How to Build a Great Home Gym for Your Fitness Goals
By Jason Parker
It’s possible to build a great home gym in virtually any space without investing thousands of dollars or hours of your time. We believe any room can be transformed to help you achieve your fitness goals and we’ve put together the perfect guide to help you build and maintain a home gym.
Benefits of a home gym
There are significant health benefits to exercise. Consider taking advantage of these benefits of a home gym so you can live a healthier, happier, and more productive life.
No commute—We get it. Hopping in the car to drive to the gym to work out is a hassle. It takes extra time, it uses gasoline, and, if you’re traveling after work, you’ll likely be dealing with traffic. Walking into your home gym is much easier. Put that extra drive time to use by adding a core workout or dynamic warm up to your routine.
Always available—Your home gym is never closed. No more scheduling workouts around when a commercial gym is open, and no more paying extra fees for 24/7 access.
More training options—If you’re relying on mostly bodyweight exercises, building a dedicated space for a home gym and adding some basic equipment can transform your exercise experience. This unlocks more training options—diversification of exercises and training modalities can keep exercise fresh, exciting, and effective.
More sanitary—It’s much easier to maintain your home gym equipment. Avoid the germs and sweat of a commercial gym—build a home gym and exercise in private.
More affordable—In the long run, gym memberships and fees could actually end up costing significantly more than investing in equipment that you can use on your own at home. The initial cost of the equipment may be high, but the equipment will remain yours. You’ll own every aspect of your home gym—and that pride in ownership may be the extra boost you need to stay on your fitness plan.
Planning for your space
The most important consideration for building your home gym is the available space you have in your house. It’s important to set up your home gym in a space solely dedicated for exercise—it’s even better if there’s a door that you can close to separate your home from your home gym.
If you’re limited on space, designating a place for a full-length yoga mat is a good option. Furniture designed to provide storage options may be worth considering for your home gym equipment.
Important factors for your home gym
Know your training goals—What are you hoping to achieve by training in your home gym? Your goals can and will likely determine what equipment is necessary.
Start small—Don’t buy all of the equipment at your local sporting goods store. You can start with a few items and add to your home gym as you progress in your training plan. A few essential items include a comfortable yoga mat, resistance bands, and a jump rope.
Start training—Your home gym does not have to be perfect for you to begin to train. Even if you have not yet acquired any equipment, you can still complete an intense bodyweight workout.
Common training objectives
People begin to exercise for a variety of reasons, and with a variety of short- and long-term objectives in mind. Here’s how these common objectives might impact how you’d set up your home gym.
Weight loss—Regular exercise can support weight loss goals. Moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise for at least 150 minutes per week and at least two 30–45 minute resistance training sessions using bodyweight, free weights, or resistance bands should be prioritized.
Healthier lifestyle—For those seeking a healthier lifestyle and improved performance for every day activities, a balanced approach to exercise is advised. Set up your home gym to accommodate resistance training exercises and cardiorespiratory work, as well as balance and stability training. It’s important to include exercises that engage and strengthen the core muscles as well.
Medical requirement—If your doctor has spoken with you about exercising to mitigate a diagnosed health condition, follow your doctor’s recommendations. You may wish to consult with a certified personal trainer who can design a home training program to support your diagnosis and recovery. This trainer may also be able to provide equipment recommendations—and help you find it.
Athletic performance—For those seeking to enhance athletic performance, building a space where weight training can take place will be important. However, as athletic performance also relies on speed, agility, and quickness, as well as excellent balance and core stability and strength, design the home gym space to allow for these types of activities.
Increased strength—If your primary objective is to increase muscle mass, you’ll want to consider a squat or power rack. For home gyms, power racks that come with safety bars are strongly recommended. In addition, invest in an adjustable bench and free weights. You don’t need a full set to begin—but you will need a few varied weights.
Home gym equipment and accessories
What’s the best equipment to launch your home gym? Here are seven recommendations on essential equipment to include in your home gym.
