Going to a brick and mortar gym may not be the best option for everyone, and for several reasons. For starters, it is not convenient, expensive both in terms of gym fees and fuel costs to get there, crowded and needless to say the equipment available can be a hit or miss.
And sometimes, you may find it more motivating when working out by yourself in the comfort of your home, where you don’t have to wipe up puddles of sweat, or wait tirelessly for the squat rack to be free.
Building a home gym is an excellent solution to all the aforementioned woes, and the possibilities are literally endless.
If you want to do much more than basic bodyweight exercises, read on for our step-by-step guide on building the best home gym and what exercise equipment you need for a good overall workout.
Key reasons why you need a home gym
We’ve already mentioned some of the reasons earlier, but if you’re still not over the fence, here are a few more!
First things first – a home gym isn’t a must, if you want to lose weight and/or gain muscle mass. But it will sure as heck be a motivating factor, and you’ll be able to properly train every muscle in your body if you choose the right essential equipment.
Furthermore, a home gym in essence is not just a place for working out, but does much more than that – including:
- Lack of excuses to workout
- Allows you to be close to your family
- Improves the way you look, resulting in greater self-esteem
- Allows you to workout more often
- Allows you to experiment with your own workouts
- No time wasted during workout
We could go on and on about the advantages of a home gym, but bottomline is that you get way more back than what you put in, and it even allows you to train with people you love – family, friends, neighbors. And nobody have to subscribe for a membership!
In fact, experts believe that training with your friends or family can have a positive influence on you and affect your personal motivation. But that’s not all, training with your partner or spouse can also improve your relationship. At this point, you may be wondering if a home gym is cheaper than a commercial gym, and here’s the lowdown:
A home gym can save you big money.
Gym membership fees can vary greatly across locations, but the average cost in the United States is $58 per month, or $696 per year. Sure, many commercial gyms offer a long list of perks compared to a home gym such as hot tubs (that may or may not be properly cleaned), and cardio rooms (with more people socializing and watching TV than doing actual workouts). Basically, what you’re paying for in exchange for gym fees is a place to workout.
We’re not going to sugar-coat anything here, but a home gym does certainly entail more upfront costs, but over the long term it’s a much better investment than a gym membership.
Many people start with the basic equipment they need, and then upgrade/add to it as time goes by. We’re going to talk about the essential equipment for building a home gym later in this guide, so make sure you read on.
Even with the basic equipment, the list of workouts you can do is extensive, and works out to be much cheaper than a roughly $700 annual gym membership fee over a period of 10 years.
The upfront costs for a home gym can be lower if you choose to buy used equipment, but then you’ll have no warranty and you don’t know how the equipment has been used and maintained by the previous owner.
List: Exercise equipment needed for overall workouts at home
We’ve curated a list of the most important equipment needed for overall workouts at a home gym. So, before you get started building, make sure your list contains this (or similar) equipment, so your workouts aren’t in vain.
1. A full portable home gym (for warmups and travels)
Our top pick: BodyBoss 2.0 Portable Gym
If you’re a fitness enthusiast looking to build muscle and shed calories on the go, then the BodyBoss 2.0 – Full Portable Home Gym is definitely worth a second look. Just like the name suggests, this compact home gym allows you to perform a wide assortment of key exercises wherever you see fit, including exercises for the upper and lower body.
It can be ordered in a wide range of colors such as blue, gold and green, and boasts a lightweight and compact design. Further, it comes with a collapsible workout bar, and wrist ankle straps, which collectively provide you with access to over 300 exercises that you would perform just like in a commercial gym, albeit without the membership fees.
The BodyBoss 2.0 portable home gym features a fold up platform, which makes it easy to adjust the difficulty of exercises, resulting in a highly motivated workout. It comes with everything you need to get started right out of the box including a collapsible workout bar, wrist/ankle straps, a set of resistance bands, handles, fold up VectorFit base, and instruction manual.
You may also want to look into getting a pair of resistance bands, to increase to options of working out wherever you want.
