The only equipment you NEED for a home gym is something that provides resistance, a way to get your heart rate up, and room to do it in safely. Strength training and cardio CAN be done with just bodyweight, but if it's equipment you want, decide what your goals are before you buy one of everything.
If you already go to the gym, consider the equipment and machines you use on a regular basis and see what you can invest in for your own home gym.
Start with the Basics
If you are new to fitness or can't decide what type of training you want to focus on, stick to the basics.
- A yoga mat to stand, kneel, or lay down on, or those padded squares to create a soft and slip-resistant surface. Your carpeted floor is great for padding, but a separate surface will help keep the sweat off the floor and your feet/hands planted.
- Grab something for added resistance, like dumbbells, a kettlebell, or ankle weights.
- A bench
- Something for those cardio sessions, like a jump rope, battle ropes, or a TRX set.
- A fan for staying cool
- A mirror to watch form (and check out those gains!)
- A foam roller or massage gun for post-workout muscle work
Strength Training Equipment For the Home
Also called resistance training, the equipment list for these types of workouts is endless, but let's keep it at the essentials…for you! You need to know what you are comfortable working with and what works best for the moves you will do.
The list will include anything from the "bell" family- kettle, bar, dumb- to ropes, bands, and bags.
Consider the following when making your decision:
- Versatility- How much of your workout sessions can be done with a single piece of equipment? Grab a kettlebell and try to tell me what you can't do with one.
- Space- How much room will each piece take up? Can it be put away and stored when unused, or will it need a forever home in a designated area?
- Growth- What I mean is, as you get stronger, will it increase resistance? You can add weight to barbells and dumbbells, and resistance bands typically come in a variety pack of resistance from light, medium, and heavy.
- Purpose- Do you need a full squat rack or smith machine, or can you do the same exercises with just the barbell and dumbbells?
- Budget- How much can you afford when shopping for the equipment for a home gym? Do you buy one expensive, all-in-one machine, or buy as you go?
Cardio Home Gym Equipment
Ahh, Cardio, thou art a heartless…well, you know. People tend to fall into two categories: those who love to run and those who might toss a weighted plate in their path if they so much as ask us to join in. But cardio IS essential to improving health and wellness.
Good thing there are ways for weight lovers to get their heart rates up too! So, you still need to determine what works for your needs.
Take a look at this list of nonmachine-type equipment that is sure to get your cardio checked off.
- Ropes- Jump and Battle
- Balls- Medicine, Buso, Weighted, Speed, Stability
- Bodyweight- Tabata, HIIT, Dance, Kickboxing, Circuit Sessions
- Shoes- For those runners among us
Gym Machines at Home
Machines can be such a great source of resistance, strength, and cardio all in one. A few things to consider before making your purchase include:
- The cost of the investment
- Room a machine or two will need for use AND storage
- The purpose of the machine is parallel to your fitness needs.
Typically, machines are intended for cardio sessions but can also be used for resistance and strength training. For instance, the most popular at-home workout machine is a treadmill. Check out this list for some great options to equip your at-home gym.
You can run, walk, sprint, do interval training, and even do resistance training if you use your feet to manually move the belt instead of turning it on.
Instead of standing, you do much of the same training as the treadmill. Still, you can set resistance higher to really get a strength training session for leg day.
This one takes up less "air" space and could be tucked away easier than other machines. It also gives you a FULL BODY workout and a cardio session to boot!
Whole Body or All-in-one Machines
These types of machines have multiple components and take up a lot of floor space. On the other hand, it replaces many smaller pieces of equipment, and you only need something separate for cardio.
Fitt(ness)-ing your Space to Match your Goal
Everyone has different fitness GOALS. Everyone has a different amount of SPACE available to work out at home. Step one of equipping your home gym is matching your needs to your goal.
If you have the space, adding machines for resistance training is a great option. If you have limited space to use, dumbbells of various weights and a bench are enough to get a great workout done.
When considering the ideal space, ask yourself this: Can I work out without hitting the wall or anything in the room? Depending on your personal preference, your home gym can be as big and widespread or small and simple as possible. Even personal trainers find their essentials based on their specific needs.
Benefits of Working Out at Home
You may be asking yourself, why don't I just go to a gym where everything is already there? Some of the biggest benefits of equipping your own at-home gym include the following:
- Wear fancy shoes…or don't!
- No waiting for a machine to open up
- No Gym membership fees
- No waiting for a stranger to get out of your shower
- Crank the music to what you want to hear
When choosing what equipment to purchase for an at-home gym, remember you can always add to it, so start basic and get what fits your needs.