Today we are going to spec and virtually build our Home Gym, a little community rig!
However, I have to highlight that building a home gym typically involves a large initial outlay, due to having to purchase quite a bit of equipment to kit your gym out.
Depending on the equipment that you choose to buy, you can try and build a cheap home gym, but you need to be careful that you don't buy cheap & buy twice! That will cost you more in the long run.
Whilst Lift Bible is all about fitness, we also like to save a few Quid here and there!
In this guide, we will be looking how we can build the very best home gym, with a modest budget. Let's crack on with how to build a home gym!
How to Build a Home Gym: On a Budget
There's no point running this article and setting no budget at all, as it's going to lead to unrealistic results. It would be a fantastic setup though.
We are going to build a home gym, which will contain all of the equipment that you'll need, whether a beginner or an experienced gym enthusiast.
The equipment that you can't be without in a home gym is:
- Power Rack
- Weight Bench (Adjustable)
- Olympic Barbell
- Weight Plates
Buying Used Home Gym Equipment
There's no high horse on Lift Bible. My first home gym started off with a Used Power Rack. I got a courier to collect it for me, and was astonished when he told me that he collected it from a highly rated Premier League Champion defender, in Merseyside! (That's my claim to fame, and I weren't even there).
There can be some fantastic bargains found on the used markets. The only problem is that you can't determine when something which actually be listed for sale. When you factor in the fact that you'll need to find the perfect equipment, get a courier to collect & deliver… It's quite a lot of hassle!
The whole process is also based on trust, if you can't physically get out and view the rig before collecting. There's some solid alternatives to buying used.
Handy on the Workbench? Get creative!
If you're handy on the workbench, you can actually save some money & get creative with your home gym equipment. Now, I wouldn't be building your own Squat Rack, but you can certainly save some money in the process by building your own toast rack.
The above one has been built by Catalyst Athletics, and it's pretty cool. Unfortunately, I'm not a dab hand with DIY!
However, it offers a fun way to add a personal touch to your very own home gym.
Buy New Equipment
Sometimes, there's nothing better than buying new. It comes with many benefits, and you can be 100% sure that it's a complete item, ready to complete the job.
In addition to this, you tend to get warranty! This offers complete peace of mind. Yes, you'll have to pay more for brand new, but if you purchase quality then you'll only have to build your gym once.
The equipment that we will be adding to our mandatory list is going to be:
Squat Rack / Power Rack
When you're building a home gym, you must make sure a power rack or squat rack is at the top of your list. It's going to be one of your biggest outlays, but the power rack cannot be underestimated.
You can train almost every muscle group on a power rack. You can train legs, back, chest, shoulders and arms!
There's a few different variations of power racks, you can also get a half power rack if you're struggling for space in your gym.
The better power racks will also have a lat pull attachment, which is an extra piece of equipment which bolts onto the rack.
If a power rack was the Gin, your olympic barbell would be the tonic. The olympic barbell will work perfectly with your rack, allowing you to squat, deadlift, chest press & even more.
We will list some great barbells below, but the best one that you can grab is the 7ft 20kg version.
Weight Plates / Bumper Plates
Weight plates are universal and you'll be able to add or remove the weight at your leisure. If you purchased fixed weights, you will be limiting your progression. Not only that, but you could be causing further damage by lifting weights that are too heavy for you.
With weight plates, you'll be able to add and remove the weight from your olympic barbell, which will definitely suit you in the long run.
They're the perfect tool to build a home gym on budget, whilst also planning for the future.
Adjustable Weight Bench
We need a bench to train quite a lot of muscle groups. There's the seated shoulder press, barbell press &seated dumbbell curl just for an example.
You need a bench, full stop. The crossroads that you'll have to reach is whether to get a flat fixed bench, or an adjustable bench.
There isn't too much difference in cost, but the adjustable bench will allow you to target even more muscle groups and exercises.
The seated shoulder press would be uncomfortable on a flat bench, as you'll have to ensure you don't arch your back (where an adjustable bench will have a physical seat for your back to rest against).
In addition to this, the adjustable bench will allow you to target more exercises, such as the Incline Bench Press, Decline Bench Press & extra variations of the shoulder press. There's even more than this, but this is all I can think of currently!
I would always recommend an adjustable bench, as it unlocks so much more for your gym.
When building a Home Gym, dumb bells will work as versatile equipment. Whilst you can do most of your work inside the rack with a barbell, there's some things that just need dumbbells. Your bicep curls & most of your shoulder workouts are best suited for these.
The biggest decision that you'll have to make is whether you should purchase individual pairs of these, or pay the larger outright fee for a pair of adjustables, which will allow you to target between 2kg and 40kg.
