How To Build A Home Gym

by fitness journalist

How To Build A Home Gym

Your 101 Guide To Building A Badass Home Gym On Any Budget

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Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could lose fat, build muscle, get stronger, run further or achieve any other fitness goal from the comfort of your own home?

While it may seem like a dream, it is, in fact, a reality.

For one reason or another, many people can’t or don’t want to join a gym. Maybe they feel intimidated or the gym is too far from where they live. Whatever the reason, if joining a gym isn’t an option, the next best bet is creating a gym within the comfort of your own home.

And the good news is that no matter your budget, you have many options for building a home gym that will help you achieve all your health and fitness goals.


1 . Home Gym Considerations

There are several factors you need to consider before beginning to build your ultimate workout setup. In order to make sure your money is going to be well spent, you need to consider a few key things. 

Your Goals

First and foremost, the equipment you’re going to purchase is going to depend on your goals. Given that you’re going to be investing your hard-earned money, you want to make sure your home gym equipment is in line with what you want to achieve.

Pieces of strength training equipment like barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells can help you achieve many different fitness goals. This is because strength training can assist you in things such as losing fat, gaining muscle and becoming a better runner. Strength training is great for not only maintaining and increasing muscle mass but improving joint strength and flexibility, increasing bone density, slowing the aging process, and helping stave off many age-related diseases.

Improving your overall strength should definitely be a priority regardless of your specific goals and owning strength training equipment should remain an important focus when building your home gym.

If your goal is to lose fat, your home gym should primarily revolve around resistance training equipment such as barbells and dumbbells. The reason for this is that while you are in the process of losing weight, maintaining your muscle mass should be a priority. Muscle helps keep your metabolism elevated, so keeping as much muscle as possible will allow you to eat plenty of nutritious food. And muscle is what is going to give you that great physique and help you look great naked.

Cardio equipment pieces like treadmills and stationary bikes are good tools for fat loss, but they should only be included if you have the extra money for them, as you are going to get a lot more benefits out of resistance training equipment and there are other ways to get your heart rate up during your workout. 

Obviously, if you want to build muscle, you need to lift weights. And the best way to do this is to own a good mix of barbells and dumbbells. Building muscle can be a difficult work-intensive process, so you want to make sure you have the equipment needed to push through plateaus and maximize your gains. The more equipment you have in your home gym, the better. This will allow you to vary your training and help you target and stimulate your muscles in the best and most effective ways.

If your goals are geared towards the aerobic end of the fitness spectrum and you are into endurance sports such as running or cycling, it makes sense to purchase equipment that is going to help you build your cardio and improve your endurance.

It’s true that if you want to run, all you need is a good pair of shoes and you can do it outside. But if you have the extra money, it would probably make sense to invest in a treadmill or stationary bike, especially if you live in a place where it gets cold during a few months out of the year. However, this doesn’t mean you should forgo strength training equipment altogether. Cross-training is also an important aspect of reaching your aerobic goals.

The Amount Of Space You Have

Once you know what your goal is, you’ll want to consider how much space you have available. The more space you have, the more equipment you’re going to be able to purchase.

Ideally, you’d want to have a room or at least part of a room to devote to your home gym. A better option would be a basement or garage (if your wife lets you). As a last resort, you can always store your home gym equipment in your garage, pull it out and do your workout in your driveway.

However, if you don’t have a lot of space (say you’re sharing the living room, an office, a bedroom or you live in an apartment), you’re going to want to focus on equipment that gives you the biggest bang for your buck and start with basics such as dumbbells and a bench.

You also need to consider ways to limit noise and think of the layout of your home. Weights can make a lot of noise, so, if possible, you’ll want to try and find a spot where you won’t disturb the whole house. Using mats and bumper plates instead of standard iron plates can help reduce noise. Also, weights and machines are heavy so you need to think about the structure of your house. Concrete floors such as the ones that can be found in garages or basements are going to be the best option, and they can withstand a lot more activity than the rest of your home.

Lastly, the more equipment you want or need, the more room you’ll need as well. Make sure you have the space to accommodate the type of home gym you want to build.

Your Budget

Of the three considerations, this is probably the most important one because it dictates the type of home gym you can afford. However, if you haven’t figured out your goals or you haven’t given much thought to your space and layout, you may end up wasting money on equipment that won’t work for what you want.

