What Do I Need to Know to Built an At-Home Gym?
Thinking of converting your garage/basement/spare room into a home gym? Fantastic! There’s no doubt, building an at-home gym is an excellent way to “Get ‘er done.”
But… Before you go out and pick up a weight set, there are a few questions you should ask.
5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Building Your Home Gym
1. What are the pros and cons of having a home gym?
- Saves time. No driving or sitting in the car; you can complete a workout in the time it takes to drive to the local gym
- Total comfort.Wear whatever you feel like and do, say, and act how you want
- Listen to your own music, as loud as you care to
- You can be a machine hog, plus you don’t have to wait for others
- Workout any time you want, for as long as you want, as many times a day as you want
- No monthly gym fees
- Uses space in the home
- The initial investment of $1,500 or more for a quality setup
- Not as much equipment variety
- Not much socialization (unless you invite a friend over)
- Not as much motivation from the competition, since you will probably work out alone at home
- No trainers, instructors, or knowledgeable gym buffs around to teach and assist
2. Do I prefer the gym or my home for a workout?
There is a pretty even divide among athletes between those who love the gym atmosphere and those who prefer to be the king in their own home gym castle. It is okay to be one or the other! Just find out which person you are before buying a 2-year gym membership, or laying down 3,000 dollars on home gym equipment.
If you are strongly socially motivated, need competition, and thrive on socialization, the local gym may be the right choice for you.
If the thought of waiting for machines, using machines covered with the sweat of others, and hearing others grunting and giving out (sometimes bad) fitness advice, maybe the home gym is the best choice for you.
In fact, if you have never lifted or seriously exercised before, it’s not a good idea to invest in a home gym right away. Get a trial membership and see if working out is something you will do consistently.
If you find you are drawn to working out at home and can stay committed, it’s time to invest in a solid home gym.
3. What equipment is essential for a home gym?
These are some of the most important pieces to pick up to make a well-rounded home gym.
A flat or flat/incline bench is probably the most basic piece of home gym equipment. An adjustable flat/incline bench is obviously more versatile, but also more expensive.
AKA power cages and squat racks. This essential piece of equipment is necessary because it acts as a spotter—which, if you work out at home, you probably do not have.
Some power racks are designed to hold your weight plates. Look for a rack with a pull-up bar and cable pull-down or cable crossover attachment for more bang-for-your-buck workout options.
You can opt for a standard bar or an Olympic bar. They each call for different weights: standard weights on the standard bar, and Olympic weights on the Olympic bar.
Most weightlifters insist on the Olympic bar and weights. Keep in mind, though, that the Olympic bar weighs around 45 lbs by itself.
Get the weights that match your bar. Standard weights have a 1” opening, and Olympic weights have a 2” opening. This matters because your weight storage and your barbell need to be compatible. So pick a style and stick with it.
Free weights count here, too. If you’re looking for dumbbells, kettlebells, or other types of hand-held weights, make sure you’re getting a range that works for your current fitness level and goals. You may want to have padded or rubberized weights so you don’t accidentally damage your home!
You need to work some cardio into your routine. Sure, you can do it outside; but what about rainy days or other inclement weather?
There are several options to incorporate cardio into your home gym, and not all of them require special equipment. There are HIIT routines, jogging, jump rope, dancing, punching bags, or even burpees.
Don’t want to do 200 burpees in a row? There are cardio machines that simplify things. The most popular cardio machines for today’s home gym are Air Bikes (Airdyne), rowers, elliptical machines, and treadmills.
Warning: Treadmills tend to be hard on the knees. If you decide a treadmill is the best choice for you, invest in a high-quality machine.
Air bikes—and stationary bikes in general—are very low impact and easy on the joints. Low impact is not just for the elderly and injured, it’s for those who don’t want to become injured, too.
All-in-one machines are the perfect choice for those who want to work out and stay fit, but not necessarily to the point where they are lifting really heavyweight. (Really heavyweight would be 150 or more pounds.)
All-in-one machines are an easy home gym solution. They usually include a bench, cable system, weights, and sometimes more. This may be all you need.
A favorite all-in-one machine is a Total Gym. If it is good enough for Chuck Norris, that works for us! The total gym works all areas of the body: abs, chest, legs, and arms, and is easy to use.
Accessories are what make your home gym unique to you. You might add a set of dumbbells, a plyo box, kettlebells, medicine balls, foam rollers, a set of Olympic rings, or anything that motivates and inspires you.
4. How much will this all cost?
The cost of a home gym can vary quite a bit, depending on what you purchase and where you purchase it. You can opt for used equipment from the classifieds or purchase brand new.
Beware: If you purchase used equipment, consider the transportation cost, and check the equipment carefully for bent bars and broken pulleys. Be sure weights lock down securely. It’s not a good deal if you have to pay to fix it.
While costs for a home gym vary, you can get a decent—although basic—setup for around 1,500 to 2,000 dollars. This is often less than a two-year gym membership.
If you want to get into the nuts and bolts of what it costs to build a gym, check out this Gym cost Planner. It is a spreadsheet on Google docs that lists essential equipment and common average prices on separate worksheets.
5. What can I do in a home gym?
So now that you have decided to assemble the perfect Iron Palace, what’s next?
Working out, of course!
With at-home workouts and a good diet, you will see visible results with your own eyes! Nice!
Weight the options and decide if the benefits to you of having a home gym outweigh the benefits you get from a gym membership. Decide what equipment is essential for you, or opt for an all-in-one machine, and get started.
Don’t let the process of deciding to be just another excuse to put things off. Get committed to your health and fitness.
As they say, “Your health is all you have,” so invest wisely in yourself and your fitness!