There’s no doubt about it: having a dedicated gym at your home has some severe convenience benefits. We are all busy, and most of us are good at finding reasons not to drive to the gym. But if you have a home gym, you don’t need to account for travel time going to and from the gym, you don’t have to pack a gym bag, and you can play your favorite music blasting from your speakers since you don’t need headphones. You also don’t need to wait for equipment to free up since you’re the exclusive member who can use whatever you want at your will. And for many people, home is a pressure-free zone for exercising because gyms can feel a bit intimidating, especially for beginners.
Of course, building a home gym is easier said than done. For one, you may have a space in your garage or a spare room in your home with minimal space. If you have a home designed to have a spacious home gym, you’re lucky, but not all people get that benefit. Also, gym equipment is not cheap, so you must make sure you are buying stuff within your budget. You will need a variety of equipment to prevent yourself from getting bored of the same old routine.
So, if you’re considering setting up a home gym, this article will tackle the essentials you’ll most likely need.
Home Gym Essentials Checklist
A. Budget and Space-Saving Equipment
The best budget purchases for your home gym are versatile pieces that can be used for many different exercises. If space and budget are a concern, invest in these things that are relatively small, portable, versatile, and lightweight so that you can store them easily between workout sessions.
Yoga or Exercise Mat
This is home gym 101: Even if you don’t do yoga, a yoga or exercise mat is essential if you don’t plan on splashing out on large and expensive gym equipment. You will likely perform floor exercises like sit-ups, lunges, and push-ups, and a mat is going to come in handy. It’s great to use for performing various exercises, either equipment-free or with gadgets like free weights or resistance bands – a lot of which may involve floor work. It cushions the part of your body that comes in contact with the floor while also preventing scuff marks on the floor from weights.
Another convenient thing about having a mat is that you can pack it up and take it to your backyard, a hotel, or even a beach to take your exercise outdoors.
This is another necessary purchase for a home gym setup. A pair of dumbbells offers loads of opportunities to perform in-home workouts: Use them to perform lunges, strengthen your biceps and triceps, or perform deadlifts. They are cheap and can be used for various exercises for the entire body, from bicep curls to lunges and squats.
If you have the budget, you can buy a whole set, but if not, the brilliant idea is to get 3-5 different weights first. You can get a light pair of dumbbells (3-5 lbs.), a medium-weight pair (8-10 lbs.), and a heavy pair (15 lbs.). If you only want to start one, get anything from 5 to 8 lbs., depending on your fitness level. Then, you can slowly add to your home gym by making additional purchases as you grow stronger. Once you have a collection of dumbbells, it’s best to get a dumbbell rack to organize them and keep all of them in one place.
Before buying, consider your fitness goals and make sure you buy dumbbells with the appropriate weight. Getting too little weight won’t do you much good, but starting off with heavy could lead to injury. Also, don’t buy heavy dumbbells if you’ve never lifted weights. You may end up not using them entirely.
Consider getting an adjustable set if you’re looking for more than a couple of pairs of dumbbells. While they’re not quite as comfortable to hold on to as neoprene dumbbells, they give you more options for switching weights.
People looking to perform core strength movements and plyometric exercises should invest in a medicine ball. If you want to improve your balance and core strength, this exercise tool is for you. You can train almost any body part with this versatile yet affordable equipment. Whether you’re carrying it, sitting on it, throwing it, or doing abdominal exercises with it, a medicine ball can offer you a lot of exercise options.
Aim for a softer variety if you plan to do workouts that involve catching or throwing the medicine ball. We also recommend going for a lighter version of the ball, as most medicine ball exercises prioritize power and speed.
Some people don’t think kettlebells are essential, but they can be versatile. It can be used the same way as dumbbells, but they activate a slightly different muscle profile, particularly the core. Even some movements are more challenging or work better with a kettlebell. Plus, they are available in different sizes, weights, and even shapes.
This equipment is a no-brainer. Usually, injuries can prevent you from effectively lifting dumbbells and performing other weight-training exercises. Of all the things that you can use to warm up before exercise and alleviate aches, resistance bands are the best. They can also help enhance your workouts by assisting with dips and pull-ups (for those who need to be stronger to perform unaided movements). You can purchase four to six bands on a good budget, which will last for several years. Don’t buy the cheapest band, though, because having it snap during the middle of a workout can be painful.
