Working out at home is a great convenience. You save the time commuting to and from the gym and you don’t have to wait on anyone else to get out of the squat rack when you want to use it. Admittedly, a home gym isn’t right for everyone – some people feed off of the energy of a packed gym and others value the time away from family or housemates as a bit of “me” time. But if you are looking to set up a home gym, below is the equipment that I use and the equipment that I recommend. And in case you’re wondering… none of the links are affiliate links and I do not make any money for recommending this equipment.
What I Use
My house has somewhat of an odd layout. Between the living room and the kitchen there is another small room – it’s kind of like a hallway or maybe what some people call a day room. What ever you want to call it, the dimensions are only about 11 feet x 7 feet and this is where my home gym is set up. Even in less than 80 square feet, I have all of the room I need for the following equipment.
Pendlay Squat Stand With Pull Up Bar. As you’ll see below, I consider a pull up bar the only indispensable piece of equipment. I originally bought this stand because I needed a free standing pull up bar for a video shoot where I was filming outdoors. Obviously, it also works great for racking a barbell for presses and squats. I ordered the squat stand from the good folks of Fringe Sport who have amazing customer service.
Adjustable Gymnastic Rings. I use the rings for dips, body rows, pull ups, and push ups. The rings add an element of instability that is great for increasing the challenge of basic body-weight exercises (especially dips and push ups). I ordered my rings from Rogue Fitness and they are also available in a few different varieties from Fringe Sport.
Barbell And Plate Set. This is just your standard 300 lb barbell and plate set that you can find at any sporting goods store. I found this set at a garage sale for $50. Although I prefer the rubber bumper plates, I couldn’t pass up the garage sale bargain.
Adjustable Dumbbells. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore! I can remember watching my father workout with these dumbbells when I was 5 years old. They were passed down to me at some point, and I expect them to be around for years to come. Adjustable dumbbells are the second piece of equipment that I typically recommend when setting up a home gym.
Grip Tools. The Captains Of Crush Grippers and the Hub-Style Pinch Gripper both come from Ironmind.com. The softball with the eye-hook drilled into it comes from some junk-pile in some basement some years ago. Run the chain through either the softball or the hub gripper to hang some weight plates and do your best to hold on. I make sure Coda isn’t lying at my feet when I do that.
That’s it! That’s my entire home gym equipment set up. And I think you can get away with much less. Below is a the equipment that I recommend for working out at home.
What I Recommend
Pull Up Bar. Exercising the upper-body pulling muscles requires at a minimum an anchor point to hang on to while you pull your body weight. The most common “anchor point” is a pull up bar. Now if you have a park nearby with a pull up bar or even a tree branch of appropriate height and thickness, then you don’t need to buy a pull up bar. And if you are still working on that first pull up, an anchor point to hang what ever you are using for body rows (a long towel, rope, or gymnastic rings) is still needed. You can get a door jamb style pull up bar for about $30.00.
Adjustable Dumbbells. As far as space-saving and versatility, it’s tough to beat a set of adjustable dumbbells. If you have the budget, I’ve used and recommend the Powerblock Dumbbells. I know the Powerblocks can get pricey, so you may want to start with a basic set of spin lock dumbbells that you can find at most department stores (about $50.00 for a basic set). Dumbbells are great because you can keep them in a closet or under your bed so they are out of the way when you are not using them.
Barbell And Plates. If you are going to be doing heavy squats and deadlifts, you have to get a barbell with plates. But many people will not have the space in their abode for a 7 foot barbell, which is why I’ve placed this below the pull up bar and dumbbells in my recommendations. I personally prefer bumper plates (great for training outside!), but metal plates are easier to find at your local sporting goods store or garage sale. A basic 300 lb plate and barbell set will cost around $500 new.
Squat Stand or Power Rack. If you are going to be doing heavy strength training to include squats and standing overhead presses, then the squat stand or power rack becomes important. The main difference between the two is that a power rack allows you to set up safety bars that will stop the barbell from slamming into the floor if you drop it. Power racks also usually come equipped with a pull up bar, but as we saw with my Pendlay Squat Stand it is possible to find squat stands with pull up bars as well. The choice will come down to available space and price for many people. Squat stands can start as low as $200 and power racks start around $300.
Kettlebells, jump ropes, medicine balls, and other fun stuff. Other equipment can be useful for adding training variety, but is far from necessary. Some of my personal favorites include kettlebells, jump ropes, gymnastic rings, parallettes, sandbags, medicine balls, and boxing equipment. Mix up your equipment choices as your personal preferences dictate – just don’t get a damned shake weight.
What do you use for home gym equipment? Do you have questions about exercise equipment not mentioned in this post? Do you have a dedicated room or space for your home gym, or just a few dumbbells tucked in a closet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.