Working out at home can be more cost-effective and convenient than regular gym memberships, but it’s also a lot harder to stay motivated if you have nowhere to go and nothing to use. If you plan carefully and do your research, however, you can have the best of both worlds—a fully equipped garage gym that allows you to get fit in the convenience of your own home, for less money and with less hassle than you ever imagined possible. Here’s our comprehensive checklist of everything you need to start building your own home garage gym today!
Home Garage Gym Essentials
The first thing you’ll need to figure out is what type of equipment you need for your home gym. Set a budget and list of must-haves to make sure you buy quality items that will last. Purchase both cardio and strength training equipment, but remember that you don’t need everything at once. You can start with just one weight bench or a few dumbbells and build from there. The main point is to get started and make it easy for yourself to work out at home when possible. You could even set up an Amazon wish list full of your future purchases so you can keep track of them all in one place.
1. Home Exercise Bench
Having a dedicated exercise bench can be helpful, especially if you want to target specific muscle groups. Having a set place to do push-ups and dips can be more motivating than doing them from your couch. This Body-Solid Pro Club FID Bench will cost you around $150 and is capable of holding up to 1,000 pounds. The best part about home exercise equipment is that it’s multi-functional—you can use it for pull-ups, sit-ups, or even arm curls. Depending on what you have available in your garage or basement, an adjustable dumbbell rack could also be useful for targeting specific muscle groups at different angles without any special tools.
2. Barbell Sets
To start out, you’ll need a barbell set, which is a combination of barbells and weights. Barbells are made of iron or steel; weights typically come in 2.5-pound increments. The amount you start with will depend on your fitness goals and experience level—the more experienced you are, the higher weight increment you should use, to begin with. Barbell sets range widely in price depending on brand and quality. If you can afford it, go for quality; there’s a big difference between cheap bars and ones that are designed to last decades without showing wear and tear.
3. Dumbbell Sets
Dumbbells are, without a doubt, one of our most-recommended pieces of home garage gym equipment. For one thing, they’re incredibly versatile—you can use them for upper body lifts and lower body exercises, too. Plus, because you can adjust their weight (and add on more), they’re easy to progress with as your fitness levels change. A good set will start at about $75; grab weights in 5-pound increments from there to make it easy to build up over time.
4. Power Racks/Squat Racks
Of all of your equipment needs, Power Racks are one of the most important. Power Racks serve a few purposes: they provide you with a place to store your weights, allow you to perform squats, and allow you to perform bench presses. A full rack is great for any home gym enthusiast. If you don’t have enough space for a full-size rack or if purchasing a power rack seems like too much at first, many fitness equipment stores offer squat racks that are small enough to fit in most garages.
5. Treadmills, Ellipticals & Cross Trainers
You don’t need to spend a fortune on treadmills, ellipticals, and cross trainers to get in a great workout. You just need something that is durable, versatile, and dependable. For most people, a treadmill is probably your best bet. It’s great for running as well as walking or jogging at varying speeds, inclines, and other options. Most also have built-in fans to keep you cool as you exercise. A quality treadmill should be sturdy but not too bulky; it shouldn’t take up more than about one square foot of floor space and shouldn’t weigh more than 100 pounds.
6. Cardio Machines (Stationary & Recumbent Bikes)
Cardiovascular exercise machines are great for burning calories, shedding fat, and developing your heart, respiratory and circulatory systems. Many of these cardio machines feature computer monitors that keep track of your pace, distance, calories burned, and other statistics. If you want to lose weight but also want to become more physically fit, it’s a good idea to have at least one cardio machine in your home gym. Stationary bikes or recumbent bikes will help build endurance; treadmills can help you develop speed; while elliptical trainers focus on increasing strength by working your glutes and legs.
7. Free Weights (Dumbbells, Kettlebells)
As you’re assembling your own gym at home, don’t forget to include a few different sets of dumbbells. Dumbbells are inexpensive, compact, and easy to store away. If space is an issue, consider purchasing them in pairs instead of full sets—they cost less and take up much less space. At a minimum, you should have a light pair (3-5 pounds) and a heavy pair (8-10 pounds). Though it isn’t necessary, many people like to purchase an additional set in between these weights for further variety.
8. Functional Trainers & Step Machines
If you’re planning to set up a home gym, start with a functional trainer or step machine. These tools allow you to perform cardiovascular and strength-training exercises all in one machine. They’re a great tool for someone who is new to working out because they are easy to learn on and can help develop proper form, but also challenge even an experienced athlete. Functional trainers provide versatility when it comes to workout intensity. If you’ve never worked out before, start with low-intensity sessions that alternate between high repetitions (to build muscle endurance) and low repetitions (to build muscle strength). As your body adapts and becomes stronger, increase resistance levels until they are maxed out.