How To Set Up a Home Gym on a Budget

A Young athletic woman doing weight training at home during lockdown.
Petri Oeschger / Getty Images

Maybe you’ve grown tired of spending $100 or so a month on your gym membership, carving time into your day to get to the gym or asking Grandma to come stay with the kids while you work out. You’re thinking it’s not worth the expense and trouble anymore.

That’s fine. Quit the gym. But that doesn’t mean you need to quit your fitness routine.

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Instead, create your own workout space at home. GOBankingRates asked fitness experts to weigh in on the basics you’ll need to get started on your own home gym, and they provided suggestions that won’t take up a ton of space in your home or break your budget.

There are ways to reduce the cost of having a home gym,” said Secoy Reeves, a certified personal trainer who owns 2nd Chance Fitness in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. “One option is to buy used equipment. You can often find good quality used equipment on Craigslist or other online marketplaces.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Here are other steps you should take in putting together your home gym on a budget.

The First Pieces

To Paul Vincent, the CEO of Altus Health in Southern California, a home gym doesn’t need to include big, expensive machines. In fact, an investment of less than $150 can get you started on the road to fitness with his plan.

“You really don’t need a lot to get in a great workout at home. When working with my clients, including Hollywood A-listers, I like to focus on human movement patterns and bodyweight exercises,” he said. “This ensures that they are moving their body well.”

Vincent said he’d advise these three basics for your home gym. Combined, they’ll cost less than $125.

1. A foam roller: “Stretching and working out any problem areas is very important before you start your workout. I always have my clients take about 10 minutes at the start of a session and the end to stretch and make sure their muscles have been warmed up and cooled down appropriately.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Cost: less than $30.

2. Resistance bands: “Be sure to get a good quality set as lots can break after some use and so you end up paying out again. Get a set that has varying levels of resistance so that as you improve you can switch out the band you’re using. And so that you can use them to focus on different body parts; arms, legs. I like the looped ones as they are really versatile.”

Cost: less than $25.

3. Kettlebells: “These are really multifaceted and don’t take up too much room. Depending on your level go for a set that contains a comfortable weight and a couple that will challenge you. This allows you to use them in a wide variety of exercises.”

Cost: based on weight, but a set of three with weights of 10, 15 and 20 pounds is less than $60.

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Options for Weights

Resistance bands and weights were the most common recommendation for home gyms from the fitness experts, but some offered options other than kettlebells for weights.

“If you are looking to build up your home gym but not break your budget, there is a lot you can do with very little money,” said Allison Sizemore, a certified sports nutritionist and online coach with Couture Fitness Coaching in the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. “First, we would recommend prioritizing strength training over cardio. You can always step outside and take a walk for free.”

Make Your Money Work for You

1. Dumbbells: This is the biggest investment Sizemore recommended for your home gym.

“With dumbbells, you can add load to any of the bodyweight exercises that you were doing unweighted before,” she said. “For example, holding some dumbbells while you do a squat or lunge will really make that move more difficult and allow you to progress more than not adding weight would. These two moves are great for working the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Adjustable dumbbells are more of an investment – usually around $300-$400. While they are definitely not portable, they also take up very little space.”

2. Power cage/squat rack: Ashton Ferrazzo, founder of Freedom Fitness Equipment, is partial to this method. “The best value is absolutely a power cage/squat rack,” he said. “That can be purchased on the used market for anywhere from $100 to $300 — even new ones only range into the $300 mark for a good economy rack. This will allow you full body workouts, from legs, calves, and butt to back, abs, shoulders, chest and arms. You can squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press in this kind of rack, do chin-ups, accessory work and more.”

“It’s incredibly versatile and hits more than one body part, and yes, it’s highly affordable, especially used,” he added.

3. Barbells: “If I had to recommend only one item for most people, it would be the barbell set,” said Mike Beatty, the founder of Strong Home Gym. “You can pick up a great bar for under $200 and you can buy weight plates for roughly $1 per pound; 100 pounds is more than enough for most people starting out. You can even buy extra weight plates in the future to add more weight to your setup.

“A barbell set works every major muscle group in your body including shoulders, biceps, triceps, back, chest, quads, hamstrings and gastrocnemius.”

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Add-On Equipment

Depending on your workout routine and goals, fitness experts recommended lower-cost adds, including a yoga mat for stretching exercises and a pull-up bar — each $40 or less.

“Even if you cannot do pull-ups, a pull-up bar will be great to attach either the resistance bands or suspension trainers from,” said TJ Mentus, a certified trainer and member of the expert review board at Garage Gym Reviews. “There are also plenty of hanging core exercises that you can perform on them or even use as a target to jump to. This will give you a secure piece of equipment that will come in handy more than you realize”

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About the Author

Jami Farkas holds a communications degree from California State University, Fullerton, and has worked as a reporter or editor at daily newspapers in all four corners of the United States. She brings to GOBankingRates experience as a sports editor, business editor, religion editor, digital editor — and more. With a passion for real estate, she passed the real estate licensing exam in her state and is still weighing whether to take the plunge into selling homes — or just writing about selling homes.
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