How to build a home gym during the lockdown

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Kevin Mangelschots

How to build a home gym is a question that often comes up during the COVID-19 times and the frequently associated lockdowns.

And while a body weight workout can also be performed at home without any equipment, body weight training is rather limited and not ideal for strength and mass gains.

That’s not to say that you can’t get fitter and more toned with a no equipment workout, of course.

Home gym overview

Equipment needed:

Price tag:

Space needed:

Barbell + weights, power rack, bench, adjustable dumbbells, spin bike, rubber flooring.

€500-€1000. Depending on what tools you want in your home gym and how fancy you want it to be.

At least 36m², but more space is advised.

How to build a gym at home

  • Barbell + weights

    The barbell will be used for all of our big compound lifts at our home gym. This means primarily the bench press, the squat, the deadlift, and the barbell rows.

    The barbell is a low cost, versatile training tool which is a must-have item for training at home. If you got the space to spare, I would recommend buying an Olympic barbell. These are about 2.2 m long.

    If you don’t have enough space to fit those though, you can get by with a decent powerlifting barbell, which is what I have done for my whole life. Just make sure to check beforehand how much space you have and how much weight the barbell can hold, so you don’t break it and injure yourself while you are lifting.

    You have a lot of options in regard to weight plates. The cheapest ones will be the full iron plates, while the most expensive ones will be bumper plates.

    The advantage of bumper plates is that the floor won’t break when the weights need to be dropped fast, or they drop by accident.

    Bumper plates may be worth it while training at home because there will most likely be nobody around to help you when your lift fails. So if the necessity should arise when you need to drop the weights fast or from a higher distance, your floor remains undamaged.

  • Power Rack

    Image of someone's home gym.

    A power rack is one of our most important pieces of training equipment in our home gym. It provides utility and safety. It’s especially essential when you are planning to lift heavy without the luxury of having a spotter!

    Furthermore, it allows us to lift safely without the risk of getting stuck under the barbell and the weights. There’s a wide range of weight lifting exercises that can be performed with a power rack. Popular compound exercises done with a power rack are bench press and squats.

    A power rack is basically shaped as a box with 2 horizontal bars. There are 4 uprights posts (these are your box design) and there are two horizontal bars which are adjustable. These horizontal bars are your safety net. As they allow you to catch and rest the weights on when you can’t complete the lift or lose your balance and let the barbell fall down. This way, you can never get stuck underneath the barbell.

  • Bench

    Picture of a man lying down on a bench and in the starting position of a bench press with a man spotting him.

    A bench is, you guessed it right, designed kind of like a park bench. However, this bench is used and designed specifically for lifting weights.

    There are a number of different bench types. Mainly fixed benches and adjustable benches.

    Fixed benches are flat and fixed. Meaning, you can’t alter the inclination. The other type is the adjustable bench. An adjustable bench can be put in a flat, incline or decline position. This is the bench type I would recommend buying if you’re interested in a home gym because it allows you to put your focus on different parts of the muscle you’re working out. Meaning it’s more versatile than a fixed bench.

  • Dumbbells

    Image of a man grabbing two fixed dumbbells from a weight rack.

    A very versatile training tool, which is especially great when you are just starting out your weight lifting journey because the weights you’re able to lift as a beginner are lower. This makes dumbbells the perfect training tool for beginners, since the weights you can lift with dumbbells are lower than with a barbell.

    This makes it an excellent entry equipment tool for working out. Even advanced lifters will make use of it frequently when doing accessory exercises. Just remember that there are dumbbells with a fixed weight (fixed dumbbells) and adjustable dumbbells which are not fixed in weight (adjustable dumbbells.)

    I recommend buying the adjustable dumbbells because it allows you to stack more weights on as you get stronger without needing to buy countless other dumbbells sets. This will reduce the cost in your lifting future as well.

  • Treadmill/home trainer 

    A woman running on a treadmill.

    Of course, cardio workouts must be performed in addition to weight lifting in order to get a full body workout that’s based on shaping a healthy body.

    The easiest way to get your cardio workouts in at home with equipment is by either walking/running or riding a bike. Either of those (or both) will do. Younger people are often more into jogging on a treadmill (or outside). This is however more stressful on the joints and so is potentially less suited for people at an advanced age. A home trainer might be a better option for the people who are not youngsters anymore.

    There are other, less or non-expensive alternatives for cardio workouts if you want to reduce the cost of your home gym. For example, by doing cardio kickboxing, rope jumping or simply put walking/running outside on the streets or in the woods.

