17 Home Gym Hacks (Simple DIY Tips From an Expert)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 29, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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In my fitness career, I moved around a lot and had home gyms everywhere I went.

I have discovered many home and commercial gym hacks over the years and hope to share some of them with you today. I also talked with other fitness enthusiasts and my clients, who have home gyms, to get their tips and tricks.

This article will help you learn how to optimize and improve your home gym to get the best fitness results.

Quick Summary

  • To enhance your home gym experience, implement practical hacks like using workout bands for forearm training and cutting tennis balls for landmine exercises.
  • Use innovative space-saving techniques, such as using multi-functional equipment and wall-mounted storage solutions.
  • A study in the National Library of Medicine says workout bands are effective for forearm training.
  • I found that freezing knee sleeves and wrist wraps eliminates odors and helps me have a fresh and clean home gym environment.

17 Best Home Gym Hacks

A woman working out at her home gym

I tested all the top home gym hacks on the list in my home gym setups.

These seventeen hacks will save you time, cut potential costs, and optimize your daily workouts.

Some of these hacks can be implemented in both a home and a commercial gym.

"If you've got the space and a bit of a starter budget, you're in luck. Building a home gym isn't as hard or as intimidating as it might sound. When you're working out at home, you don't have to deal with the potential drawbacks of commercial gym fitness life."

- Alex Polish, Certified Personal Trainer. 

1. Use Workout Bands for Forearm Training

According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, workout bands are an excellent option for forearm training [1]. You can create your wrist-rolling tool with a barbell, band, and band peg.

You only need to attach the band to the band peg and then tie it off.

Wrap the band around your barbell, and you are ready to go. In addition, workout bands are excellent for performing rotator cuff exercises, including internal and external rotation.

Implementing these simple rotations with the workout band can reduce the risk of potential injury. 

You only need two sets for each rotation exercise before every workout.

2. Utilize 1-Inch Spacers

Have you ever faced attachment issues due to the width of your squat rack's holes?

If so, you can attach a 5/8" attachment with a bolt within a 1" rack to fix the problem.

You only need to slide them in the hole to secure your garage gym equipment.

3. Cut Tennis Balls for Landmine Work

A person holding a tennis ball to the camera

Cutting the tennis ball to perform landmine presses, rowing variations, and similar is an excellent option to protect your barbell and wall simultaneously.

In addition, using the tennis ball can make your barbell more stable and reduce the unnecessary sliding of your barbell.

You only need to cut the tennis ball in quarters and then slide it onto the end of your barbell.

You can place your barbell in the corner of your home gym or between two weight plates.

4. Make Your Fat Grips

Making fat grips is not hard, and you can save money by making them yourself.

All you need for making your fat grips are PVC pipe (about 2" diameter) and foam pipe insulation to fit a 1" pipe.

These diameters ensure that the internal diameter is perfect for a normal grip.

5. Implement Jack Shaft Garage Door Opener for Overhead Space

Close up shot of a garage door

Removing the typically tracked garage door opener installed in the ceiling can make more overhead space.

Most garage gyms have this problem, and removing garage doors makes your garage gym safer for exercising.

Remember that this isn't cheap, but it is worth it to free up space and make your garage gym safer for performing exercises like pull-ups and overhead presses.

6. Save Floor Space With S-Hooks

S-hooks are the perfect solution for storing resistance bands and heavy chains in your home gym.

Place it the whole of an upright and then use it to get the unnecessary gym equipment from your home gym floor.

When buying S-hooks, try to look for those built from steel since the regular or plastic ones will wear off or break quickly.

7. Freeze Your Knee Sleeves/Wrist Wraps

A woman taking off knee sleeves

I remember after a particularly intense workout, my knee sleeves were, frankly, stinking up the place. Instead of constantly washing them, which can wear them out, I started popping them in the freezer overnight.

It sounds odd, but it really helps neutralize the odor without causing extra wear and tear.

I tried this hack multiple times, and the only downside is that the sleeves will be slightly frosty but won't smell bad.

It isn't the permanent solution but it provides a quick and easy fix.

That's why buying high-quality wrist wraps for your home gym is important.

8. Use Leg Rollers for Preacher Curls

Leg rollers can be a solution if you don't have extra cash to spend on a preacher curl bench.

Leg rollers are cheap, and according to another study in the National Library of Medicine, you can use them to prepare yourself for an entire workout and perform preacher curls [2].

However, if you want to use it for the latter, you need a leg roller that is solid and doesn't have any spikes on it.

If you choose the one with spikes, you can hurt your hands while performing the exercise.

Foam rollers are one of the best solutions, and they are the cheapest.

Related: Best Leg Press Machines for Home Gym: Reviews

9. Place Flex Tape on Your J-Cups

A person holding flex tape to his face

Protecting my barbell is a priority in my home gym, and I've learned that J-cups are essential for this. I once bought J-cups with plastic covering, and they just didn't hold up.

Now, I use flex tape on my J-cups, which is a cost-effective way to prevent metal-on-metal wear and extend their lifespan.

