How to Build a Home Gym – The Ultimate Guide

1. Flooring

The first thing you want to sort out in a new Home Gym is what you will use for flooring. There are two main things you want to do here.

The first is that you want to provide a good surface for working out. And the second is that you want to protect whatever existing floor you have in your home gym

To find out more you can check out our popular article: The Best Flooring Options for Your Home Gym

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2. Racks

A typical squat rack

Your squat rack is the centerpiece to your home gym and the most important piece of equipment that you will buy.

Our Squat Rack Guides

The Best Folding Squat Racks

The Best Squat Stands For Your Home Gym

The Best Half Racks for Your Home Gym

Best Squat Racks for Your Home Gym

The Best Squat Racks at Walmart

3. Barbells

This is an empty barbell

The next thing you would need in your home gym is a decent barbell. 

Now, the problem with barbells is that they are available in a price range of $75 to $2500 or more. Of course, ‘the pricier, the better’ rule is suitable for barbells but that doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive one that you can afford. Be a smart buyer and go with a barbell that serves its purpose and suits your budget too. 

Our Barbell Guides

Best Affordable Olympic Barbells (Under $200). Most of the bars listed here are meant for beginners and casual trainers but some of them can be used by intermediates as well. 

If you already own a starter barbell and want to upgrade to something better, our list of Best Mid Range $200-500 Olympic Barbells should help you.

For advanced trainers, athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness freaks (and those who have a ridiculously high budget for a home gym), we have created a list of Best High-End ($500+) Olympic Barbells.

Specialty Barbell Guides

The 8 Best Safety Squat Bars for 2022

The Best Open Trap Bars for Your Home Gym

The Best Log Bars for Your Home Gym

The Best Rackable Curl Bars

4. Barbell Collars

These are barbell collars
These are barbell collars

These are also known as barbell clamps or clips. They are used to prevent the weight plates from sliding off the bar. 

Best Olympic Barbell Collars for 2022

5. Weights

Standard Plates

avoid standard size weight plates

Standard plates have a 1 inch diameter hole. We recommend avoiding purchasing these size plates as most people have standardize on Olympic plates.

Olympic Plates

Get as many as you can!

Olympic plates have a diameter of 2 inches and are the most common weight plates you will encounter. Many of them are simply solid pieces of iron or steel while son are in cased in a rubberized coating to help reduce the sound from impacts. Keep in mind these types are not bumper plates.

For most people we recommend purchasing your Olympic plates used. However if you must purchase them new we recommend purchasing through one of the big box stores, Walmart, or Amazon.

Bumper plates

Expensive but essential when doing olympic lifting

Bumper plates will protect your floor as well as the barbell from the impact of dropping, making them suitable for home gyms. Further, the rubber coating helps absorb the shock and vibration, making it even more suitable for home gyms upstairs.

Our bumper plate guides: 

The Best Budget Bumper Plates – Video Reviews Included

Best Competition Bumper Plates

Fractional Plates

Keep the gains train moving with fractional paltes

Also known as change plates, these types of weight plates let you make micro-increments so you don’t have to push yourself really hard to reach the next level. 

Guides

The Best Fractional Weight Plates

6. Dumbbells

For home gyms, we recommend adjustable dumbbells. You can add or remove the weights as and when needed, eliminating the need of having a bunch of them lying around your home gym floor. 

Adjustable dumbbells are more expensive than the standard ones. Plus, they are bulkier, so you need to use them carefully. Since they have breakable parts, you need to use them carefully and must not throw them. 

Our Guides

Best Adjustable Dumbbells for 2022

7. Kettlebells

Adjustable kettlebells are great for small home gyms. Most adjustable kettlebells have weight plates inside a hard plastic shell. You can add or remove weight by turning a knob, which makes it easy and really quick. 

Our Guides

7 Best Adjustable Kettlebells for Your Home Gym

The Best Walmart Kettlebells

By the way, did you know they were first used about 350 years ago? Here is a brief and interesting History of kettlebells that every fitness enthusiast should know.

