Are you unsure where to start with building your home gym? There are a lot of factors that you should consider and questions you should have answered before building your gym. Addressing these questions in advance could potentially save you thousands of dollars and a great deal of frustration. As a fitness professional who has helped hundreds of people design and build results-producing home gyms I can assure you that answering these questions in advance will benefit you greatly.
Without further delay, here are 11 questions you must ask yourself before building your home gym:
1. What is the purpose of your home gym? Will it be a supplement to your health club membership or will it be the sole location of training for you? Having a clear vision of what you want your home gym to deliver for you is essential to have from the start.
2. Will you start small and expand later or go big right from the start? Do you want to completely outfit your home gym right away or gradually add equipment over time? Personally I started small and gradually added select pieces of equipment over time. I started with a pair of dumbbells and a stability ball. I eventually added a barbell, kettlebells of various sizes, a weighted vest, fitness bands, and a dragging sled. Every once in a while I’ll come across another piece of equipment that I’ll add to my wish list and eventually purchase. Slowly over time you can build a nicely outfitted home gym in this manner.
3. How much space do you have available? The space that you have available for your home gym is going to dictate what equipment you should buy. For example, you might not want to buy a large multi-gym machine if you have low ceilings and a small amount of space available. I would recommend starting off with a stability ball and some dumbbells as these could easily be used to a get a great workout in minimal space. They key thing is to learn how to use the equipment properly and learn how to get results from your training. Any good fitness professional can teach you how to do that.
4. What is your budget? If you have a large amount of money available to you then you might not have a problem outfitting your entire home gym with the newest and best equipment. If you don’t have a ton of money to spend on your home gym you can start for free with bodyweight training exercises like squats, push-ups, calisthenics and eventually add small pieces of equipment over time. Remember, there were people getting great results from their training long-before there was ever fancy machines available. Don’t let you budget determine the quality of your training.
5. What is your training experience? Are you new to fitness training or are you a seasoned veteran? Your answer to that question will likely have some bearing on how you build your home gym. A beginner can achieve great progress initially with very little weight and training equipment. A seasoned trainee might require heavier weights and a great selection of equipment to add necessary variety into the routine to avoid the adaptation curve.
6. What are your training goals? If you want to be a competitive powerlifter the equipment you buy might be a little different then the equipment you would be if you are simply trying to supplement your health club membership. Consider what your main goals are and keep them in mind when building your home gym.
7. Are you sharing this space or is it dedicated to your home gym training? This one is pretty self-explanatory. Do you have a space that will ONLY be used for home gym training or do you have a space that will pull double-duty? For example, in my apartment right now I have an office that also happens to house all of my home gym training equipment. I simply pull out the equipment I need when I want to train and go to work. This is obviously not ideal but it works and it is better than doing nothing at all. My eventual plan is to dedicate a section of my house to a home gym when I buy a house (hopefully sooner than later!).
8. What kind of training do you enjoy? Your home gym set-up will likely be affected by the style of training that you prefer. Are you into functional training, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, bodybuilding, bodyweight training, Kettlebell training, Clubbell training, grip strength work, strongman training, aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, etc. Build your home gym so that it supports the style of training that you enjoy. With that said I do encourage everyone to include aspects of each type of training into their overall training toolbox to provide variety and a well-rounded program.
9. What kind of “footprint” will your equipment have? Each piece of training equipment that you add to your home gym has a “footprint” that it leaves on your floor. Some pieces of training equipment have bigger footprints than others. You will want to consider the footprint of any pieces of equipment that you are considering adding to your home gym. What kind of space will the equipment take up? How will it affect the use of your other equipment? Will you have enough free space in your home gym to perform everything you want to do? I tend to prefer buying equipment that has relatively small footprints and leaving most of my home gym for open space. This allows me to do anything I want to in the space provided. The exceptions to this rule for me are squat racks and benches.
10. Will you have room for expansion? As I stated earlier I am a big fan of periodically adding new pieces of equipment to my home gym to expand my options and keep my body from adapting to the same old monotonous training. When I design my clients’ home gyms I try to leave them with a good amount of free space so they can later add training equipment that is of interest to them.
11. Will you be the only person training in your home gym or will others be using it as well? Will your home gym be soley for your needs or will others be using the space as well? Will your spouse, children, friends, training partners be using the equipment as well? These are things to consider as the people who are using the equipment will have a bearing on the equipment you purchase and the overall set up of the gym.
Hopefully by answering these 11 questions you have provided yourself with some insights that will help save you a lot of money and a lot of frustration. The simple answers that you provided above will give a blueprint that you that will help you in building a home gym that suits your needs.
Enjoy your home gym building process and train with purpose,
Kyle Battis CSCS, ATC, NSCA-CPT