- Lightweight and compact
- Collapsible workout bar
- Ability to perform exercises for upper and lower body
- Several colors available
- Includes fold up VectorFit base
- Connecting/disconnecting devices and bands may take time
2. An exercise mat
Our top pick: BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat
The BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat is a great addition to any home gym, and for several great reason. It consists of 12 tiles, and a total of 24 end borders that collectively span 48 square feet, where each tile measures 24″x24″x1/2″. Adding to this, it is made from high quality, dual sided slip resistant high density EVA foam, and is 1/2” inch thick.
This exercise mat is available in a choice of three exciting colors – black, blue and grey, making it easy to match it with your overall home gym décor. Further it showcases unmatched resilience, making it easy to maintain your balance during exercises. The BalanceFrom Puzzle exercise mat is backed by moisture resistant technology, so you can wash it easily with soap and water without causing any damage.
It is easy to assemble, thanks to its interlocking feature, and is extremely lightweight at just 8 lbs, making it easy to haul around in the go. The BalanceFrom Puzzle exercise mat is backed by a two year warranty against any manufacturer defects, so you can buy with the confidence knowing that it will last you several years to come with proper care.
- Made from high density EVA foam
- 3 colors available
- Great resilience
- 2 year warranty
- Moisture resistant technology
- Some pieces may have slightly different thickness
3. A multifunctional dip station
Our top pick: RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE Power Tower Workout Dip Station
Dips are an essential exercise for both novice and seasoned fitness fanatics, and the RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE Power Tower Workout Dip Station allows you to perform them right in the comfort of your home. It showcases a sturdy stainless steel construction, and can handle weight up to an impressive 330 lbs.
Furthermore, it stays securely in place with its onsite suction cups, making it stable and safe to use. Speaking of safety, the Power Tower by RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE is fitted with a safety lock nut, which prevents the nut from falling off in the event of vibration. The height of this dip station is adjustable on the fly between 58.5 – 89′, so it can be used by all members of your family.
In terms of comfort, the RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE dip station doesn’t fall short with its integrated plush padded back cushion, which can be adjusted between four different levels. It can be used for several exercise routines including building triceps, chest and shoulders, and is backed by a one year warranty on the main frame.
- Stainless steel construction
- 330 lbs weight capacity
- Stays in place with suction cups
- Adjustable height
- One year warranty
- Limited to 1 color option
4. An olympic bar
Our top pick: CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar
If lifting weights is part of your exercise regime, the CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar will definitely prove beneficial for your home gym. It is crafted from solid rolled steel, and topped with a bright zinc finish. The CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar measures 2200mm (86. 61in) in length, sleeve length of 16. 35 inches, 51. 5” shaft length, and weighs just 44 lbs.
Furthermore, it is fitted with five needle bearings for smooth rotation of the sleeve when lifting. Adding to this, the CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar features dual knurl masks on the center and side, which collectively provide a non-slip grip. It can accommodate weight with a 2-inch center hole, making it a perfect fit for olympic weights.
The CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar is an ideal choice for cross training, or full body workouts that target specific muscle groups to strengthen and build mass. It is brought to you by one of the pioneers in the fitness industry, and is backed by an unmatched five year warranty against any manufacturer defects.
- Made from solid rolled steel
- Bright zinc finish
- 2-inch center hole
- Non-slip grip
- 5 year warranty
- May be challenging to find the grip spacing
5. A battle rope (for warmups and cardio workout)
Our top pick: POWER GUIDANCE Battle Rope
The POWER GUIDANCE Battle Rope can be ordered in a wide range of sizes including 40 feet and 50 feet, and is covered with nylon sleeves to protect it from friction, and to enhance its service life. It is made from 100 percent dacron, which is much more durable and heavier compared other cheap products that are generally made from a mix of PolyPro and PolyDac materials.
The POWER GUIDANCE Battle Rope is equipped with 7.5-inch heat shrink grips, which as you may have guessed provides the right amount of protection for your hands. Another noteworthy feature of the POWER GUIDANCE Battle Rope is its three-strand twisted design, which makes it a great choice for those just getting their feet wet with rope training.
The POWER GUIDANCE Battle Rope is an ideal choice for beginners, intermediates and pros, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The shrink caps on each end, which help retain its shape, and protect your hands during use. The package also includes a battle rope anchor to clip the rope to any wall.
