FitnessTips & Tricks

The Ultimate Home-Gym Guide

You don’t need to be extremely affluent to be able to afford a home gym that you can get a great workout in. There are many inexpensive pieces of equipment you can use to get your heart rate up and blood pumping.

Check out these pieces of equipment which I have rated on a scale of 1-10 of necessity in a home gym based on convenience, price, effectiveness, reliability, and versatility along with many of the exercises each piece of equipment can be used for.

Resistance Bands (9)

Resistance bands are the jack of all trades of resistance training. Whey work well for many exercises but there are usually better options out there for each exercise these bands can do. Unfortunately the equipment you would need to do all of the exercises you can perform with resistance bands would cost you hundreds of dollars.

That is why Resistance bands are rated so high with a 9/10. Though they may not be the best at any of the exercises, they are usable for more than any other equipment and at a much lower cost.


Some uses for resistance bands:

  • Standing or seated rows
  • Front squat
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Leg extensions
  • Leg curls
  • Lateral raises
  • Hip abductions

Hell, I’ve made entire workout routines based around resistance bands due to the amount of possibilities.


Dumbbells (7)

Dumbbells are much better for many exercises than the resistance bands would be, however, with a higher price tag. When buying dumbbells, you do have a few different options.

Plate loaded dumbbells

– These dumbbells require you to add weight plates to the bar and secure with a collar. They are adjustable up to typically 40-60 pounds.

Adjustable dumbbells

– There are two major brands of adjustable dumbbells that aren’t plate loaded. The Bowflex andthe powerblock dumbbells. Both are great sets, but I recommend the powerblock brand due to the ability to expand the weight to 90 pounds if you need it (for an extra price) whereas the bowflex dumbbells max out at 50 pounds.

Though, it is worth stating that If you use less than 50 pounds on most of your lifts, and don’t plan on going higher than that you should go with the bowflex dumbbells because I think they are actually easier to use and if you were to choose between the 50lb bowflex or 50lb powerblox, the bowflex will cost you $50 less.

Set-weight dumbbells

– These are the dumbbells you will see at any gym. The dumbbells that aren’t adjustable in any way. These dumbbells are easier to use due to not having any weird mechanisms on them for weight adjustments or having weight plates that spin or fall off as you are using them. You also don’t need to worry about adding/removing plates every time you use them.

The obvious drawback to this is the pretty penny it will cost you to get a decent set of these non-adjustable dumbbells as well as the extra space they will take up.


Some uses for dumbbells:

  • Overhead dumbbell press
  • Lateral raises
  • Chest fly
  • Chest press
  • Dumbbell upright row
  • Dumbbell deadlift

Barbell (5)

A barbell is a great tool in a home gym, but at a large cost. In addition to the barbell itself you will also need the weight plates to go on it. At this point, you may not need a whole lot of weight, but if you plan on making progress you will need to get some extra plates.

The exercises you can perform with a barbell are very similar to the exercises you can perform with dumbbells with a few differences.


Some uses for a barbell:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Overhead press
  • Bench press
  • Front squat

Rubber Flooring (3)

Rubber flooring is really only necessary if you plan on using dumbbells and barbells and you think you may be dropping them on the floor. Most people are not deadlifting five hundred pounds in their home so the rubber flooring isn’t typically needed.


Some uses for rubber flooring:

  • Just uhhh- put it on the floor? Done!

Kettlebell (3)

Kettlebells serve many of the same functions as dumbbells with some exercises being easier and some being more difficult than with dumbbells. The reason this is ranked so much lower than dumbbells is because there are not as many options when it comes to kettlebell exercises. Most of the exercises you would use a kettlebell for, can be performed with dumbbells or other equipment.


Some uses for kettlebells:

  • Kettlebell swings
  • Kettlebell fly
  • Goblet squat
  • Turkish get-up

Jump rope (7)

A jump rope is cheap and effective cardio. It can also be stored easily and doesn’t take up half a room like a treadmill will. Jump-rope is also a more high intensity form of cardio, which is much more effective than cardio that keeps your heart rate consistent for long periods of time like walking.


Some uses for jump-rope:

  • Jump… the rope. Jump to your hearts content…

Other uses for jump-rope???

  • Nope, that’s about it, have fun!

Plyo box (6)

I plyo box is great for plyo exercises (obviously) or exercises where you need an elevated surface like step-ups or dips, but if you are going to invest this much, I’d recommend just making the extra investment in a bench which will serve you in many more ways than the box will.


Some uses for a plyo box:

  • Box jumps
  • Step-ups
  • One-legged box jumps
  • Bulgarian split squat

Weight bench (6)

A bench is a great tool for lying exercises such as bench press, but is also great for holding your bodyweight for any exercises that need it.

You have the option of going with a flat bench or an adjustable bench. An adjustable bench


Some uses for a weight bench:

  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Box jumps
  • Tricep dips
  • Step-ups
  • (anything that you can use a plyo box for (-:   )

Power rack (3)

If you are planning on having a full home gym where you can make the absolute most progress possible, a power rack is a must-have piece of equipment. With a power rack you can perform any exercise from pullups to bench press to squat to rack pulls. If I was to build my own home gym today, the first piece of equipment I would purchase is a power rack or at least a squat rack along with a barbell.


Some uses for a power rack:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Pullups
  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Military press

Swiss ball (8)

A swiss ball or “exercise ball” is a versatile piece of equipment. I often prefer using it for many of my clients in place of a bench for exercises like dumbbell bench press due to causing more stabilizing muscles to be used. If you are on a shoestring budget or trying to strengthen these stabilizing muscles, get yourself a swiss ball.


