By now, you've probably heard someone you know - whether it's a family member, coworker, or that crazy next-door neighbor who is up at 5 am slamming barbells and blasting the latest T-Swift - talk about how great their home gym is. I'm sure they have given you plenty of home gym ideas.
Home gyms are the perfect solution for many people for a wide variety of reasons.
Maybe for you, you struggle to find time in your day to make the daily commute to the gym. Between making dinner, kids' t-ball practice, and work commitments, unfortunately, your fitness can get put on the back burner. Maybe you are the type of person who enjoys working out alone, in a dedicated space designed by you for your goals and needs.
It could be you are tired of paying those monthly gym fees and would rather invest in equipment of your own. Or maybe you want to be an example to your kids and show them what it looks like to be able to work out as a family.
The point is, there are countless reasons for wanting to build your own home gym. What happens though when space becomes an issue? Maybe the only space you have for a home gym is a spare bedroom, a shed, or a corner of your bedroom.
Home gyms look very different for each home and each user. Your home gym could start as simple as a yoga mat and a kettlebell. We want to help you by giving you some home gym ideas.
The important thing is to find what works for your goals and your workout space and remember - your first home gym doesn't have to be the gym of your dreams.
You have a lifetime to adjust, build, and grow your sweaty sanctuary.
Here are the Top 10 Home Gym Ideas for Any Space:
1) What Do You Want to Get Out of Your Gym?
This is the starting point for any home gym build - whether you need the HOA to approve your massive two-car garage being built or you are storing your equipment in a closet.
Why are you buying gym equipment? Are you looking to improve or maintain your cardio? Maybe you want to add 50 pounds to your deadlift. Or maybe you aren't exactly sure, but you just want to get a good, general fitness sweat in your new dedicated space.
Being able to define your fitness goals will give you a general idea of what type of equipment you are looking at buying and if your space is going to work well. For instance, if you are looking to become a competitive powerlifter, but don't have enough workout space in your home gym for a squat rack, that obviously will be a slight problem.
Once you have a rough idea of your fitness and training goals, you should consider what equipment you need to get there and begin to craft your home gym ideas.
As you can imagine, this will vary widely - home gyms can have everything from a punching bag to a treadmill to an Olympic lifting platform.
So be sure to consider what type of equipment you will need to reach your goals.
Now that you have a general direction for your home gym equipment needs, you can begin to maximize the space you have. These next tips will be focused on how to get the most use out of your home gym space.
2) Prioritize Multi-Use Gym Equipment
This might be the biggest hack to getting the most out of your home gym.
I'll go into detail as we continue about specific space-saving examples.
Some bad examples would be buying things like a commercial leg press for a bedroom, a chest fly machine, or a large elliptical. These pieces of gym equipment certainly have their place in commercial spaces, but ask yourself "What is the use-to-space-taken-up ratio?" I know, I know you love that very scientific term I just made up.
A better option, if you just love a leg press machine, would be also getting the model that includes a hack squat, or if chest flys and hamstring curls are your jam, consider getting a cable machine that with a few adjustments can do both, rather than two large pieces of equipment that have very limited functionality.
The name of the game is getting the most use of your equipment in the least amount of space.
The more pieces that can be used for multiple exercises, the better.
3) Consider Adjustable Dumbbells
These might just be one of the most efficient pieces of strength training equipment there is. For no bigger than a 2'x2' square, you can have dumbbells ranging from 10 pounds to 70 plus pounds - instantly giving you the ability to do lunges, curls, strict presses, and so much more.
While some avid gym goers prefer the feel of the traditional dumbbell, these can be incredibly helpful if you are in a crunch for space.
Another typical complaint is the cost; however, make sure you are comparing the cost to the price of buying each of the dumbbells individually.
You will almost always find that adjustable dumbbells are not only space-effective but cost-effective, as well.
4) What about kettlebells?
Along the same lines as the dumbbells, is the kettlebell. Kettlebells are incredibly versatile and can be used for swings, rows, pressing, carries, and many other movements.
If you are tight on space, consider buying either kettlebells or dumbbells - as they are pretty interchangeable.
This one certainly depends on your goals as well, if you are a bodybuilder or powerlifter there is very little need for kettlebells unless you just prefer them.
However, if you are training in a functional or CrossFit-style training program, a set of moderate-weight kettlebells (30 to 70 pounds) can be a great option with a pretty small space requirement.
5) Should I Buy a Cardio Machine?
We all know cardio is important for health, but man is it difficult sometimes to put it in our training.
Certain training styles use cardio-based movements more, such as endurance, CrossFit, and general fitness, while others such as powerlifting and strongman may not be as focused on cardio machines.
Choosing your cardio machines wisely is very, very important.
Making the wrong choice here can take up the majority of your home gym. For example, a treadmill and stationary exercise bike could take up most of a shed, spare bedroom, or small garage.
There are some great options to maximize your cardio without losing your workout space for free weights.
The first would be running or walking - this one seems obvious, but there is no equipment and it can be nice to get outside of the house. Certainly consider where you live, because you likely don't want to be running in Minnesota in January or even in Florida in August.
Another great option is to unlock your inner kid and pick up a jump rope. With almost no space needed, this can be a great way to get your cardio and a little bit of athleticism into your training routine.
Finally, consider machines that are easily moved and folded - a great example of this is a rower. Rowers can crush your cardio and can be stood on one end minimizing the home gym space needed for one.
