11 Ways to Start Your Home Gym for Under $500 – Garage Gym Experiment

by fitness journalist

The first step in starting a home gym is making sure you actually want a home gym. Or figuring out how much you will plan to use it. It could be your primary or secondary spot to work out. Therefore, it is suggested not to go out and spend thousands of dollars, but first to purchase a few versatile items, do some workouts, and then expand if you are certain a home gym is right for you.

The options recommended below are items you’ll use now and along your “home gym journey.” Plus, they can be used for a full workout or at least supplement a bodyweight workout until you’ve obtained more equipment.


Under $500

A good bench is going to be a staple item in building out your home gym. To give you the most versatility, most will want to first invest in an adjustable bench over a flat bench. In fact, 89% believe an adjustable bench covers all of their needs.

The recommendation is the REP AB-3000, which should last a lifetime and gives incline, flat, and incline capabilities. Plus, it won’t break the bank.

Next up are the dumbbells. The bench takes up 60% of the budget here, which will take extremely heavy dumbells out of the $500 budget, but you’ll still likely be able to grab a pair of ’50s or a couple of options under 25 lbs.

2. A Few Kettlebells, Strongman Sandbag, and Jump Rope.

All of these items will get your heart rate pumping. Devastating workouts can be done with any of these items, but this combination will give you plenty of versatility as you begin building out your home gym. Cost examples are below:

3. A Budget Friendly Rack

Without question, you can get a rack that’ll last many years for under $500. This will likely be the centerpiece of your gym, and it can be built around. Some recommended options include:

4. Stall Mats

Waiting too long to get solid flooring is definitely a mistake. Stall mats are the way to go for most, and 96 square feet will stay under the $500 price range. REP offers a convenient option but can also be picked up at your local Tractor Supply store. Just try to stay away from the diamond-plated options.

Under $350

5. Pull Up Bar, Rings, Weighted Vest, and Bands

For this option, all you need is some wall space. We all know the benefits of a good pull-up bar, but these other options will add a ton of diversity to this station and take up very little space. Some high-value options include:

6. Flat Bench and a Pair of Dumbbells

Not everyone is ready to pull the trigger on an adjustable bench, but a lot can still get done with a sturdy flat bench and some dumbbells.

7. Plyo Box, a Pair of Dumbbells, and a Slam Ball.

There’s so much that can be done with a plyo box. It’s routinely used in CrossFit, HIIT, or other high-intensity workouts. It can also be an effective way to warm up. Typical movements include box jumps, box squats, step-ups, lateral stepovers, elevated push-ups, and Bulgarian split squats. A lot can be done simply with your body weight, but dumbbells and slam balls help take it to the next level.

Under $200

8. Clench Fitness Resistance Band Sets

Resistance bands do not take up much space, are easily portable, lightweight, and will add some resistance to your bodyweight workouts. They can be used for just about any type of strength training, and a full-body workout can be completed with them. Clench Fitness offers quality resistance bands and a one-of-a-kind handle that allows for even more versatility. A band kit would be an excellent start to any home gym (use GGE10 for 10% off).

9. A Single Pair of Dumbbells or Kettlebells.

Something to add a bit more options to your bodyweight workouts is a nice change of pace. A single pair of dumbbells or kettlebells can be thrown into the corner, and you can add other items to supplement later.

Under $100

10. Other Individual Items to be Considered

Under $30

11. Jump/Speed Rope

Unless you seek a world-class jump rope, many options under $30 will get the job done.

Skip Ahead to a Barbell and Some Plates

If you’re 100% sure that a home gym is right for you, you can potentially skip ahead to purchasing a barbell and some plates.

The multi-purpose barbell of choice for most men is the Rogue Ohio Bar, and those not interested in performing Olympic lifts (clean & jerk, snatch) should go with the Ohio Power Bar. The Bella Bar has been the choice for most women. Many similar options will get the job done, but Rogue dominates this category with solid pricing, performance, warranty, and they’re all made in America.

Furthermore, you’ll want to get a bar that’s been coated (as opposed to bare steel) to protect from oxidation. Stainless steel is ideal, but black zinc, black oxide, and Cerakote will all reduce the chances of your barbell rusting significantly over time. 88% believe it’s worth paying a bit extra for this layer of protection.

Unless you are a serious powerlifter or strongman, you should get bumper plates. 2 out of 3 survey respondents agree. They are more versatile, quieter, and easier on the floor. For most, there is no need to get anything fancy or upgrade. Rogue Echo Bumper Plates, REP Black Bumper Plates, and Fringe Black Bumper Plates are durable, have a thinner profile, and low bounce.

Traditional iron plates will be a bit cheaper and thinner for those needing to fill up a barbell. Similar to bumper plates, the basic option will get the job done for most.

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Please add your comments/feedback below and share with anyone you think is interested in starting their own home gym!

This content was originally published here.

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