If you’ve arrived on this page, there’s a strong chance you either work out already or are planning to get fitter and healthier.
Everyone has varying fitness goals along with different preferences for how to train.
For many, a commercial gym is the best option. If you need the motivation and find this works best for you then great. This article is not for you.
If, on the other hand, you want to find out how to build a home gym, you’re in the right place!
We will look at two different approaches to working out in the comfort of your home:
- DIY Home Gym: Build Your Own
- Complete Home Multigyms
So, whether you want the ease of a single purchase or you intend to piece together your own customized home gym, there should be no excuse not to get going after reading this article.
We cover the DIY approach in great detail. We have tried to assemble the most useful information to guide your research when it comes to generating some ideas and enthusiasm for getting your home gym up and running.
With the pre-assembled multigyms, we will help you in the direction of some models that deliver outstanding results.
Take it slowly, do plenty of research and getting the best home gym need not be a stressful situation.
Why Work Out At Home?
- Why Work Out At Home?
- Things To Consider Before You Start
- How To Build a Home Gym: The DIY Approach
While a gym membership is the only thing that keeps some people motivated to exercise, there are plenty of drawbacks to this approach.
If you have the discipline to train without the external pressure of a gym, there are several advantages to working out at home…
Depending on the location, you could easily be wasting an hour or two simply getting to the gym and back. This time would be put to much better use if you had all of that equipment set up at home.
Skip the commute and max out on your training instead.
Depending on your fitness needs, you might only train for thirty minutes so why spend longer than that traveling to and from the gym?
Price is another significant disadvantage of enrolling in a commercial gym. Sure, you can find the occasional bargain but, let’s face it, most gyms charge like a wounded bull.
If you visit on a daily basis and truly make full use of all the facilities offered then it can work out to be reasonable value.
For those popping in once or twice a week and sidestepping the swimming pool and steam room, it can prove false economy.
Although buying a home gym is not cheap, consider it an investment. If you choose the DIY route, there is no need at all to buy everything at once. You can start slowly and build up your equipment over time.
Eliminate Waiting Time
Anyone who heads to a gym knows only too well the frustration of waiting for machines to be freed up…
You’re just about ready to switch machines when in zooms a hardcore gym rat and beats you to it.
With the complete freedom of your own home gym, you can work out how you like and when you like with no tiresome waiting around.
Good For All The Family
If more than one member of your family enjoys working out, the benefit of installing a gym at home is compounded.
Not only can you save even more money but you can also train together for more of a social experience.
Things To Consider Before You Start
As the old saying goes, fail to plan and plan to fail.
Going in half-cocked without giving things proper forethought is a recipe for disaster.
Take your time and do your homework before even thinking about buying what could be the wrong equipment and a very expensive mistake.
Be Honest With Yourself
Honesty is key.
Home gyms are highly convenient but the question you need to ask yourself is simple: Is a home gym the best solution for you?
If you need the motivation provided by a formal group environment, don’t try to fool yourself that you will still work out at home then end up quitting.
Think also about your home environment. Is it conducive to you taking the time out to train in the basement or are there too many distractions?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. All you need to do is analyze how you train best and decide whether or not buying a home gym will be the smartest move you ever made or a complete waste of time and money.
Think About Budget and Stick To It
Price is very rarely the deciding factor when making a purchase but it’s certainly an important factor.
If you opt for building your own gym with separate pieces of equipment, look on this as an ongoing project. You simply don’t need to cover more than the basics at first. Build from there.
For those who choose to buy a multigym, think not only of the bottom line but also about overall value for money. There’s no point picking up the cheapest possible equipment only to find out it’s not fit for purpose.
Be sensible, work out how much you have to spare and do not exceed the budget. The last thing you want is to put yourself in financial difficulty.
Don’t get too excited about the possibility of a new home before you carefully consider the logistics of space.
A dedicated space like a garage or basement is ideal if that is viable. At the very least you should have a separate room.
There’s not much you can do about the space available to you without moving house so simply work with what you have. Think about what equipment will fit into the space you have rather than going on a buying spree and finding out you have inadequate room.
