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How to Build the Perfect Home Gym

If you love working out but find going to the gym inconvenient or unappealing, building a home gym may be the way to go. Get-Fit Guy, Dr. Jonathan Su, shows you how to build the perfect home gym even if you’re on a budget or if you’re short on space.

By
Dr. Jonathan Su, DPT, CSCS, TSAC-F, C-IAYT
5-minute read
Episode #567
The Quick And Dirty
  • Strength equipment will help you build muscle strength and endurance while cardio equipment will help you develop cardiovascular endurance. Both are an important part of a well-rounded workout routine.
  • For about $500, you can have a home gym with all the essential pieces of equipment that’ll fit in a corner of your garage or living room.

If you love working out but find going to the gym inconvenient or unappealing, building a home gym may be the way to go. The good news is that building the perfect home gym doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up a ton of space.

I’ve had my home gym for about a year now and I really love it. What makes having a home gym so awesome for me is the convenience factor. I simply step into my garage anytime I want to exercise without worrying about whether the gym is busy or if it’s even open.

Not having to pack a gym bag, drive to the gym, wait for equipment to open up, and drive back home saves me at least 2 or 3 hours every week that I can spend doing more important things like catching up on sleep or playing with my kids. 

Plus, the convenience of having a gym literally steps away makes it easier to stick with a workout routine. I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been more consistent with exercise now that it’s so difficult to come up with excuses not to hit the gym.

What’s also nice about a home gym is knowing that I’m not going to catch a bug from the person huffing and puffing next to me, which is definitely a concern during the pandemic and flu season.

A budget gym in a small space

Before we jump into talking about equipment, it’s important to know that there are two categories of gym equipment that you’ll want to consider owning: strength equipment and cardio equipment. 

Strength equipment will help you build muscle strength and endurance while cardio equipment will help you develop cardiovascular endurance. Both are an important part of a well-rounded workout routine. 

A budget gym in a small space can be as simple as having a pair of adjustable dumbbells and an exercise bench for your strength equipment. A pair of adjustable dumbbells will save you space and a multi-position workout bench will give you the flexibility of performing different exercises using a single piece of equipment, which will also save you space. 

These two pieces of equipment are all you really need for a full-body strength workout. Adjustable dumbbells can be as cheap as $250 for a pair of dumbbells that can each adjust to 50 pounds. This is plenty for most people, but you can also go for a pair that can each adjust to 100 pounds for about $450 if you have a need to really throw up some heavy weight.

A multi-position workout bench where the backrest can be positioned upright, incline, flat, or decline goes for as little as $70. The upright position allows you to perform seated shoulder presses. The incline, flat, and decline position allows you to hit different angles of your chest. The flat position also allows you to perform flat dumbbell rows for your back. 

For your cardio equipment, I recommend purchasing something that is low impact and that you would enjoy using. A stationary bike or a rowing machine are great choices and they both go for well under $200 for something decent. 

So for about $500, you can have a home gym with all the essential pieces of equipment that’ll fit in a corner of your garage or living room. If you’ve got the budget, you can go for higher quality equipment like the adjustable dumbbells that lets you adjust the weights in a snap or cardio equipment with all the bells and whistles.

You might also want to consider interlocking rubber mats to protect your floor in the event that you drop your dumbbells and a dumbbell stand to make it easier to pick up your dumbbells. 

A gym with more budget and more space

If you’ve got more budget and more space, I would consider adding a squat rack or a half rack to your list of strength equipment. This is a big investment because a decent squat rack or half rack will set you back about $500 and you’ll spend at least that much on barbells and weights. 

But owning a squat rack or half rack is the only way you can safely perform squats at home. Plus, this equipment also lets you do other big lifts like the bench press and the military press. 

With more budget and more space, you can also consider adding another piece of cardio equipment so that you have a variety of ways to get your cardio in. For example, having both a stationary bike and a rowing machine would make a great combination. 

Another great piece of equipment that’s nice to have is a functional trainer (or known simply as a cable machine), which starts at about $1,000. A functional trainer is a piece of equipment that uses multiple cables (usually 2) and attachments so you can perform movements against resistance in any direction. 

The advantage of a functional trainer is that, unlike free weights, you can safely perform exercises without someone to assist you. Also, it’s beneficial for rehabilitation because it allows you to gently work muscles at angles that are often overlooked. 

A tour of my home gym

I know that some of you might be curious about what my home gym looks like. I spent slightly under $11,000 with delivery and setup early last year to transform my garage into a gym that has everything that I use on a weekly basis and nothing I don’t need. 

The strength equipment consists of a pair of adjustable dumbbells that can each adjust to 90 pounds that sits on a dumbbell rack. I also have a half rack with two barbells and about 355 pounds of weights. Additionally, I have a multi-position workout bench and a functional trainer. 

The cardio equipment consists of an assault bike and a rowing machine. I also have a large firm massage table that I use for stretching and core exercises so I don’t have to get on the floor. Speaking of the floor, I have rubber gym flooring made from recycled car tires installed. Be sure to check out YouTube for a tour of my gym. 

5-day home gym challenge

Let’s put this knowledge to use with a 5-day home gym challenge! Over the next five days, your challenge is to put together a wish list for your home gym based on your budget and space considerations if you’re interested in building a home gym. Give it a try and let me know how you feel by emailing me at getfitguy@quickanddirtytips.com or leaving me a voicemail at 510-353-3104. 

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Dr. Jonathan Su, DPT, CSCS, TSAC-F, C-IAYT

Dr. Jonathan Su is the host of the Get-Fit Guy podcast. He is a physical therapist and fitness expert whose mission is to make fitness accessible for everyone. Dr. Su is author of the bestsellers Six-Minute Fitness at 60+ and Six-Minute Core Strength.

Got a question for Dr. Su? You can email him at getfitguy@quickanddirtytips.com or leave him a message at the Get-Fit Guy voicemail line at (510) 353-3104.