Home Gym Workout Equipment Advice

Tamsen Butler
Man working out at home gym

Choosing the right equipment for you home gym can have a big impact on not only how often you feel compelled to work out, but also on the effectiveness of your workout. The best equipment fits in your space and suits your goals.

Create Your Home Gym

Jim Wendler, director of sales for Elite Fitness Systems (EFS) says there are numerous benefits to pulling together a home gym."It's convenient," he said. "You can train early in the morning, late at night, or when you get home from work. And with a home gym, you can create as relaxed or intense of an environment as you wish. Now you have no excuses!"

Home Gym Considerations

While the cost of a home gym can be significant, "The onetime cost of a home gym is much cheaper than gym dues, travel time and cost of travel to a public gym," said Wendler. "But there are three things I ask people when they want to build a home gym:

  1. What kind of space do you have?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. How do you train?

Usually when people want to build a home gym, they are pretty serious and know what they want. It's just a matter of finding quality items."

Space for Equipment

"People usually put their home gyms in their basement or garage," said Wendler. "I've done the most basic set up in a 12x12 area! This consisted of a training platform with squat stands and some weight plates. I've done entire finished basements too. Some rooms would look good in private, personal training centers." He added that as long as you have a one car garage, you can create a space suitable for a home gym.

Choose the Right Equipment

With so many options available for home gym equipment, deciding on what to buy can be confusing. Wendler says to keep your fitness goals in mind when selecting equipment. "The necessary equipment is always going to depend on the user, his goals, space and budget," he said.

Multi-Use Equipment

"I like to steer people towards equipment that has multiple uses and will allow them to maximize their budget and space," said Wendler. "For example, a power rack (aka power cage) can be customized with a removable bench press, chin up bar and dip station. With this piece of equipment, the exercises are endless and the entire body can be trained in minimal space. This is perfect for people that are really serious with weight training and want to build strength. Other people would do well with some adjustable dumbbells, an adjustable bench, a jump rope, some elastic bands or tubing and a stretching mat."

Cost of Equipment

The cost of your equipment will likely dictate the overall cost of your home gym unless you undergo significant renovations to create the space. "If you choose to outfit your home gym with machines and cardio equipment, you will spend much more than free weights," said Wendler. "Budgets can vary from under $1,000 to well over $10,000. If you are a very serious lifter or trainer, you can probably get everything for less than $3,000."

Effective Equipment

"One of the key things about a home gym is educating the user on how to get an effective workout with minimal equipment," said Wendler. "A simple lesson on how to perform free weight exercises safely will do a lot in helping the user maximize a minimum amount of space and equipment. The barbell and dumbbell allow for thousands of variations and take up much less space than any machine. Learn to lift these correctly and you can essentially have a home gym that is incredibly effective and cheap!"

The Problem With Machines

"I try to steer people away from machines," said Wendler. "They are one-trick ponies, incredibly expensive and take up a lot of space. Ultimately, the equipment that someone purchases for a home gym has to be something that the user is comfortable with and will use."

Buy Quality Equipment

Wendler said equipment with less moving parts is usually better for a home gym. "Moving parts usually equal more maintenance," he said. "Not all the time, but it is a good rule of thumb. The best way to access strength equipment is to try it first and/or having a trusted party give a second opinion."

Woman using kettle bell in home gym

Plan a Home Gym Around Fitness Goals

"If someone wants to improve cardio fitness, the cheapest way is to simply go outside! Not only will this save space, but save a lot of money. Jogging, walking and riding a bike outside are essentially free and can go a long way in improving your budget, health and space," said Wendler.

Gaining Strength

"If one wants to improve your muscle strength and lower body fat, the best way is to perform resistance training. The cheapest and most effective way is to use free weights (barbells and dumbbells). Most people want to get leaner, look better and be in great health. So many people, no matter who they are, will perform the same kind of exercises, just with less weight and different sets and reps - or at least variations of the same exercise."

Well Rounded Fitness

"No matter what your fitness goal is, you must have some kind of cardio training, some kind of resistance (strength training) and some kind of flexibility (or mobility) work. You can perform the former and the latter with no equipment. The strength training usually requires something special," said Wendler.

A Dedicated Space

"No matter what equipment you purchase it is really important that your home gym is a space of itself," said Wendler. "When you enter the training room, that's all you should be focused on. This allows for quicker and more effective workouts."

A Good Investment

Setting aside space in your home for a gym and buying the equipment to fill it may seem like a costly endeavor, but it pays dividends in better health, increased fitness, and saved time. When "going to the gym" simply means walking down the hallway to your home gym, focusing on fitness becomes a lot easier.

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Home Gym Workout Equipment Advice