8. Replacement J-hooks

Just like spotter arms, squat racks and stands also come with a pair of j-hooks or j-cups.

These are meant to hold your barbell. Many entry level squat racks come with cheap j cups and it is a good idea to replace them.

Our Guides

The Best Replacement J-Hooks to Upgrade Your Rack in 2022

9. Cardio Machines

Elliptical machines

These are one of the most popular cardio machines in gyms and home gyms. Since elliptical machines provide joint-friendly workouts, they are suitable for every member of your family. 

But, being joint-friendly doesn’t make them less effective or less challenging. Various studies have concluded that elliptical workouts are as effective as any other form of cardio workouts

Our Guides

Best Elliptical Machines for Your Home Gym

Mini Elliptical Machines

this is a mini elliptical machine
This is a mini elliptical machine

These machines were initially designed for people who have limited mobility and balance. But, soon a lot of people started using them in their office while working. 

Mini ellipticals are compact and the good ones are almost quiet. You can slide them under your desk and keep using them as and when needed. They are fantastic for people who work for long hours. 

Our Guides

The 7 Best Mini Elliptical Machines

Treadmills

Everyone knows what a treadmill is! Be sure to check out our guide below on the best you can get for home use.

Best Treadmills for Your Home Gym

Spin Bikes

Who doesn’t love cycling! It offers low-impact, high-intensity cardio workouts. Cycling is suitable for people of all ages, so why not have a spin bike in your home gym! 

Unlike treadmills and ellipticals, spin bikes do not fold up for compact storage. Rather, they require a dedicated space but they are good for improving your stamina and strength. 

Our article on Best Spin Bikes for your Home Gym lists down some of the top-rated products that provide high value for money. We have selected inexpensive as well as high-end models so the list equally caters for everyone. 

Rowing Machines

In our article on The Best Rowing Machines for Your Home Gym, we have explained the numerous benefits of rowing. We have also created a detailed rowing machine buying guide so you know how to buy the one that best suits your budget as well as your exercise needs. 

10. Lat Pulldown Machines

Obviously these machines are very specific. Lat pull downs are a fantastic exercise specially for those who can't yet do a pull up. Lat pulldown machines often also come with a horizontal row attachment as well.

You can see our guides on these below:

Best Lat Pulldown Machines for Your Home Gym

11. Small Cable Pulley Systems

These small pulley systems are fantastic for when you have a limited amount of space. You can easily throw them over your squat rack or even hang them over a door.

Check out our guides here: The 10 Best Home Gym Pulley Systems

12. Forearm Wrist Rollers

this is a forearm wrist rollers
This is a forearm wrist roller

Bulging biceps are not enough; you need strong forearms and an excellent grip too, which is why forearm wrist rollers are a good addition to home gyms: Best Forearm Wrist Rollers

13. Power Towers

this is a power tower
This is a power tower

Power towers are recommended for anyone who wants a dedicated pull up and dip station.

14. Weightlifting Belts

This is a weightlifting belt

Weightlifting belts are needed once you start lifting heavy: The Best Weightlifting Belts of 2022

15. Fat Gripz and Other Thick Grips Type Products

These are also not mandatory but if you want to take your weight training to the next level, you can add an extra layer of grip to your dumbbells, barbells, etc.

Our article on Best Thick Grips Products (Including Fat Gripz) will provide you with more details about them and why they might be helpful. It also lists down some of our recommendations. 

16. Weightlifting Shoes

Difference between weightlifting shoes and running shoes

These shoes have a firm sole and a raised heel.  Most of them also have midfoot straps that help you get a secure fit. They are strictly meant for weightlifting, not for running or walking. 

Weightlifting shoes are designed to be that way so they can help you ‘push through the floor’ and help you lift weight with greater force. The non-compressible soles of these shoes also help you feel more grounded and stable. This helps minimize the chances of injuries. 

Our Guides: 8 Best Weightlifting Shoes in 2022

17. Smith Machines?

So, we actually do not recommend Smith machines for home gyms. However if you just love them or happen to have a use case for them then we do have an article on: What Is the Best Smith Machine for a Home Gym?

