Due to the ongoing pandemic, training at a commercial gym has been made almost impossible as a result of many having to close due to lockdown restrictions. People are therefore being forced to find alternative ways to exercise at home and, as such, home gyms are popping up everywhere.
With so much uncertainty still surrounding when gyms will be back open as normal, now is perhaps the best time to consider investing in a home gym.
And if you’ve been put off this idea up to now thinking it’s likely going to cost a fortune then you’d be wrong. Here’s how to create a home gym on a budget.
You Don’t Have To Spend A Fortune
Don’t think of a home gym as having to be an all-singing, all dancing room full of all the latest equipment. Yes that might be nice to have, but realistically not many people have the budget to build a space that would rival any Golds Gym. And, to be honest, you don’t need to. You can get just as strong and fit with a few core pieces of equipment as you can in any fancy commercial gym – you just need to know what to look for and how to set it up. Fortunately this will all be covered in this article and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t make the decision sooner!
So, What Are Your Options?
First decide what you want your set up to be and what your budget is. If you have minimal space and you just want a few pieces of functional equipment that you can store away easily then you can still get in a really effective workout with a few key pieces such as a set of dumbbells, a pull-up bar, a bench and some resistance bands. You’d be surprised at just what you can do with some creative workouts. Have a look at my article The Best Equipment for a Home Gym: Ten buys to boost your workouts to find out more.
If you have a little more space and money to play with (like an entire room and some savings) and you’re looking to invest in some more ‘hardcore’ gym equipment such as weights, racks and benches, then realistically you should be able to get everything you need for between $1000 – $1200 (around £700 – £1000).
The essential pieces to get you started and form the basis of your home gym should be:
- A squat rack with pull-up bar
- An adjustable bench
- A set of dumbbells (adjustable preferably but a set of fixed dumbbells of varying weights is fine if you have the space to store them)
- An Olympic barbell with a selection of weight plates
- Some resistance bands
Of course there are literally hundreds of pieces of equipment you can buy but these are all foundation pieces of kit that are functional and versatile meaning you can get a variety of different uses and multiple exercises out of each of them. You can therefore easily replicate the effectiveness you’d get working out at a commercial gym that has ten times as much equipment (much of which you probably don’t use anyway!) at home.
Go For Quality Where You Can
Now this is easier said than done when you have a tight budget to play with but I’m a keen advocate of the saying ‘you get what you pay for’. This doesn’t have to mean that you need to purchase the highest spec kit, nor should you always go for the cheapest option either. Ultimately you should see your home gym as an investment and you want to get as much use out of it as possible. Going too cheap means inevitably having to fork out more money over the long-term when your equipment breaks and you have to replace it. You also want to ensure you can work out safely and prevent the risk of injury. Ensuring what you buy is made to a high standard may mean you spend more initially, but means that you’ll get many more years of use out of it and, if you need to sell it further down the line, you’ll get a better resale value.
The good news here is that there is more gym equipment being purchased now than there ever has been and more competition between retailers to make a sale. This means you can purchase some brilliant equipment at equally brilliant prices.
A Closer Look At How To Kit Out Your Home Gym
1. Squat rack with pull-up bar
What could be described as the centrepiece in any home gym, a good squat rack will allow you to perform a myriad of exercises including squats, presses, and pull-ups and allow you to feel safe during use. It will also last a very long time and offer various attachments as you gain in confidence to increase its versatility further. Because many squat racks built today are sturdy and built to withstand constant use, they will continue to support whatever weight you lift today in addition to whatever you can lift in 12 to 24 months from now, and beyond. Perhaps then, there’s not so much of a necessity here to go for the highest quality you can find.
The squat rack I’d recommend is the JMC Squat Rack & Pull-up Bar. It’s a solid rack ideal for squats, benching, pressing and pull-ups – so really multi-functional – and it’s made from a sturdy high grade steel with bolt down feet and Olympic bar holders and band pins. Standing at 2220mm high with a max weight bearing load of 350Kg it’s suitable for most weight trainers from beginners to elite. Although you could spend more on a rack, this one is great for tight budgets and will last. Currently on sale for £399 ($540) through Best Gym Equipment.
2. Adjustable bench
A weight bench isn’t just for bench pressing. If you’re creative enough it can be extremely versatile and used for a multitude of other exercises including rows, split squats, box jumps and box squats, among others.