The latter is probably the best option, especially if you need to save space in your garage!
Pricing up your Home Gym
We are going to now provide three solid examples of a Home Gym, with three different budgets in mind. All In the game of keeping things fun, I'll be a bit adventurous with the naming convention of these. These are the perfect options for your garage gym.
- The New Year, New Me
- Getting into it
- Planning for the Future
The New Year, New Me.
This is a setup which is perfect for beginners, and New Year is always a good time to get those fitness goals hit. This will be a setup with a £750 budget, which I will admit is the lower end for a home gym. However, it's certainly possible to tailor your equipment with this budget in mind. (I tried this with a £500 budget, but it worked out too difficult in 2021).
With this budget in mind, we would be looking for the following:
- Squat Rack with Dip Bar + Storage Bar
- Dumbbell Handles (add the weight yourself)
- Adjustable Weight Bench
- Olympic Barbell & 100KG Weights
It definitely needs to be noted that this is a home gym on a budget, which you will probably outgrow within around 2 years (depending on your current level). Fortunately, the olympic barbell is a high quality product & you'll be able to add weight plates onto this.
However, the dumbbell handles will eventually need upgrading to adjustable dumbbells, or a dumbbell rack. At the time of writing this, the above costs £644. That's really a decent price for your first home gym setup. You get a good quality squat rack, adjustable weight bench & an Olympic Barbell with 100kg weights.
There won't be many workouts that you won't be able to complete with this setup, but as I mentioned above it won't take too long until you're maxing out a 100kg squat, deadlift and chest press.
That doesn't mean the above is a bad purchase though, it's your way of entering the bodybuilding space, and you will have worked yourself up to at least 100kg lifts before you upgrade.
To conclude, it's a solid budget home gym for a starter.
Gym Build #2: Getting into it
This is for Home Gym enthusiasts that can already stack a little bit of weight onto the bar. Maybe you've got a gym membership, but you're completely fed up with that horrible commute.
As we are ‘getting into it', we are going to allocate a £1,000 budget. This equates to a Gym membership for 3 years at £27 per month. However, after the third year… your home gym is free!
(Providing you don't have the bug to upgrade your gym equipment!).
- Gym Master Power Rack
As we are running on a larger budget, we can upgrade to a full power rack. This will give us the ability to
- Olympic Barbell & 145KG Weights
It's a set by the same manufacturers, but this time with 145kg of weight plates. If you're a heavy lifter, you may require an extra 40-50kg, but 145kg of weights plus the 20kg bar is still a good haul, even for experienced lifters.
- Adjustable Bench
We are sticking with the same adjustable bench ,so there's nothing else to add to the above bench description. It's a high quality bench and will be sufficient for your training needs.
- £75 – 20kg Dumbbells Adjustable Set
This is already starting to look very appealing, and you could argue that it's very close to being a perfect setup. There's one improvement that I'd like to see from this, but that means it's a very good setup for a mid-level budget. Can you spot the adjustment I would make? See below for details.
Build Number 3: Planning for the Future
Our final budget criteria will be £1,500, for our final beginner home gym. For this, I will be focusing on gym equipment which won't require upgrading, but instead, you can add to it.
It's definitely the best way to build a home gym, as it means that you don't have to waste time selling your starter gym setups in order to upgrade. I'm actually going to include all of the above equipment, but I'm going to bin those £75 adjustable dumbbells.
So that means we've spent just over £830, our garage gym kitty now sits at £670.
It may seem crazy on paper, but I'd spend all of that budget on some different Dumbbells. I am aware that space is a massive issue with home gyms, with some enthusiasts training from their living room aswell.
For that reason, I would take the Strongology smart dumbbells which can switch from 5-40kg automatically. I discussed adjustable dumbbells in depth here, but these ones increase to 40kg and they would suffice indefinitely, unless you're a powerlifter!
You can read exactly why I like adjustable dumbbells here.
These adjustable dumbbells aren't like the above dumbbells which will spin off and manually adjust. They will automatically adjust, meaning no time wasted in adding and removing weight. Crucially, it will also only take up the same space as one set of dumbbells.
I wish I knew of the above invention, before purchasing every dumbbell from 2kg to 40kg!
If you have £1,500 to spend on a Home Gym, it's definitely worth considering saving on your gym membership & buying home gym equipment instead.
This will be equipment that will last you years, and one of the best things is that the re-sale value is fantastic. The second hand market for weightlifting equipment is very strong.
That concludes our premium garage gym / home gym build. Whilst making this guide, I also thought of some other equipment ideas which could benefit any home gym enthusiast. They aren't must have items, like the power rack or barbell… but they can definitely improve your workouts.
