These days, more and more people are moving away from going to the gym and instead of building their own gyms at home. You may have seen some of these home gyms and they probably cost a lot. However, with a bit of knowledge, patience, and resourcefulness, you can build an adequate home gym for around $500-$1000 or even less. In this article, we will discuss different equipment and some tips and tricks that you need to create your own personal gym right at home without spending too much.
➥ Have a look at our selections, if you’re on the lookout for spin bikes for your home gym.
Essential pieces of equipment
To build an effective home gym, there are some items that you should consider buying first. Below are 5 must-have pieces of equipment that are pretty much all you need to get fit and strong. All other pieces of equipment are just a bonus.
The first thing you’ll need is a solid barbell. A 7-foot Olympic barbell enables you to do a lot of classic and popular exercises such as a squat, bench-press, deadlift, barbell row, barbell curl, and overhead press. These exercises are what everyone starts their fitness journey with, and you will probably be doing them for years. A good quality barbell will cost around $200-$300. You can get one for cheaper but spending a good amount can get you a barbell that will last for years. A standard barbell should have a 1-inch diameter in the middle, a 2-inch diameter on either side, a bushing rotation system, and knurling if needed.
Squat Rack with Pull-up Bar
Next, you should think about getting a squat rack, preferably one with an overhead pull-up bar. A squat rack allows you to handle a barbell more safely, and performing some barbell exercises would be almost impossible without one. You can choose between getting a half-rack or a full-rack. A half-rack has two columns while a full-rack has four. A half-rack takes up less space, is cheaper, and is good enough for most people. A full-rack has more attachment options, higher weight capacity, and is a bit safer to use. You can get a solid full-rack at less than $300 and a half-rack for even less.
Now you’ll want something to hang on your barbell. Weight plates come in iron or rubber (bumper plates) and can be found in weights of 45 lbs down to 2.5 lbs. For the cheapest option, go for one pair of iron plates at 45 lbs each. If your budget allows it, you can buy a set of plates with multiple weights. Bumper plates make less noise and are more floor-friendly due to the rubber. Try to get plates with handles. That way you can use them for other exercises such as kettlebell swings or ab workouts.
Having a bench opens up a lot of workout options such as bench-press, bench dips, and split squats. Since we are considering a low budget, get a regular flat bench which should cost around $50-$80 or even less. If you have the ability, then buy an adjustable bench instead which will give you more workout options. A bench should have a high weight capacity, a steel base, and good quality firm foam padding.
Collars and Spotter Arms
Finally, you will need some items for safety. Collars are used to keep plates securely on a barbell. These are generally quite cheap – a pair can be bought for less than $20. Spotter arms are something that you attach to the squat rack. We believe that these are mandatory if you want to do bench-presses. Losing control of the barbell mid-press can lead to serious injury or even death. Spotter arms will catch the barbell before it smashes into you. A pair of these will cost you 20 to 50 bucks.
At less than 10 bucks, this is probably the best value-for-money item that you can buy. To an amateur, a jump rope may not seem like much. But professional athletes can tell you about the surprising effectiveness of skipping. You can get an amazing cardio workout at both high and low intensity with a jump rope. By skipping in different ways you can also greatly improve your coordination.
Additional equipment you could add
So, you’ve had the above equipment for some time and now have enough to buy more. Or maybe you simply have a higher budget. Whatever the case, the following equipment are things that you can add to upgrade your home gym and take yourself to the next level.
Dumbbells are one of the most versatile gym equipment there is. In fact, if your budget does not allow you to buy a rack and a barbell, then dumbbells are the best option. There are more exercises than we can name that you can perform with a pair of dumbbells. You can find out about these workouts with a quick search online. Adjustable dumbbells are a great tool since you will need different weights for different exercises. The price can vary a lot, with some that are less than $50 and others that are over $300.
Attachments for Squat Rack
There are various attachments that you can mount onto the holes of a squat rack. These include a dip handle, lat pulldown handle, landmine attachment, weight horns, etc. With these, you can perform a highly varied workout and target pretty much all muscle groups.
You can always keep buying as many plates or dumbbells as you might need. This will largely depend on your goals. If you cannot reach your goals with the equipment you have, the simplest way to make it more difficult is to use heavier weights.
