With the restrictions set in place during the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people find themselves considering building a home gym. Designing and building your own perfect home gym is a personal endeavor. Most home gyms will run into restrictions in budget or space that will dictate the types of equipment and features they contain. Because of this, we won’t be giving specific instructions on exactly how to build your home gym or what specifically to include. We will focus on the major components we’ve seen in luxury home-gyms across Westchester and Fairfield counties.
Getting started on building your perfect home gym requires you to take a few things into consideration. You’ll want to define your budget, quantify how much space you have available, and determine what the gym will be used for. For some, a gym full of heavy weights and powerlifting gear is the gym of their dreams. For others, a well-equipped cardio room with a rowing station might be just what they’re looking for.
Knowing how much you’re able to spend is important as it is very easy to go over budget when designing the ultimate home gym. Knowing the limits of your space is also critical, as some taller pieces of equipment like squat/power racks can be taller than your ceiling. You don’t want to order hundreds of pounds of gear and have it shipped to your house only to find out that you don’t have anywhere to place it.
For the weights section of this article, we’ll focus on some of the more commonly seen home-gym weight setups. While this section will include barbells, we’ll get into things like power racks and benches in the equipment section.
Unless you have a lot of free space to store large racks of dumbbells, a set of adjustable dumbbells will be your best friend when designing a home gym. Adjustable dumbbells may seem expensive at first. However, they can provide you with a full set of weights (adjustable in 5lb increments) that fit easily in confined spaces. Also, when looking at the cost of adjustable dumbbells, keep in mind that full sets of quality dumbbells are often 3-5x the price. You are getting quite a bit more actual material after all.
Adjustable dumbbells come in many brands and weight limits, but we’ll recommend two of the most trusted and reliable names in the game. Powerblock has over 25 years of experience making adjustable dumbbells and is the only name in the game if you want weights exceeding 125lbs. They are also one of the more expensive brands of adjustable dumbbells due to their quality.
The second adjustable dumbbell brand we’d recommend that has been around for some time with positive feedback is the Bowflex SelecTech adjustable dumbbell. They are available in two sets with the 552s going up to 52.5lbs, and the 1090s going up to 90lbs. They have good reviews and are durable, time-tested products.
There are quite a few other brands of adjustable dumbbells on the market today, but many of them are newer and lacking in durability. If you choose to go this route, your mileage may vary.
If you’re looking to do more bodybuilding style workouts, you’ll undoubtedly need at least one barbell with some quality plates. There are a host of options out there for this category, with many doing everything you can ask of a barbell and more. For this article, we’d recommend going with barbells and plates from a quality company such as Rogue or American Barbell.
For Rogue, the Rogue Bar 2.0 is generally considered to be the best, quality, all-around barbell on the market today. It stands up to the test of time and is a multipurpose barbell that can be used for any exercise. For plates, the Rogue Echo Bumper Plates are some of the most commonly used home-gym plates. They are bumper plates which means they can be dropped on the floor without worry and are more durable than regular plates. They’re also colorful and look great. Aesthetics are important in a home gym too!
For American Barbell, the American Barbell Training Bar is typically recommended as an entry-level do-it-all barbell at a reasonable price. Despite its name, the Training Bar is a full-sized bar that can be used for a bit of everything. For plates, we’d again recommend checking out their colored bumper plates as well.
While these options are somewhat pricy, good equipment will last you decades to come with minimal maintenance.
Cardio can also be the focus of your home-gym. There are a few basic cardio machines that we typically see in home gyms that can give you a lot of use for the space they take up.
Treadmills are a love-them or hate-them piece of equipment. While they do take up a fair bit of space, if you are a treadmill user, your home gym won’t be complete without one. There are quite a few different brands of treadmills, but for a reliable mid to high-range option, we’d recommend the Nautilus T618. It has everything you’ll want or need on a treadmill and is manufactured by Bowflex’s parent company.
Ellipticals fit a similar niche as treadmills, so unless there is an abundance of space, it’s not common to have one of each in a home gym. The best elliptical we can recommend is the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9. As the name suggests, it is a commercial quality piece of equipment that will make your home workouts very similar to going to a regular gym. If the price tag on the NordicTrack Commercial is a bit much for you, a good budget option is the Schwinn 411.
A rowing machine is another great low-impact cardio option for your home gym. With rowing machines, you have a lot of options depending on what you’re looking for. They can use water, wind, flywheels, or magnets for resistance. Some models prioritize folding for home-gym use, and others are built to stay outstretched on the floor. We’d recommend the NordicTrack RW900 for a premium option, and the Sunny Obsidian Surge Water Rower as a more budget-friendly option. For more detailed information and further rower inspiration, check out the StartRowing website.