Some uses for a swiss ball:

  • Seated overhead press
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Hyperextensions
  • Pikes
  • Planks
  • Side planks

Medicine ball (5)

A medicine ball is a smaller ball that comes in many different weights. It is often used for some sort of throwing. Wall balls, medicine ball slams, and medicine ball side throws are are all valuable exercises that you can perform with a medicine ball. Many homes may not be equipped for this type of exercise considering they may not have hard enough walls or rubber floors, etc… to handle the throwing of weights against them.


Some uses for a medicine ball:

  • Wall ball
  • Ball slams
  • Side throws

Suspension trainer (5)

Suspension trainers are straps with handles that can be hung from any bar. They are a newly popular tool used for body weight exercises. Most homes will not be able to use these due to not having any sort of bar or rafter to hang the straps from.


Some uses for a suspension trainer:

  • Pullups
  • Bodyweight rows
  • Pikes
  • Pushups with feet in straps or hands in straps
  • Body weight reverse fly
  • Suspension ab rollout

Cardio machine (3)

Many people have a treadmill or elliptical in their homes. This is a very convenient form of cardio. You can do your cardio in one place in your own living room while watching television, which I have nothing against. My biggest argument against having a cardio machine in your home is the price tag. There are many cheaper forms of cardio out there such as running, jump rope, body weight exercise, and plyometrics. Many people have no great reason to rush out and buy a treadmill.

 


Some types of cardio machines:

  • Treadmill
  • Stationary bike
  • Stair climber
  • Rowing machine
  • Elliptical

Yoga mat (3)

A yoga mat will be beneficial if you have hard floors and you are doing an exercise on the ground such as crunches.


Some uses for a yoga/pilates mat:

  • Stretching
  • Planks
  • sit-ups, crunches, all those other lying ab exercises…

Doorway Pull up bar (5)

There are a ton of pullup bars out there that can be placed in a door to give you a decently sturdy pullup station. The problem is, they are only decently sturdy. Do a quick google search and you’ll find dozens of videos of people injuring themselves on these (albeit, usually from their own stupidity). These are rare cases, and I think it can be very beneficial. Just be wary if you purchase one of these products.


Some uses for a pull up bar:

  • Pullups
  • Chinups
  • Toe to bar
  • Knee to elbow
  • Leg raises

Power tower (3)

A power tower is simply a stand with a pullup bar and dip bars. If you have the money, it goes great in a medium-high cost home gym. If you are trying to save money, you can find other places to perform these exercises like a rafter for pullups or a couple chairs for dips.


Some uses for a power tower:

  • Pullups
  • Chinups
  • Leg raises
  • Knee raises
  • Knee to elbow
  • Toe to bar
  • Dips

What Equipment Should I Actually Buy Based On My Income?

The type of gym you are going to invest in depends almost completely on the amount of money you have to invest. Here are some examples of the best home-gyms you could get away with based on your economic level.

In addition to the pieces of equipment in these example home-gyms, also remember you have access to every day items like water jugs (a full gallon is 8.3 pounds), rafters, chairs, tables, etc…

The Ramen Noodle Budget

Doorway Pull-up bar –

This is specifically if you have no other means of performing these exercises such as rafters.
ProSource Multi-Grip Chin-Up/Pull-Up Bar, Heavy Duty Doorway Trainer for Home Gym

Resistance bands –

In addition to the many exercises you can already perform with the resistance bands, you can also loop the bands over the pullup bar for pushdowns, pullovers, etc…
Kinzi Resistance Band Set
and Freeto Workout Rubber Band

Jump-rope:

Benran Adjustable Jump Rope

Total Cost: $74.15 + Shipping and Handling

The “Decicated But I Still Have Bills To Pay” Budget

Squat Rack
CAP Power Rack

Flat Bench
Marcy Utility Flat Bench

Dumbbells
Powerblock Dumbbells

Resistance Bands
Kinzi Resistance Band Set
and Freeto Workout Rubber Band

Barbell and Plates
CAP Olympic Barbell
and CAP Olympic Plates

Total: Starting around $805.91 if you only start with 4-45lb, 2-25lb, and 2-10lb plates.

 

The “Why Don’t You Just Buy Your Local Gym” Budget

If you have the money to spend, Rogue is the most quality brand you are going to find (RogueFitness.com). They are the official sponsors of Crossfit, and for good reason. They do, however cost a bit more than the competitors, so I have chosen from a variety of brands, including Rogue for this gym setup.

Power rack

The power rack is the steak and potatoes of a nice home gym. You perform the most essential movements here.
Rogue R-6 Power Rack
and The Rogue Matador Dip Attachment

Barbell (and weight plates)

Rogue Westside Power Bar
and Rogue Olympic Plates

Dumbbells

Even with a great budget to work with, you will probably want to go with some adjustable dumbbells. The cost of a full set of regular dumbbells could easily exceed the price of the rest of your gym.
Powerblock Dumbbells

Adjustable Weight Bench

Bowflex Adjustable Weight Bench

Suspension trainer

Kylin Suspension Trainer Straps

Rubber Flooring

Prosource Foam Interlocking Tiles

Cable Pulley Machine

XMark Fitness Functional Trainer Cable Machine

Medicine Ball

Rep Fitness Medicine Ball

Total: Starting around $4,913 + Shipping & Handling
But of course If you’ve gone this far, you may as well order $5,000 of equipment from Rogue and get free shipping.

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Home-Gym Guide

  1. A functional trainer isn’t a bad idea either, one piece of equipment that does it all. They don’t let you lift heavy, but many aged trainees aren’t really looking to bench/squat/deadlift 300/400/500

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