Noise and Flooring
Working out with clunky machines or free weights creates a fair amount of noise so factor this into the equation when thinking about where to locate your home gym.
Getting the proper flooring has many benefits. It will drastically reduce the sound as well as helping your equipment last the distance and safeguarding the floor underneath.
Foam flooring in interlocking squares is a cost-effective and efficient method of dampening the noise and offering protection. It’s highly durable, non-skid and not particularly expensive.
Do not overlook this issue.
Your Fitness Goals
Too many people fail to pay proper attention to exactly what they want from a home gym. Resultantly, there’s a strong chance they will end up with something totally unsuitable.
When it comes to your primary fitness goals, these usually fall into 4 broad categories:
- Gaining Lean Muscle
- Fat Burning
- Toning Up
Clearly, what you expect to get from your workouts should influence the equipment you buy when you are looking to build a home gym.
Gaining Lean Muscle
If you want to pack on plenty of lean muscle, you need to focus on resistance training.
A regular home multigym is well worth considering if you want to put on some size.
The other path to take is free weights.
Again, it’s all about what suits you best. The good news here is that if you want to get bigger, either of our approaches to building the best home gym will work equally well.
When it comes to a great cardiovascular workout, a multigym is not going to do you much good.
Here, you should focus on thinking about the types of exercise that you most enjoy to maximize your chance of sticking with your program.
Treadmills and stepper machines are both extremely effective when it comes to cardio so consider whether or not you embrace this type of exercise.
If you want to get in some cardio action with the express intention of weight loss rather than simply upping your overall fitness levels, the cardio machines listed above will all work well.
Give some serious thought to a treadmill or stepper if you want to shed some pounds without needing to pound the sidewalk and jar your joints.
Losing weight is a tough enough task anyway. Don’t make it harder on yourself by selecting equipment that you will not enjoy using.
Everyone would like to be as toned as they possibly can.
Concentrate on where, exactly, you want that toning to take place…
The trusty stepper will work wonders for your legs and glutes. These really are versatile machines even though they look pretty basic.
For more of a full-body tone, you can’t do much better than an elliptical.
If you want to hone your abs into a nice, chiseled six pack, there are many different options. Have a look at these great ab rollers as a starting point.
Now the thinking and planning stage is complete, it’s time for action.
We will look first at how to get yourself the best home gym the DIY-way.
How To Build a Home Gym: The DIY Approach
Once you have the space for your gym lined up and a solid idea about your fitness goals, it’s time to start assembling some equipment.
As mentioned, do not go racing out to buy every item that pops into your mind. You have a lifetime over which to build up the best home gym so start with the basics and work from there.
Essential Equipment For Your Home Gym
The following staple equipment should form the backbone of your new home gym.
Whether you choose to buy from directly from the manufacturer or through e-commerce sites like Amazon, from the classified ads or a garage sale, take your time and focus on getting the very best gear you can find.
Much like getting in the best shape you can, this is not a race. You’re much better advised to take it slowly and get things right.
If you kick off with these highly versatile pieces of kit, you’ll be off to an outstanding start.
Barbell Set and Plates
A barbell with a decent selection of weight plates is absolutely indispensable. This equipment alone can form the foundation of a wide number of workouts.
The main types of barbell are:
A standard barbell is generally an inch or so in diameter with 1-inch holes through the weight plates.
If you are just starting out or you only lift fairly light weights, this variety of barbell is fine.
For anyone looking to do some heavy lifting, the standard barbell is not suitable. It will struggle to hold more than 200 pounds and the bar is likely to flex too easily.
An Olympic barbell, on the other hand, is a much more rugged piece of equipment perfect for pumping serious iron.
7 feet long, Olympic barbells are perfectly man enough for hardcore lifting and compound moves. They are normally rated for around 400 pounds and 2 inches wide down at the ends.
If you are in any doubt about which style barbell to get, roll with the Olympic as it will last a lifetime and cater to all your needs.
Watch out for the quality of the bar itself. The last thing you want is excessive bending as you squat or the sleeve coming loose mid-clean. If you are beyond beginner standard, look for a high quality bar that won’t let you down. Again, this is not something you need to immediately upgrade but it’s worth looking into when the time is right.
