A home gym gives you convenience, flexibility, and saves you money. From travel time and gas to not needing your gym membership.
Know your goals, budget, and available space
Before you go buy a squat rack for your 500sf apartment and end up needing to put it in your dining room like Jon Call, make a plan. There’s a couple things to consider.
What are your goals?
Do you want to get stronger? You’ll want a squat rack and a bench. Want to learn some gymnastics moves? You might want some rings or a floor mat. Looking to improve cardiovascular strength? You might just need some running shoes! What equipment you end up considering depends on this answer.
How much space can your home gym take up?
Probably the most common home gym is a garage gym. If you have space in your garage there’s tons of resources on setting up an awesome home gym based around your goals. Or maybe your home gym space is going to be in your living room and you will store your supplies in the closet.
What is your budget and timeline to set it up?
If you are looking for something to do on the days that you don’t go to the gym, your setup will probably look different from someone who is looking to replace their gym membership. If you have the space, I’d recommend trying to replace your gym membership.
Take your time
The final item that I’d recommend considering is to take your time. Slowly acquire the equipment that you want and incorporate each tool as you get it. Decide what is most important to you and try to acquire them in that order.
Best items for a home gym
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A Way to do Pull-ups
The most limiting part of a home workout is usually a way to do pull-ups. The first thing you should consider is a way to do pull-ups. For years I used the bar that hangs on the door frame and was able to make some good progress with just that. Then I got rings and was able to go to the park and hang them on a tree branch, or on the doorframe bar. In fact, it was the rings on the door frame pull-up bar that I got my first muscle-up.
Bands and/or Dumbbells
Next, you’ll want some form of resistance. Most commonly this is some resistance bands or dumbbells. Resistance bands are pretty cheap and an okay way to get resistance. Weights are still better than bands if you have to choose one. The best dumbbells for at home use are going to be adjustable dumbbells like the powerblock or bowflex. They are very space-efficient and are going to be cheaper than an entire rack of dumbbells.
A bench is next on the list of things to consider. It allows you to do many more exercises than you would be able to otherwise. A flat bench works fine but I think it’s worth spending a little more for an adjustable bench for the added usability.
Rack and Barbell
If you’re tired of your gym telling you how you can and can’t lift, you probably want a rack and barbell. This is the option that I recommend for most anyone who is serious about their health and wanting great at-home workouts. There’s a bunch of fancy squat/power racks that you can find, don’t waste your money on a fancy one. For most, a basic rack will do just fine. If you’re going to splurge on anything, splurge on a bar, but again, for most a cheaper bar will do fine. For the weights, you can go with bumper plates or steel, steel being the cheaper option. For most, steel plates will do the job just fine. One cool company that offers home racks and barbells is PRX Performance. Their racks are meant for your garage or basement and are very low profile when put away. They also offer interest-free financing.
Finally, you might want a jump rope to allow you to do some cardio. I like jumping rope because you can do it in a small space. Other good options are metcon workouts, running, or biking.
It doesn’t make a difference if you buy a lot of this equipment used or new. Check out your local Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for weights, racks, kettlebells, benches, even pull-up bars.
- Training at home doesn’t have to mean you need to sacrifice your progress.
- Your number one priority with working out at home is to maintain high amounts of resistance. This can be accomplished in several ways including bands, weights, or intensity.
- What you buy is determined by your goals. Sometimes a complete rack, bar, and bumper set makes sense, other times a doorway pullup bar will get the job done.
- Use this opportunity to improve your at-home setup now and for the future.
- Most importantly have fun and enjoy the journey! It’s not about what you can do in a matter of weeks, it’s what you can sustain for years. #yearsnotweeks