What is the best gym equipment for a home gym? or: What’s the minimum gym equipment one needs to get a good workout done? I’ve heard these questions from many clients, friends and strangers too.
I have done over 4000 hours of one to one personal training sessions. Whether my client was a skinny office worker who wanted to gain muscle, a mother who wanted to get rid of the baby-belly or a promising rugby player with the goal of getting stronger and more powerful on the field we used exactly the same tools to get the desired results.
In this article I’ll share with you what is the best gym equipment for a home gym. The minimum gym equipment to build a home gym is more simple and cheaper than you would think. When considering the price you need to remember that you will be using this gym equipment for years. If you follow my advice in this article I promise you will be motivated and proud to train in your new home gym and will get awesome results of your home workouts.
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, setting up a home gym might be a great investment for you! Do you ever struggle to find time for going to the gym? Hate to see other people’s sweat on the gym equipment and does waiting for exercise machines ruin your workout? Love working out and have a spare room, or totally new to training and feel intimidated in a crowded gym? Are you willing to invest in your health and fitness to get the best possible results?
A home gym is a great way to make sure you get your workout done in the most time efficient way possible and also the most private way!
Whatever your goal is the best way is to do basic compound movements which stimulate the most muscle fibres therefore cause more muscle damage if your goal is strength and size gains and these exercises also burn the most amount of calories if your goal is to lose fat.
The major movements everyone should master are squats, deadlifts, lunges, bent over rows, pullups and horizontal and vertical pushing movements such as bench press and overhead press. To perform all of these exercises all you need is a squat rack, a bar and weight plates. However as you don’t want to do exactly the same movements all your life all these exercises have many different variations for which you can either change hand position, stance or you can use different tools such as kettlebells and dumbbells.
You might say that all you need is your bodyweight to get started; however I don’t think that’s true for most people. Unfortunately in my experience most people can not even do one pressup, for which weight training would be the perfect way to build strength. Pullups the same way, 9 out of 10 people will need more than 3 month of weight training before being able to do a pullup.
A home gym can not only save time from commuting and waiting on gym equipment but also on chatting with friends (or strangers), getting changed, waiting in the shower room etc. Also in the long run it is a good investment which will pay for itself by saving you money on gym membership. And here we come to mention the price. I do think a home gym is an important investment and should be considered for long term. You don’t want to buy the cheapest equipment first of all to make sure it will last years (if not forever) but also in case you will have to move or sell them for any reason you will get most of your money back of a quality home gym. A proper squat rack or weight plate is just as functional after years of use with a few scratches on it as brand new.
In the below list I chose 2 examples of everything you will need for an awesome all-round home gym. One of them the cheapest +reasonable quality one and a high quality one+reasonably priced. I excluded super cheap rubbish and the super expensive stuff which is not any better than the reasonably priced good quality ones. I hope it makes sense 😀 lol
Enjoy looking and if you do decide to invest in your health and fitness then please follow my links to make your purchase to also support me with it as the below links are affiliate links. Thank you! Also note that I chose amazon as you can order everything at once with one payment which will save you a lot of time from ordering and dealing with customer service about deliveries, rather than going to different websites, as the chosen equipments are from different brands.
(Note that this is not a list of the cheapest equipment neither is it a list of the best quality ones out there. The examples are products which are the best value for money in my opinion.)
Number one: Swaat raaaaaaaaaack! (Yes I mean squat rack 🙂 )
The building block of your home gym, which will serve as your bench press station as well (which you should not buy separately) along with your bench, that’s where you will spend most of your time (if you are training right) 🙂 .
The most space and time effective way to get started are free standing squat racks, which do the job, but might lack a safety bar and weight storage which you will probably need sooner or later.
The best bet would be the Bodymax CF415 Squat rack due to it’s strong quality and extremely useful safety bars. If you are on a budget and can’t afford this, the MiraFit Squat rack with adjustable spotter would be my next choice. Both these squat racks are fully adjustable, the Bodymax one is slightly higher priced due to the reputation of the brand which is outstanding.
