NOTE: This post about setting up a home gym was first published in 2016. Pre-pandemic, things looked a lot different! This update November 2023 reflects just how much we’ve learned about the need for a home gym, and how the right choices increase options, even if you are compromised in a certain joint or with a condition. I’ve added a few of my favorite things and an added supplement you may find comes in handy.
How to Set Up a Home Gym
A subscriber recently asked about how to set up a home gym and I created a short video to go over the bare bones budget-friendly version, the next level, and the nice-to-have. I want to elaborate on that here. My must-haves have an astrick beside them. All my suggestions include only small pieces of equipment, no major cardio machines. You can get cardio in without big machines.
Make no mistake though, I’m a fan of never letting go of your gym membership. Heavy weights (and potentially access to a pool) are a requirement for bone density and weight loss benefits that the convenient weights you can lift (if you’re honest) more than 15 times can’t get you.
That said, we also all need a convenient option when it’s just not practical to get to the gym or you use up all the time you have driving to and from or waiting for what you need.
A home gym is great too for getting schooled and comfortable so that when you travel there’s no reason you can’t walk into any hotel gym (or closet as it may be) and get a good workout in that keeps you on track. So while I’ll add a couple links to help you find equipment especially when it’s a favorite of mine, I am not affiliated with any of the companies here. I can say for some props there is a difference between what you might find at your big discount store and what a company who only makes fitness equipment makes. Bands and tubing or balls are perfect examples of items that are not all created equally.
These are the one thing I won’t workout without. There are bands and tubing and suspension tools but dumbbells are the back-to-basics simple way to get results. I recommend at least three pair: a light pair, medium pair, and a heavy pair. That’s something you can lift 20 times, 15, and 10 or fewer times.
An exercise ball expands your options for core work, leg exercises, and adding stabilization to exercises that you don’t have when you use the floor or a bench. Having a ball eliminates the need for a bench.
Exercise bands and tubing give you ways to do almost any exercise with resistance but it’s low on my list of must-haves. Tubing is a nice-to-have if you’ve got shoulder issues and need light resistance. I do like bands that fit around knees or ankles so you are able to do lateral work to strengthen glutes.
If you have a carpeted floor you may not need a mat but a slip-proof surface is a must. I like Manduka mats for yoga and floor work.
I use kettle bells for squats, single leg deadlifts, rows, swings, goblet squats and side carries. One or two heavy kettle bells can hep you reach fatigue with leg exercises at home.
Boxing is a fun and novel way to get in cardio intervals without impact. It’s a great shoulder and arm toning workout. Gloves come in 12 and 16 ounces. It takes literally no equipment to add this to a home gym.
You can buy a jumprope for $10 or you can pretend you’re using one. The heart rate is the same.
Home Gym Recovery: Foam Roller or The Stick
This is a must-have for anyone who wants to optimize range of motion and mobility. It’s also a secret weapon in fighting cellulite.
I have one, I’ve bought dozens for programs I’ve managed. I haven’t used the one I have for 18 months. I have forgotten about it until writing this blog, honestly. It’s a nice extra. It’s not a mandatory and it has some risk if you have neck or shoulder issues and you’re new to exercise without someone to help cue good form.
Now, it’s your turn.
I’d love to hear your must-haves for home gym. Trampoline? Bosu? Hula Hoop. What props are you using regularly that you couldn’t do a workout without?
The PostPandemic Home Gym Items I’m Loving:
We need bone density. We’ve learned much from science since 2016. High impact and high intensity weights are best. But if you can’t, then I’d invest in one of these if it’s possible. Power Plate Move has become a daily 9 minute habit for me. I’ll tell you in March 2024 if it’s had a bone density benefit for me. While I can do heavy lifting and do high impact, I’m looking for ways to optimize bone and muscle and recovery. These and more (balance and healing) are wrapped up in this one whole body vibration machine. I’ll link to two podcasts about it. [Add Flipping50 for 20% off]
** If you click on any of the links in this post its possible I receive a small commission for sharing. You won’t pay more, in fact may pay less. I only ever share things I use and love, and share or buy for relatives and friends.
A Pull-up – Dip – Core chair station – This I ordered and put together myself during the pandemic. It cost $149 from Kohls (or all places?) and I’ve used it not daily but multiple times a week. Definitely worth it.
I’ve created a special PDF with how-to set up a home gym – grab this for a step by step and check out the resources below too!
Power Plate podcast: https://www.flippingfifty.com/power-plate-benefits/
Whole Body Vibration: https://www.flippingfifty.com/whole-body-vibration/
10 Best Affordable Small Exercise Equipment for Home: https://www.flippingfifty.com/small-exercise-equipment-for-home/
Home Gym: https://www.flippingfifty.com/homegym
You may find my Resources page and Amazon store found there helpful too.