16 Home Gym Ideas That Will Make You Instantly Work Out

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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As a personal trainer, I often get asked how to set up a home gym to get in some extra workouts. And while I can help them with functional home gym ideas, I’m not an interior designer to come up with a great-looking environment.

So, I decided to get help from a friend who is a professional designer to see if we could combine practical equipment and visual impact advice.

We ended up having a lot of fun and also visited a few friends and colleagues of mine to see how they came up with different home gym designs.

Quick Summary

  • Creating a home gym requires considering space, budget, and fitness level, with options ranging from basic equipment for beginners to advanced setups for experienced athletes.
  • Essential home gym equipment includes yoga mats, resistance bands, and for more advanced users, weightlifting gear like squat racks and free weights.
  • A study in the National Library of Medicine highlights the effectiveness of resistance bands for cardio, HIIT, and strength training, offering a budget-friendly alternative to expensive weights.
  • I found that integrating a mix of practical equipment and inspiring decor has transformed my home workouts, making them more enjoyable and effective.

What Do You Need in Your Home Gym?

A starter pack for fitness journey equipments

To start a home gym, you need to take a carefully planned approach that depends on the space you’re going to use.

When I started my home gym in a small spare room, I quickly realized the importance of space-efficient planning. Whether it's a garage corner or a dedicated room, smart space management is key.

So, depending on the space you have available, you then want to plan what kind of workout equipment you need and can afford.

It’s one thing saying you want a large Smith Machine and a high-end elliptical.

But do you have thousands of dollars to invest up-front?

The good news is that you can get started small and then gradually extend with additional equipment.

What Gear Is Best for Beginners at Home?

The best gym gear for beginners includes some basics like yoga mats, resistance exercise bands, and possibly a workout bench.

This is what I started with, and my first workouts were simple yet effective, thanks to these basics.

Once you have a few basics in your workout area, you can then always expand on your initial investment with more advanced home gym ideas.

Related: Best Weight Bench for Home Gyms

What Gym Equipment Is Best for Experienced Athletes at Home?

A man holding kettlebell at home

The best gym equipment for experienced athletes includes exercise equipment to make lifting weights easier and safer.

As an experienced athlete, I've found that a squat rack and a set of free weights are indispensable. They've been the cornerstone of my advanced training routines.

Depending on your fitness goals, you might also want to add more workout machines like rowers and ellipticals.

Or if you want to focus on bodybuilding, then your home workout room should focus more on different size weights so that you have more flexibility.

Let’s take a closer look at some home gym ideas.

16 Home Gym Ideas

Woman holding elastic band, an equipment for home gym

Drawing from my experience and collaborating with fellow trainers and a designer, here are 16 streamlined home gym ideas to enhance your workout experience.

1. Yoga Mat

You don’t have to turn your home gym into a yoga studio, but I would suggest investing in at least two or three yoga mats as the first of my home gym ideas.

These mats can give you the basis for so many different types of exercises, whether they involve other equipment like weights or you just want to do bodyweight workouts.

Related: Best Flooring for Home Gym

2. Resistance Bands

I swear by resistance bands - affordable yet so versatile. They've been a game-changer in my strength and flexibility training.

For less than $30, you’ll get a great selection of high-quality bands.

And according to a study in the National Library of Medicine, you can use them for cardio, HIIT, and strength training and then can save you spending hundreds of dollars on dumbbells [1].

“Elastic resistance offers several benefits that outweigh (pun intended) those of free weights. These bonus features include functional strength, injury prevention, greater gains in muscular power and explosiveness.” - Jim Stoppani, PhD

3. Push-Up Bars

Performing push up using push up bars

While you can do all sorts of push-ups on your yoga mat, investing in these bars will give you a wider range of motion in your workout routine.

They’ll take up practically no space in your home exercise room but will drastically improve the form of some bodyweight training.

4. Pull-Up Bar

You’ll make a huge difference to your workout options with pull-up bars.

But this doesn’t have to be a large freestanding rack. Instead, look for one that you can attach to your door frame and remove when your workout is done.

5. Jump Rope

Next on our list of home gym ideas is to look at good-quality jump ropes.

Don’t get the cheapest one you can find at a toy store, but rather a dedicated exercise rope. It will last a lot longer and should still cost you less than $20.

According to a study in the Universal Journal of Educational Research, it's also a good way to get some cardio in [2].

6. Exercise Machine

Doing cardio inside her home using a bike

I would recommend that you get at least one workout machine to make cardio workouts a bit easier.

Even if you have a small workout room, you should be able to fit a stationary bike or a compact rower. My compact rower has been a reliable tool for cardio. It's proof that you don't need a lot of space for effective equipment.

Treadmills and ellipticals are more suitable for a large home gym.

7. Suspension Ropes

If you have some floor space to stretch out, I would recommend that you install a solid hook to one wall above your head.

This will allow you to work with suspension ropes for a wide range of body-weight exercises.