I'd also mention that something like a Peloton may be the perfect piece of equipment for a really small home gym - just make sure you enjoy biking or else it'll turn into the most expensive clothes hanger money can buy.
I'm really sorry.
You were probably hoping I'd skip this part, but now you don't have an excuse for skipping those heart gains in your home gym. Your 80-year-old self will thank me.
6) Buy a Barbell.
The barbell is a man amongst boys when it comes to fitness equipment, and its size makes it a necessary staple in your home gym. The amount of compound movements that can be performed on a barbell is absurd - back squats, front squats, deadlifts, clean & jerks, bent over row, the list goes on and on.
As far as the functionality-to-space ratio goes, the barbell has to be near the top of the list.
Barbells can also be stored by hanging them on a wall mount. This can be helpful when looking to maximize your floor space in your home gym.
7) What about a power rack?
This one comes down to your goals. If lifting weights, performing compound movements, and doing it safely and effectively are important to you - it's hard to do it without a power rack.
Add in the extra functionality it provides with the pull-up bar and it's hard to beat the power rack.
Power racks also come in a variety of sizes. Certain models are incredibly compact, folding up and back into the wall and making great use of the functional home gym space you have. You can also look at just the squat stand if your primary focus is performing squats - while taking less space up, you certainly lose some functionality.
If you have the space a full power rack is a great option - they are sturdy and include safety bars for squatting. Also, having the pull-up bar makes this a great option for your home gym.
8) How to Maximize Plate Storage Space
Unfortunately, while barbells are relatively great for space, weight plates (and especially bumper plates) are not. Depending on whether or not you purchase a power rack and the storage capabilities it has, you may be looking for a way to store your plates effectively. A great way to overcome this is with wall-mounted weight storage.
It's also important to be selective with your plate choices.
Certainly, you want to have enough weight to perform the exercises you need to do. But when dealing with limited home gym space, if your deadlift max is 315 and you have 1000 pounds in plates, that may be just a little excessive.
When looking at your home gym ideas and options - don't buy 15 and 35-pound plates. They aren't needed and avoiding them will save you space and money.
9) Resistance Bands Are a Must-Have
Everyone knows the key to a great butt is resistance bands, right?! Wait, you mean Instagram has been lying to me?
All jokes aside, resistance bands are a great solution for not only home gym but traveling as well. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, strict presses, and others can be performed using bands.
They are incredibly lightweight, require almost no storage, and provide a challenging muscle-building workout.
Resistance bands can provide many other functions as well such as aiding in mobility and muscle activation during a warmup.
Another great use for your bands is as an accessory to your major lifts like squats and bench presses. Putting bands on the ends of the bar attached to the ground or power rack provides extra resistance at the top of each rep similar to using chains.
10) Other "Nice to Haves" for Your Space
A few other accessories to add to your home gym ideas list include a suspension trainer, medicine balls, and an adjustable bench.
Suspension trainers have countless uses to use your body weight against you. The great thing about these systems is not only can they be used with your power rack, but many can also be set up using simply a door in your house or by mounting them to the wall.
Whether you are looking to hit some rows, chest flies, or assisted single-leg squats a suspension trainer is a great option for maximizing your home gym.
Medicine balls are also quite possibly limitless in their use - from slams, twists, throws, squats, or even a nice pillow for a nap on your rest day.
Medicine balls can be a great way to work on explosive power in your training. Similarly to the kettlebell, you probably only need one moderate-weight medicine ball - probably in the 15-25 pound range.
Finally, an adjustable bench is a great addition to your home gym. Since it allows for bench pressing and building those pecs it may mean for some this is an absolute necessity.
In addition to bench pressing, the adjustable bench allows you to work your lats in multiple dumbbell row variations, perform incline and seated strict presses, and hit quite possibly the hardest movement in the gym - the Bulgarian split squat.
A few honorable mentions:
Dropping an Olympic barbell with 315 loaded from overhead while using a yoga mat as a crash pad in your spare room upstairs may sound exhilarating, but may not be the best idea for the structural integrity of your house.
As you consider your home gym ideas and options, be sure to consider your foundation, flooring, how heavy your exercise equipment is, and whether or not it will be dropped.
For more information on home gym flooring, check out our article here.
If you are in a shed, garage, or potentially unfinished basement be sure to make room for a heater. Unless you are in an area or region where you are fine with going through your workout routine in the coldest temperatures in the winter, it is important to make sure you account for a heater. The last thing you want is to be skipping workouts after your ambitious New Year's resolutions because it is simply too cold.
On the other hand, consider making room for an AC unit or a fan which may be necessary again depending on where you live and your tolerance to heat.
You made it!
A home gym is a dream for so many and now you are one step closer to that dream. Armed with your newfound knowledge, you are ready to go and put these home gym ideas into action.
Remember, the biggest rule of building out a home gym for a smaller space is choosing multi-use equipment.
What exercises do you like performing/need to perform in your training? What workout equipment can take the least amount of space in your home gym while still letting you get your work accomplished? Make sure to consider these questions in your buying process.
This list is not exhaustive as there are countless home gym equipment choices, but hopefully, it will spark some home gym ideas for you.
Whether you are looking at using a small spare room for your home gym or cleaning out the garage and taking it over as you build your powerlifting palace, we are here to help.
We would love to help you achieve not only your home gym dreams but also your fitness goals. For so many, a home gym is one step closer to reaching those goals and crushing your workout routine.