It’s okay, you can say it: going to the gym can be a nightmare. Between the drive and navigating the locker room to just not having the social energy to see another human being, the obstacles can pile up. The most affordable gyms near you might not even have the equipment you need to train for your sport. Worse, they might have what you need but you can never get to it because of that dude curling in the squat rack. Then there’s that person somehow taking up three benches at once.
If you’ve got the space and a bit of a starter budget, you’re in luck. Building a home gym isn’t as hard or as intimidating as it might sound. When you’re working out at home, you don’t have to deal with the potential drawbacks of commercial gym fitness life.
You’ll be able to outfit your gym with exactly what you want, and never have to worry about traffic on the way to the deadlifting platform. In case you’re not yet convinced, here are 14 reasons to own your own home gym — plus a starter’s guide for how to build one.
Benefits of Owning a Home Gym
- No Commute
- Open 24/7/365
- Increased Safety
- Save Money
- Two-a-Day Workouts
- Be on Hand at Home
- You Make the Rules
- No Waiting Around
- Completely Customizable
- Less Germs
- Superset Away
- Train With Friends
- Tap Into Your Inner Interior Designer
Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to getting into the gym is the idea of trekking out to the car and battling traffic — twice. But with the ability to simply walk to your gym at any time, you’ll save a load of time and mental effort since your commute will only be as long as it takes to walk through your apartment or home.
Your 45-minute workout will actually take only 45 minutes, as opposed to the hour and a half it normally takes after driving to the gym, getting ready in the locker room, chit-chatting with random folks, and then heading back home. This additional time can allow you to spend more time with your family and friends — not to mention being able to hit the snooze button without missing your workout.
Life is busy. There are times when it’s difficult or even impossible to get to the gym. With a home gym, it’s not the end of the world if you missed your scheduled lunch workout because a meeting popped up, or if you didn’t wake up to your morning alarm.
If you’re a night owl and a very early riser, you won’t have to hunt high and low for a gym open at all hours. No matter what’s going on in the world — whether it’s a holiday or a global pandemic — you’ll be able to train comfortably and safely at home whenever you want.
As much as gyms can be empowering spaces, many folks may not have access to safe and affirming gym spaces. Trans and nonbinary lifters may not have safe access to locker rooms and restrooms in the gym, while also risking harassment and marginalization on the gym floor itself. Athletes with disabilities can make sure they have equipment and a gym set-up that is safe and accessible.
BIPOC athletes may find themselves one of few if any people of color in any given commercial gym, especially if it’s specialized for a particular sport. And women often experience harassment in traditional gym settings. Being able to work out in a home environment may therefore feel a lot safer for many, many athletes.
While accountability buddies are great for some athletes, others prefer to work out away from the potential judgements of their peers. Maybe you’re rehabbing from an injury and are lifting a lot less than you used to. Working out at a gym might have you running the risk of loading on the plates too quickly if you’re embarrassed to be lifting lighter in front of people.
You might be just starting out and you want to lift light weights in private. Or, you’re an advanced lifter who just doesn’t want to deal with other people’s expectations while you’re taking your “you” time. Whatever your specific situation, a home gym is a great way to lift weights without feeling like you have to perform a certain level of strength for other people.
If you decide to purchase a lot when first creating your home gym, then there will be a decent amount of upfront costs. However, you have the ability to save money over time when comparing your upfront costs to the monthly gym membership and gas expenses you pay over time.
Plus, most equipment will retain its value pretty well, so there is the ability to resell if you end up changing your mind or upgrading to new items.
Working out twice a day is a useful strategy for athletes trying to give themselves a big edge in competition. CrossFitters, for example, often find that working out more than once a day is an essential part of building their work capacity. But between commute time and crowded weight rooms, you might just not have the time to get in a morning workout and another evening session.
But if your gym is in your garage, it’s pretty easy to pop down to train before breakfast and right after work. You can bring yourself from an athlete who’s struggling to keep up with their program to someone who can bang out two-a-day workouts in no time.
One of the issues a lot of parents have with getting to the gym consistently is needing to be on hand when the kids are home. But with a home gym, you’ll be sweating mere steps away from where your kids are. And if they’re really little, you can always plan out space for a playpen in your gym with you so you can keep an eye on the kiddo while you’re doing your thing.
Even if you haven’t got little ones, it might be your night to cook dinner. With a home gym, you can pop the chicken into the oven, set a timer, and get after a full workout in the next room while everything cooks. You get your workout, and your family gets dinner from you. Everybody wins.
Drop the weights, load up the chalk, blast the music, and lie on the ground as long as you want after that intense WOD (workout of the day). You don’t have to worry about keeping track of general gym etiquette — and what other people may want to listen to — when you just want to blast Taylor Swift to accompany your workout.
Don’t want to put your weights away today? Your future self might not love it, but you’re not breaking any rules by leaving the weights exactly where they are.
Tired of waiting? The squat rack in your home gym will always be open, so you don’t have to awkwardly stand around that area waiting to snag it once someone is done. With a home gym, there is nothing holding you back from getting in and out as fast as possible. It goes the other way as well.
