How To Make A Home Gym

Learn about the best fitness equipment, how to make a home gym, and essential tips for getting fit at home.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read

Let’s face it. Getting to the gym can be tough sometimes. But just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you have sit on the couch all day and eat bon-bons. Whether you’re stuck inside your house on a rainy day, hanging out at a park waiting for your kid’s soccer practice to end, or on a vacation road trip, this article is going to give you all the necessary gears and tools you need for getting fit.

Choosing A Home Gym Space

Though it is not entirely necessary to have a single room in your house that is devoted to exercise, it can be helpful to have a central location for fitness equipment. Before deciding which room will have your gym gear, consider the following:

  • Is there carpet? Carpet is easily stained with oil and can quickly become stinky if you’re regularly sweating on it. So invest in a high-end vacuum and a box of clothespins for your nose, or try choosing a room with a hard floor and simply use a portable mat for padding.

  • Is the ceiling low? If you want to do workouts that include jumping or lifting objects, and don’t want to wind up in the hospital with forehead lacerations, you may want at least 1 foot of extra space overhead when your arms are fully extended.

  • Is the room well ventilated? If you’re performing hard cardio exercise or it is warm outside, a hot, muggy room will make you far more unlikely to exercise, and be very uncomfortable. If you, like me, tend to get a bit windy when you exercise (and I’m not talking about shortness of breath), you may also be thankful for good ventilation.

  • Is the room isolated? If you have babies or young children sleeping at night, it might be tough for you to watch television, listen to music, or make noise lifting weights if your exercise space is in close proximity to your kid’s bedrooms. You may even find your spouse complaining about your six-pack stomach if it means they’re losing sleep for it.

I’d recommend you add a new piece of exercise equipment every few months to keep your routine fresh and exciting!

Home Gym Equipment Recommendations

Now that you have chosen your home gym space, you’ll need to fill it with essential equipment. If you’re a big spender, you could simply go to your local sporting goods store and invest $500 to $2000 in a multi-gym apparatus, which is typically a large piece of equipment with various seats, cables, handles and weight stacks. If you decide to do this, then measure your room beforehand to ensure that the equipment will fit, and ensure that you have the means to actually transport and assemble the multi-gym. Otherwise, your fancy gym will just be a heavy box in your garage.

While a multi-gym is certainly convenient, there are easier, more inexpensive, and less bulky ways to create an exercise environment at home. Here are the essential tools I recommend, all of which could easily be purchased for under $300:

  • Elastic Tubing: Although one piece of elastic tubing with handles on either end is fine, a few different tubes with varying levels of resistance can offer you more variety for exercises from pulling to pushing to twisting. For stronger hips and butt and an added calorie-burn you can even tie your legs together with elastic tubes and walk around the house while you’re cleaning or doing laundry. One version of elastic tubing that I recommend quite for more exercise variety is called a Gymstick, which is two elastic tubes connected to a flexible aluminum bar.

  •  Free Weights: A set of light dumbbells or a light barbell is fine if you’re just starting out. If you’re more advanced, you may want a range of sizes. One very useful and space-saving piece of equipment are adjustable dumbbells, which allow you to adjust a single dumbbell from 5 pound up to over 50 pounds.

  • Stability Ball: This is the big ball that you can use for crunches, squats, sit-ups and even as a bouncy, moving desk chair. As an added bonus, you get the workout of pumping it full of air after you have it.

  • Mat: I prefer a standard yoga mat, although there are thicker options if you happen to be a princess-and-the-pea type of exerciser.

  • Foam Roller: A foam roller can be used for a warm-up or cool-down muscle massage, as a balance device or as a fulcrum for doing variations of crunches and back bridges.

  • Cardio Equipment: Here’s where you may need to start spending a bit more money. While a simple, inexpensive weighted jump rope will burn quite a few calories, you should also consider an elliptical trainer, treadmill or bicycle. Your local classifieds listing or Craiglist website can often offer such equipment at much more affordable prices than purchasing new, but expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $600 on a decent piece of cardio equipment.

Of course, there are a variety of other exercise tools you can use to keep variety in your program. After all, doing push-ups on a mat can get boring after a few years. From Bosu Balls to Kettlebells, I’d recommend you add a new piece of exercise equipment every few months to keep your routine fresh and exciting!

Tips For Working Out At Home

Now that you have ideas for your home gym, here are three quick and dirty tips to help you get fit:

Home Gym Quick & Dirty Tip 1: Using ideas from fitness magazines, personal trainers, or, of course, The Get-Fit Guy, create a scrapbook of at least 5 tried and true workouts that you can do at home. If you have something in writing, you’ll be far more likely to do it.

Home Gym Quick & Dirty Tip 2: Keep a paper towel or rag, along with a non-toxic cleaning solution in close proximity to your fitness equipment for regular wipe-downs. You’d be surprised how quickly your fitness gear gets…gamy.

Home Gym Quick & Dirty Tip 3: Have a TV, computer, or radio in your home gym or near your fitness equipment. You’ll be far more likely to exercise if you can be fabulously entertained while you’re doing so. With a combination of streaming web TV, your favorite soap operas, movies on demand, and a good dose of the Get-Fit Guy, you’ll have no excuse not to exercise!

Stability Ball image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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