Pull-up bars are not just for pull-ups. You can practice many basic gymnastic exercises if you have a pull-up bar at home. Many of them fit within a door frame, so you can get motivated to do a few reps every time you walk underneath it. But ideally, it would be better to install it in an archway or a part of a wall where you can mount a bar. Just make sure that it is correctly installed because it will need to carry your entire body weight.
These boxes are used for exercises that help improve reflexes, power, and conditioning. You can use the box to perform jumps, which is a great way to enhance joint efficiency and power. Box jumps demand an outstanding level of cardiovascular strength. The increased demand improves endurance and the body’s ability to process oxygen. Performing vigorous exercises such as box jumps with plyometric boxes will also complement the strength you built by lifting dumbbells and doing core workouts.
Many aspiring home gym owners need to pay more attention to this important piece of equipment. However, getting your body in the right position for some workouts requires the support of a solid bench. Also, basic workouts like dumbbell rows (chest supported) and bench presses can only be performed with the help of a bench. In other words, having a bench lets, you perform a wide range of movements that would otherwise be difficult to maneuver.
B. Larger, More Expensive Equipment
Quick note: Only some of these are necessary to achieve your fitness goals. Focus on the equipment and tools that can help you achieve that goal, and don’t waste your money on buying something that doesn’t.
If you want to take your weight training to the next level, invest in barbells and weight plates. Unlike dumbbells and kettlebells, barbells allow you to distribute weight evenly across the shoulders and lift heavier weights while providing good stability. A gym isn’t complete without a barbell, and your home gym also won’t be complete without it if you want to be serious about strength training.
Look for a study bar that is affordable but also not too expensive. If you have small hands, pay attention to the diameter of the bar.
Squat Rack and Stand
The squat rack is the most significant piece of equipment you can buy to help with muscle building. While you can use a barbell without this large frame, a squat rack enables you to lift the barbell from safe positions, carry out a wider range of maneuvers, and be able to catch the barbell if you fail. It’s essentially a rack that will keep you from dropping your barbell on the head or legs, keep you from falling, and help you achieve the right form.
Choose a squat steel rack with thick bars and peg holes to adjust the rack height. Some also come with a pull-up bar, so you don’t need to purchase separate equipment.
The treadmill is one of the oldest pieces of gym equipment and a great way to increase your daily steps without needing to leave home. It’s a popular equipment of choice for cardio workouts as it can simulate walking and running at various inclines. Now, it’s becoming a more common fixture in people’s homes, even for those who are not setting up a home gym.
Most treadmills have a speed function and incline so that you can adjust the pace to your liking. It can train you to run faster and harder as it can help increase endurance. Basic treadmills only run at a few speeds and track your distance, but higher-end ones can track your heart rate, calories burned, and other programs that adjust incline and speed to simulate outdoor running.
Some treadmill models allow you to race other people via Wi-Fi or train you to go to 5k with built-in systems.
Another great form of cardiovascular training, the stationary bike, is an alternative to the treadmill for working out cardiovascular endurance. It mimics bicycling and provides resistance as you pedal, which makes you set different degrees of difficulty. The great thing about a stationary bike is that it offers a low-impact way to get the heart rate elevated.
The rowing machine sits on the floor, where you grip its handles and push with your feet while pulling the handles, much like rowing a boat. If you think it only works out your arms and upper body, it’s not – it actually offers a full-body exercise. Unlike the bike and treadmill, which focuses on the lower body and legs, the rower engages the arms, upper body, core, and legs. It’s a low-impact but high-quality way to get some cardio exercise.
If you only need to pick one piece of equipment for your home gym, it’s best to pick a rowing machine because it works the whole body. Even rowing machines with video game-esque setups connect over Wi-Fi, allowing you to race a computer or other people. These machines will make workouts more fun and less tedious.
Elliptical machines are less impactful on your joints than a treadmill. It allows you to move your legs in oblong rotations, working your calves, quads, and glutes in the process. Like treadmills, these offer preset routines that mimic traveling over a distance. It also allows you to do strength-training as well because they have poles that your hands can grip, working your biceps and triceps like skis as you exercise.
The LAT machine is designed to target your back muscles as it allows a wide range of movement, depending on the way you grab the bar. It works the different areas of your back. It simulates a pull-up bar in a different setting and offers more control over each movement. Usually, you will need to sit on it, facing the machine, where you pull a long bar attached to the handle towards your chest. Then, slowly extend your arms back to a starting position.