Remember never to spend money on J-cups with plastic covering because they won't last.

Always choose the ones with the metal covering since they are more durable.

Always place it on the inside of your J-cup.

10. Use Tennis Balls for Adjustable Dumbbells

Cutting and placing the tennis ball on your adjustable dumbbells can further protect your gym equipment.

Also, adding the tennis ball to your adjustable dumbbells will protect your thighs if you ever rest your dumbbells on them between sets.

To cut the tennis ball correctly, quarter and place them at the end of your adjustable dumbbells. 

If you don't have horse stall mats, this can protect your floor if you perform man-makers or burpees with dumbbells.

11. Try a Phone Magnet

A person putting a phone magnet on a phone

If you love chilling on your phone between the sets or need it due to the nature of your job, then phone magnets are a must.

You can stick your phone magnet on your a quality power rack.

This can also protect your phone from getting hit by weight plates and other gym equipment; you will always know where you left your phone.

Also, a phone magnet can be an excellent solution if you like to play music over the phone in your home gym.

It can serve as a little station where you can always come back to play another of your favorite songs [3].

12. Store Equipment With Metal Pegboard

With a metal pegboard, you can store 90% of your gym equipment and free up the floor space to move freely and perform exercises without worrying about getting injured.

You can store everything from weight plates to handles and random equipment attachments.

They are affordable, so always look to buy the ones built from steel since they are the most durable.

13. Get some Garage Door Lights

Close up shot of a garage door with lights

These lights come in use if you hate when the lights above your garage door get blocked out by your garage door.

Install some strip lighting in the door, which you can turn on when the garage door is up.

It will add some awesome light to your home garage gym.

14. Check Secondhand Marketplaces for Equipment

Secondhand marketplaces offer solutions if you are on a tight budget and need to buy a lot of fitness equipment for your garage gym.

Most of this equipment is in good condition, and you can cut costs in half by purchasing them.

However, always check for potential issues, especially when buying cardio machines like treadmills or ellipticals. Dumbbells, kettlebells, and similar are almost always without any damage.

15. Bring Your Barbell Inside in the Winter

I learned this the hard way during my first winter with a home gym. One morning, I grabbed my barbell for deadlifts, and it was like holding onto a block of ice.

Since then, I make it a point to store my barbell inside during the colder months. It might seem like a small thing, but it makes those early morning workouts much more pleasant.

Every home gym owner knows how annoying it is to exercise with an ice-cold barbell, and that's why you should always bring it with you and somewhere where it is not cold.

16. Put a Fridge in Your Gym

A couple buying a fridge for a home gym

One of the best decisions I made for my home gym was adding a small fridge. It's a luxury, but having cold water and protein shakes at hand, especially after a grueling session, is incredibly convenient.

This can be useful if you are working out in the basement or the garage and need more time to get to your drink and food.

If you have a specialized home locker room, put it there to save space in your main room for exercising.

17. Build a Boxing Bag From Tires

You can save a lot of money if you have old tires, which can easily be turned into a great boxing bag.

All you need to do is bolt the heavy tires together and hang them on your home gym ceiling.

Remember that heavy tires can easily injure you if you hit them without proper boxing bandages and high-quality gloves.

Related post: Best Weight Bench for Home Gyms: Review

Innovative Space-Saving Techniques for Home Gyms

Here are some smart ideas to help you make the most of your space:

  • Multi-functional equipment: Invest in equipment that serves multiple purposes. For example, a bench that doubles as a storage unit or adjustable dumbbells that offer a range of weights in one compact design.
  • Wall-mounted solutions: Install wall-mounted racks for weights, yoga mats, and resistance bands. Consider a foldable wall-mounted squat rack or pull-up bar that can be tucked away when not in use.
  • Vertical storage: Use tall, narrow shelving units to store gym equipment. Hanging organizers can also be a great way to keep smaller items like jump ropes and gloves organized and out of the way.
  • Underutilized spaces: Look for areas in your home that are underutilized. The space under stairs, for instance, can be transformed into a compact workout area with a few strategic equipment choices.
  • Collapsible and foldable equipment: Opt for gym equipment that can be folded and stored under a bed or in a closet. Items like foldable treadmills, collapsible workout benches, and inflatable exercise balls are perfect for small spaces.

FAQs

How Can I Make My Home Gym Look Better?

You can make your home gym look better by implementing rubber flooring, bright colors, and mirrors. In addition, you can optimize your home gym floor space by purchasing foldable and adjustable compact equipment to make it even nicer.

What Are the Best Colors for Home Gyms?

The best colors for the home gym are white, red, blue, and orange. White will make the room brighter, red and orange more energetic, and blue will evoke calmness and make your home gym look cleaner.

How Can I Maximize My Home Gym Space?

You should purchase foldable and adjustable equipment to maximize your home gym space. Adjustable dumbbells will free up unnecessary space from your floor, and foldable equipment can easily be stored further to free up space in your home gym.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6383082/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465761/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8167645/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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