I trained 5 years in a commercial gym. Then I bought gym equipment and built a home gym in my parent’s garage. And although home gyms have drawbacks, this was one of my best decisions ever. This post will teach you everything about how to build a home gym. Benefits & drawbacks, what gym equipment you should buy and where, and how much it will cost you to build your home gym.
Benefits of Home Gyms
Some build home gyms because they’re intimidated by bigger guys in commercial gyms or because gym people training wrong stresses them. Get over both. Here are real benefits of home gyms.
- Time-efficient. No more waiting for the Power Rack to get free. No more driving back & forth to the gym several times a week.
- Cuts Expenses. No more gym membership fee. You get your investment back within 2-3 years. Gym equipment doesn’t lose value, so if you ever quit you can always sell it on Craiglist or eBay.
- Freedom. Gyms often have no Power Racks and forbid Deadlifts & chalk. Home gyms allow you to train how and when you want.
Drawbacks of Home Gyms
Unless you invite friends, you’ll be training alone in your home gym. While this builds character it has drawbacks.
- Self-discipline. You have nobody to motivate you during heavy sets or to drag you to the gym when you don’t feel like training.
- No Spotter. Nobody to spot you during a heavy Squat or Bench Press. Nobody to hand out the weight on the Bench Press.
- Need Space. The deal-breaker for most people. You need enough space for your Power Rack, bench, barbell & plates to fit in.
Home Gym Space
Most people build their home gym in their basement or garage. Here’s how much space you need:
- Width x Depth. 108 square feet (10m²). Space for your Power Rack and to Deadlift outside of it. If you don’t have this space: at least 6’/3m to give your bar clearance, Deadlift inside your rack.
- Height. High enough so your Power Rack fits. Your length + 3 feet (1m) so you can Overhead Press without the barbell hitting the ceiling. If you don’t have this space: press outside or seated.
Home Gym Flooring
Point is to protect your floor and reduce the noise from the barbell hitting the floor during exercises like Deadlifts.
- Plywood. 2-3 layers plywood. Optional heavy carpet on top. Make sure the carpet is hard (not compressible) and doesn’t slip around.
- Rubber Mats. Get two rubber mats to protect your floor when you Deadlift and Barbell Row.
Quality barbells are safer & feel better. Don’t be cheap on this. Here’s what to look for when choosing a bar for your home gym:
- Strong. Never bends, handles up to 1000lbs/450kg, 45lbs/20kg weight, 7ft/2m20 length, 2″/50mm sleeves, 28mm grip, center knurling, …
- Revolving Sleeves. Fixed bars are harder on your grip, meaning less weight. And they makes olympic lifts impossible. Get revolving sleeves.
- Collars. Barbells usually come with spring collars. They’re fine, although many StrongLifts Members prefer Muscle Clamps.
You need one to Bench Press. You don’t need a Bench with uprights supports like this one. Get a regular Bench and put it inside your Power Rack.
- Width. The bench shouldn’t be too wide so it doesn’t get in the way of your arms & shoulders in the bottom position.
- Sturdy. Handles weights of 440lbs/200kg and doesn’t tip back when you rack a heavy weight into the uprights.
- Flat. You can get an adjustable bench too if you want more versatility in the future. However a flat bench will do too.