If you’ve taken the decision to create your own home gym, then good on you! There are so many benefits to working out at home when compared to public gym spaces, and there is literally nothing you can’t buy instore or online to help you kit it out in a way that would rival any big commercial gym – if you wanted!
Of course when it comes to choosing the best equipment for a home gym, it really comes down to budget, space and what your overall fitness goals are. Whether you’re into indoor running or cross training, cycling, HIIT, weight training, yoga or you enjoy throwing a medicine ball around, the great thing about a home gym is that it’s yours to kit out as you please to create a space that works just for you.
Lack of money or space? No worry!
Home gym equipment doesn’t need as much room as you think and, likewise, it doesn’t need to cost as much as you might to create a gym space within your home. When putting together your workout area you really only need to purchase the equipment you’re actually going to use. If you’re spending £60 a month on a gym membership and all you use is the cross trainer and a set of dumbbells then getting those items is going to save you money within a short period of time.
By the same token, home gym equipment doesn’t need to take up as much room as you might think – there is literally nothing you can’t now buy today that doesn’t fold away or stack against a wall or in a cupboard to help save you space.
As I said, it’s down to you to kit out your home gym in a way that works for you. To help you on your way however, I’ve included below some good options of the type of equipment you may want to consider that will help save you money on expensive gym membership and have you sweating it out at home instead.
The 10 best pieces of equipment to kit out your home gym
Most of these suggestions are provided with sensitivity to space and budget in mind, however the final few are options for those with slightly more space and a bigger budget. Even if some of these won’t work for you right now, use them as motivation to help you gradually build a really impressive home gym over time.
Perhaps the staple of any gym, let alone a home gym, is a good pair of adjustable dumbbells. An obvious choice, they’re relatively inexpensive, they allow you to change the weight up or down to suit any resistance workout and they can be used for a huge variety of workouts.
When picking your dumbbells, think about what your goals are – are you training to build strength and muscle, tone and firm, increase your fitness endurance or burn fat? There are some key choices to make including what type, material, shape and weight you’ll need. You can read more about the types of dumbbells available in one of my earlier blog posts here.
If you’re into supplementing your strength training with bodyweight exercises then the pull-up is arguably the toughest bodyweight exercise you can perform. If you’re looking to improve your upper body strength then this should be one of the first bits of kit you pick up. They’re pretty cheap, from around £20/$25 for a basic bar that can be fitted inside any doorway and then stored away. To add more of a challenge you can put a dumbbell between your feet whilst performing these to really stretch those muscle fibres and work on improving that functional upper body strength.
Another staple for the home gym, especially if you’re into training with weights, is the weight bench. A good weight bench will help you perform exercises in all three key positions – standing, seated and laying down, expanding the amount of exercises you can do. And they don’t just have to be used for weights either – you can use them for bodyweight routines or add them into a rigorous cardio workout. They’re a really functional piece of equipment that will help you expand your workout options and there are many makes perfect for small home gym spaces that easily fold away after use.
A real go-to bit of kit that’s cheap and effective at helping to build muscle and strength, improving your mobility and even helping to rehabilitate post-injury. As well as being hugely functional, resistance bands are also one of the most space-saving pieces of equipment you can buy, taking up a minimal amount of space when not in use. You can purchase these from around £5 / $6 for a single band and around £20 / $25 for a set of different thicknesses to give you a variety of resistance levels. Whatever your goal – muscle and strength, cardio, endurance etc, you can fit in a multitude of workouts with these colourful bits of kit.
These hefty rubber balls have been around for centuries and come in a range of weights, shapes and size providing a great all-over body workout that adds some playful but purposeful fun to your session. The benefits of medicine ball training include building strength and power, improving your functional movements, developing balance and coordination, core strength and more. They’re a versatile and portable accessory perfect for any small home gym space that will keep challenging your body and fitness levels over and over.
If developing explosive strength and power is your goal then these really functional alternatives to dumbbells are a must-have. Often used in cross fit and other resistance-based cardio, kettlebells have been proven to improve cardiovascular health and performance as well as improving your grip strength and developing your core as well as adding some variety into your workouts. They come in a variety of different colours, weights and sizes but if you plan your workout carefully then really one good kettlebell is all you’ll need. If you don’t want to purchase both dumbbells and kettlebells but aren’t sure which may suit you and your workouts best, I’ve put together a blog post that may help you decide.
Suspension trainers can be really excellent bits of kit but you’ll need to make sure you have a sturdy anchor point for the ropes. If you do have a door, pole or ceiling that can support the weight then this is a great option to help add some instability to every exercise you do to work that core and keep you balanced, and is perfect for small home gym spaces. Perhaps the most well-known suspension trainer is the TRX training system but it’s not the only one and it’s certainly not the cheapest (starting from around £75 / $93). You can pick up cheaper alternatives from around £15 / $18 however and they’re portable which means you can take them anywhere and get in a really great workout.
You may completely dismiss the idea of buying a treadmill for your home gym – after all, running outside is free – but have you tried running outside during the winter months, when it’s cold, wet and slippery? It’s enough to stop even the most motivated among us from getting in our regular 5K. Yes treadmills are expensive (anywhere from between £500 – £1500 / $625 – $1800) and certainly not suited to all, but if all you do is run then owning your own treadmill is a much better investment than a gym membership and will pay itself off over time.
Exercise bikes are another good alternative when the weather’s not great but you want to get in your cardio hit for the day. You can purchase a great bike from under £150 / $185 so if you tend to go to the gym to spin then it might make sense to move your cycling session into the home instead. Plus you can do it in front of the TV and catch up on your favourite shows at the same time!
Another really good option for a full-body cardio workout is the rower. The very best machines can cost you around £1000 / $1250, but there are cheaper options between £300 – £600 / $375 – $750 that should satisfy even the most avid rowers. Many of these now fold up so they can be easily stowed away and take up minimal space in your home.
Of Course, This Is Just Scratching The Surface!
Obviously these are just some of the many options available to help kit out a home gym – there are literally hundreds more! It’s really important as I said at the beginning to make your home gym work for you. The great thing about a home workout space is that you have the freedom to make it any way you want – it’s entirely yours to do what you like with. No space? No problem – there are lots of options here that not only take up minimal room and can fit or fold away into a cupboard, but are also relatively inexpensive too if you’re on a tight budget. And you don’t have to kit it out with everything now. If in doubt, start small with just a few pieces, see how you get on and gradually grow and develop your home gym over time – your gym can constantly be growing and evolving – and that’s the really exciting part!
If you have a little more space and budget to play with straight off the bat, and want to take a step towards creating your own dedicated gym space with some more ‘heavy duty’ kit, then take a look at my article on How to create a home gym on a budget for some tips and recommended equipment.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and it’s given you some ideas for how you might create a gym space at home and what equipment you can fill it with. Do you have a home gym already, or are you thinking of transforming an area of your home into one? Or maybe you think home gyms are a waste of time and money and you prefer to sweat it out at your local public gym instead? I’d love to know what you think and how you prefer to workout, so drop me a comment below and let’s talk!