Resistance bands are another cheap item to use for workouts. You can use them to do exercises that would have only been possible with an expensive cable machine. They are also sometimes called pull-up bands as they can be used for assisted pull-ups. Be careful about whether you are buying a hip band instead since they look similar. Your best bet is to buy a set of 3 or 4 bands of varying thickness. The different thicknesses correspond to different difficulty levels. A typical set will cost around $30. Also, add handles and carabiner clips to use them easily.
Kettlebells, like dumbbells, are also quite a versatile piece of equipment. Plenty of effective exercises such as kettlebell swings, sumo squats, one-arm rows, etc. can be added to your routine with a single kettlebell. We recommend a kettlebell weighing 20-50 lbs which should cost less than $70.
This is a canvas or nylon cylindrical bag filled with sand or pea gravel. Sandbags are sadly among the most underestimated workout equipment. You can actually do plenty of exercises with a sandbag. The weight is also adjustable. A sandbag can cost between $30 and $80. It will be worth it to get a high-end one since cheaper ones might leak.
Stall mats made of thick rubber are important if you want to protect your floor. Heavyweights and a rack will eventually start damaging the floor. Moreover, with stall mats, you can drop a barbell harder without making much noise. The price will vary according to the size and the number of mats you buy.
Useful tips for building a budget home gym
Before you go off to buy the aforementioned equipment, we have some additional advice for you. With these methods, you can further cut down costs and be on your way on your fitness journey.
- Buy used equipment: Unless you are dead set on getting brand new stuff, always go for second-hand equipment. Most people buy a lot of equipment and end up not using them for long. You can search on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or in local garage sales. It might take some time to find the right items, but it will be worth it.
- Buy all new equipment at once: If you are getting any new equipment, then try to buy them from the same website and all at once. That way you save a handsome amount on shipping. If you don’t have enough money for this or if something is out of stock, we suggest you be patient and wait until you can make a purchase.
- Wait for deals/sales: Nowadays, plenty of offers, deals, and sales are available. It might be very much worth it to wait for something like this. With some deals, such as on Black Friday, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars.
- Build some items yourself: If you are handy with tools then you could try building DIY items yourself. With some cheap plywood boards, some power tools, and a bunch of screws, you could build things like a plyo box or plate holders. With more materials and a little creativity, you can put together with other equipment as well.
- Perform bodyweight workouts: This is especially applicable for those who are at beginner or intermediate levels. There are plenty of bodyweight workouts available online for you to follow. Most of them require little to no equipment. Even if you’re already pretty strong, there are advanced calisthenics workouts that you could try with little equipment. Some exercises like the muscle-up and the handstand push-up are extremely challenging.
➥ If you’re on a budget and plan on getting yourself a spin bike, then, we suggest you have a look at spin bikes under $500.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Is it safe to use cheap gym equipment?
Ans.: There is plenty of reasonably priced gym equipment that will also last for decades without problems. However, it’s not a good idea to be too stingy. A cheap barbell or squat rack will also be of low quality and will not last for as long as you would expect. Also, you should not take any chances since a single structural failure under high load can prove to be highly dangerous.
Q2. What should I do for cardio?
Ans.: The most cost-effective and fun way to do cardio workouts is an outdoor activity. Play a sport, go for a run, or ride a bike. You can also do at-home cardio/HIIT workouts with nothing but your own body. For those who are not too keen on doing strength training, you can instead invest in a stationary bike, rowing machine, or elliptical machine. Considering your budget is $500 and you buy a stationary bike for $200, you will still have plenty of money left over to buy some of the equipment we talked about in this article.
➥ Have a look at our selection of stationary bikes for an effective cardio session.
Q3. Is a home gym cheaper than a gym membership?
Ans.: As you can tell, you can build a high quality, effective personal gym with as low as $500. Meanwhile, the average gym membership fee is around $40-$60. This means that after less than a year, you will be saving money every month. And that’s just the financial benefit. With a home gym, you save the time it takes to go to a gym, don’t need to dress up too much, and don’t have to compete with others to use a machine. Overall, a home gym is simply more convenient.
Even though we have listed a whole bunch of equipment, you can choose to buy as much or as little as you can afford. We have simply tried to provide you with all the information that might come in handy. Ultimately, it’s up to you. It’s a great thing that you have decided to improve your fitness. Therefore, try to save up as much as possible and buy the right equipment. That way you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals sooner than you think.