  • Rubber flooring 

    Image of commercial gym with rubber floor.

    Especially important if you have a fragile floor or live in an apartment where you need to keep the noise down.

    Rubber flooring is easy to install. It is strong, sturdy, soundproof if your barbell falls down on it and waterproof. It comes in the form of tiles or mats. Tiles are better for a bigger room because they can be fitted in each other. Mats might be more useful and easier to use for smaller rooms.

    Disadvantages of rubber flooring are that it’s fairly expensive and quite heavy. Luckily, the surface for most home gym’s is quite small, which makes the cost manageable. The weight of the rubber tiles are almost a non issue since once in place, they are often not moved anymore. Or at the very least not frequently.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why should you build a home gym?

Building a home gym can be desirable for people who are looking to spare time and money in the long term. Working out at home obviously spares money and time, seeing as you don’t have to move in order to train.

A lot of gyms are closed due to the corona lockdown. This means that a lot of people are looking for alternative ways to perform their workouts. And while body weight training can be a desirable alternative for some people, a body weight workout is simply not for everyone. Depending on what your goals are, it might not be ideal either.

Those people will most likely be interested in how to build a home gym for cheap. This way, they can still perform their usual weight and cardio based workouts.

Today, I will explain the bare minimum that is needed to build a decent and quality home gym for cheap. This includes the essentials needed to get strong, ripped or big at home.

Working out at home is recommended if you are planning to make working out a part of your life. This is because you need to train for quite some time to get the money you’ve invested in a home gym back. But trust me, it’s worth it. It conserves a lot of time and money.

I would say that the only prerequisite to train at home is that you are self-motivated and don’t need other people to get your ass going to the gym. If you are self-motivated, then working out at home might be something for you.

Keep reading to find out how to build your own home gym.

Advantages of a home gym

The word “benefits” made with wooden tiles.

  • Budget friendly

    It’s a relative small investment in the grand scheme of things.

    If you’re planning on training for years, then an investment of €500-€1000 is nothing compared to years of gym membership. Which can add up surprisingly fast!

  • Always open

    One of the biggest advantages of a home gym is that you can train whenever you want since it’s open 24/7. You probably wish your favorite bar has this as its opening sign.

    Being able to choose when you train is a big advantage. No more looking at opening and closing times.

  • Equipment is always available

    Multiple dumbbells in the gym.

    If you go to a public gym, you have to take in consideration that other people will also be using the equipment you need. This means it’s possible that the equipment you require will be occupied by other people, which means you’ll have to wait until they’re done.

    It also saves you the trouble of idiots who are curling in the squat rack.

  • Privacy

    No more behaving to the social rules and norms of society and other people.

    Yell, scream and put the music you like as hard as you want. Being able to decide what music you put on is pretty neat too!

Disadvantages of a home gym

A boy giving two thumbs down in disapproval.

  • Investment

    If you’re not sure if you’re going to keep working out for a couple of years then €500-€1000 is a huge investment.

    If you are uncertain if you want to train for a considerable amount of time, I recommend paying for a gym membership for a few months to see if you like it and can keep yourself motivated.

    If you do, you can still build a gym at home afterward.

  • Limited equipment

    Perhaps the largest disadvantage of a home gym is that you’re probably limited on equipment.

    No matter how you put it, you won’t be able to match all the training equipment a paid gym membership has to offer.

    However, you can train almost any body part with only the most basic equipment. If you are looking into specific or very advanced bodybuilding, then working out in a gym might be better suited for you.

  • No social pressure to get you going

    Picture of multiple people lifting with barbells in a gym.

    Some people rely on the peer/social pressure to get their butt to the gym.

    If this is the case, and you can’t carry the sole responsibility of going to the gym on your own, then I would not recommend a home gym. If this is the case, you’re better off going for a paid membership in a gym.

  • Distractions at home

    Computers, TV’s, video games, … There are a lot of distractions at home.

    You need to make it a habit of making sure your workout time is spent solely on working out. Otherwise, you won’t get any quality training done.

Conclusion

A home gym is an investment, and you should see it as such. It’s worth it, but only if you’re in it for the long haul.

Building a home gym has numerous advantages such as privacy, choosing when to train, and a reduced price cost in the long run.

But it also has some disadvantages that shouldn’t be neglected like the larger investment cost and limited amount of training equipment compared with training at a gym.

Overall, I would definitely say that building a home gym is a worthwhile investment if you are self-motivated and have the right personality type to work out without the aid of people pushing you to do so.