Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

What Is a Home Gym? (Explained by a Fitness Trainer)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: June 28, 2023

During a recent conversation with one of my strength coaching clients, I suggested an investment in a home gym. And the rather simple question came up as to what actually constitutes a home gym.

I could explain what mine looked like, but I decided that I would get on a zoom call with some colleagues and friends who also work as personal trainers to see if we could come up with a universal definition and a minimum common denominator in terms of equipment.

Let me show you what we agreed on.

Quick Summary

  • A home gym can be as simple as a designated workout area where you can do your yoga or pilates exercises.
  • More advanced setups would include at least some form of exercise machines or free weights that would provide a wider range of exercises.
  • It might sound like a significant investment, but the health benefits of a few extra workouts and possible gym membership savings could be more than worth it.

What Constitutes a Home Gym?

A woman running on a treadmill on her home gym

A home gym is a dedicated workout space with some cardio equipment and possibly weight training machines.

It should be a relatively compact setup with machines that allow you to do a wide range of exercises.

Some people also just set up a designated area with yoga mats and blocks in a spare room to do yoga and pilates.

And with some resistance bands and push-up bars, you should be in a good position to do some great workouts.

Personally, though, I would suggest that having at least a treadmill or rower along with a Smith machine set up on some designated gym flooring would be a good definition.

The reason I say this is that you ideally want to be able to do as many different workouts at home as you do in a commercial gym.

Why Should You Invest In A Home Gym?

You should invest in a home gym to have more flexibility when it comes to timing your workouts.

People who have busy work and family lives often struggle to find enough time to head to the gym, and having a designated space at home makes it a lot easier which makes a home gym worth it.

The general recommendation is to get 150 minutes of exercise a week to achieve and maintain weight loss [1].

That's just 30 minutes a day that is a lot easier to squeeze in if you just need to go to your garage gym.

See also our article about the benefits of having a home gym for more information.

"If you're a beginner, just 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week could be all it takes for you to reap the many benefits of exercise."

- Paige Waehner, CPT, at VeryWellFit

Are There Downsides?

A woman using her home gym

One of the downsides to a home gym is that it can become expensive to get as much equipment as needed for a highly diversified training routine.

However, there are some Smith machines with cable pulley systems that will give you a wide range of strength training opportunities.

And if you buy an elliptical or rowing machine to go with it, then you would also be able to do cardio.

That does lead me to one more downside. The more equipment you want to add, the more space you'll need, and that might not be possible in a small fitness space at home.

Also, moving home gym equipment can be time-consuming and laborious.

Is There Minimum Equipment You Need?

Yes, there is some minimum equipment you need to set up a home gym.

At the very least, you'll need some exercise mats, resistance bands, push-up bars, and possibly a pull-up bar.

However, I generally tell people that a proper home gym would also have some cardio and strength training machines so that you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to having a diverse workout routine [2].

If you want to know the minimum equipment you need, check out our guide on essential home gym equipment.

Setting up your homy gym may be pricey but it is worth it.

Ryan Horton, owner and operator of fitness site Horton Barbell, adds that quality gym equipment will last a very long time and you'll eventually recoup your cost in saved gym membership fees.

Plus, you never have to worry about your favorite piece of equipment being occupied when you want to use it.


What Is Most Important For A Home Gym?

A weight rack or cable machine is probably the most important for a home gym. The reason for this is that you can go running or do plyometrics for cardio, but not having a power rack could have a limiting effect on strength training.

Is Going To The Gym Better Than Working Out At Home?

Going to the gym can be better than working out at home as you have more machines to choose from and there's access to personal trainers. There are also some benefits on the social side of a gym, but you can still get the same fitness results at home.

Get the Right Equipment for a Home Gym

A home gym doesn't have to look like a mini commercial one with multiple cardio and strength machines.

Fortunately, you can achieve a lot of the same training results with just some basic equipment.

One of the most important ones is a power rack, and our team has tested and researched dozens of these to find the best ones.

Check out our dedicated guide to finding the best power rack that won't take up a load of space, give you plenty of workout options, and won't break your budget.


Was this article helpful?

About The Author

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Learn More