Guide to Setting Up a Gym at Home

Guide to Setting Up a Gym at Home

We look at magazine covers with images of healthy-looking, young and fit people, and aspire to be like them one day, perhaps in the near future. But how many of us use the gym or have a workout regimen? Leaving the house to go to the gym may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, you can get in shape without having to ever leave the house.

Here’s how to go about setting up a gym at home:

Picking a room
When picking a spot for your home gym, there are a few things you need to consider. Choose a room or a space that has air flowing through it easily. Light is also important, as a well-lit room will tend to energize you. You might want to include a treadmill or such like machines which could be large, so make sure that there is enough space for them.

Exercise Choice
How you wish to exercise will determine how you furnish your home gym. Yoga may be your exercise of choice; in that case, you would need a serene environment and a yoga mat. If you like running or walking, you may bring a treadmill into this space. A brightly colored room and some good music will add more energy to the room and motivate you to get a workout.

Setting up a gym need not be expensive. It is therefore important to have a budget and buy what you need rather than what you hope to use. An easy guide is to establish what it is you want to achieve and what will work in the space that you have. It is advisable to keep it simple when starting out and build up from there.

Before you get started, you will have to decide where to set up the equipment. If the room is multi-functional such as a living room, you will need to consider storage space for the equipment after workout sessions. If the room is only for gym space, place the equipment in such a way that there is enough room to move around. Once all is set, you are good to go.

The Must-Have Gym Equipment You Need

When decking out your home gym or personal training studio with equipment, it is smart to be selective. You probably don't have the space that big gyms and health clubs have to house every piece of equipment imaginable.

To help you narrow down what you really need, consider these 10 pieces of equipment that are perfect for the small-scale gym. Keep in mind, however, that you don't necessarily need everything on this list. A basic set-up, including essentials such as a bench, some dumbbells, and resistance bands, can still provide a great workout.

1. Training Bench

A training bench is an adjustable platform used for performing weight training exercises. You should be able to adjust the backrest, so you can move it from a flat position to an incline. You'll find a range of benches online, but look for a well-constructed and easily adjustable bench. A personal training studio may need at least two of these.

2. Dumbbell Set

This is probably your most important gym equipment purchase. Get a set of dumbbells, ranging from very light to very heavy, depending on who will be using them. Dumbbells come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials these days, from plastic-coated to colorful to straight metal, so take your pick. Get a set with a rack to save space.

3. Barbell Set

You have two options for barbells: The Olympic bar (a 55-pound bar for men and 45 for women), squat rack, bench press rack and removable plates if you can afford them, or a set of fixed or easily adjustable barbells with a smaller bar. Of course, a rack for storage is essential. 

4. Kettlebell Set

Kettlebells provide an alternative to dumbbells because they activate a slightly different muscle profile, particularly the core.1 Although not necessarily superior, they are popular and worth purchasing. Kettlebells come in a variety of weights, sizes, and even shapes.

5. Pull-Up Frame and Bar

This is for doing chin-ups and pull-ups. Look for a squat rack with a pull-up bar up top, and you'll save on cost and space.

6. Treadmill

Invest in some type of cardio equipment. If you can afford it, you might be able to include several different types of machines. But if you can only afford one, the treadmill is a smart choice.

You'll want a treadmill that has varying inclines and speeds and provides heart rate monitoring. Get a robust, commercial gym-standard treadmill if you can afford it, and check out the machines with virtual tracks or other add-ons if you're willing to spend more. 

7. Stationary Bicycle

The stationary bike is an alternative to the treadmill and rowing machine for cardiovascular endurance training. A bike provides a low-impact way to get the heart rate elevated.2 Each of these three machines emphasizes slightly different neuromuscular approaches to aerobic fitness.

8. Rowing Machine

You can do a lot with a total-body rowing machine. Unlike the bike and treadmill that focus more on the lower body, the rower offers a head-to-toe workout, engaging the legs, core and upper body. Plus, it helps burn a ton of calories and is another option for low-impact cardio.3

9. Fitness Ball

You can design a lot of exercises around a fitness ball, especially core exercises. It adds an extra stability challenge to moves like chest presses, bicep curls, dead bugs, or plank knee tucks. So add it to your gym equipment arsenal. 