- Available in different sizes
- Made from 100 percent dacron
- 7.5-inch heat shrink grips
- Three-strand twisted design
- Ideal for newbies, intermediates and pros
- Does not come with a carrying case/bag
6. A punching bag (for stress relief… and cardio workout)
Our top pick: Ringside Muay Thai Punching Heavy Bag
The Ringside Muay Thai Punching Heavy Bag is geared towards amateur and professional boxers, and is made from resilient power hide material. Hence, it is strong enough to sustain your powerful assaults in both your home or even in a commercial gym. The Ringside Muay Thai Punching Heavy Bag is filled up to 100 lbs, and measures 13 inches x 72 inches.
It is a great choice for all types of contact sport athletes including boxing and MMA, or even those who just want to practice footwork, kicks and punches. The Ringside Muay Thai Punching Heavy Bag allows you to build tone, condition and strength, and also works great for aerobic workouts.
- Made from power hide material
- Filled up to 100 lbs
- Measures 13 inches x 72 inches
- Can be used in home and commercial gyms
- Great for MMA and Boxing
- Does not come with bottom strap
7. A set of adjustable dumbbells
Our top pick: Bowflex SelectTech 552
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 comes with a set of two dumbbells, where each one can be adjusted between 5 – 52.5 lbs. Furthermore, they can also be adjusted in 2.5 lbs increments up to the first 25 lbs, which gives you more control over your workouts. This set of dumbbells lets you switch easily from one exercise to the next, allowing you to complete your workout sessions quickly and effectively.
Each dumbbell combines 15 sets of weight into a single one with the help of an industry leading and unique dial system. One of the biggest reasons the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbell set makes a great addition to any home gym is owing to its space saving qualities, because you don’t need to buy additional dumbbells to pump the same amount of weight.
Each metal plate in the dumbbell set features a durable molding, which allows you to lift them smoothly and quietly. To use the dumbbells for a wide range of exercises, you can download the Bowflex SelectTech app, and follow professional trainer workouts, and even log or create your own workouts. This dumbbell set comes with a two year manufacturer warranty on the weight’s parts and plates.
Make sure you also check out our buying guide for beginner-friendly adjustable dumbbells.
- Adjustable between 5 to 52.5 pounds
- Durable molding around metal plates
- Can be adjusted in 2.5 lbs increments
- Space saving design
- 2-year manufacturer warranty
- May be slightly bulky for some users
8. A rowing machine
Our top pick: Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine
The Stamina 35-1215 orbital rowing machine is a great way to get a satisfying cardio workout albeit without leaving your home. It is equipped with a plush padded seat, and pivoting foot planes, resulting in a comfortable workout experience. Additionally, the handles of this orbital rowing machine are fitted with rubberized grips to enhance its overall comfort during use.
With regards to dimensions, the Stamina 35-1215 rowing machine measures 48 inches long x 32.5 inches wide x 27.75 inches high when fully assembled, making it a great fit for moderately tight spaces. It offers a full motion rowing experience, similar to rowing on water, and offers smooth hydraulic cylinder resistance, coupled with adjustable tension controls.
Furthermore, the Stamina 35-1215 rowing machine is appointed with a single button display, which indicates speed, distance, time, calories burned among others. The Stamina 35-1215 rowing machine is easy to assemble, and comes with an industry leading warranty on its frame and 90 days on parts.
- Plush padded seat
- Great for tight spaces
- Hydraulic cylinder resistance
- Single button display
- 5 year warranty on frame and 90 days on parts
- Some assembly required
9. An adjustable weight bench
Our top pick: Fitness Reality 1000 Super Max Weight Bench
For a weight bench you can rely on through most hard core workouts, the Fitness Reality 1000 Super Max weight bench won’t disappoint. It showcases a unique triangular support structure for unmatched bench strength, and is made from robust powder coated tubular steel.
Furthermore, this weight bench can handle up to 800 lbs weight, making it a great choice for light and heavy users. Moving on, the Fitness Reality 1000 Super Max weight bench is fitted with a 12-inch-wide, 1.75-inch-thick foam padded backrest, which can be adjusted between twelve positions. including -20 degree decline to +80 degree incline angles.