If you are serious about your training and have more space and money to invest, you should go for a Power rack or a Half Rack. This is a full squat rack which will cost more and take up more space, however it also has more functions which will save you money on additional equipment such as a pullup and dipping station. Although it does have more function I would definitely suggest you to avoid the ones with 5+ different functions such as pull downs etc, as usually the more function it has the worse the quality is…
After thorough research I would give the best value for money prize to the Harcastle Heavy Duty Power Cage as it has the best quality in this price range. This is a strong and sturdy rack for the more serious lifters. It has a pullup bar, safety bars and weight plate storage! The gym I work at also has one of these, I highly recommend it.
If you don’t mind not having a weight rack(which you can buy separately), a reasonable £80 cheaper is the Mirafit Heavy Duty Half Rack which is not quite as sturdy, but if you are a beginner you probably won’t lift super heavy anyway. It also has a dipping station which can be very useful!
Now we need a quality full size bar which will fit on your rack.
(A men’s Olympic bar is 2.2 metres (7.2 ft) long and weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb). The outer ends are 50 millimetres (2.0 in) in diameter, while the grip section is 28 millimetres (1.1 in) in diameter, and 1.31 metres (4.3 ft) in length. A women’s Olympic bar is similar to the men’s bar, but is shorter – 2.01 metres (6.6 ft) – and lighter – 15 kilograms (33 lb) – with a smaller grip section diameter (25 millimetres (0.98 in)).)
The takeaway from this is that you want the middle section of your bar to be 130cm, for women the weight will be lighter due to shorter outer section and smaller diameter. Also whether man or woman, you should get a bar with a 2 inch outer diameter to fit standard weight plates!
Please avoid bars with spin lock collars, it’s a pain in the ass and very likely to be damaged and unusable at some point and you can only use the plates specifically designed for that bar. If you get a proper bar you can also invest in some funky coloured collars to brighten up that pile of black metal of a home gym. 🙂 More about these later.
Be careful when choosing a bar, as many shops try to hide the real sizes and weights and try to foul you for believing that you are getting an olympic size bar and it will be too late when you notice that it doesn’t fit your rack and your weight plates.
Here’s the best woman’s bar I could find, the only one which is 15kg full size with narrower grip diameter. Believe it or not, all the women’s bars are more expensive than this one. It is not cheap, however it is exceptional quality and will definitely serve you for life! If you decide to “man up” 🙂 by getting a heavier bar with thicker grip it will definitely save you some money.
For a full size men’s olympic bar the prices can go sky high. As first choice I’d go for Jordan Sport’s 7ft Elite Steel Series High Performance Bar which is the best quality in it’s price range. If you’d like to go for something cheaper, the lowest priced one from a reliable brand would be from the Strength Shop. Any lower priced than £100 no name bars will not last you very long. So buy those at your own risk.
Now that you’ve got your own bar you’ll need some weight plates. To be able to do all compound lifts such as deadlifts and pendlay rows as they should be done you will need full size bumper plates, plus 2 pairs of smaller plates to make sure that you can increase your weights gradually.
It might sound like a lot for a beginner, but a 100kg package will be a great investment and will save you a lot of money too in the long run. It’s significantly more expensive to buy all these plates separately. Obviously for more experienced lifters who need more weight choose your package accordingly.
Strength shop, who are a well known brand in the weight training world offer a great package which saves you 100s of pounds compared to buying them separately. They not only offer free delivery (which can be super expensive for such heavy deliveries), but also a 10-year guarantee against splitting/cracking of the plates! I could not believe it at first, do not miss this great deal!
If you are a total beginner, the absolute minimum you will need is a pair of 5 and 10kg plates (plus the small ones).
If you want to be more stylish and go for the coloured package feel free, if it makes you more motivated and enjoy training more then by all means go for that, but you are only paying for the colour, it won’t be any different quality.
As I mentioned also get a pair of 2.5 and 1.25kg plates to ensure that you can increase your weights gradually week by week, just make sure that these have a full 2 inch hole in the middle.
For securing your plates to the bar you will need a collar, for which the best ones are clamp collars, which you can get in many different colours to brigthen up the home gym 🙂 The difference between the more expensive ones and the cheaper ones is that the previous has metal screws in it which last longer and the cheaper ones are all plastic. They are also a good way to bring some colour into your home gym. Or if your gym has thos annoying collars which are super hard to put on the bar, you can get a pair of these to take with you to the gym you are a member of. A few years ago I got a red pair for my (now ex) girlfriend and she was loving them.