Best Exercises With a Barbell Set
Using just these simple hunks of metal, you can put all your major muscle groups through their paces.
Rather than try to explain each of these at length, simply click the below links if you want a handy video with clear instructions showing you precisely how to conduct each exercise with proper form.
Chest and Shoulders
Dumbbells are cheap and extremely flexible.
One advantage they have over the barbell is that your arms can move and rotate independently. Since this is a much more natural movement, there is significantly less chance of injuring yourself while training.
On the downside, you will not be able to pack on the resistance like you can with a good barbell. It can also become cumbersome as you get stronger. You will need to use weights that are really too bulky for certain moves like goblet squats.
There are 3 principal types of dumbbell:
- Fixed Weight: This classic version of the dumbbell is the cheapest, simplest option. They generally kick off at 2kg and step up in increments of 2kg. The disadvantage, clearly, is that you cannot make any tweaks at all. For some exercises they will seem too light while for others it will be hard going. You could buy yourself an entire set but that defeats the object of saving money and also takes up a huge amount of space. Think again before buying fixed weight dumbbells
- Adjustable (Standard): A much smarter choice is an adjustable set of dumbbells. You can easily add or subtract weight plates. You are also able to buy heavier weights as your strength increases. Due to space constraints, though, you will be limited as to just how many plates you can add to the bars
- Adjustable (Selectorized): You adjust the weight on these nifty dumbbells by the same addition or subtraction of plates followed by turning a dial. You can make very rapid adjustments in this way. This style will also allow you to reach far heavier weights. The problem is that they are far more expensive than the other types and also extremely heavy to carry if you need to move them around
Best Exercises With Dumbbells
Chest and Shoulders
If you want to lift heavy weights safely, there’s no escaping a power rack.
Power racks form the cornerstone of most home gyms with good reason. From bench presses and squats through to military presses and deadlifts, a decent rack makes all the difference. You can focus on your form without worrying about injuring yourself.
Make sure that the build quality of the rack is solid. The last thing you want is something that will wobble or let you down.
Check that the rack is tall enough for you to comfortably carry out an overhead press.
Since most people working out at home do not have a spotter at hand to assist them – this is a definite advantage of heading to the gym – make sure that the rack has safety arms you can raise or lower.
As far as the weight limit goes, 500 pounds should be more than enough for most needs. The last thing you want is to go for a lightweight option that you will need to upgrade as you pack on size and strength.
Adjustable Weight Bench
The final essential to take care of is a solid adjustable weight bench.
A flat bench is perfectly serviceable but if you want to build the very best home gym, it’s worth opting for an easily adjustable model. You’ll get far more variation.
When you are looking at benches, make sure that it will bear your weight along with the weights you will be lifting. Don’t buy something too lightweight that you will outgrow.
The advantage of an adjustable bench over the flat style is the ability to go for some incline chest presses or dumbbell shoulder presses. It’s more flexible than a flat bench.
You can perform most exercises you need without a bench if you have to but no home gym is really complete without a decent bench. Invest in a rugged weight bench. It’s a small investment that will repay you for years to come.
Optional Equipment For Your Home Gym
Now that you have all main bases covered, it’s time to think about expanding your equipment with some great optional add-ons.
This is time to think about how you train and how you would like to go beyond the basics of the free weights, rack and bench.
Your choice here is enormous. We cannot hope to cover every variable beyond weights in a home gym. The very personal nature of a DIY home gym means that everyone has different preferences.
Budget and space also come into play when selecting additional equipment…
We’d all like to be Mark Wahlberg with the space for a packed gym to end them all.
Housed in an aircraft hangar on his Beverly Hills estate, Wahlberg’s gym has a comprehensive selection of machines and a professional boxing ring where he spent time training for his role in The Fighter, an Oscar-winning movie.
Wahlberg is a disciplined and dedicated trainer. He’s up at 4am and in the gym after taking some eggs on board.
For most reasonable purposes, the home gym is not going to stretch to that space or budget so we will look at the following selection of sensible options to consider adding to your home gym over time.
- Inversion Table
- Punch Bag
- Pull-Up Bar
- Recumbent Bike
- Rowing Machine
- Elliptical Machine
None of these are prohibitively expensive and offer a wide range of exercise potential.
