Building a home gym on a budget

Many people, who are obsessed with fitness, at one point or another, romanticize over the idea of building a home gym. If free space is not a real concern, that is you have some room to spare, or a garage or maybe a basement, then having a gym of your own beats every other alternative about fitness by a huge margin.

What I’m about to share is rooted by years and years of searching for alternatives, and ultimately building a gym of my own in the basement. The idea is contagious, and I’ve already convinced some of my friends to go down the same route; happy friends, now, and not particularly happy wives of theirs.

The principles of building a home gym

Quite few actually; so let us delve into basics, shall we?

A home gym requires enough space that you can exercise both with some equipment, as well as do some moves on your own, using nothing but gravity. That being said, you will need space for cardio exercises and some yoga, as well as space where you will put some of the equipment.

Ok, but how much space are we talking about, and what equipment specifically?

As for space, it really depends on your preferences, but keep in mind that your needs will grow as you progress through the months or years. The smartest thing to do is to plan for a bigger space in case you need it later on. If you are space-restricted, 9 square meters can be just enough.

So what about equipment then?

Once again, you never know what you will need late on, but for starters you will restrain yourself from buying things that you don’t actually use in your routine, or plan on using. Let us go from one step to another.

The adjustable bench

The adjustable bench, though you have the option to buy, is better off homemade. Or ask for someone who works with metal to build it for you after you give him the right measures. As for measures, I cannot describe in detail here what you will need, but keep in mind that you will benefit from a flat and inclined bench. These, are all the positions you will need, and will explain myself later why.

If you are low on space, see to it that the bench can be somehow folded or put aside when you are not using it (space for cardio maybe).

Bar with plates

Along with the bench, this is, according to me, the centerpiece of your home gym. The more fragmented you buy the weights, i.e. smaller plates, the easier it will be to progressively increase resistance, and thus build strength faster.

Don’t get carried away right away and spend all your money on plates you will never use all at once during the first couple of months. A home gym, unless you hire a spotter, doesn’t come with any, so keep in mind that you will never go all out in your early stages of training, meaning you will have to lift lighter weights.

home gym 2

Adjustable dumbbells

My mind is still racing between adjustable and fixed dumbbells here, so be free to follow your own intuition here. It all depends on your goals, but I think it is safe to assume that you will need dumbbells weighting 10, 12, and 15 kilos each. Three sets, that is. Or, you can buy two mini bars (dumbbell bars) and use the small plates from the bench set, maybe buying additional two or three pound ones just to be able to fine tune resistance.

Power rack with a pull-up bar

The power rack can be used in combination with the adjustable bench and serve as a safety precaution. In addition, you can attach a pull-up bar which will be more than enough for all the back workouts. On the side, you can even add two parallel bars.

The power rack is a robust construction, and it will serve as a base upon which you can attach all these other supplements to your equipment. It can also serve in leg workouts (weighted squads).

Yoga mat

This one will serve nicely as a protection to your elbows while you are on the floor doing complex resistance moves as well as cardio circuit routines.

It can also serve as a mat where you will do most of your stretches and yoga holds (you will need to incorporate these, believe me).

Everything else from here on now is a plus, but you can very well do without it as well.

Stability ball

This is great if you plan on doing holistic and functional fitness. It can target your core, and improve your balance tenfold. Besides, it is great to use as a bench in order to work on your whole body at once. Take your dumbbells, take the stability ball, and start counting reps.

A mirror

It makes the perception of the room bigger, and allows you to closely pay attention to your form while doing most of the workouts.

Sound isolation and stereo speakers

These give you both a peace of mind, as well as a nice boost to your workouts. Keep that in mind.

A TV set or a tabletop to put your laptop

These are very useful if you are into DVD workouts and home DVD fitness programs like the P90 workout or the Insanity Max 30. Only make sure, if you set a TV, to place it on approximately the same height where your eyes are. Lousy thing to strain your neck while jumping or doing resistance moves.

A mini fridge

Just saying, just saying… I mentioned this only to give you a clue of how far you can go once you get yourself carried away. Every next addition is very nice to have incorporated into your own space, your own gym, but keep in mind that it is best to stay close to what you need the most- essentials, remember?

If you find yourself spending more and more time in the gym, then by all means upgrade things as you progress. Until then pay attention to what is most important- your training.