The pandemic has created an unprecedented surge among consumers in building their at-home gyms. It has also created the current rise of virtual trainers and home online fitness subscriptions. With these two areas continuing to grow, we don’t see the demand for home gyms dying down anytime soon. So, the question is, how can we build a functional home gym without breaking the bank?
There are many levels to what is deemed “functional,” so, for this post, we will primarily focus on the demographic of people looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle and increase strength and mobility. This post is not for those looking to be the next Mr. Olympia!
Your Absolute Home Gym Essentials
To maintain a quality gym and get the results that you want, you only need 5 main staples to your home gym:
- A functional squat rack equipped with a pull-up bar
- An Olympic barbell
- Weighted plates
- A bench
- Resistance bands
You can get all these items for less than $1000! That’s right, based on your budget and needs, this price tag can fluctuate; however, it is doable. For the purposes of this article, we will keep each option to the budget of less than $1000 and provide some great options to give you the most bang for your buck!
1. Squat Rack
If you are looking to build your home gym, one of the first considerations you should think about is how much space you have available. If you understand this, you can then make the best decision for which squat rack to purchase. For those with enough space, we recommend the Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage. This beginner-friendly power rack comes with a great price tag at $299 and has quite a bit of add-on accessories. It also boasts an 800lb weight capacity which is plenty for the average gym-goer! Another bonus is that you can get it shipped for free off Amazon!
We recommend the Sunny Health & Fitness Power Zone Squat Rack Power Cage for those with slightly less room. This squat rack will take up less space while still providing a sturdy base. It does not withstand as much weight as the Super Max Pro by itself; however, if you can bolt the legs into the ground, it can comfortably handle up to 350lbs loaded onto your barbell.
We like both squat rack options because they are functional, meaning you can do more than just squat on them! Users can squat, perform shoulder shrugs, bench, perform pull-ups, or even do an overhead press with both options. All of this flexibility is why we believe the squat rack should be the foundation of your home gym!
2. Olympic Barbell
Once you have identified your available space to work with and chosen your squat rack, the next step is to get a good Olympic barbell to perform your exercises. We recommend the WOD Bar 5.0 Black Zinc from getrxd. The barbell is their entry-level barbell, but there is nothing entry-level about it.
This multipurpose barbell will allow you to conduct squats, bench press, hip thrusters, shrugs, deadlifts, and just about any exercise you can think to execute. The bar also does not have a center knurl which can feel better on users who want to perform front squats. If you are into CrossFit, the getrxd bar has great spin for your thrusters and cleans as well!
The best part about this bar is that you can get this all for under $200! The price for the men’s bar is $170, and the women’s bar is $160.
3. Weighted Plates
We strongly recommend that you invest in bumper plates instead of their steel counterparts when it comes to weights! The main reason we recommend bumper plates is their overall versatility. Steel plates limit your training to just strength and bodybuilding, while bumper plates open opportunities to execute weight training, CrossFit, and powerlifting.
Bumper plates are also a much better option to protect your floors at home! The bumper plates we recommend based on affordability are the Fringe Sport MILSPEC Bumper Plates For ACFT. The cheapest package they offer is a set of up to 100 lbs. for $278 and includes free shipping!
Another great feature of these plates is how durable they are! The United States Army uses these, and often they are used in austere environments, not our clean homes! So, no need to worry about these plates holding up to some CrossFit workouts!
We recommend that if you choose to go with another option of bumper plates, purchase as much weight as you can afford. It is not typical to receive free shipping, so it is often more affordable to buy all the weight you want upfront instead of breaking it up! On the other hand, these weights offer free shipping, so jump on this opportunity while it lasts!
No gym is complete without a bench! While a flat bench may be a bit cheaper, we strongly recommend that you invest in a good adjustable bench. An adjustable bench will only increase your flexibility in your workouts. The key to building a good home gym is to remain as flexible as possible. Suppose you were to purchase just a flat bench. In that case, it increases the likelihood of you outgrowing the training you’ve restricted yourself to and increases the possibility of making another purchase later down the line.
So, save yourself the headache and check out the CAP Barbell Deluxe Utility Weight Bench on Amazon! This affordable adjustable bench allows you to incorporate an incline into your training, offers free shipping, and only comes in at $153. The best part about this bench is that if you are not completely satisfied, they also offer free returns!
5. Resistance Bands
The final piece to a great function home gym is a good set of resistance bands. We recommend the INTEY set of 4 resistance bands off Amazon priced at $29. Resistance bands are a great way to incorporate auxiliary exercises into your workout routine. They are also an amazingly effective tool to increase mobility or increase difficulty while training. The INTEY bands also boast free shipping and returns like their other Amazon counterparts on this list. The bands can also be used as an aid to assist in pull-up training!
BONUS: Pilate Bar Kit
There are also variations to the resistance bands above. Those that are packaged together as a system with pilate bars, platform, bow, handles and foot straps. Together, these work as a complete, full body workout system. With the right kit, it could offer even more workout options than the equipments above. We do not suggest that these resistance bands kit replace all the equipments above but if you are on a super tight budget and really lack the space for static, non-foldable want to break out your purchases, start with this. It will offer you exercises like squats, referral, deadlift, lunge, front parallel lift, barbell lift, back kick, side pull, curl training and more.
This set of equipment all comes in at a whopping $900. With these five pieces of equipment as the foundation of your home gym, it allows you the opportunity to scale more if you so choose and prioritizes the larger purchases that would result in the highest shipping costs upfront.
While it can be effortless to spend thousands of dollars on home gym equipment, it is still possible to build a practical, functional, and affordable home gym in 2021! If you decide you want to build a home gym after reading this post and have a bit higher of a budget, check out our post on folding racks for some more options for your new squat rack!
Edited by Samuel J. Tan