8. Punching Bag

The next one of my home gym ideas isn’t just suitable for boxers and MMA fighters.

A punching bag is a great addition to a home gym, as kicking and punching can be a great way to do some cardio while having a lot of fun and blowing off some steam.

9. Barbell Rack

Woman holding barbell on a barbell rack

This is one of the home gym ideas that are more suitable for advanced athletes.

If you regularly do bench presses, then you need to buy a rack that has safety features.

As you probably won’t have a spotter available in your home gym, you need to make sure that safety is a top priority.

10. Smith Machine

Smith machines are a great but expensive addition to larger home gyms.

These are like cable machines you see at the gym but typically also incorporate a squat and safety rack.

If you’re planning to do a lot of highly targeted weight training, these can be a great way to make the best progress.

11. Mirrored Wall

Now it’s time for the first home gym ideas from a designer. Ideally, install large mirrors on one wall, or cover one wall floor to ceiling with mirrors.

The reason you see mirrors in strategic places at the gym is to make it easier to check the form of movements and avoid injuries.

Installing a mirrored wall was a game-changer for me. It's not just about form; it's about connecting with yourself during every move.

12. Bright Lighting

Bright lighting coming from natural light

Having whimsical lighting like a regular ceiling light won’t work for a home gym.

Ideally, install some ceiling spotlights in strategic places above your equipment. And leave as much natural light in the room as possible.

13. Warm Wall Paint

This is a great design tip that I recommend everyone should do for a home gym space.

Rather than have stark white walls, try to add warmth with deeper colors. It can have a much more inviting effect and even an impact on your motivation during training.

14. Wood Flooring

I would highly recommend a wood floor or some form of laminate flooring.

First of all, it’s a lot easier to clean and is more hygienic with all the sweating you’re going to do. But it can also make sure that your exercise bike and workout bench don’t slip or end up unbalanced.

15. Wall Mounted TV

Wall mounted TV in a room

I don’t think anyone should have a home gym designed without at least a small TV.

Having your favorite TV show on while you’re doing some boring cardio is one way to keep your motivation levels high.

16. Inspirational Wall Art

And the final part of your home gym design should be some cool, funny, or inspirational wall art that compliments your home gym color scheme.

I have some pictures of dogs lifting weights, which, as a dog owner, makes me smile when I’m working out.

But you can choose anything from your favorite athlete to an image of you in the past that shows how far you have come.

Advanced Technology Integration in Home Gyms

With the rise of smart home devices, the potential for a high-tech workout space is immense.

Here's how you can transform your home gym into a cutting-edge fitness hub:

  • Virtual reality (VR) workouts: Imagine cycling through the Alps or running the streets of Paris without leaving your home. Equip your gym with a VR headset and compatible exercise equipment to turn every workout into an adventure.
  • Wearable fitness trackers: Integrating wearable technology like fitness bands or smartwatches can help monitor your heart rate, calories burned, and overall performance. 
  • Interactive fitness platforms: Subscription-based platforms like Peloton or Mirror bring live classes to your home gym. These services offer a range of activities, from yoga to strength training, providing the community aspect of a gym class from the comfort of your home.
  • Smart environment control: Automate your gym's environment with smart lighting, temperature control, and sound systems. LED lights can adjust to the time of day and smart thermostats can maintain the ideal workout temperature.

Health and Wellness Corners in Home Gyms

Here's how to create a space that nurtures both body and mind:

  • Meditation and yoga area: Dedicate a corner of your gym for meditation and yoga. Equip it with comfortable mats, meditation cushions, and calming decor.
  • Post-workout relaxation zone: Include a massage chair or a foam rolling station for muscle recovery. A small couch or a hammock can also be a perfect spot for relaxation or reading about fitness and nutrition.
  • Aromatherapy and lighting: Use aromatherapy diffusers with essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus to promote relaxation and rejuvenation. Adjustable lighting, with options for soft, warm tones, can help create a calming environment.
  • Hydration and nutrition station: Set up a mini-fridge stocked with water, electrolyte drinks, and healthy snacks. A small countertop with a blender can be ideal for preparing protein shakes or smoothies.

FAQs

Can Workout at Home Be as Effective as the Gym?

Yes, workouts at home can be as effective as the gym. While there are advantages to going to the gym for support from personal trainers and friends, working out in a home gym with limited equipment and good workout routines can still be highly effective.

What Is the Cost for a Home Gym Setup?

The cost of a basic home gym setup can be as low as $50 to $100. But adding machines, dumbbells, kettlebells, and more advanced equipment can cost several thousand dollars.

Start Creating Your Private Workout Space

With the above tips in hand, you should be in a great position to design your own home gym and workout space to make it a motivating environment.

Start with the absolute basics first and then gradually add to your equipment.

And if you have more space in a garage or basement home gym, then consider your first major investment to be a compact home gym machine.

We have researched and tested dozens of these machines to come up with a list of the ideal ones for smaller spaces and with affordable prices.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6383082/
  2. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1170647.pdf
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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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