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How to Build a Home Gym? (Step-By-Step Guide)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Last updated: March 7, 2023

In order to get a home gym set up in a way that you will regularly use, you’ll need to put in some careful planning.

See, unless you plan out what you need and align it with your budget, you could quickly end up spending money on expensive stuff that won’t complete your personal gym.

As a personal trainer, I’ve helped many people design their home gym configurations. And so, our team decided to collect all our research and experience into one place.

We also went through many garage gym reviews online where personal trainers have shared their recommended setup.

Quick Summary

  • Planning to build a home gym has to factor in your budget, training plans, and the location where you want to get up.
  • A well-planned home gym can save a gym membership fee in the long run, and it can pay for itself in just a couple of years.
  • Most home gym setups can be gradually expanded with more advanced equipment and machines, but it’s important to start with the basics.

How Do You Make a Home Gym?

A woman holding dumbbells close to the camera

You make a home gym by first evaluating what kind of training you’ll be doing and finding the right equipment to do this.

You then align your equipment needs with your budget to determine whether you go for the cheap and cheerful approach with yoga mats and bands or whether you have money to invest in power racks, bumper plates, and cardio machines.

The other thing to consider before building a home gym space is where you’re actually going to set things up.

See, you’ll have very different options and flexibilities when you set up a gym in the basement or a large double garage.

But setting up an actual gym in a spare room could come with a lot more limitations.

That shouldn’t make you reconsider doing this in the first place, but you have to take those things into account first.

How Much Will a Home Gym Cost?

A woman holding a credit card in front of a laptop

A home gym can cost as little as $100 to get set up. At the same time, if you’re looking for advanced gym training, then you might need a cardio machine and squat rack. And you’ll also need a barbell and free weights.

That kind of setup will likely require an investment of at least $1,000.

While you could keep costs down by looking for used equipment, be careful to find pre-owned stuff that someone is selling on the Facebook marketplace because they never used it.

You don’t want a budget home gym turning into a health and safety trap because of cheap home gym equipment.

Location of Your Home Gym

A home gym filled with gym equipment

Here are the four main areas that people use to set up a home gym.


The garage gym is my personal favorite, and it’s an ideal solution if you want to set up a few machines in a place where they won’t cause problems or get in the way.

With a garage gym setup, you can have a wall-mounted power rack with bumper plates for squats and bench presses. And you can even add a rower or treadmill next to it.

One downside is that it can be a bit cold in the winter if your garage isn’t insulated and heated. 

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If you have space in your basement, then this is an ideal place to get a home gym set up. It’s out of the way, and it shouldn't disturb anyone in the house, even if you have noise from a treadmill and clanking bumper plates early in the morning.

Spare Room

You can also set up your own home gym in a spare room, but you might face some limitations. Unless you plan not to use the spare room as a guest room or office, you might need to buy equipment that you can fold up and store away.

It’s less practical, but there are still great solutions for this.


I know a lot of people in California and Florida who have sheltered areas in their yards where they keep their exercise equipment. If you live somewhere with a great climate all year, then this can be an excellent option if you want to buy a lot of machines and equipment.

Planning Your Home Gym Equipment

A man planning his home gym in front of a laptop

Before you start looking for all the latest and greatest yet essential home gym equipment, let’s start with defining your training and fitness goals.

Equipment for Cardio

If you’re planning to do a lot of cardio, then you’ll probably need to make a larger investment in fitness equipment. But cardio can be an important part of training for all types of athletes [1].

And when it comes to choosing some machines, I suggest you pick one that you enjoy the most.

Some people love spending time on the treadmill, while others prefer a rower. You could also consider an elliptical, but these can become quite expensive.

Equipment for Strength Training

If you plan to do bodybuilding at home, then you’ll likely need a power rack, barbell, and weight plates.

You can also consider a multi-gym machine or a Smith machine that offers an all-in-one solution with bars, pulleys, and weight plates.

One tip I would give you if you plan to do deadlifts with heavy loads is to buy some rubber horse stall mats at your local farm supply store. These are thick mats that will never wear down, and they’ll create a solid base for your heavy equipment.

Equipment for HIIT

A woman doing HIIT with ropes

I recommend that most of my readers consider doing high-intensity interval training for a full-body workout on a regular basis [2].

You’ll need a bit more space to get every station set up, and this is where garage gyms become very practical.

