The Complete Guide to Building a Home Gym
A home gym might be the best thing you never knew you needed, or it could be a lifelong aspiration that you're just waiting for the right time to get. Either way, it can change your life and your fitness to make a healthier, happier you. One of the biggest hurdles to getting one, however, is how actually to go about building one, and what you need to know before, during and after you do it. That’s where the challenges begin to crop up.
We're here to talk you through it every step of the way to help you really make your own haven of exercise that'll be just the thing you need for years to come. Before we crack on with what you need, let's look at a little info. (And if you're here for a garage gym, we have an article specifically for that, too!).
Cardio & Weight Loss
Advantages of working out from home
If you’re still on the fence or even if you’re just getting a little tired of the gym, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of what the advantages of a home gym might be, and there’s a lot of them. (We actually have another article all about it here).
The biggest advantages to them are things like how easy and time saving they are since your gym is where you live. You don’t have to put in any extra effort or time to get there and back, it’s ready and waiting whenever you are. That can be just the thing some of us need to give us the kick to keep it going long term, or even be able to exercise at all.
On top of the practicality, it’s also a good idea to note how much better your gym experience could be, especially if you have a bad relationship with the gym (or you hate the lack of gym etiquette). Your home gym is yours, and that means you don’t have to share it and you can do what you like. You have access to your own fridge, bathroom, and anything else that could want. There’s no one there to watch you either which can be a huge factor for a lot of people. Confidence is everything, and everyone deserves the chance to exercise comfortably. Your home gym is clean and tidy too, which is always a pro instead of using a sweaty gym bench after your workout buddy.
Disadvantages of a home gym
Before we carry on, it’s a good time to point out that we’re not deluded either. Working out from home isn’t the right call for everyone, and we respect that. That’s why it’s a good idea to look at some of the disadvantages and see if they apply to you. It's a big deal, after all.
For starters, buying a lot of home gym equipment may be a pricey investment. There are finance options available for a lot of things, and it’ll save you a gym membership, but if a membership is more practical for you, then you should stick with it. It’s got to be what’s best for you personally.
On top of the cost, you need to think about practicality too. There’s going to be almost everything you need available at the gym rather than what you choose to buy. It might not be practical to have a whole smith machine in your one-bedroom flat, for example, and so you need to figure out what you need from your workouts.
One final thing to remember here is how it can affect your motivation when you workout form home, too. You may well find that you are a chronic procrastinator, and encouraging yourself to actually get in your home gym and get going is harder than you thought. Sometimes, being at the gym away from home is the best way to focus. It depends on you as a person, so think about it carefully.
So moving on from the pros and cons of a home gym, we need to talk about the considerations of what it takes to build one too. It might not just be effecting you after all. Even if it is just you, there are a few things you need to be aware of that may not have crossed your mind.
Some big aspects are about other people you live with. Your home gym may not only be something you need to compromise with for multiple users, but it might also be something you need to think about in terms of noise, especially going upstairs. Floor matting and insulation are a godsend here, but if you have a newborn, or downstairs neighbours, for example, it might not be ideal (here's an article about a multigym upstairs for clarity). Clanging weights and big machines may not be ideal all of the time, although they can be a better workout.
As well as this, you need to think about your safety. If you intend to weight train especially, this is a huge consideration. If you're buying a lot of weights, you need to think about weight distribution and flooring. On top of that, you might find trip hazards, risks for children, and even a lack of support if you may need a spotter (so a rack may be ideal). Your health is a biggie too, so think about injuries you may have and what your equipment can do to worsen it. Generally speaking, just think ahead!
- Weight limit
- Trip hazards
- Children and Pet accessibility
- Experience Level & Know-how
- Health Risks
- Noise Levels
Before You Start
The last thing you need to think about before you start to build your perfect home gym is what you’re going to need to do it. It’s always a good idea to think about it before you buy things that may not be the right fit. Hopefully not literally, but it’s possible.
The biggest players here are things like space and location. You need to make sure you have somewhere practical to exercise with enough space for you and your equipment AS WELL AS a place to store it afterwards.
In addition to that, make sure you really know what you want to achieve with your new home gym, as it’s easy to get caught up in things or miss out something you need. Build your home gym around your fitness goals. You don’t want a smith machine if you’re trying to increase your stamina, for example, and a treadmill may not be great for putting on muscle mass. Get the right balance for what you want to achieve in the long and the short term.
- Purpose and goals
What to buy
Now, we have the fun part. Buying and setting up your home gym equipment is one of the most exciting home additions you can do. We've broken it down into different categories to really help you with what you need, no matter what your goals are.