Make sure you consider the above items, as I have listed everything you need to get your home gym space ready to roll!
More Equipment for your Home Gym
Foam Gym Flooring
This is the first non-necessity item, but something that will protect the investment that is your home. Most garages have tiled floors, so the best way to protect them from your Weights, is to get some high quality gym flooring. It's going to work out cheaper than replacing a tile.
In addition to that, the foam has another benefit. In the winter, when it's going to be impossible to touch the floor without freezing & feeling uncomfortable, Foam Flooring takes the brunt of the cold weather and is still very comfortable all year round.
Proper gym flooring doesn't have to be expensive, either. I found my foam flooring and paid the same price as I saw a Yoga Mat advertised. Believe me, I like to cut costs where I can & I did consider combining lots of yoga mats together…
It also looks a little more professional, if that's your thing.
Toast Rack for Weight Plates
I like the name of these. Toast Rack. Ha.
In all seriousness, a Toast Rack is a fantastic home for your free weights plates. Before I had my toast rack, I would always end up stubbing my toe on them during a training session, as I couldn't find anywhere to store them.
I read the reviews and saw these were a great way to save space, so I decided to invest. It wasn't a great deal of money, I think my one was £70.
My toes seem to think it was a good idea…and my home gym is quite neat and tidy now.
If you haven't chosen adjustable dumbbells, you're going to benefit from a dumbbell rack. Space is the biggest problem when building a home gym, and you'll be surprised how much space a few pairs of dumbbells take up.
Dumbbell racks can stand vertically, or horizontally. In a home gym I would always advise on a vertical standing rack, as it will give you more room for extra fitness equipment. The less space that you can take up on the gym floor itself, the better.
Cardio Equipment (Treadmill or Cross Trainer)
This one will most likely raise some questions. Why's it not on the mandatory list?! Quite simply because you can go for a run, or get your cardio targets completed in other ways.
If you don't have the space or financial room for a £500, 6ft treadmill… you have to compromise. We'd rather you spend the money on dedicated equipment for building muscle, as I mentioned above you can get your cardio goals completed on the gravel!
Weight Loss or Fat Loss is definitely easier in the winter if you have a treadmill, as you'll be much less likely to go running in the Ice Cold weather.
If you aren't excited by running, there's always the possibility of rowing machines to add to your arsenal.
This was first on my Christmas list, when I was building my home gym. As you have read above about buying used equipment, you amass your collection quite slowly & birthday's and christmas present ideas are few and far between.
The Amazon Echo has been a great little assistant for me. It's honestly made my weight training a breeze, allowing me to retain full focus.
In addition to offering great audio quality at a price much cheaper than Bose or Sonos offer, it can also provide timers and other little handy features. I've been into my Boxing work recently & I simply needed to say Alexa, set a 90 second timer.
It's a little faster than opening up my phone and opening the app, but a little more expensive than having a physical timer in your hands. A great middle ground!
Pull Up Bar
If you're working out in the spare room without the space to afford a full power rack, you may want to take a look at a pull up bar.
Pull ups work as fantastic bodyweight exercises, as you activate lots of muscles when you perform them. Whilst a pull up bar will never replace power racks, you sometimes have to compromise to achieve your perfect home gym.
(You're going to need more than a pull up bar to target all of your muscles, but there are plenty of alternative power racks on the market which take up less space).
Jump Rope / Skipping Rope
I'm not the greatest of skippers, but I've always wished that I could skip like professional boxers do. Not only does it look great, the physical benefits of skipping are off the scale.
This will work out as a great warm up when you enter your home gym, and is a cardio workout which helps you to lose weight and build muscle at the same time. It's a little bit of a cheat code!
Printed Out Workout Charts
This isn't a must have, but it will decorate your gym in a unique way & also give you some guidance during your workout routine. We are working on some guides, which can be printed out and followed.
They will contain a chest workout, shoulders workout, arms workout, back workout, legs workout & we will also feature a High Intensity Interval Training blast.
People, watch this space for that little feature!
How to Build a Home Gym: Our Conclusion
We have discussed all of the main requirements for building a home gym now, focusing on all of the equipment that you could possibly require. Whilst there's little things such as a medicine ball, pull up bar & resistance bands that will also be welcome additions, I didn't want to turn this into a general list of gym equipment. We've worked to specific budgets to keep the home gym cost as low as possible, whilst getting all of the equipment that will increase your muscle mass, experience & get started on your fitness journey.
If you think there's another piece of equipment that we should add to the list, let us know below! Until then, I hope these 3 examples are worthy of being your next builds & this post has shown you how to build a home gym.