Research shows that most gym memberships cost nearly $60 per month. Do you have that kind of cash lying around?

While gyms and fitness centers can be excellent resources, you can create a similar setup right in the comfort of your own home. Better yet, you can customize the equipment to meet your specific workout needs.

Not sure where to start? Read on!

Today, we’re sharing the ultimate guide to creating a home gym that’s so effective, you’ll wonder why you ever paid for a monthly pass anywhere else.

Setting the Scene

Before we dive into the exact equipment and workout machines to buy, you’ll need to find a place for your home gym!

There’s no right or wrong answer here but look for a space that makes you feel comfortable and motivated. In many cases, this will be a two-car garage, a spare bedroom, or your basement.

Keeping your budget in mind, make small upgrades to the space to turn it into a spot where you actually want to break a sweat. Paint the walls, add posters and hook up a sound system so you can blast your favorite get-pumped jams.

A Comfortable Platform

Your garage might be a great spot to work out, but the cold concrete floor isn’t exactly comfy. This is where a simple platform can make a major difference.

When you lay one down, you’ll not only protect your floors and keep your equipment padded. You can also add an element of sound-proofing to the room, which will come in handy if you prefer to weightlift early in the morning or late at night when everyone’s trying to sleep.

A basic platform consists of a few sheets of plywood, topped with a rubber mat. You can buy one or make one yourself, but either way, don’t skip this step. If you intend to perform any kind of heavy weightlifting or Olympic moves, you’ll need a platform to avoid cracking the surface underneath.

Barbells and Weight Plates

You aren’t investing in a home gym to pop in a yoga DVD and get Zen. You want to add impressive gains and bulk up, just without the ick factor of sharing your weights with everyone else in town.

That said, you’ll want to start with barbells and weights.

Before you start shopping, keep in mind that there are two types of barbells:

  • Standard bars
  • Olympic bars

Standard bars have a one-inch diameter and plates with one-inch holes. While they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to find, they aren’t ideal for serious bodybuilders. If you plan to lift more than 200 pounds, it’s best to go ahead and invest in Olympic bars.

These are usually seven feet long with a rotating sleeve. They’re perfectly sized to accommodate even your most intense weightlifting session.

With your bars ready, you can shop for weight plates. Especially if you’re on a tight budget, save money by buying these used. You can usually find good-quality used plates for less than .50 per pound.


From economical, plate-loaded dumbbells to a commercial dumbbell rack, you’ll have plenty of options when you’re ready to stock this part of your home gym.

Plate-loaded ones are available in both standard and Olympic versions. If you go this route, match these to your barbell plates if possible.

Looking to rack up on the cheap? Small standard handles made of cast iron and steel are ideal. Selectable dumbbells will cost more and often conk out before those lower-priced alternatives.

Power Rack

No home gym would be complete without a power rack. This piece of equipment is not only multi-functional but also makes your entire setup safer.


If you’re weightlifting on a power rack and happen to miss a lift, the pins will engage to protect you. Moreover, the integrated J-hooks make free weight exercises a breeze. You can even find power racks with built-in pull-up/chin bars and band pegs, as well as dip attachments and even pulley systems.

Concerned about how much space a rack will take up? Consider the alternative of setting up a seven-foot bar and bench. A rack isn’t much bigger than that and can help facilitate a range of workouts you could otherwise miss.

While researching your options, there are a few features to take into consideration. A few of them include:

  • Hole spacing
  • Material durability and strength
  • Bolting requirements
  • Accessories included
  • Overall dimensions (depth, width, height)

If you’re handy, you might even be able to build your power rack by hand. To do so, you’ll need to find someone who can weld scrap steel to your preferred dimensions. Then, you can add band pegs to the bottom and install a weight stack in the rear.

Weightlifting Bench

While benches might be a dime a dozen, it’s important to do your research. You might have 500 pounds of weight or more on yours at any given time, and an off-brand one from the big box store might not be able to support you.

Keep an eye out for sales, auctions and even thrift store finds. You don’t need the flashiest or newest bench on the block, but it does need to be sturdy. If possible, look for one that’s also adjustable in case a few buddies ever want to join you in an at-home workout.

Before you walk away with your new purchase, test the bench out first. Lie on your back on it, with your feet flat on the floor. If you can’t drive through your feet, it isn’t the correct height.

While you’re shopping for the perfect bench, remember that for most of the exercises that call for one, the floor will work just fine. You can also build a makeshift bench with lumber and cinder blocks.

Set Up Your Home Gym and Never Miss a Workout

Investing in a fully-stocked home gym can help you make major strides toward meeting your fitness goals.

When you have all of the tools you need at your disposal, sticking to a consistent workout schedule suddenly doesn’t seem so hard. Take your time, choose the proper equipment, and make sure you feel comfortable in the space.

Then, invite your friends over, blast some music and relish in the fact that you’re saving money and getting shredded.

Looking for other ways to bulk up at home? We offer a range of stacks and supplements that can get you there. Check out our inventory and contact us today with any questions.