We’ll start off with weight training. There’s something in it for everyone, no matter what you are training for after all, since it burns calories and still builds muscle depending on how you choose to train. We’ll go through each bit of kit so you can think about what would work for you
Free weights are an awesome and fairly small place to start. They’re generally essential to a good workout, and you can do just about anything with them. The only problem is that things can get messy, and you might struggle to find the right weight set for what you need. For clarification, you might be able to squat 80KG, but only be able to bicep Curl 5-10KG. You’ll need a lot of them to make good progress.
- Better workout
- You’ll need a lot of different kinds
To make the most of your free weights, you’re probably going to need a weight bench. The good news here is that they’re pretty lightweight, they don’t take up much room, and they’re easy to store. You can use them as support for bigger weights or just to do bench specific exercises like the bench press. It’s all down to you.
- Space Saving
Power Racks and smith machines are up there with the best weight training equipment you can get. With a barbell and weight bench, you have pretty much everything you could ever want from a gym. Even on top of that, you have support while you’re doing it, allowing you to be safer and lift heavier weights. The only problem is, they’re pretty huge.
Multigyms take weight training to another level. They do what they say on the tin, and with one purchase, you have access to a vast range of exercises and a lot of weight to go with it. It’s great for making the most of your space and exercising safely, but you may find you don’t have as much diversity as you’d get form free weights.
Cardio and Fitness
There’s way more to a home gym than just getting weights too, and if you're trying to lose weight or just be healthier in general, there may be some other options that you'd like to look at too. That's where cardio and fitness equipment come into their own and can be just what you need.
Treadmills are a staple of cardio. They do just what you need them to do, and they're hard to get wrong. One of the biggest issues has always been their size too, but with folding options out there, even that isn’t a huge deal. Running or walking is a great way to stay in shape, with a tonne of variety.
- Great workout
- High impact
There aren’t many cardio exercises out there that can rival rowing. It's a full-body exercise that uses pretty much every muscle you could want it to. That makes it perfect for helping you burn calories and build a little muscle at the same time. Again, most rowing machines fold now, too, making them easy to store and easy to use. The only issue is their fixed motion meaning all you can change is resistance and speed. It might be too much hard work.
- Full body workout
- Variable resistance
- Perfect for toning
- Hard exercise
- Loud motion
Bikes are another cardio icon, and they’re one of the most popular ways to exercise that there are. The good thing about exercise bikes is their variety. You can get an assault bike to give you one of the hardest workouts of your life, or you can get a recumbent bike to make exercise easy on your knees. There's something for everyone, and they're a quiet, light and still calorie-burning exercise.
- Low impact
- Versatile styles
- Easy to use
The last of the great cardio machines is the cross-trainer. This is another full-body hitter making it great for calorie burn, and on top of that, it’s virtually silent. You can’t hear the machine or any movement impact which comes from the others, no matter how hard you try. This can be a real deal maker if you need that.
- Low impact
- full body workout
- limited motion
The final bit of cardio kit we’ll look at is boxing equipment. It’s one of the best forms of exercise in the world because of all of the benefits that come with it, and if you’re building a home gym, it can have a place in your workouts. You can get hanging as well as free-standing punch bags, speed bags, or just gloves and jab pads for training with a partner. It's an excellent way to burn calories, boost strength, and increase your coordination and agility as well.
- Calorie burn
- Amazing exercise
- High impact
- Space consuming
Health and Accessories
There's one final category that people forget to think about when people are setting up a home gym, and that's what you could be doing with accessories and health kit. We don't mean like therapeutic massage equipment or anything like that, but there are some things you can add to your workouts that can make a huge impact.
One of the best ways to exercise your mind and your body at the same time is through yoga. It's an awesome way to boost your flexibility and your strength while helping balance and mindset too. No matter which route you're going down in your training, there's space for yoga in your day. There's more to it than just yoga mats too. Blocks are another useful tool you can add to help you out. It all has it’s advantages, and they’re great for bodyweight and recovery exercises as well.
- Mental wellbeing
The last little thing that we'll mention here is the use of resistance bands. These are another one that fits into any fitness goal no matter what it is that you are trying to do, and if you use them properly, you’re onto a winner. They’re great for changing up your training to build muscle and stability in completely new ways. On top of that, they’re probably the smallest equipment you can buy in terms of size, and that means that you can store them easily too.
- Resistance training
- May be limited
That should cover just about everything you need to know, or for now at least. Building a home gym is a huge job, but it's an awesome thing to do, and the payoff can be priceless. The main thing is to work towards what it is that YOU want, and not what you feel like you should have. Exercise in a way that works for you and, try your best to reach your goals as healthily as possible. Good luck!
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.