You can do HIIT with limited equipment, but if you want to take it to another level, then you might want a squat stand or power rack and even a multi-gym with a pulley system.

Equipment for Yoga And Pilates

And then there’s always the home gym for yoga and pilates.

These can be quite cheap and practical to set up, but I would recommend buying several mats and yoga blocks.

Having a bit more space to do your yoga routine can be very helpful.

And you’ll always have the advantage of clearing the mats and other small equipment out of the way when you’re finished.

Start With the Basic Equipment

A woman holding a gym mat

Here are the first things I’d recommend you order online to get your home gym setup going.

Exercise Mat

Whether you do yoga or not, you’ll need some workout mats to work as home gym flooring.

It will help protect the floor when you put down weights and will also provide some hygiene to stop sweat from dripping all over the floor.

I suggest buying two or three thicker yoga mats to give you the added space for certain floor exercises. 

Push-Up Bars

No home gym should be without this simple and inexpensive piece of equipment.

Once you get strong enough to do ten or more push-ups with proper form, you’ll gain a huge amount extra by increasing your range of motion with these bars.

You’ll also find that they don’t put as much strain on your wrists, making it easier to avoid injuries.

Pull-Up Bar

A pull-up bar attached to the door frame is the easiest and cheapest solution. However, it might restrict your natural movement as you’ll need to pull your legs up as well.

Once you become better at pull-ups, I would suggest a designated bar set up at a height that allows you to hang freely.

“Pullups also strengthen the arm and shoulder muscles. By performing pullups regularly, you’ll work the forearms and shoulders.”

- Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT

Jump Rope

A person doing jump ropes

Here’s another piece of budget home gym equipment that will work great for your warm-up routines.

However, don’t buy the cheapest one you can find at the toy store.

Instead, get a proper jump rope or speed rope at your local sporting goods store, as the quality will be more suitable for proper exercises.

Resistance Bands

Another must-have for a budget home gym is a set of exercise bands.

These cost a fraction of the amount you’d pay for adjustable dumbbells. And you can still do everything from a bicep curl to an overhead press.

Choose Advanced Equipment Wisely

A man choosing his gym equipment

Here are some of the things I have in my personal gym, and I would suggest gradually adding these.

Weight Bench

You can save money by investing in a flat bench, but I find a good quality adjustable bench will give you more options for incline and decline bench press workouts.

Be careful that you factor in the weight capacity of a flat bench. It needs to be high enough to carry your weight, plus the weights you’ll be lifting.

Squat Rack

Squat racks are a must-have for serious lifters, and there are two reasons why I recommend them.

First of all, a squat rack can also double function for a bench press setup if you’ve already invested in a good bench. And it will also be a convenient way to store iron plates, as many of these racks have pins to attach them to.

Cardio Machine

If one of your primary goals is to lose weight, then I would suggest investing in a good cardio machine.

I generally recommend a rower as it can work your whole body, allowing you to burn more calories by activating more muscles in the same space of time.

But you can choose whichever one you prefer for regular exercise.

Where Should You Buy Gym Equipment?

A woman buying gym equipment online

You should only buy gym equipment at trusted online stores.

The reason I recommend shopping online is that you can save a lot of money. But you want to make sure that it’s a legitimate store that won’t send you a counterfeit product.

Amazon is one choice I often recommend, but another great option is the LifeSpan fitness store, and you can find some of the products we personally reviewed on our website.

It has great prices that you’ll find are tough to beat elsewhere, and its customer service is excellent as well.


How Big Does a Home Gym Need to Be?

A home gym only has to be large enough for you to stretch out your body in all directions. Many exercises involve you lying on the floor, and even for jumping jacks, you’ll want to avoid bumping into walls.

Are Home Gyms Effective?

Yes, home gyms are very effective, and you can achieve the same goals as you would by going to a commercial one. With the right equipment and training plan, you’ll be able to get fitter and stronger for the best shape of your life.

Start Your Home Gym Setup With The Right Equipment

I highly recommend getting all the cheap gear I list above first, as you’ll probably need them even in advanced training plans.

Then I would suggest that you get some recommended cardio machines to give you more flexibility for weight loss and cutting phases in your workout plans.

Once you get used to training at home on a regular basis, you can then always expand your investment to allow you more weight training.

It doesn’t have to be a large upfront investment.


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