To make sure you can perform a wide variety of exercises you will also need a bench. This will not only be your spot for bench presses, but many different isolation exercises also such as flies, pull overs, skull crushers, all kinds of seated exercises such as incline curls, prone rows or to serve as a support for one arm rows and to top this up if you have a sturdy bench you can also use it for a bit of cardio work such as stepups and jumps!
Don’t go for the fanciest ones with all kinds of attachments! They are most of the time bad quality. The only thing you need is your bench to be stable, sturdy and adjustable to change angles.
Again, there’s a super wide variety of prices. If you have the money to invest for an equipment to last forever go for Strength Shop’s Deluxe Utility multi purpose adjustable weight bench which would perfectly serve even a seasoned lifter with it’s 600kg max weight-bearing capacity. (Comes with wheels at the back and handle at the front to allow for easy movement. Built in foot plates to the rear to allow for safer and easier hand-offs and spotting.)
Within the cheaper benches I’d suggest CF325 FID Adjustable Utility bench, it is comfortable, fair quality and also has wheels for easy movement, however note that the seat angle is not adjustable which can get very uncomfortable especially when working with heavier weights.
Dumbbells are important part of a quality home gym. They will be necessary for a varied training programme. As we are talking about a home gym the most convenient would definitely be an adjustable dumbbell set. Once you get more advanced however, I would suggest to have individual pairs of dumbbells or 2 pairs of adjustable ones which will enable you to do supersets and drop sets! Same as with barbells, please avoid spin lock dumbbells! This will be one of the most expensive part of your gym, but will also save you a lot of hassle. You see all those spin lock dumbbells lying around in peoples garages and attics cos they are really inconvenient to use. They get rusty or just deformed from being used and then they will be useless if you can’t tighten the collars. Comfort and ease of use are crucial with dumbbells just as well as sturdiness, so I chose by keeping these in mind.
For more serious lifters or naturally stronger people I recommend the AH400 from Sportstech which goes up to 40kg. If you are a beginner or naturally have a smaller body frame I do not recommend this for you as you’ll probably won’t need more than 25kg dumbbells for a while. In this case you should get the AH200 which goes up to 24kg.
If you have not bought a full rack you will also need a pullup bar. Even if you can not do a pullup yet I would suggest to get one as it will be essential in the training to achieve your first pullup. So let’s talk about the best pullup bars you can get for your home gym.
The question is whether you have a wall to screw it on or will you need a temporary one. If you own your house I would definitely get the wall mounted one! The on below RDX gym I use myself and I love it! Very comfortable grip and many different variations in grip width and angle. (Note that the delivery is £20, however I still think it’s a good buy at £53.) The second choice is a Mirafit heavy duty multi grip wall mounted pullup station which is said to be the most stable one and has multiple grip variation which can be very useful for continuous progress in your training. (If I’d buy one now I’d definitely choose this one.) The only thing is that if you have soft palms it might be uncomfortable at first. Don’t let that discourage you tho, the discomfort will go away.
The third one is a doorway pullup bar which is said to be the most stable one (although I have never tried it). There are cheaper and colorful ones out there, but you don’t want a fancy looking bar and end up breaking a bone cos it falls off your door..
This is all you will need to get some quality results in the shortest possible time.
To summarize it all up, if you get the cheapest of everything your home gym will cost £600 including delivery and if you go for the more expensive ones it will cost £1500. If you care more about some equipment than others you’ll be somewhere in between. With the cheapest gym from this list depending on gym membership price, at a cheap gym £20/month the gym will pay for itself in 2 years, if you don’t calculate the travel cost and the lost time, but with gym membership prices more being between 40-100 at “posh” gyms you would get your money’s worth within a year. So even if you are planning to sell your gym equipment in the next year or two you’ve still got yourself a great deal!
Stay tuned as in the next couple of blog posts I will explain how to build your starting workout programme only using the above equipment and another blogpost is on it’s way about additional equipment which could make your life easier and better however it’s not crucial to get started. (such as kettlebells, elastic bands, mobility equipment etc.)
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(Note that this is not a list of the cheapest equipment neither is it a list of the best quality ones out there. The examples are products which are the best value for money in my opinion. I formed my opinion on my knowledge of similar equipment of the same brands, customer reviews, price comparisons and my Personal Training experience. I do not guarantee the longevity and quality of any of the above products nor do I guarantee that these will give you the results you are aiming for. )
Best gym equipment for a home gym