Do you think about working out at home but do not know the home gym essentials? Great idea! Instead of paying high membership prices, traveling and waiting for the things at the local gym, you can work out whenever you want. You save time and money, and you can train at your own pace without annoying people around you.
You are maybe skeptic a bit now. Is it really possible to work out at home as efficiently as at a real gym? Without a doubt, yes!
Building a home gym is easier and cheaper than ever before. And I'm not talking about garbage that you can buy at a chain, but quality, commercial grade and durable equipment that will serve you for your life. Equipment that provides a workout experience as if you were at the gym.
If you have no equipment right now or you are a beginner, it may seem to be a tough task to pick the right type of home gym equipment. What will I need? Where to buy? How much should I pay for an item? What to pay attention to?
I had these questions in my mind when I started building my gym, but I'm over it now having all the things I need for my efficient cardio and strength training.
Here I would like to share my suggestions with you on how to start building your gym based on my experience and the searches I already made. You will learn the home gym must haves and other equipment that are also good to have.
Anyway, writing a post like this is not easy since we have different aims, workout, and financial background. But I think there are a few essential pieces of exercise equipment that are beneficial for anyone. So here are my home gym essentials checklist, that starts with the basic gym equipment list and continuous with additional gears.
1. Barbell for Strength Training
Best Olympic weight sets for home (bar+plates)
If you want to build muscle with lifting weights, a barbell is a basic home gym equipment. Bench press, deadlift, squat, shoulder press, etc. must be in your workout routine if you want to be big and strong.
It is not hard to find a barbell at a low price and various weight, but the best buy is a 45 lb. Olympic barbell for sure. A bar like that will stand to lift heavy weights and compatible with the traditional plates and other equipment such as weight benches or power racks. A bit more expensive but lasts forever.
Price (Olympic): from $100 on Amazon.com
2. Weight Plates
Your barbell is good for nothing if you do not have plates for it. You can choose from standard steel plates, or bumper plates (the ones that are covered with gum). Bumper plates are a little bit more expensive but easy to handle, protect the floor and other equipment, and they will never be rusty. Choose plates that suit your budget.
What about the amount of weight?
Well, that depends on how much weight you can lift and your aims. Obviously, the stronger you are, the more load you will need. It is recommended to have at least one pair of 5 lbs, 10 lbs, 25 lbs, 45 lbs plates but it is good to have more pairs and higher sizes.
You can buy single plates, but sets are also available that costs less overall.
Price (all types, size): $10 - $70 on Amazon; complete sets from $200
3. Power Rack (Power Cage) for Safety and to Lift Big
Check out the best power rack reviews here
If you want to lift weights than a power rack is a must have home gym equipment. It is the most versatile piece of home gym equipment that helps you to perform the most important compound exercises such as squat and bench press correctly and without the need for a spotter. You do not have to be afraid that the bar will fall on you so you can train safely alone.
On top of that, most of the power racks come with sections that allow you to make bodyweight moves such as pull ups bars, dip station, etc. And if you spend a little bit more, you can find racks with a cable system, so you do not have neglect the cable exercises as well.
While a rack is a beneficial equipment, it needs the most money to spend on, but a good rack worth every penny. Before buying one always check out the measurements of the item and the space you have where you would like to use. Particularly, if you want to put it in a basement with a low ceiling. It is not a small home gym equipment.
Price: $100 - $800 on Amazon (depending on the functions and capacity)
4. Weight Bench for Presses
The weight bench is another equipment that is necessary. Without it, you can do not bench press and many other exercises for strength. You can choose from simple, flat benches, but an adjustable bench is better in the long run since you can perform inline and decline exercises with it.
An important factor that you must check out before buying a weight bench is the maximum weight capacity. Avoid cheap benches with a low weight capacity.
Price: from $70 on Amazon
5. Dumbbells for Total Body Training At Home
Dumbbells give an even better versatility to your workout routine. With the help of them, you can focus more on one particular muscle group, for example.
Again you can choose from wide range of dumbbells. You can buy single pieces of steel or rubber dumbbells in various sizes, or you can get a complete set with rack. If you are not interested in dumbbell exercises than just get a pair that suits your need, and you will buy more if you need them.
These days adjustable dumbbells are more popular since they do not require so much space and we can quickly change the amount of weight we want to use. They are more pricey than single dumbbells, but in the long run, they cost less.
In my opinion dumbbells are the best home exercise equipment for beginners since we can do a lot of exercises for each muscle groups. And once, you get familiar with lifting free weights, you can get the previous tools.
I think it is the best overall exercise equipment for home as it so versatile. It can be used for both cardio and strength training. Plus, they do not require so much space.
Price: from $10 on Amazon
This is the point when you have all the essessentials you need to have a complete strength training at home: a barbell with weights, a power rack, dumbbells and weight bench. If you do not have more money for creating a home gym, you can stop here.
