Question from a client: I have some equipment lying around and want to put together a gym I can use at home. Where do I start and what do I need?
Right behind “how do I get a flatter stomach?” this is the second most often asked question I get. While it may seem overwhelming or confusing, putting together a home gym is very simple. I’ll break it down and show you exactly how.
The amount and type of equipment you can use depends on 3 things: space, budget, and how much you plan to use it. If you have plenty of room, can invest in a decent amount of equipment and will use it often, build a full gym with a squat rack, bench, full set of dumbbells and a few other pieces depending on your goals. If your space and budget are limited, a few dumbbells and an exercise mat are enough.
This space is a storage room that holds most of the equipment I use day to day. With some rearranging, we can turn it into a nice little gym!
This room is pretty big, but I’m only using a small, 10×6 section for this demonstration. If you have more space, have fun and build a really cool gym! Just know that limited space won’t keep you from being able to train effectively and get good results.
As an in home personal trainer, I have a variety of equipment that I use to keep clients “happy”. I recommend equipment that has multiple uses. Dumbbells, kettlebells, bands and sandbags can be used for all resistance training and interval training exercises.
A bench is helpful, but it is not required since most exercises can be done on the floor.
- Clear the area of any objects so nothing is damaged or broken.
- Careful with low ceilings for any overhead or jumping exercises.
- If you are using a bench or squat rack, make sure you have enough clearance on both sides to easily load and unload the bar and move each exercise through the full range of motion. If you plan on doing barbell exercises like bench press, have a spotter for heavy sets.
- For treadmills, make sure the area behind the machine is clear of any objects and not right up against a wall.
Time to put your new gym to use! Get some workouts in, get comfortable, and find a way around the home gym challenges. Happy training!
A home gym can be a great thing
When I moved home after college, I didn’t have a car and my work schedule made it difficult to get to the gym. There was no way I was giving up my new favorite thing, so I bought a weight set with the tips from my room service job. I cleared some space in basement and drove my family nuts by using it all hours of the day and night. It was amazing! I could train at my own pace, didn’t have to worry about waiting for equipment, didn’t have to feel weird or self conscious learning (and struggling with) new exercises, and cleanliness wasn’t an issue. All the benefits of the gym, none of the downsides!
Or so I thought…
Despite the benefits, there are drawbacks to training at home as well. The convenience makes it easier to put off. I sometimes found myself saying “yeah, I’ll do it later” over and over until it was 1 A.M. and too late to train without waking everyone up. We had a running joke at a gym I worked in long ago that most home gyms were fancy, expensive clothes racks because the initial excitement and “motivation” can wear off quickly. Limited space and equipment can make it feel monotonous at times. And the biggest culprit, being at home means there are more potential distractions!
3 ways to beat the most common challenges to training at home
1 – Get on a schedule and stick to it.
Having a gym at home increases the likelihood of brushing it off. Fix this by making an appointment for yourself and keeping it. Set an alarm, put a reminder in your phone, whatever you have to do to make it work. Treat your training time just like going to the gym, because that is exactly what you are doing!
2 – No interruptions while training.
Gym, home, outside, this is mandatory regardless of where you’re training. Unless it is an absolute emergency it can wait. Don’t check your phone, email, or social media. Enjoy the silence and use the time to improve yourself.
3 – You don’t need a ton of exercises or equipment to get results.
Variety is key for progress and avoiding burnout. Learn some new exercises or variations, change the tempo, add more sets, more reps. These are just a few ways to get more from your program. Read more here if you have questions about equipment or setting up your gym.
If you have children and can’t leave them, try The 10 Minute Workout.
For those days when it just seems impossible to find an hour for yourself, The 10 Minute Workout is your “go to” solution. I’ve had clients make it an activity and have their kids do some of the exercises with them.