Setting up your home gym
When starting or re-booting a home workout program, you’ll need to acquire a few key pieces of home gym equipment. Consider this your ultimate home gym equipment guide for creating your perfect workout space! You are probably staring at the awkward corner of your living room or empty space in your basement thinking;
What do I actually need? Where can I fit all of this? How much is this going to cost?
I have created this list of equipment must-haves with space, budget, and need in mind. Do you NEED the latest overpriced ‘as seen on TV’ Ab-crunch pro? No. Do you NEED a few pieces of equipment that will be utilized effectively in the majority of your workouts? Yes. This post contains everything I recommend for a basic but well-rounded home gym for my online training clients.
Table of Contents
The best equipment for your basic home gym
The following is a list of products that I find myself constantly recommending for setting up your own home gym. Most of these products I personally use at the fitness studio with private clients. After years of use, I’ve found which products are long-lasting but inexpensive so you don’t have to be disappointed with overpriced but poorly made products.
Clicking on any of the images will take you to the specific product on Amazon.
Disclaimer: Primal Conditioning participates in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the fitness studio to earn a small commission from products you might purchase based on our recommendations.
Resistance Bands for Strength Training
Resistance bands are a fantastic and unique tool. They are cheaper than dumbbells, they take up virtually no space, and are ‘weightless’ (a 10 lb DB weighs more than a resistance band rated for 10 lbs). There are four main types of resistance bands; Long loop bands, Short loop bands, resistance tubes with handles, and the flat physical therapy style Therabands.
I could go into more detail about each type of band but for now, I’ll just say that the preferred style of band is the long loop bands. They are long enough that you can anchor them to other objects, are durable enough for a variety of exercises, and made to last for years.
The brand Functional Fitness Bands is the exact brand used in the fitness studio. I recommend the red and black level for beginners, black and purple for almost everyone, and the green band for those who want more of a challenge.
Dumbbells are going to be a big part of your home strength training program. Many people can and do a workout without them, opting for bodyweight and other tools. Since this is a post on creating the perfect home gym, dumbbells are at the top of my list.
The vast majority of people will do well to start with a lighter pair of dumbbells (5-8 lbs for most women) and a medium to heavier pair (10, 12 or 15 lbs). You can build up your home gym equipment as your strength increases. It would be great to have a pair of dumbells in every 5 lb increment but that’s not necessary. Beyond your lighter and heavier pair, the limiting factor to how many you have is your own budget and space constraints.
If you only need a few pairs of lighter dumbbells, or are starting from scratch – adjustable dumbbells are much cheaper than purchasing individual pairs. Plastic dumbbells with moving pieces wont hold up as long as sturdy metal dumbbells, but will last years in a home gym.
Dumbbells are made variety of shapes and coatings. The best dumbbells have a metal, ergonomic grip, and a HEX shape, with or without the plastic coating.
Best Activity + Workout Tracker
While not exactly “equipment” I think activity trackers are an excellent way to keep tabs on your fitness, health and sleep. There are several brands of pedometers, activity trackers, heart rate monitors and related gadgets that can provide valuable feedback about your health. The ONLY brand I recommend is Polar because of how well made they are. I’ve had 3 in my life and each has lasted 5-8 years! My only complaint is they are clunkier on the wrist than the slimmer Garmin or Fitbit models.
Most stability balls are pretty standard and should be around $15. This is not required for most home workout programs but can make a great tool for balance and mobility and give variety to the exercises you can do.
If your budget is tight or if you have to tuck away your equipment after each workout, then the $50 for a bench will be better spent elsewhere. If you do invest in a bench, a simple flat bench is all you need for your home gym. Benches that have adjustable inclines and declines jump into the $200 price range and you probably won’t use those features as much as you think.
Eventually, in your home workout routine, you’ll want a heavier weight for lower body exercises. This is where kettlebells come in. If you want to do a 20 pound squat, for example, you can use the pair of 10 lb dumbbells you’ve already bought, but many find it simpler and more convenient to grab one heavier weight for compound moves like squats, lunges, deadlifts and conditioning moves like kettlebell swings.
I suggest starting with a weight that is heavier than you could create when you combine your two heaviest dumbbells. So if you have a pair of 12s, and could make 24 lbs, I’d buy a 30-pound kettlebell. Make sense? Almost everyone starts with a kettlebell between 20 and 35 pounds.
Your home gym equipment guide
The budget basic gym set-up
Cost: Around $75 bucks
1) A lighter pair of dumbbells (5-8 lbs) and a heavier pair of dumbbells (10-15 lbs)
2) Two to three resistance bands (light, medium, heavy, etc)
3) A (relatively) heavy kettlebell (20 to 35 lbs)
The well rounded basic gym set-up
Cost: $150-200 bucks total
Everything from above and…
1) One or two more pairs of dumbbells
2) A stability ball or bench
3) A second kettlebell, the same weight as your first
The fully equipped basic gym set-up
Working out with equipment is by no means necessary but stocking your home gym with a few simple tools that can be used for multiple types of exercises is a great investment in your health.
Before buying things new, browse local apps like Letgo, Craigslist, and Facebook marketplace, keep your eyes peels when you drive by yard sales, and ask your family/friends if they have any odd bits of equipment that have been unloved.
What to do now? Take a look at some of Primal Conditioning’s free workout routines (see below) or sign up for a consultation call to determine if a custom coaching program can help you.