Apart from the backrest, the leg hold down of the 1000 Super Max weight bench can also be adjusted between three positions, and front leg between two positions. This upgraded model comes with a 2 inch wider seat, and can be folded for easy storage. It measures 51 inches L x 23.5 inches W x 9 inches H, and comes with wheels for easy transportation.
- Powder coated tubular steel
- 800 lbs weight capacity
- Adjustable backrest and front leg
- Padded backrest
- Onsite wheels
10. A yoga mat (for yoga, stretching, workouts)
Our top pick: Gorilla Mats Premium Large Yoga Mat
The Gorilla Mats yoga mat measures 84″ long x 60″ wide x 8mm thick, and is available in a choice of three exciting colors: Acai purple, oasis blue, and onyx black. This generously spaced mat is an idea choice for any type of meditation, yoga poses, stretches and light cardio workouts.
It features an 8mm high density double thick padding, which provides the right amount of support for your knees and joints. Adding to this, it can be used on hard surfaces as well without causing strain on your body including tile, concrete or hardwood floors.
The Gorilla Mats yoga mat showcases a double sided design, where one side features a textured and sticky, non-slip top, and other with a circle pattern to prevent the mat from sliding around.
Included in the package is a premium quality 100 percent microfiber towel to get rid of the moisture, and two Velcro straps to roll the mat up for easy storage. This yoga mat from Gorilla Mats is backed by a 100 percent lifetime warranty against any manufacturer defects.
If you’re rather looking for a small travel-friendly yoga mat, check out our buying guide for foldable travel yoga mats.
- Dual sided design and 3 colors available
- 8mm high density padding
- Comes with microfiber towel and Velcro straps
- Lifetime warranty
- Can be used on hard surfaces
- May not be suitable for dropping weights
11. A treadmill
Our top pick: NordicTrack T Series Treadmill
The NordicTrack T Series treadmill offers you an interactive personal training experience right in the comfort of your home. It provides you with firsthand access to an interactive trainer, and a wide range of studio workout programs.
Furthermore, it is powered by a smart response motor, which provides effective interval, speed and endurance training. The NordicTrack T Series treadmill is equipped with a 20-inch x 55-inch tread belt, and can handle up to 300 lbs user weight.
It features a 5” backlit iFit display, smart OneTouch speed control, which allows you to adjust your incline and speed when connected to a compatible Bluetooth device, auxiliary music port and two-inch speakers. Adding to this, the NordicTrack T Series treadmill boasts a space saving design, and can be folded up easily for storage, thanks to its EasyLift Assist system.
You may also want to check out our buying guide for compact treadmills, if you’re specifically looking for a solution that fits a small space.
- 300 lbs weight capacity
- Access to interactive trainer
- 20-inch x 55-inch tread belt
- OneTouch speed control, music port and speakers
- EasyLift Assist system for easy storage
- Requires iFit activation/subscription
How to Find the Best Overall Exercise Equipment for the Home Gym
Before investing in home gym equipment, it is important to consider the following factors to ensure you buy the right equipment for your needs.
Space – first and perhaps most important thing to determine is the space you can allocate for your home gym equipment. The last thing you want to do is exercise in a cramped space, and taking measurements will also give you an idea of how much equipment you can fit comfortably in the area.
At the very least you should free up 100 square feet of space, preferably a separate room. Read more about how much space you need for a home gym.
Planning – one of the most important steps, is to plan your workout. You need to do a good amount of research to figure out exactly what kind of equipment you need, because some times the overall equipment is not enough – or you might have special needs, which again require special equipment.
Consult your physiotherapist if you need advice on specific workouts or equipment that suit your personal situation.
We’ve also gathered some tips on how to plan a home gym in a separate article.
Equipment – when choosing the best home gym equipment, you literally have many different types to choose from. But great chances are that you will seldom need to use all of them. For this reason, it is a good idea to make a list of exercises you’re going to perform, and then buy equipment to suit your needs.
Hint: It’s always a great idea to have AT LEAST two types of methods available for each exercise, so you don’t get stuck in the exact same pattern week after week.
Warranty – home gym equipment is not something you should have to replace often, so its best to buy the best quality that’s safe to use from the get go, and preferably equipment that comes with some type of manufacturer warranty.