A good quality bench should give you a solid base, be roughly 43cm from the ground and have a firm but padded seat and back. Although a flat bench is perfectly suitable, an adjustable bench – meaning you can raise, lower and reposition the seat back to multiple different angles – will give you even more options, especially when it comes to the chest press allowing you to perform flat, incline and decline variations.
A great option for those on a budget is the Vanswe adjustable weight bench. It’s sturdy, well padded and adjusts from flat to upright, as well as 0, 15, 30, 40, 60 and 80 degree angles. It feels solid to use and can be folded away to provide additional space-saving. It also has a maximum weight capacity of 600 pounds (272Kg) which is enough for most people, plus weights on top.
If you have a little more money to spend then the Bowflex 5.1s Stowable Bench is one of the best on the market. Feel free to check out my review of it on the link.
3. Set of dumbbells
One of the most versatile pieces of equipment you will ever own, dumbbells can be used in an infinite number of ways whilst taking up a minimal amount of space.
I recommend an adjustable pair over fixed dumbbells, which means you can add and remove weight as you progress and saves you having to buy several pairs which typically end up being a more expensive purchase.
I’ve written a review on some of the best dumbbells you can buy, ranging from budget to elite options and covering fixed, adjustable and selectorised.
4. Olympic barbell
You will probably use a barbell more than any other equipment in your gym. Barbells can be used for all sorts of exercises including squats, deadlifts, chest and shoulder presses, and will complement your squat rack. Out of all the equipment you purchase, make the barbell the highest quality piece of kit in your gym. There are big differences in the durability and performance of high-quality barbells versus some of the cheap metal rods that some companies will try and sell you.
The York Barbell 7 ft Olympic Bar is made from quality North American steel and then chrome plated. The bar weighs 20kg and is designed for static lifts with a max weight load of 320Kg – so more than enough for even the most seasoned of lifters. The high quality make and finish of this bar enables it to be durable, functional and built to last.
In addition to the olympic bar you’ll also need weight plates. I recommend the York Olympic Rubber Bumper plates that are available from 5Kg up to 25Kg. These plates fit Olympic 2” diameter bars with a precision-drilled central hole which is then reinforced with a steel central sleeve. They are of premium quality and used in thousands of gyms around the world. They’re also kinder to your floors than steel versions.
Both the bar and plates can be purchased from the Best Gym Equipment website.
5. Resistance bands
In my view resistance bands are a great addition to any home gym and allow you to take you strength training up a notch. They’re versatile, space-saving and allow you to get in a challenging strength workout, especially when combined with free weights to add extra tension. They’re also brilliant at circulation boosting and muscle warming, bodyweight training assistance, functional training, yoga and physical therapy to name a few.
Some of the best resistance bands I’ve come across are those sold by Garage Fit. Coming in various sizes, resistance levels and types – including floss bands, pull-up bands and loop bands, you get an incredible array of options depending on what you want to use them for.
Check out my Garage Fit Resistance Bands Review here for more information and my personal recommendations.
So, How Much Might This All Cost?
Here’s a look at how the cost of the equipment I’ve recommended above works out. Where I’ve offered more than one choice I’ve taken the lower of the two items recommended. With the Olympic weight plates, this is based on two discs of each weight increment (i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25Kg) but you may opt for less. As far as resistance bands go, the price is based on three bands of varying resistance, but you may of course only opt for one, or perhaps more depending on your goals.
Ready To Reap The Benefits Of A Home Gym?
So there you have it. It is entirely possible to build a very effective home gym for around £1000 / $1200, or less depending on your set up and which equipment you opt for. Although this may still seem like a lot of money, it’s an investment, and if you compare that one up-front cost to a yearly gym membership (easily on average around £40/$58+ a month) you could pay your investment off in around 12 to 18 months, and after that you’ll be saving money month after month. You can then either reinvest this money into more gym equipment or spend it on something else!
Creating a home gym can be done within a fairly tight budget and can be as fancy or as simple as you like. You’ll finally be able to ditch that expensive gym membership, your equipment will be your own, you can work out any time you like and have more time and money to concentrate on other things.
Do you fancy the thought of creating your own home gym? Or maybe you have and you’re already reaping the benefits. If so, how did you do it and how much did it cost you? Let me know in the comments underneath!
Just so you know…
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