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

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 11, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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To set up a home gym, you'll regularly use it, plan what you need, and align it with your budget to avoid unnecessary expenses.

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 reviewed many garage gym reviews online where personal trainers 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 pay for itself in just a couple of years.
  • Setting up a home gym requires careful consideration of space, budget, and equipment needed to create an effective and sustainable workout environment.
  • In my opinion, the flexibility and convenience of a home gym make it a worthwhile investment for those dedicated to maintaining a consistent fitness routine.

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 use the cheap and cheerful approach with yoga mats and bands or 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 will set things up.

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

But setting up a gym in a spare room could have many more limitations.

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

Building a Home Gym - Ceiling Height

First, measure the ceiling height to ensure it accommodates your training gear and helps design the gym layout and choosing equipment.

Estimating the ceiling height helps determine the maximum height for gym equipment and the range of motion for exercises.

This will assist you in picking the best squat rack, benches, and so forth.

Then, you must consider acquiring a low-power rack. Obtaining one that fits is critical because you'll use it for various activities.

There are two variables to keep in mind when determining the height of the power rack:

  • Is the rack large enough to fit beneath your ceiling?
  • Do you fit underneath the rack?

Consider acquiring cardio equipment for warm-ups, occasional workouts, or as a central piece in your home gym.

Add appropriate lighting, such as recessed lighting, for low-ceiling rooms to save ceiling space.

How Much Does Home Gym Cost?

A woman holding a credit card in front of a laptop

Setting up a home gym can start at $100, but advanced training may require additional equipment like cardio machines, squat racks, barbells, and free weights.

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

Keep costs down with used equipment, but ensure its quality, especially if it's being sold unused on platforms like Facebook Marketplace.

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

Now, let's go over the most important home gym cost factors.

1. Basement or Garage Remodel

For a total basement or garage remodel, you should expect to spend between $5,500 and $33,500.

This will include installing plumbing and heat, refinishing, and adding electricity.

The average basement remodeling cost is $12,000–$33,000, and garage remodeling costs $5,500 to $24,000 [1].

2. Home Gym Flooring Installation

To replace your flooring, you should expect to pay anywhere from $750 to $3,900. To know the exact price, you must know the type of home gym flooring.

Here are the costs of different flooring types:

  • Carpet: $800–$2,800
  • Rubber: $800–$2,300
  • Polished concrete: $1,500–$3,800

3. Subflooring

If you want to repair or replace your subflooring, it will cost anywhere from $400 to $3,000.

Subflooring is essential if you are using heavy gym equipment. Consult a structural engineer to know if your space can bear heavy weights.

4. Lighting Products and Installation

Always aim to choose the location for your home gym where natural light can enter during the day.

If that is not possible, buy light fixtures, which will cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000 to install.

The best option for artificially lighting your gym is recessed LED light fixtures because they are the closest to recreating sunlight.

In addition, they heat up less than standard lighting.

5. Electric Wiring

Electrical wiring, costing $3 to $5 per square foot, should be installed to ensure enough outlets are near your workout equipment.

You should have enough amperage to support the machines.

If you need more power, you can replace or upgrade an electrical panel, raising the costs from $500 to $2,300.

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.

Garage

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 home gym 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. 

Related Articles:

Basement

If you have space in your basement, then this is an ideal place to get a basement 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 home gym in a spare room, though it comes with its challenges. From my experience, unless the room serves solely as a gym, opt for foldable equipment that easily stores away, maintaining the room's versatility for guests or as an office.

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

Outdoors

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

According to the ClevelandClinic, 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 [2].

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 [3].

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.

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.

Related: Best Pulley System for Home Gym for Flexible Workout

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.

Related: Body Solid Home Gym Reviews for Your Home Workout

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.

Make sure to properly dispose of your broken exercise equipment first before you go around buying a new one.

FAQs

What Is a Home Gym?

A home gym is a dedicated workout space with some cardio equipment and possibly weight training machines, designed to be relatively compact while offering versatility for a diverse range of exercises.

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.

How to Turn Shed Into Home Gym?

To turn a shed into a home gym, you must assess the place, add the right flooring, power up the shed, set up air ventilation, and get appropriate shed gym equipment.

How to Build a Cheap Home Gym?

To build a cheap home gym, focus on essentials like resistance bands, dumbbells, a stability ball, and a yoga mat. Look for secondhand equipment, and consider bodyweight exercises for a budget-friendly workout.

What Are the Steps for Home Gym Flooring Installation?

The steps for home gym flooring installation typically involve laying out either tiles or rolls made from various materials such as rubber mats, foam tiles, carpet tiles, and foam rolls.

How Much Space Do You Need for Home Gym?

You need at least 70 ft2 for a home gym in most cases if it's a power cage, while a squat stand requires 16 – 20 ft2. Determining the required space for your home gym depends on the equipment you intend to use.

How to Build a Home Gym in Garage?

To build a home gym in your garage:

  • Clear the space and declutter.
  • Install proper flooring for safety and comfort.
  • Purchase essential equipment based on your fitness goals.
  • Consider storage solutions for your equipment.
  • Ensure proper ventilation and lighting.
  • Create a motivating and organized workout space.

How to Build Outdoor Home Gym?

To build an outdoor home gym:

  1. Choose a Suitable Space: Find a flat, stable area in your yard or patio.
  2. Select Weather-Resistant Equipment: Opt for outdoor-friendly gear like galvanized steel pull-up bars, rubber weights, and weatherproof mats.
  3. Install a Covering: Consider a canopy or shade sail for weather protection.
  4. Secure Equipment: Ensure all equipment is securely anchored to the ground.
  5. Add Storage: Include weatherproof storage for smaller items.
  6. Safety Surfacing: Install rubber mats or tiles for safety and comfort.

How to Set Up a Home Boxing Gym?

To set up a home boxing gym:

  1. Heavy Bag: Install a heavy bag for punching practice in a designated place.
  2. Speed Bag: Consider a speed bag for rhythm and coordination training.
  3. Flooring: Use interlocking mats or rubber flooring for cushioning and stability.
  4. Mirrors: Install wall mirrors to monitor and correct your form.
  5. Boxing Gloves and Wraps: Get quality gloves and hand wraps for protection.
  6. Jump Rope: Include a jump rope for warm-up and cardio.
  7. Additional Equipment: Consider a double-end bag, punching mitts, and a timer for interval training.

References:

  1. https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/basement-remodel-cost/
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-many-benefits-of-a-cardio-workout/
  3. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/high-intensity-interval-training-hiit
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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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