If you enjoy the versatility of free weights, looking into a kettlebell or two might be worth considering.
There are two main types of kettlebell:
- Professional Grade Steel
- Standard Grade Cast Iron
You might see plastic or vinyl kettlebells. They are not the smartest choice. The handles are too narrow and they are not properly shaped. Give these a swerve.
Kettlebells are often color-coded. The following chart breaks down all of the assorted sizes of the mainstream competition kettlebells along with the more unusual intermediate training weight sizes.
If you think that using a kettlebell would fit in with your fitness goals, opt for the professional grade steel.
With the steel kettlebell, the dimensions of the weight are invariable. Whatever the weight, the steel kettlebell comes in the same dimensions.
This allows you to train with consistency as you move through various weights.
If you are pretty certain you’ll stick with just a single kettlebell, cast iron weights, as you can see below, vary in size according to weight.Source
As a guideline, most men will choose a 16kg kettlebell to kick off while the majority of women start with 12kg.
If you’ve got a decent amount of training experience, you’re in good shape and not carrying excess weight, anything up to 20kg (male) or 16kg (female) should be fine.
For those real athletes in great physical shape and a large, athletic build, 20-24kg (male) or 16-20kg (female) is a decent place to begin your kettlebell journey.
Get a whole body workout without breaking the bank.
An inversion table is not by any means a necessity but these ingenious pieces of kit certainly come with an unexpected range of benefits.
With your body hanging upside down on the table, inversion therapy is a form of spinal traction and decompression.
Inversion tables are foldable and easy to store away when not in use.
Whether it’s strengthening your core or easing back pain, inversion therapy is quite widely adopted.
If you want to recover after workouts or injury or if any of the other benefits mesh with your fitness goals, think about adding an inversion table to your home gym.
Go here for our review of the best inversion tables.
Don’t think that punch bags are just for martial artists or boxers.
Having a punch bag brings you the chance to work out explosively and vent any frustration at the same time.
Punch bags are wonderfully therapeutic.
You can opt for a freestanding punch bag or a hanging bag.
Freestanding bags are a convenient choice. All you need to do is fill the base with water or sand and you’re all set. Many freestanding bags are full-length which is perfect for mixed martial artists looking to kick as well as punch.
A hanging bag is the old classic. Make sure that you get a bag that’s heavy enough for your needs.
There’s no right or wrong choice here, it’s a matter of personal taste and fitness requirements.
Sparring with a punch bag has a good number of benefits:
- Gives you a full body workout
- Targets all major muscle groups
- Improves your hand-eye coordination
- Therapeutic, stress-relieving
- Very efficient way to burn calories
Whether you are looking to train for some kind of fight or just to sharpen up while letting off steam, a punch bag is a worthwhile addition to any gym.
A pull-up bar allows you to really max out your workouts.
Whatever type of pull-up bar best suits your needs, this is really a strong addition to any home gym.
The two main exercises performed with this bar are:
- Pull-Up (hands facing away)
- Chin-Up (hands facing you)
The chin-up predominantly works out the biceps while the more difficult pull-up also gives your back a great blast of action.
With pull-up bars, you really do need to focus on proper form. The full range of motion is required to get maximum benefit. Think of it this way… Half the effort = half the gains.
When you go up, make sure you pull yourself up so your chin comes right up over the bar. Take care to lower yourself all the way back down.
If you find pull-ups too tough, don’t be disheartened. They are tough. You are lifting your entire bodyweight so you need strong biceps and the motivation to keep practicing until they become second nature.
Consistency really is the key with pull-ups.
And, like with most elements of training, practice makes perfect.
If you want an exercise bike with a twist, a recumbent bike is well worth exploring.
Rather than regular upright saddles like a standard exercise bike, recumbent bikes have seats more like a chair. They are padded and much more substantial.
With a recumbent bike, the pedals are out in front of the body. Combined with a comfy, lateral position, working out on a recumbent bike takes the edge out of cycling.
If you want a solid shot of cardio, a recumbent bike will deliver in fine style.