Foregoing a gym membership can come with a pretty high cost upfront. Fortunately, there are options for any budget.

2. Building Your Home Gym 

The Starter Kit — Under $200

With the starter kit, you are going to want to focus on the absolute basics. These are going to be the pieces of equipment that give you the biggest bang for your buck. They will help you burn fat, get stronger and even build some muscle if that’s your goal.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have much space, these are the pieces of equipment you’ll want to spend your money on first.

50-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell Set

This 50-pound adjustable dumbbell set is great for getting started. It will allow you to perform a number of different exercises with adequate resistance. Since it’s adjustable, you won’t need to buy a whole set, and you can use it to perform exercises ranging from shoulder raises to heavier squats.

Suggested exercises: Goblet squat, overhead press, push press, split-stance rows, Romanian deadlift, lunge. 

Adjustable Bench 

An adjustable bench pairs well with the dumbbells because it will allow you to perform a larger variety of exercises and moves, including horizontal exercises like the bench press, as well allowing you to change angles, like incline rows.

Suggested exercises: Flat dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell row, seated dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell step-up. 

Jump Rope 

Jump ropes are great because they allow you to perform aerobic and conditioning activities without much space while also being very easy on your joints. Jumping rope is a great way to up your workout intensity in a short amount of time and at a low cost.

Suggested exercises: Skips, hops, one-footed hops, intervals (i.e. 30 seconds on/30 seconds off for 10-15 minutes). 

Pull-up Bar

A doorway pull-up bar is fantastic for getting a good upper-body workout. Not only can it be used for pull-ups and chin-ups, but it can also be used to perform push-ups, dips and more.  

Suggested exercises: Pull-up, chin-up, wide-grip pull-up, chair-assisted pull-up, dips, push-up.

Resistance Bands 

Resistance bands can be used for a number of things, including making exercises easier or more difficult, as well as stretching or performing exercises with the band itself. The bigger the band, the more resistance you’ll get. I would recommend getting two or three bands of different resistance because as you get stronger, you’ll need to increase the resistance. 

Suggested exercises: Band pull-apart, shoulder dislocation, banded X-walk, monster walk, face pull. 

Stability Ball 

Stability balls work great for adding extra difficulty to ab work, and don’t take up much space. For just over the cost of a ten dollar bill, this is a great addition to your starter gym

Suggested exercises: Knee tuck, ball pass, mountain climber, rollout, side crunch, bridge with leg curl. 

Ready To Commit — Under $500 

With a little more money, you can start creating a more rounded home gym. This also means you can afford bigger and better equipment. At this point, you still don’t need a ton of space, as all this equipment can easily be stored out of the way, which makes this setup a great option if you have a bit more money to spend but don’t have a lot of space. 

Included from previous level:

100-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell Set 

The heavier the weights, the more you can challenge your body. This also means you can burn more fat, build more muscle, and gain more strength than with lighter dumbbells alone.

Suggested exercises: Same as the ones mentioned above 

Adjustable Kettlebell 

A kettlebell is a must-have for building strength and muscle and burning fat. Its design allows you to use it for a number of different purposes, from aerobic and conditioning exercises to strength and hypertrophy.

The added benefit of owning an adjustable kettlebell means you can train with the aim of improving all the aspects of fitness  mentioned above without having to shell out for a full set.

Suggested exercises: Two-arm swing, one-arm swing, snatch, clean and press, overhead press, goblet squat, single-leg Romanian deadlift

Medicine Ball 

From conditioning and explosive work to core exercises, medicine balls can be used for different purposes. Having one in your home gym will open up your workout possibilities. 

Suggested exercises: Slam, overhead push, overhead toss, two-handed chest toss. 

Better Than Decent – Under $1,500

At this level, you’re looking at taking things to the next level in terms of equipment, and you can start getting more of the “typical” gym equipment. This also means you can take your training to the next level. Here, you’re going to start needing more room; a living room or bedroom isn’t going to cut it anymore. You’ll either need a basement or garage. 

Included from the previous level(s):

Power Rack 

If you have the money, a power rack is the one piece of equipment you want in your gym. Its biggest benefit is that you can use it for both squatting and bench pressing. Plus, the pin and rack height is adjustable so you can play with different angles and heights. A power rack is also safer because it allows you to rack the bar instead of having to pick it up off the ground, which also allows you to use heavier weights.