However, here is few other equipment that is very beneficial and makes your home gym a workout place of your dreams.
6. Something for Cardio to Lose Weight
A treadmill or rowing machine is the best home exercise equipment for weight loss, but reliable and robust machines are rather expensive.
Don't worry you do not have to neglect a great cardio training at home, just get a jump rope for a few bucks.
Price (quality treadmill, rowing machine): $300 - $1000 on Amazon
7. Medicine Balls to Not Get Bored
Medicine balls in various size are very useful to perform exercises that will develop your functional strength, but you can also use them for cardio training. With the help of them, you can turn traditional exercises like push ups, sit ups or pull ups more challenging.
Price: from $20 on Amazon
8. Kettlebells for Functional Strength
Kettlebell training is hot these days and for good reasons. Working out with kettlebell develops your functional strength, provides a serious cardio, improves your flexibility and it is never dull. This compact equipment combines strength and cardio training.
Depending on your level and aim buy a kettlebell that will suit your need. I mean if you want to build strength and have fewer reps get a heavier one and for cardio purposes, a lighter piece will do. You can also buy a complete set with many items.
Price: from $10 on Amazon
9. Storage for Plates and Dumbbells to be Organized
If you are a lazy guy like me or have a lack of space getting some sort of storage for your plates and dumbbells is a good idea. Although, most of the power racks come with pegs so you can store your plate on them.
Price: from $30 on Amazon
10. Power Tower or a Dip Station for Bodyweight Workouts
If you want to include bodyweight exercises in your workout routine, which is recommended, you should have equipment for that. For performing pull ups, chin ups, dips, and even leg raises for abs, for these types of exercises the best equipment for a home gym is the power tower.
On the other hand, as I mentioned before the most professional power racks come with in-built functions or add-ons for bodyweight exercises.
Price: $30 - $250 on Amazon
11. Plyometric Boxes to Boost Your Endurance
Plyometrics training is a powerful way to develop strength, endurance, performance for various sports and to burn calories. You can buy simple plyo boxes, or adjustable ones that you can use for not just plyometric exercises but also for other training. For example, for incline push ups.
Price: from $40. Check out the best 5 plyometrics boxes here.
12. Large Mirror to Check Your Peformance
A big mirror is essential not only to see yourself how well you look but to check the correct form of the exercises you do.
Price: from $40 on Amazon
13. Punching Bag to Train Like a Fighter
If you cannot afford to buy a cardio machine like a treadmill just get a heavy bag. It costs far less, and punching workouts will boost not only your cardio but also your endurance. And it is much more fun to use. Not to mention you will learn some self-defense skill. In my opinion it is the best home cardio equipment after treadmills and rowers.
You can choose from hanging heavy bags and free standing punch bags that requires no installation and needs less space.
Price: from $20 on Amazon or check out our guide to punching bags here.
14. Fan or an Air Conditioner for Comfort
If you work out sooner or later, your gym will be hot as the hell. And who wants to workout sweating like a pig. A robust and high-speed fan is OK, they do not cost much.
Price: from $20 on Amazon
15. Flooring for Protection
To tell the truth, I did not care about the flooring, and I killed the wooden floor of my room. A dense, rubber flooring for a home gym will not only protect the floor but also makes your workouts safer.
Price: from $20 on Amazon
Final Words About Home Gym Essentials
After reading this list of home gym equipment, you may think that it is too much to invest into. But believe me, there is nothing better than going to your gym and start working out without traveling and whenever you want.
I understand that buying quality home gym equipment is not cheap, but once you have them, they will motivate you to go and work out. It is going to be a part of your at home routine.
Where to buy these things?
Well, it is not hard to find a place to buy fitness equipment both online and offline. Also, it is worth to check out use equipment, but in most of the cases, thanks to the competition between the shops, the new ones cost almost the same as the second-hand. Personally, I prefer Amazon since the prices are good and we can choose from a lot of types of products. No matter where you buy spend time with investigating the equipment you want to buy.
Home gym on a budget?
If you want to build a cheap home gym, get only the essential equipment that is a barbell with weights, bench and power rack. Look around and search for discounts, and used items. But, be careful, if something is too cheap it is maybe not suitable for heavy load. If you are lucky you can set up your gym about less than $500.
How to make a home gym with no money?
Well, there are tons of bodyweight exercises you can do at home such as push ups. Or for cardio there is running. But you can use things around you. For example, you can do dips by using two chairs. But a pair of dumbbells is good to have.
For more home gym setup ideas check out our equipment reviews category or find home gym layout ideas here.
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The most affordable quality rubber flooring for a home gym can be found at your local Tractor Supply or in my case Feldmans. Horse stall mats are 3/4 inch sold rubber 3X5 ft sheets. Each sheet at Feldman’s was approximately $30 They are thick enough to drop barbells/dumbbells on and not damage concrete basement/garage floors.
Thanks for the suggestion!