There also won’t be any pressure to always tell the person waiting for a certain piece of equipment that it’s your last set. Move at the pace you want when you are lifting in your garage, basement, or any other part of your house.
Whether you are training for functional fitness, powerlifting, strongman, a 5k race, or just general health and wellness, you have the ability to pick the equipment that is most suitable to the workouts you’ll be performing. You’ll also have the ability to customize it, so that it’s a motivating place where you’ll want to spend your valuable time. Think: your favorite brands, sports teams, and posters. It’s literally all yours to design.
No need to worry about the hundreds of sweaty people that have already used that barbell or piece of equipment. It’s your equipment and you know the last time it has been cleaned. Plus, working out in your own gym keeps your workout sessions safe even if COVID rates in your area are high.
Gym etiquette takes on a whole new meaning when everything is yours. Not only are there no waiting times for your own personal equipment, but you can also set up as many working stations as you want at a time.
You can load up for heavy barbell rows and have your bench press station set up for supersetting presses all at the same time. No problem if you need a rower on standby, too. Heck, you can even do biceps curls in your very own squat rack. The best part is, you’re not being rude to anyone in the process.
Who needs a guest pass when you’ve got the keys to your own house? If you love working out with that one special gym buddy, your partner, or a whole group of friends, you can do so in your own gym. No extra charge, no time restrictions, and no waivers to sign.
Even if your partner doesn’t train with you, you can always ask for a quick favor when you need a spot. They won’t have to travel far from the house.
Building out your home gym can be exhilarating. The process is a great opportunity to get creative. Just like with any project around the house, you might find it extremely rewarding — and you will always be brainstorming ways to make it better.
This creative outlet isn’t just about what equipment you want to get. It’s about how you use it in your program. You’ll also be able to arrange and rearrange your equipment over time to better suit your needs and evolving interests.
How to Build a Home Gym
Figuring out that you want a home gym is easy. Figuring out how to design your home gym is a whole different issue. Don’t fret — here are the basics of putting together a home gym.
Find a Safe Space
If you’re planning to haul in very heavy equipment or tend to let bumper plates drop from on high, make sure your flooring can handle it. That’s not always a matter of padding it with a platform or gym mats — though that’s part of it.
Make sure the structure of your floor itself is stable and strong enough to support what you’re asking of it. That might mean calling in a professional who can assess the structural integrity of your flooring and advise you on how to space out your equipment most safely. Planning on hanging anything heavy from the walls? A folding squat rack, perhaps? You’ll want to have the wall’s structural integrity assessed, too.
Determine Your Budget
You don’t need a massive budget to start building the home gym you’ve been dreaming about for years. You can begin with basic equipment — a barbell and a couple of plates, for example — and develop from there. To start out with, it’s probably okay to stack your bumper plates instead of putting them in a fancy weight rack.
If you’re able to purchase new brand name equipment — or big equipment packages — have at it. But if you’re on a tighter budget, you can generally find used equipment on Craigslist and similar sites for cheap. Sometimes, these older pieces are even free. This may not be the equipment you want to keep forever. But you’ve got to start somewhere and work within whatever budget works for you.
Make a Plan
Think about what you need for your sport — and your own personal fitness enjoyment — and plan out your dream gym from there. Even if your budget is on the smaller side, there’s no reason you can’t dream big. Taking your amount and type of space into account, consider what your sport requires and draw up some plans from there.
As a CrossFitter, you might imagine a rig and Olympic lifting platform, along with plenty of open space for handstand walks, endless lunges, and burpees over boxes. Your dream as a powerlifter might be a power rack with a deadlift platform and the weight bench of your dreams. To take care of your conditioning needs, you might also want to outfit your future gym with a bike, a Ski Erg, or a rower. A little rock climbing wall isn’t out of the question, either.
Just because you have an ideal home gym design mapped out doesn’t mean it’s all or nothing. You can start building your home gym piece by piece. Begin with your gym flooring and your very first barbell. Or, perhaps, a couple of kettlebells. Figure out what you have the budget to purchase now and which pieces of equipment you might want to save up for.
For example, unless you’re a CrossFitter, an air bike or rower might be one of the last things on your list — more in the “indulgent program enhancer” category than the “starting bare necessities” column. For strongman athletes, you’ll want to consider — should you go for stones or a yoke first? An axle barbell or a regular barbell with thick grips? This may largely depend on your preferences, experience level, and the exact layout of the space you have available.
Gather the core of what you need for your sport first. Then, start to branch out according to your body’s needs and your interests. What starts as a simple bodybuilding home gym might wind up including exotic equipment like plyo boxes, battle ropes, and heavy tires to flip. You’ve made a plan, but it’s okay if it evolves over time.
You may not have been interested in strongman training when you started building your gym. But if you’ve been seduced by the power of log lifts, toss a log into the mix when you’ve got the budget for it. Remember that your home gym is all about you — build accordingly.
Pump Your Own Iron
Even if you love your current gym, you may well wind up loving your own home gym even more. You’ll have the freedom to design it to your exact specifications. You’re also likely to be saving a pretty penny over time. If you’ve got the space to build a home gym for yourself, it might be time to get inspired, do some budgeting, and start crafting your iron oasis.
Featured Image: topten22photo / Shutterstock
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