Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Gym

Create an oasis of fitness at home that matches your space, style — and salary.

Let’s face it — the gym isn't for everyone, and if you’re not a fan of crowds, packed parking lots or equipment christened by other people’s sweat, training at home could be your dream come true. The good news is that building a decent home gym is easier than ever, and the key to creating the perfect training space is selecting the equipment that best suits your goals, your space and your budget.

Check out these four spatial scenarios and their associated equipment suggestions. Then mix and match the gear from any of them to create a gym perfectly tailored for you. Hello instant workouts, goodbye excuses!

woman kettlebell workout

The Tiny House

Whether you literally live in a dollhouse on wheels or a studio apartment, you need to equip your space carefully to ensure that your gear doesn’t double as furniture. Portable, multifunctional equipment is best here so you can set up anywhere and get your sweat on.

Space-Saving Superstars

Suspension Trainer

A suspension trainer leverages your own bodyweight for resistance, and simply changing your angle or body position can modify any exercise to make it harder or easier. And because the trainer is just a simple set of straps and handles, it hardly takes up any square footage in a drawer or cabinet.

Resistance Bands

No room for a rack of dumbbells? Then invest in a set of resistance bands. They are cheap and versatile and can be used in place of dumbbells or barbells for just about every move you can think of. Purchase a few different “weights” to give yourself options during training.

jump rope

Jump Rope

Not everyone has the space (or the money) for a treadmill or elliptical trainer, but truth be told, you don’t need a machine to get your sweat on. Jumping rope is one of the most time- and space-efficient ways to burn a ton of calories while building endurance and cardiovascular fortitude.

Sample Tiny House Setup*

Total Investment: $400-500

* All prices are estimates; cost will vary by brand.

Mobility/Strength Mash-Up

Either perform this workout using straight sets to build strength or create a heart-pumping circuit by doing the moves back-to-back with no rest in between for two to three rounds.

ExerciseSetsReps/Time

Banded Bird Dog

2-3

10-15 (each side)

Kettlebell Lateral Lunge to Press

2-3

10-15 (each side)

TRX Row

2-3

10-15

Kettlebell Reverse Lunge to Windmill Press

2-3

10 (each side)

TRX Atomic Push-Up

2-3

10-15

Jump Rope

2-3

30-60 seconds

woman doing abs on stability ball

The Suburbanite Setup

Out in the ’burbs, you have a little more room to kick around, and here a guest room or den can easily double as your workout space. In addition to being able to house all the suggested Tiny House gear, you are more at liberty to expand your equipment horizons. However, your space still needs to be multifunctional and neat with equipment that can be collapsed or hidden away when company calls.

Hideaway Heroes

Foldable Bench

Unless you’re planning on using your flat bench for extra seating at the dinner table, you’ll want to be able to stash it when your in-laws are in town. Most foldable benches collapse completely flat and can be rolled underneath a bed or hidden in the back of a closet.

parallel training bars

Parallel Training Bars

Though they look simple, a set of parallel bars can be used for hundreds of strength moves, and they are appropriate for exercisers of all levels. Perform moves such as dips, push-ups, L-sits and leg raises, as well as stretches and mobility training.

Dial-a-Dumbbell

If you don’t have the wall space to house a bulky rack of weights, then an adjustable dumbbell set is a must-have. This system allows you to change your weight up or down in increments, and when not in use, it can be stashed in the corner without

Sample Suburbanite Setup

Total Investment: $1,375

At-Home HIIT

Perform as many reps as you can of each move in 30 seconds and rest minimally between exercises. Cycle (or do another form of cardio) for five minutes at a moderately intense pace, then rest one minute. Complete two to three rounds.

ExerciseTime

Lateral Dumbbell Step-Up to Overhead Press

30 seconds

Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press

30 seconds

Dumbbell Rear-Leg Elevated Split Squat

30 seconds

Bent-Over Two-Arm Dumbbell Row

30 seconds

Stability-Ball Hamstring Curl

30 seconds

Cycle

5 minutes

Rest

1 minute

Garage Girl

Let’s face it — no one uses their garage for cars anymore, and besides, who doesn’t want the kind of fitness space that spills out into the driveway and makes the neighbors jealous? With this setup, you bring some of the niceties of a commercial facility into your own domain and will never have to share a chalk-crusted power rack again.

Great Garage Gear

CrossFit Home Gym Package

Even if you’re not into CrossFit WODs, a setup such as this delivers all the equipment bells and whistles in a single package, and usually at a lower price point than if you were to purchase all the items separately. Depending on the company, a package might include barbells, a rack, bumper plates, a rowing machine, a climbing rope, rings, medicine ball(s) and more.

gym flooring

Flooring

Whether you used to have cars in there or not, most garage floors are less than pristine, with oil stains, outdoor grime and (yipe!) spiders. A puzzle-piece rubberized floor is easy to install, allowing you to rise above the grit while also giving you the option of easy removal if you decide your car indeed needs shelter.

Plyometric Box

A solid plyo box is an incredible in-home tool and can be used to train your whole body with or without weight. Step-ups, dips, box jumps and endless plyometric drills are at your fingertips.