10. Accessories

Add smaller equipment items like a rollout wheel for abs, a wooden bar for upper body stretching, and bands and tubes for rehabilitation and resistance exercises (especially good for working the glutes). 

Install A Recovery Zone

With home exercise equipment it will be easier for you to follow a daily workout routine at home. Keep in mind that recovery is an essential part of working out, giving your body the chance to develop, heal, and prepare for the next session with a reduced risk of injury. There are many ways you can enhance your recovery routine at a home gym.

At the simplest level, recovery aids like foam rollers and percussive massagers are great for soothing tensed up, sore muscle groups, while a massage chair does the same across your whole body. A small home sauna is excellent for boosting circulation to tired muscles, and modern self-contained units take up surprisingly little space.

At the high end, a home spa including whirlpool, infra-red cabinet, and steam room is a luxurious but practical investment if you have the space, the funds and an advanced workout routine that justifies the installation cost. If you can afford it, it will be the best home workout equipment you can own.

Working To A Budget: DIY Your Equipment

Plenty of useful, bargain-basement gym equipment can be found on Craigslist, Marketplace, and other second-owner sales sites. But if you want to make the absolute most of your budget, there’s plenty you can do in the DIY realm too.

From simple gear storage racks using reclaimed lumber, to DIY yokes, pulling blocks, and reverse hypers, if you’re handy with a few tools you can kit your home gym out with homemade equipment at a fraction of the cost of new gear.

Plan Your Home Gym Storage From The Start

With a home gym you likely won’t have the luxury of unlimited space, so planning efficient storage for your expanding collection of gear is a must. Simple lidded storage containers can be used for yoga mats, recovery massagers, jump ropes, and so on, sliding away under a bed when you need to reclaim space.

If your gym is set up in a living room, a storage ottoman can keep your gear tidily out of the way when it’s not in use, and it also doubles up as a comfortable footrest for kicking back after your workout.

For more heavy and bulky equipment like dumbbells, specialist hangers and racks are available, although a less expensive metal shelving unit makes an equally good option providing it can support the weight.

But whichever type of storage you choose, the key is to consider it at the start of your home gym journey rather than trying to retrofit extra storage after installation.

Making Your Home Gym As Energizing As Possible

Installing a home gym that you’ll want to use is about much more than adding the right range of exercise equipment. Creating a comfortable but stimulating environment is key to getting the most out of the space you’ve built. Here are some important home gym ideas to consider when putting your design together.

Good light

No one wants to work out in a gloomy and claustrophobic space. Allowing for plenty of natural light is ideal, but if necessary, make sure you have enough electric lighting overhead so you can see exactly what you’re doing as you exercise.


Full-length wall mirrors help you keep an eye on your form as you work out, giving you visual feedback on your movements so that you become your own instructor. Mirrors also make space feel larger, which can be highly valuable in a smaller home gym.

Gym Flooring

Interlocking gym flooring is easy to install and provides a firm, stable surface for exercising on, while also protecting your carpets, tiling, or floorboards underneath.

TV or tablet

A carefully positioned TV or tablet lets you watch your online workout lessons in comfort, or can provide entertainment during longer sessions on equipment.


Installing a music system can energize you for more vigorous workouts, or provide a calming influence for yoga or stretches.

Tidiness is important

Your home gym should be available at all times so that you can fit an impromptu workout into a busy day. Don’t let it fill up with the clutter of daily life which could discourage your session. And even when you’re tired after a workout, prepare the space for its next use immediately after completing your recovery routine.

Add your medals

If you’re training for competition, displaying your past medalstrophies, and badges can help create that extra spark of motivation to keep your workouts on track.

Get The Most Out Of Your Home Gym

Having a daily workout plan at home is much easier if you have the right equipment. After all the work of setting up your home gym, don’t let the effort go to waste. Draw up a realistic workout schedule that you can stick to, and set some solid goals you can work toward to keep your enthusiasm levels high.

The best home gym is one that’s used as often as possible, so if you find your motivation starting to fall away, consider asking a friend to join your scheduled sessions, giving you no room to back out.

And don’t forget: Working out should be fun as well as beneficial to your health. If you’re not enjoying your sessions, a home gym gives you the freedom to change and develop the setup until you hit on the design that’s an ideal fit for you. Get the best workout equipment at home and start training!

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