Home gyms have exploded in the past couple of years, beginning with the shutdown of commercial gyms when the COVID pandemic hit. Although life is mostly back to normal, many people have realized they prefer working out at home, or at least having that option. By the same token—workwise—many folks have not, or will not, return fulltime to the office, preferring the convenience of Zooming from home. In addition, the price of gas is at such a premium that we are all trying to ration our mileage.
The convenience of working out at home and the freedom to personalize your own space have revolutionized the way home gyms are currently viewed. But, where do you start when building your own home gym? With so many different companies and options to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming. Well, fear no more because Central Athlete has put together three templates to help you build out your garage or spare-room gym based on varying budgets! The equipment suggestions provided will cover the basics so that you can get the most utility out of your home gym. Whether you have a tight budget or are ready to build your dream gym, we’ve got you covered with these three models.
This list is perfect for you if you're on a budget and/or also looking to cover the basics while still incorporating some variety. With many different tools to choose from, we’ve nailed down 6 things that you can invest in for under $300 that will give you many utilization options for your workouts.
- Pull-up bar: The pull-up bar has many different uses for resistance training and even recovery mechanisms. Even if you can’t do a pull-up (yet!), this piece of equipment can be used to increase your pulling strength in many different ways and provide structural balance within your training. The pull-up bar is also one of the cheapest pieces of equipment you can buy, and you won’t have to worry about drilling holes in the wall because most fit safely on a door frame. Pull-up bars can be found for as cheap as $15 up to $100, depending on the style you’re looking for.
- Jump rope: A jump rope is a low-cost option and a simple tool to elevate core body temperature and increase your heart rate. A jump rope is very effective for conditioning work and can be a relatively simple skill to learn. There are many different styles of jump ropes, ranging from $10-$120. If you’re covering your bases and just need a tool to help with conditioning, the inexpensive options work just fine. If you’re getting into double-unders and faster pace jump-rope routines, investing in a higher-quality rope may be worthwhile.
- Mat: A simple yoga mat for floor exercises and stretching is a great purchase so you can be more comfortable moving around on the ground. Mats can vary in price depending on size and quality. Most mats can be found for under $20.
- Bands: Resistance bands are probably one of the most useful tools in the gym. Bands can be used to increase the difficulty of barbell movements, on their own for added resistance to bodyweight movements, and even as an aid in stretching and recovery methods. Bands can vary in size and thickness, but we would recommend the #1 and #3 bands from Rogue Fitness for 30 lbs and 65 lbs of resistance, respectively. Combining these two pairs of bands comes out at just under $40.
- Kettlebells and Dumbbells: Kettlebells and dumbbells are great tools to have in the gym, but they can also add up in price based on quantity and weight. For this model, we recommend 2 kettlebells and 1 set of dumbbells. For the kettlebells, we recommend a 35 lb. and a 53 lb. bell, which cost under $130. For dumbbells, the weight of the pair would largely depend on the individual and their strength levels. You’ll be able to sneak away with a pair of 40 lb. dumbbells for under $100.
This gym is for you if you find a lot of purpose in fitness and are looking to invest in quality equipment that will last a lifetime. This more robust equipment list builds on the previous budget model and adds more variety and accessibility to your training program while not spending a fortune.
- Squat rack: The epicenter of every home gym can range from very minimal to very large and extravagant. If you’re looking to stay under $1000, we recommend a simple squat stand to start. These can be very useful and provide great utility while staying well under budget. Squat stands can be found on Rogue for as little as $250. If you can afford the squat rack with a pull-up bar, you will have much more versatility when it comes to your training.
- Barbell: The most conventional tool for fitness! Note that not all barbells are the same, and some are specifically designed for certain aspects of strength and fitness. The bar used for Olympic weightlifting is much different than a barbell used specifically for powerlifting. The Rogue Ohio barbell is a solid barbell for general use and can be used for Olympic weightlifting as well as conventional strength movements. This bar can be found for under $300.
- Weights: You can’t have a barbell without the weights! Along with the kettlebells and dumbbells, plates can add up very quickly. There are also many different kinds of plates for barbells: metals or bumpers, pounds or kilograms. Where do you start? The first thing to identify is the utility; if you’re doing a mix of weightlifting as well as strength, bumpers are definitely the way to go. If you’re only focused on strength or powerlifting, metal plates might be the best choice. The amount of weight will also be dependent on the individual and their strength levels. If you’re just getting started on your gym, 260 lbs of bumper plates can be found on Rogue for under $500, giving you many options as well as staying under budget.
This level of gym is for you if you don't have budget constraints and continue to invest daily in your fitness practice. Fitness is a high priority in your life and you are ready to build the home gym of your dreams. Here we lay out ways to set your home gym apart from the rest, starting with the squat rack.
Squat stands cover the basic utility of a rack, but if you’re looking to upgrade your home gym, start by investing in a squat rack that will give you the most amount of utility with a full cage for safety, added pull-up bar, and even weight storage. This investment will also maximize your space. Additionally, increasing the number of kettlebells and dumbbells will provide more variety within your training program. In addition to upgrades of squat racks, barbells, plates, dumbbells and kettlebells, we’ve chosen three pieces of equipment that you can add to your gym to set it apart from the rest.
- Trap Bar: If you’re looking for a specialty bar, look no further than the trap bar. Trap bars are a great tool to teach and give variance to the traditional deadlift. Trap bars also have many other uses including presses, jumps, carries, and lunges. This specialty bar can be found for under $300. (To read more about how you can use various specialty bars, check out this blog post from the fall.)
- Sled: Sleds are a great tool to have in any gym for both strength and conditioning. Sleds have a number of uses including pushes, backward drags, lateral drags, and even rows and countless upper body exercises. Take your conditioning and leg strength to the next level with this outstanding piece of equipment. Depending on the style of sled you desire, these can be found for as low as under $100, to over $250.
- Assault Bike: The assault bike is probably the most effective piece of conditioning gym equipment that can be purchased. If your training style is for general fitness and includes any aerobic work, this is a must-have in your arsenal to take your aerobic and anaerobic capacity to the next level. Assault bikes can be found for under $700.
In conclusion, building out your home gym doesn’t have to be as overwhelming and daunting as it may initially seem. Start small, and you always can add more over time. With a budget large or small, home gyms are very realistic and can be optimized to fit your goals and lifestyle. If you need further assistance with your personal gym, or if you’re looking for ways to optimize your training, schedule a FREE strategy session with one of our professional coaches and get started today!