Yoga or exercise mat—Protect your floor and your feet. An exercise mat is an absolute must-have for every home gym. You’ll be doing a lot of floor exercises, bodyweight work, and core exercises. Mats are easy to clean, making maintenance a breeze.
Resistance bands—Invest in a set of mini-looped resistance bands, as well as a set of resistance band tubing with handles. They’re low-tech, versatile, and pack up into a very small space, making storage easy. There are even some low-cost travel gym systems that rely on resistance bands that may be worth considering if you’ve got a very small space.
Foam roller—Rollers promote flexibility, muscle recovery, and core stability. In a pinch, they can be used for balance exercises as well. Multiple sizes and densities are available—we recommend a high-density flat roller. No frills necessary. Store upright in the corner of the room or easily in a closet.
Free weights—If you’re just getting started, we recommend investing in a few pairs of dumbbells. As weights can sometimes take up quite a bit of space, consider in advance where and how you plan to store them. Some free weight systems have interlocking plates and a wide variability of weight. A set of these weights is a great space-saving option to get started in your home gym.
Jump rope—Jump ropes offer a wide range of exercise options and can be used to demarcate a boundary line for agility or balance exercises. Jumping rope is an excellent cardiorespiratory activity and can be done in a very small space. They’re also exceptionally affordable compared to larger cardiorespiratory machines like treadmills and ellipticals.
Stability ball or Bosu trainer—Stability balls and Bosu trainers are excellent for core strengthening and stability exercises. At a relatively low price point, stability balls do require proper inflation to operate and primarily range from 55–65 inches in diameter. Figure out where and how you plan to store it when you’re not using it. Stability balls have also gained in popularity as an alternative to traditional desk or office chairs—consider using it at your desk.
Pull-up bar or suspension trainer—Look for an over-the-door system. Suspension trainers are adjustable and can enhance strength and stability and encourage proper form in completing bodyweight exercises. Pull-up bars are a dynamic and effective way to enhance upper body strength.
As you build your home gym, additional home gym equipment may be needed to help you reach your training goals.
You may also wish to consider these six accessories in your home gym.
Full-length mirror—If your space allows it, consider adding a body-length mirror. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A mirror can help you work on proper form and prevent injuries.
Speaker system—A speaker system allows you to listen to music, sporting events, news reports and podcasts, or educational content as you work out. It doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line to function—a portable bluetooth speaker can always work with a bluetooth-enabled smartphone.
Television or media station—There’s an abundance of exercise video and streaming content available to help keep individuals motivated. Setting up a media station to use a television or a computer to stream or play videos can provide the support needed to complete a workout.
Fan—Depending on where you live, the season, and the size of your home gym space, it might get quite hot as you work out. Keep air circulating and cool with a fan powerful enough to meet your needs. Upright tower fans often take up little floor space and can provide enough control to keep you cool as you work out.
Adjustable lighting—Lighting can matter a great deal. A number of factors may require adjusting the lighting in the room to be bright—or dim. Dimmer switches and dimmable LED fixtures are affordable and easy-to-install options that may be a great investment in your home gym.
Motivational items—What will keep you motivated as you train to reach your goals? Find what will motivate you—a 10K registration form or an inspirational quote—and place this front and center in your space.
Maintenance and other considerations
Treat your home gym like you would treat any other space in your house—and take good care of it. After each workout, wipe down your yoga mat or adjustable bench with a cloth, paper towel, or bath towel and water. Consider adding a few drops of lemon juice or tea tree oil. Wipe down the handles of any dumbbells, jump rope, resistance bands, and other equipment. Place your equipment back in the storage space you’ve selected so that you’re ready for the next workout.
Every week, sweep or vacuum the floors. Clean windows, sills, and blinds monthly. If you do invest in a fan, make sure you clean and maintain it according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Your home gym ought to feel like your very own space—a refuge where you can disconnect from the outside world and work toward your fitness goals. Add personalized maintenance to your clean up regimen based on your health and fitness needs. A home gym is an important investment—that pays dividends.
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