did once I started building my home gym. I got qualified as a Personal Trainer and then starting training people from home.
14. Short workouts for rehab or mobility are now worth the 30 second commute.
It doesn’t make sense to drive all the way to the gym for a 5 minute workout to increase mobility or do a little rehab. But it makes perfect sense if you have a home gym. Nuff said.
15. WAAAAY better post workout meals.
Making a post workout meal from home is always going to be better than a protein shake. Imagine how much better a smoothie would be!
16. You’ll have the right equipment for your needs.
Most gyms have quite average equipment. Or at least not the right equipment for your needs. It’s amazing how many gyms I’ve been to that don’t have a power rack! This is arguably the most important piece of equipment.
17. No more dealing with all the ego-driven bros flexing in the mirror.
I always laugh in my head when I see a fellow gym goer that walks around the gym like he’s got beach balls under each arm! You know what I’m talking about.
Although, research has shown that if you walk around with better posture and act more ‘alpha’ then your testosterone levels will naturally increase. So maybe they are doing it on purpose. Who knows.
18. Be a role model for your friends, family and kids.
By working out from home, you become a natural leader. Your friends, family and kids will start to look up to you as a role model. This actually helps keep you motivated too. You can’t give up when everyone is looking up to you.
19. Great Motivation > No more excuses not to work out.
The travel distance to commercial gyms is often a big excuse not to go. But with home gyms, this excuse is no more. Having a gym at home is great motivation to work out on a daily basis (if your workout capacity is high enough!).
20. Warmups and cooldowns can be down around your block.
It’s always nice training outside. With a home gym, you can do a short warmup job around the block. I personally love running around the backyard for a warmup while my dogs chase me!
Home Gym on a Budget
If the home gym benefits list above didn’t get you excited, I’m not sure what will…
If it did, then let’s get into building a home gym on a budget!
So there are a few ways you can do this.
1. Buy Used Gym Equipment
2. Build Your Own Gym
3. Buy New Gym Equipment
Over the years I’ve utilized a mixture of the above strategies. If you have the money, then save yourself time and get the best of the best. However, if you’re like most of us, it’s nice to save money where we can. So let’s use these strategies in synergy.
Buy Used Gym Equipment
If you need to save money, buying used gym equipment is a good place to start.
Check out the below list of where to buy used gym equipment.
– Garage Sales
Word of warning… It can take a while to find used gym equipment that suits your needs. First you have to search for it, then contact the seller, then travel to check out the equipment. If it’s not the right fit, then you rinse and repeat. It’s not hard, but it does take time.
Build Your Own Gym
Literally building your own gym can be a lot of fun and save you a load of money.
Firstly, I don’t recommend building power racks or squat racks (I’ve done this before but I used to be an engineer. And even then, I didn’t feel 100% safe.). When building your own gym equipment, you don’t get the assurance of a well engineered and load tested rack.
However, I do recommend having a go at building a pull up bar or even building a dip bar. These are relatively easy to over-engineer and keep you safe when performing pull ups or dips.
The photo below shows my very first DIY pull up bar when I was still in high school. Shown on the left. You can even see some gymnastic rings hanging up on the right.
I’m currently in the planning phase to build a new outdoor gym station. Instead of a single pull up bar or dip bar, it will incorporate both with a bunch of extras for a total body weight workout. I’ll be documenting the whole process. So stay tuned for an epic how to post!
In the meantime, check out this article on how to build a pull up bar.
Outdoor Home Gym vs Indoor Home Gym
Should you build an outdoor home gym or an indoor home gym?
Why not both!
Some training types are more suited to indoors vs outdoors so it will largely depend on your health and fitness goals and the type of training you prefer.
When it comes to your indoor gym, it can be inside your house or a full blown garage gym. Either way, this is better suited to weight training, powerlifting, boxing or anything where your equipment should be protected.
I prefer outdoor gyms whenever doing bodyweight exercises, circuit training, cardio and HIIT. There’s nothing better than an intense workout outside in the fresh air.
But it’s mostly about personal preference. You could do all of the above training from an indoor home gym. Doing some exercises outside is just me.
Home Gym Essentials – Buying New Equipment
What are the home gym essentials? If you are like most, you probably prefer to just buy new equipment. It’s quicker, it’s easier and you know exactly what you are getting. But it’s easy to go overboard and buy unneeded equipment.
So I’m going to put together a list of the absolute home gym essentials. This list uses the criteria of being able to perform all the biggest and best compound lifts and body weight exercises.
If you want to improve your health and fitness, there are specific movements that you should be doing. This is true regardless of whether it is fat loss, strength gains or muscle gain, you need to be doing squats, deadlifts, pull ups and pushing exercises like bench press and/or push ups.
Power racks are simply the best. You can perform so many big movements that produce incredible gains.
Make sure you get one with a pull up bar and dip bar attachment.
Check out my review of the best power racks.
You are going to need a barbell in order to perform barbell squats, deadlifts and pressing movements. All of which are done from within your power rack.
Check out my review of the best barbells.
Obviously you are going to need some plates to go on your barbell. Think about your current deadlift 1RM and buy at least this much weight worth of plates.
Adjustable Weight Bench
You’ll need a weight bench to do bench press within your power rack. I recommend going for an adjustable weight bench so you can perform incline, decline and a bunch of other secondary exercises.
Check out my review of the best weight benches.
You could get away with not buying dumbbells to begin with. However, if you haven’t trained in a while then you are most likely going to experience beginner gains. If so, you’ll need dumbbells to ramp up your training using progressive overload principles.
Home Gym Extras
Check out my review of the best kettlebells.
Check out my review of the best gymnastic rings.
Check out my review of the best punching bag for home.
Check out my review of the best slam balls for circuit training.
Check my review of the best battle ropes.
How much does a home gym cost?
If you are serious about improving your quality of life, then I highly recommend investing in a home gym.
It’s easy to build a cheap home gym without it being ‘cheap’. Just stick to the home gym essentials list and you can easily build an epic gym for under $1000.
Got a question? Comment below or send me a message.