Vision Bored

When choosing a large piece of equipment such as a stationary bike, treadmill or rowing machine, consider the footprint (how much space it will take up), whether it can be easily accessed for maintenance or adjustments, and what is in your line of sight when you use it. Because it won't matter how many bells and whistles it has if all you have to look at is a blank wall.

Sample Garage Girl Setup

ItemPriceWebsite

Foldable Wall-Mount Rack

$500

roguefitness.com

CrossFit Home Gym Package (includes barbell, plate set, Concept2 Rower, climbing rope, rings, medicine ball, slam ball, 5 kettlebells, AbMat)

$2,725

roguefitness.com

Plyometric Box

$135

roguefitness.com

Superbands (Pull-Up Package)

$70

roguefitness.com

Rogue Echo Bike

$800

roguefitness.com

Gym Flooring

$1,000 - $1,500

rubberflooringinc.com

Total Investment: $5,230 - $5,730

At-Home AMRAP

After a thorough warm-up, complete as many rounds and reps as possible (AMRAP) of the following workout in 25 minutes. Record your score and try to beat it next time.

ExerciseSets

Overhead Barbell Squat

5

Burpee

10

Strict Pull-Up

5

Kettlebell Swing

10

Toes-to-Bar

5

woman riding stationary bike

The She Shed

If you’re lucky enough to have a no-limit budget, get your gym out of the house and into its own space. This custom setup includes state-of-the-art equipment that collects all your metrics, integrating on-demand boutique studio classes (such as those offered by Peloton and Technogym) and your own biostats to help you maintain motivation and track your progress.

The Bells and Whistles

Peloton Bike

Peloton Bike

Enjoy the intensity and camaraderie of a group fitness class — without leaving your home. Peloton offers more than 90 live weekly classes that range from five to 90 minutes and that are led by some of the most popular instructors around. See your realtime metrics, such as heart rate, cadence and output, and then compare them with others who are virtually working out with you.

Multifunction Machine

There are a bevy of options (and price points) for this kind of equipment, so look for a product that allows you to perform a multitude of your favorite exercises. If you can see the machine in person, test it out and make sure everything locks securely and that all moving parts glide smoothly.

Skillrun Treadmill

This incredible piece of equipment gives you a treadmill, a sled and a parachute trainer all in one. It provides guided workouts and a large touch screen, and an easy-to-reach toggle makes increasing and decreasing speed and intensity a snap.

Sample She Shed Setup

ItemPriceWebsite

Skillrun Treadmill

$10,000+

Peloton Works Package

$2,500 (membership not included)

onepeleton.com

Dumbbell Set and Rack

$900

fitnessfactory.com

Multifunction Smith/Cable Machine

$6,100

tuffstufffitness.com

Adjustable Bench

$330

bowflex.com

Rubberized Plate Set

$575

yorkbarbell.com

Medicine-Ball Set and Rack

$640 (8 balls, 6-20 lb)

performbetter.com

BOSU Elite Balance Trainer

$200

bosu.com

Yoga Mat, Blocks, Foam Rollers, Resistance Bands

$150 - $200

performbetter.com

Gym Flooring

$1,000 - $2,000

rubberflooringinc.com

Total Cost: $22,395 - $23,515

Killer Conditioning

Choose a light to moderate weight for the strength moves, and work at 70 to 75 percent max effort during the cardio intervals. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between strength moves, and complete the workout two times through.

ExerciseReps/Time

Cable Single-Legged Deadlift to Row

15 (each side)

Cable Squat to Woodchop

15 (each side)

Treadmill Run

5 minutes

Cycle

5 minutes

Smith-Machine Hip Thrust

15

Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

15

Treadmill Run

5 minutes

Cycle

5 minutes

Medicine-Ball V-Up

15

BOSU Side Shuffle

30 seconds

Treadmill Run

5 minutes

Cycle

5 minutes

Urban Outfitter

Want to outfit your home gym like a pro? Come to the IDEA World Convention July 8-12, 2020, in Anaheim, California, to test-drive the latest and greatest in fitness equipment on the expo floor! ideafit.com

woman working out in home gym

Making the Grade

Fitness equipment comes in different “grades” based on how much it is going to be used, and most large companies make multiple versions of the same piece: home, light commercial and full commercial. Home-grade equipment is typically the cheapest and will withstand consistent use by one or two people, at most. The light commercial version is more reliable and will have the sturdier feel of a piece you’d find at your local gym or box. A full commercial piece is an absolute necessity for anyone planning on having multiple people use it throughout the day — for example, if you’re setting up a small studio to train clients or have a number of friends chipping in on it.

Also, beware of the crappy stuff. “The biggest mistake people make when buying equipment online is not knowing the quality of the source,” says Ron Martin, sales manager at FitOne Fitness. Purchase from companies with a reputable name in the commercial and studio gym settings, even if you’re buying the home version of their gear. If you already train at a gym, you will recognize the more reputable names such as Precor, Life Fitness, Freemotion, Hammer Strength, York, Rogue, Perform Better and TRX. If it’s been a while since you had a membership and you’re unsure what is best at present, consult a specialized fitness equipment store and sales staff (steer clear of big chains) to steer you in the right direction, or attend a fitness conference expo and try

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