18. Gymnastic Rings

Calisthenic workouts are highly recommended for small spaces and gymnastic rings can add a whole new dimension to them. They can make your bodyweight workouts as challenging as you want and you will probably never be able to outgrow them. 

Our Guide: Best Gymnastic Rings for Your Home Gym

19. Push-Up Handles

push-up bars and handles
push-up handles

These simple and inexpensive home gym accessories are meant to make it easier on your hands, arms, and shoulders to perform pushups: The Best Push-up Bars and Push-up Handles for Your Home Gym

20. Pull Up Bars

This is a pullup bar
This is a pullup bar

We love doorway, screwless ones because they neither affect the aesthetics nor do they require drilling for installation. Highly suitable for people who live in rented accommodation.

Check out these top 13 Best Doorway Pull-Up Bars That Don’t Require Screws

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why Build a Home Gym?

Well, these days there are more reasons to build your own home gym than ever.

For one thing we have a pandemic sweeping the country and according to recent information it's only going to get worse now with the Delta variant. A home gym is a fantastic way to still get your workouts in without having to go to the gym and risk your health.

Of course even before the pandemic there were a lot of great reasons to create your own home gym:

Home Gym Advantages:

  • No commute time
  • No waiting for the squat rack
  • Can curl in the squat rack without getting dirty looks
  • No distracting hot women (or men, depending on your preference)
  • Can rest as much as you want between sets
  • Can workout naked

Home Gym Disadvantages:

  • You need at least some space to have one
  • Higher upfront cost
  • Some people are not disciplined enough to work out at home
  • You lose the social aspect

How much space do you need to build a home gym?

This is the most common question that we have been asked so far. 

Until the pandemic struck the world, most people used to assume that home gyms were a luxury. But during the worldwide lockdown last year, we realized that a home gym is actually a basic necessity. Almost all of us bought some or other form of home gym products because gyms were closed and it was unsafe to go jogging or even for a walk. This one year of pandemic made us realize that it is safer to have your own workout space instead of paying a whopping amount of money on gym memberships. 

Don't have enough space? 

Don’t worry; you are not alone. 

Not many of us would be able to spare a room for building a home gym. Our garages and basements are often used for storing spare things. And not many home gym equipment are meant to be used outdoors. Further, a lot of people these days stay in apartments, where there is no scope of creating an extension. 

So, how is it possible to build a safe and fully-functional home gym? 

Well, that's challenging but doable. We have listed down some of the best small home gym ideas here. Do check them out because we are pretty sure they will help you build a small yet versatile workout space, even though you barely have a few square feet of space to spare. 

Where in your house to build a home gym?

A garage or a spare room are the obvious options you have. But, if these two are not available, you can even set up a home gym on the first or second floor of your home. 

Modern houses have a solid structure, which means they can handle more weight than what older homes used to hold. So, do not worry.

With careful planning, you will be able to create a fully functional home gym on any floor of your house. The upstairs gym wouldn’t be suitable for training with heavy weights though. 

This is the home gym that one of our members is setting up on the second floor of his home. 

A 2nd floor home gym
A 2nd floor home gym

You can even set up a small gym on your balcony, porch, or patio, which obviously means that you will have very limited space, limiting the variety of equipment that you can buy. If you have a garden, you can set up an open gym or cover it with a shed. But, please note that you won’t be able to leave most of your equipment there or else they won’t last long. 

Location Pros Cons
Garage Doesn’t take any space in the house.
Most garages have concrete floors, so no need to worry about damages. No need to worry about the safety of kids and pets. 
You will have to weather-proof it.You will have to make sure you don’t overlook it.You will have to spend money to make it look appealing. 
Spare room on the ground floor Already temperature controlled.Easy to access. You can do a quick workout even if you have just a few minutes.Already well-lit and well-decorated. Difficult to spare a room.Family will get disturbed.You will have to invest in a good-quality flooring solution. Make sure you keep it locked so kids can’t access it. 
Spare room upstairs  Same as above You have to be careful in selecting equipment that won’t damage the floor.You will have to sound-proof and vibration-proof it. 
Outdoors Best option if you don’t have spaceGet to work out in natural light and air, which helps boost mood.No need to worry about damaging the floor or disturbing family members You have very limited options as most equipment won’t last if left in open. You will have to mostly rely on bodyweight exercises. Or you may have to figure out how you will carry your equipment there and bring them back every day. 
Difficult to stay motivated. 