Normal exercise bikes constrict you to the extent that you need to grab hold of the handlebars. With a recumbent bike, work out hands-free so you can use your tablet or do whatever you want as you burn some calories in style.
For anyone with back or joint problems, this style of exercise bike is a superb choice and easily manageable.
Check out our reviews of the best recumbent bikes. We explain in more detail the benefits and offer up 5 best-selling models.
One of the most enduring pieces of exercise equipment and a bread-and-butter part of any commercial gym, the rowing machine shifted from its original form of military training into the mainstream.
These machines are first-class for resistance training.
Rowing machines come with 4 different types of resistance:
- Water: Large and heavy. Mimic being on water
- Air: Most popular type, can be noisy
- Magnetic: Easy to fold up and store away fuss-free
- Hydraulic: Cheap, surprisingly quiet, no good for advanced users
Think about which of the above categories would suit you best and buy accordingly.
For effective cardio, you want to hit your target heart zone. Check whether the rowing machine you are looking at offers pulse monitoring.
Here are the principal muscles pressed into action with a rowing machine:
As you can see, while giving yourself a grueling burst of cardio, you can hit most of the muscle groups that count with a rowing machine. From your calves and quads through the core and up through the chest, back and shoulders, rowing machines offer you a great deal of bang for your buck.
Rowing is a low-impact activity for a fully-body workout, including the core, offering you a full range of motion.
A treadmill is a favorite in commercial gyms but it is not the easiest form of exercise on your joints.
The pedals on the elliptical let you mimic a running motion without the heavy impact.
With an elliptical, you can work out your upper body as well as your lower body taking advantage of the handlebars.
Check out the following illustration of the muscles used when using an elliptical. You can really get the most out of your workouts with one of these workhorses.
If you have a reasonable amount of space and you fancy something that you can use for a vigorous cardio session in the privacy of your own home, an elliptical machine is worth popping on your shortlist.
We look here at 5 of the best elliptical machine reviews and explore in more detail the many benefits of these nifty pieces of kit.
Here are some of the different options for your home gym that we have already reviewed in detail on our site…
For each piece of equipment, we offer a comprehensive buying guide to make your research go without a hitch. We then review 5 market-leading products with an honest look at what these products will do for you as well as highlighting any reported downsides.
Now you have a great idea about how to build a home gym from scratch, we’ll glance very briefly at the much simpler but more limited approach of an all-in-one multigym.
Going the DIY route and assembling a fully customized home gym with separate pieces of equipment is not for everyone.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to build a home gym from the ground up, a multigym is the obvious solution.
For anyone with more limited space to build a home gym, an all-in-one multigym is a key selling point of taking this approach to working out at home.
Check out our reviews of the best multigyms for a look at 5 of the best models on the market.
With a multigym, you don’t have the same opportunity for cardio as with an assortment of equipment assembled in a DIY fashion. Take this into account before committing to a multigym and ask yourself how much indoor cardio you need if you plan to work out from home. As always, be honest about your requirements and choose accordingly.
Another definite upside to buying a pre-assembled unit is the sheer convenience. All you need to do is double down on the model that best gels with your training goals, make the purchase and set it up then you’re done. There’s no agonizing over which machines to include or leave out, no multiple purchases.
Since multigyms are not cheap, take your time before buying one. Do plenty of research. Read lots of impartial user reviews. Think carefully about whether this is the right approach for you to build a home gym.
If this style of racked weights appeals to you, consider overall value for money rather than being purely motivated by price. When you calculate a gym membership over the course of a few years, buying a multigym actually represents excellent value for money. Spend as much as you can afford and get the best quality multigym you can find.
A multigym is a much more limited approach to building a home gym but it is well worth at least contemplating before pursuing the DIY route. If this works for you, you really can deliver a full-body workout with a great all-in-one.
We very much hope that you have enjoyed this in-depth guide showing you how to build a home gym the easy way.
Whether you choose to assemble your own equipment or buy an all-in-one multigym, getting your home properly equipped to work out need not be a headache.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any feedback or questions. We are always delighted to hear from our readers.
We hope that you manage to assemble the equipment you deserve to make staying in shape great fun while saving you time and money into the bargain.