Stationary bikes have also grown in popularity in recent years, especially for home gym setups. The Peloton bike allows you to attend live classes from the comfort of your home, giving you extra motivation to complete your workouts. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly stationary bike, you can check out Today’s list of affordable stationary bikes for home workouts.
An often overlooked cardio option. jump ropes are extremely inexpensive and can provide a fantastic cardio exercise that hardly takes up room. If you don’t have the space for a large cardio machine, a jump rope can typically provide the cardio exercise you need.
For a home gym, no matter how much space you have available to you, you’ll want to focus on pieces of equipment that are multi-purpose. Unless you really want a leg press machine or a hip adductor/abductor in your home gym, we’d recommend going with the crowd favorites and avoiding expensive, single-muscle-group pieces of equipment.
A power rack is the ultimate piece of home gym equipment for those looking to perform bodybuilding-style workouts. With one piece of equipment, you gain the ability to work out your entire body through barbell, cable, and bodyweight exercises. This is incredibly convenient for anyone with space constrictions or those who like a clean minimalistic design in their home gym. Once you have a power rack, you can safely squat, bench, overhead press, and perform countless other “staple” exercises on a single piece of equipment.
The Rogue RML 3FULLW allows you to work with space constraints and is a full power rack that will fold up into your wall. This is particularly convenient for those looking to have a home gym in their garage that doesn’t prevent them from parking a car. A less-expensive and non-foldable version of this rack is the Rogue RML 390C 3.0. For options outside of Rogue, take a look at Garage Gym Reviews’ Power Rack / Squat Rack buying guide for 2021.
The equipment section of this article will only feature power racks and a quality bench as they are by far the champions of do-it-all gym equipment. With a power rack, you can squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, row, and perform any barbell exercise you desire while remaining safe. There are also cable attachments that allow you to perform any cable-based exercises you’d like, along with pullup bar attachments for bodyweight exercise.
A sturdy bench is the other main piece of home gym equipment we’d recommend getting to go along with your power rack. For a home gym, simply having a bench alone allows you to perform hundreds of exercises. The Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0 is a premium adjustable bench model that will not shake or fail you during your heavy weight training. They also sell a flat model for much cheaper that is of similar quality. If you’re looking for more budget options, there are plenty of options available at each price point! Whichever brand you end up going with, we’d recommend an adjustable bench to increase the options you have available to you in your daily workouts.
No home gym would be complete without entertainment. What this means is entirely up to you. Some people like watching TV when they work out, and others like listening to music. If you’re someone who would never watch TV while working out, don’t bother installing a TV just for fun. After all, the fun of creating a home gym is in the customization and making it just right for you and your needs.
For the sound system in your gym, you once again have quite a few options.
For the majority of home-gym users, a simple Bluetooth speaker can do the trick. You can get high-quality Bluetooth speakers for under $100 that will be loud enough for most applications. You will need to charge them if you don’t leave them plugged into the wall, but this is a minor inconvenience that can save you quite a bit of time, money, and effort over the in-ceiling and traditional speaker options.
By far the highest quality, best sounding, and best-looking option. In-ceiling speakers will always be where they need to be and don’t require charging or moving your speaker around with you. In-ceiling speaker installations will also typically need to be completed by a professional unless you are particularly handy.
If you’ve got an old set of speakers laying around and feel they can be fit into your gym’s aesthetic, you can always go the route of having traditional floor speakers for your gym’s sound system. They typically lack Bluetooth connectivity, and require more wiring than other speakers, but will give you a better sound than a simple Bluetooth speaker setup.
We’re at a point in time where most any flatscreen television would be an easy addition to your home gym. Even 50” flatscreen TVs and TV mounts can be had for under $300 these days, so if you’re someone who values the ability to watch TV while lifting weights or doing cardio, a TV for your home gym is a no-brainer. Choose a brand that you have experience with and enjoy.
Is any home gym complete without the ability to stare at the gains you’re making the entire time you’re working out? I think not! You may assume getting large mirrors for a home gym is tricky or expensive, but options are available for under $100 for larger mirrors. Installation is the trickiest part when acquiring a home-gym mirror, and there are a variety of installation techniques depending on the mirror you buy. Getting a single full-length mirror or coating your entire gym in floor-to-ceiling mirrors is not as complicated or expensive as you might think!
Getting in shape with a beautiful home gym is not as complicated as you may think. The biggest challenge is typically finding space in your home that is not being used. If you have the space, you’re halfway there! Use this article as a reference point for building your own personal home gym. If there’s equipment in this article that you don’t want or would never use, don’t buy it. Your gym should be designed specifically for you and your loved ones. If you’re unsure as to what you need or want, keep things simple at first and add to your gym over time.