Gyms have been popular for hundreds if not thousands of years. The city-states of ancient Greece used gyms to train their populations for war, and attendance was compulsory for all able-bodied men over a certain age. Modern Greek schools are still called gymnasia.
Today’s gyms might not cater to warriors anymore, but attendance is still high. Millions of exercisers are members of gyms and regularly go to work toward their fitness goals. Some gyms are generalists, catering to average exercisers. Others are more specialist and are used by weightlifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders.
But, the popularity of gyms doesn’t mean that you have to join one to get fit, lose weight, or build muscle. In fact, there are lots of other ways and places you can work out. For example, you could go for a run or bike ride, hit the trails for a hike, or go swimming. Despite being low-tech, these workouts can be every bit as effective as going to the gym.
You could also work out at home, setting up a home gym. Contrary to popular belief, a home gym needn’t be expensive or take up a lot of space; it can be done on a budget and in a relatively small room.
In this article, we explore the benefits of setting up a home gym and outline some of the equipment you can buy to work out at home.
Setting Up A Home Gym
The Benefits of a Home Gym
There are lots of reasons that training at home can be beneficial. The top reasons for setting up a home gym include:
Availability – unlike most commercial gyms that have set opening times, your home gym is available and open 24/7. If you like to work out whenever you feel like it, you’ll enjoy the convenience of having a home gym.
Time-efficiency – going to a gym invariably means commuting. A one-hour workout could end up taking you twice as long by the time you travel to and from the gym.
Training at home means no commute, saving you precious time in the process.
Privacy – if working out in public makes you feel self-conscious, you’ll feel much more comfortable working out at home. You don’t have to dress up in the latest workout gear to train at home; just wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.
No queues for equipment – unless you go to a gym when it’s very quiet, invariably, you’re going to have to share the workout equipment with other users. You may even find that your next exercise is already busy. Training at home means you don’t have to queue for or share your equipment with anyone else.
Lower potential cost – gym memberships can be expensive, and you’ll have to keep on paying even if you don’t go. Some gyms tie you into iron-clad year-long contracts. Setting up a home gym costs money, but it’s a one-off expenditure. Once you’ve bought your home gym equipment, you won’t need to pay any ongoing fees. This will probably be a long-term saving.
Music – most gyms play music the whole time they are open, and that music is not always to everyone’s taste. You’re the DJ in your home gym, so it’s up to you what music you play. Or, if you prefer, you can work out in silence. You’re the boss, and it’s your choice.
What Is the Best Equipment for A Home Gym?
Consider the following criteria before buying equipment for a home gym. This will help you avoid buying anything you don’t need or that isn’t suitable for your workouts.
Space – make sure that you’ve got room to use whatever equipment you’re thinking of buying. For example, treadmills are big, and you might not have space for much else if you add one to your home gym. In contrast, a jump rope is much smaller and doesn’t require a dedicated workout space. Also, consider how you’re going to install whatever you’ve bought. That bargain bench might not even fit through your front door!
Your goals – if you want to burn fat and get fit, you’ll need different equipment compared to someone who wants to build muscle or get stronger. Build your home gym to match your training goals. There is no point in buying an exercise bike if you’re going to spend most of your time lifting weights.
Longevity – buy cheap, buy twice, or so the saying goes. Make sure that whatever you buy will last. Also, make sure it’s not something that you’ll outgrow. A 10lb kettlebell might seem like a good purchase, but you’ll soon need to replace it as you get stronger and fitter.
Versatility – avoid buying big or expensive items of workout equipment that serve just one purpose. Instead, look for things you can use for a variety of exercises, making your money go further, and saving space in the process. A sit-up bench might seem like a good idea, but something like a stability ball has more uses and not just sit-ups.
Budget – don’t spend thousands of dollars on equipment that you might not use or that you end up not enjoying. Also, don’t feel you have to buy all your workout gear at once. Build your home gym gradually, buying more equipment only when you need or can afford it. Initially, you will probably be able to get by with a few basic items. Set a sensible budget and stick to it.
Environment – make sure your workouts are as comfortable as possible by setting up your home gym in a well-lit, well-ventilated room. Also, make sure your floor is strong enough to support the extra weight of any equipment you buy. Finally, make sure your workout won’t disturb your neighbors or the people you live with.
With all this in mind, good equipment for home gyms include:
- Abs roller
- Adjustable barbells
- Adjustable dumbbells
- Ankle/wrist weights
- Doorway pull-up bar
- Exercise mats
- Foam roller
- Jump rope
- Medicine balls
- Pull-up/dip power tower
- Punchbag and gloves
- Resistance bands
- Spin bike
- Stability ball or BOSU
- Squat rack
- Suspension trainer, e.g., TRX
- Weight training bench
- Weighted vest
You don’t need all this equipment to make a useable home gym. In fact, you don’t need anything more than an exercise mat if you want to do yoga or calisthenic exercises. But, a few well-chosen pieces of equipment will add variety to your workouts. After all, you’ll soon get bored if all you do is push-ups and downward dogs!
How Much Does It Cost to Set Up A Home Gym?
You can set up a home gym for as little as $100 or spend $10,000 or more – it all depends on how well equipped you want it to be.
For example, you could jump rope for cardio and use resistance bands for strength training, or you could buy a treadmill, freeweights, and a multi-purpose strength training cable machine.
More expensive equipment doesn’t mean better workouts.
As amazingly complex and adaptable as your body is, it cannot differentiate between doing push-ups for free and lifting state-of-the-art (and expensive) selectorized dumbbells.
Low-tech, budget-friendly workout options can be every bit as effective as more expensive equipment when your workouts are hard and consistent.
Don’t feel you have to buy new home gym equipment, either. There is a good market for secondhand gym equipment, as many people buy things like bikes, weights, and treadmills and then decide they don’t want them.
Check out the want ads in your local paper, look at Facebook Marketplace, and look on Craig’s List for workout equipment bargains.
Setting up a home gym doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, you can create a great home gym without spending much at all. Shop around for bargains, and don’t feel that you have to start your home gym with a room full of equipment. Buy a little at a time to spread the cost.
If you want to work out but don’t have the time to travel to a commercial gym, a home gym could be your next best option. As well as saving you time, home workouts are often more convenient, as you can train at whatever time suits you best; home gyms never close!
You don’t need to spend a fortune setting up a home gym. In fact, if this is your first foray into home training, it’s better to stick with budget-friendly options until you’re sure that you want to commit fully to home exercise. A few resistance bands, a jump rope, and an exercise mat are really all you need to get started.
Whatever you want to train for, you can probably do it at home. The hardest thing to do is bodybuilding and powerlifting type workouts, as you need access to lots of heavy weights. However, even then, if you’ve got a garage to train in, you have all the space you need for barbells, dumbbells, and a squat rack and bench.
On the downside, working out at home can be lonely, and you may miss the camaraderie of working out with other people around. You also won’t have access to such a wide range of equipment. But, if you enjoy solitary workouts and are happy with a no-frills approach to exercise, you’ll probably appreciate working out in your home gym.