Suggested exercises: Back squat, front squat, bench press, overhead press, rack pull, push press.

Barbell & Weights 

If you have a power rack, you’re going to need a barbell and some weights as well. Training with a barbell allows you to use heavier weights. This is great for increasing your overall strength as well as building muscle and losing fat.

A 300-pound set is all you need if you are just starting out — and you can always buy more weights later. 

Suggested exercises: Row, deadlift, sumo deadlift, Romanian deadlift, curl, power clean, upright row. 

Treadmill Or Stationary Bike 

If you have a bigger budget, it makes sense to purchase a treadmill or stationary bike to round out your gym. These pieces of equipment are good for long bouts of low and moderate-intensity cardio and they are also great for HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts.  

Suggested exercises: Low and moderate-intensity cardio, HIIT or sprints (20 seconds on, 40 seconds off for 10 minutes). 

Floor Mats

If you’re going to be training with barbells in your home, you’ll need something to protect your floor. In this case, mats like these are your best bet.

Suspension Trainer 

Having a power rack means you have something sturdy to a attach a suspension trainer system to. Suspension trainers are great for making bodyweight exercises easier or more challenging and allow you to train every muscle group in your body. 

Suggested exercises: Row, push-up, leg curl, single-leg squat, body saw plank. 

Cancel Your Gym Membership — Under $3,000

At this final level, you might as well do as the name suggests because you will have pretty much all the equipment you need right in your home.

Included from the previous level(s):

Cable Crossover Machine 

Now we’re really getting into the luxury items. A cable crossover machine will give you even more options for performing exercises like pulldowns, seated rows and different bicep and tricep moves, which is especially important when you’re trying to build muscle.

What’s great about this system is that it can be used with the weight plates you’ve already bought, saving you money.

Suggested exercises: Lat pulldown, seated row, cable curl, tricep pushdown, pallof press, fly. 

Cable Crossover Attachments 

If you have the cable crossover machine, you need the attachments too.

Pull-Up Tower 

A pull-up tower has an advantage over the doorway pull-up bar because it allows you to do a wider range of exercises, including full dips and ab movements. 

Suggested exercises: Pull-up, chin-up, chest dip, tricep dip, hanging straight leg raise, L-sit hold

Battle Ropes

If you really want to crank up the intensity of your workout in a short amount of time, battle ropes are the answer. They are great for HIIT and conditioning, and can be used almost anywhere. As little as 15 seconds of working with battle ropes is enough to get your heart rate through the roof. 

Suggested exercises: Rope waves, slams, alternating waves, single-arm waves or slams. 

3. Additional Home Gym Tips

  • Don’t fall for the latest and “greatest” exercise fad on the market. Stick with tried-and-true pieces of equipment. These will yield the best results.
  • Lay your workout clothes out the night before. Even though your gym is at home, don’t underestimate the power of wanting to skip a workout. Find ways to stay motivated. Lay out your clothes, ask your spouse to train with you and find ways to stay accountable (this is also where having a coach comes in handy).

4. Add-Ons And Accessories

To take your workout and results to the next level, add the following accessories to your repertoire. 

Lifting gloves

Lifting gloves if you’re worried about your hands. 

Lifting Straps

Straps to help you lift heavier weights.

Interval / Set Timer

A timer to help keep track of intervals and sets


Valslidescan help add difficulty to ab, lower body, bodyweight exercises

Foam Roller

A foam roller will help massage sore muscles and stretch tight areas. 

Plyo Boxes

If you’re looking for more plyometric training and condition, plyo boxes are great for a variety of exercises, and they can be used in conjunction with barbell and dumbbell exercises as well.

Agility Ladder

If you have the room or outdoor space, an agility ladder can help improve speed, quickness, and conditioning, especially if you’re concerned with sports performance.

Hex Bar

A hex bar can help improve form on traditional barbell deadlifts and alleviate back muscle pain when lifting heavy.

While building a home gym can come with a high upfront cost, the long-term payoff can definitely be worth it. You can say goodbye to gym memberships, driving back and forth to the gym and fighting for equipment. If working out from home is going to make sticking to your plan easier and lets you be more consistent with your workouts, it’s money well spent.

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