How much does it cost to build a home gym?

You can build your home gym for less than $100 or you can spend extravagantly and buy the best-in-class equipment, expensive audio system, etc. which could cost you more than $50,000. 

It all depends on your budget and how motivated you are. 

Budget is certainly the primary decision-making factor but we strongly suggest that you should evaluate your commitment level before spending your yearly savings (or even more) for upgrading your garage or spare room to something that will end up being a ‘rarely visited area’ of your home. 

There are a lot of affordable options

When you are trying to build a home gym, it is easy to get tempted and end up overspending on things that you may not genuinely need. For example; who wouldn't love to have a Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 barbell? It's a budget-entry from Rogue Fitness and comes with a high weight capacity, zinc coating, perfect knurling, etc. But, if you are just getting started, we suggest you should go with the Titan Fitness Economy Olympic Bar. That's because you don’t know how long and how much you are going to train with. 

What we are trying to say is, instead of buying the most expensive equipment that you can afford, go slow, and buy equipment that serve their basic purpose. 

No matter how committed you are, you will always get bored of your equipment. You can then sell them and buy something else. Plus, with a variety of equipment to use, you will definitely have something new to do every day. 

While deciding your budget, make sure you include the money you will have to spend for preparing the gym 

A lot of people overlook the money that goes into preparing the garage or room for being used for setting up the gym. 

If you are going to do even a basic level of weight training, you will have to take off your tiles and install high-quality rubber tiles or horse stall mats. You will have to soundproof the room by installing acoustic tiles on the walls so your family doesn’t get disturbed. You will have to install mirrors on the wall so you can check your form and posture while exercising. Plus, if you are building a garage gym, you will have to buy a portable air conditioner to keep yourself comfortable. 

Also, do not forget to include the cost of lights and decors that you may want to put in your gym. Very often, these small things end up costing a lot more than what your actual gym equipment would cost. 

How much money is enough though? 

These are home gym pieces of equipment
These are home gym pieces of equipment

Image source: Fixr

According to Fixr, the average cost of building a home gym ranges between $3,500 and $25000. The most expensive workout equipment are those that are meant for functional training. See the image below: 

cost of home gym pieces of equipment
cost of home gym pieces of equipment

As you can conclude from the above images, the price bracket is quite wide. Plus, almost all equipment in any price range claims to be the best in the industry. The overwhelming number of options could confuse you but make sure you always set your expectations correctly based on the price and overall customer feedback. 

For example; we recently reviewed WEIDER Platinum Squat Rack, which is one of the top-selling products on amazon. After using it for a few weeks, we found that it is highly unstable and not suitable for even an average-sized person. 

What we want to say is, always buy products from well-known brands, maybe not the high-end ones, but the ones that have a proven track record. Never fall for the cheap Chinese products as we did for the Yalasga Olympic Barbell

Don’t worry; no matter how much your budget is, you should be able to buy something decent that suits your needs. The salesman at the store would obviously try his best to convince you to go with a high-end model but that’s his strategy to meet his targets. 

You can count on us for product recommendations that suit your budget

At Home Gym Strength, we strive hard to come up with product recommendations that suit your budget as well as your workout needs. We test every product thoroughly for weeks before recommending it to you so you get the most genuine advice and product review. 

We do not even hesitate to criticize top-rated products if we find them not worthy of their price and hype. For example; although xFyro ANC Pro Earbuds promotes itself as the best earbuds with AI-enabled noise cancellation technology, we didn’t find it as good as it claims to be. Therefore, we unhesitatingly gave it a 3-star rating. 

We will never misguide you, only make a small commission. You can count on us for honest advice.