If there is one thing we have learnt over the last year, it is that access to a commercial gym is not always possible. Throughout the last 12 month period, we have seen various times where our local gym has been closed, often for extended periods. Furthermore, when we do have access to the gym, it can often be overcrowded and difficult to access the equipment we want to.
All of this has affected reaching our fitness goals for this year, making it difficult to progress, particularly with increasing weight on resistance exercises. Now is the perfect time to build a home gym on a budget.
Luckily, now more than ever, the home gym is an increasingly affordable and easy option to put together. In fact, there has been a recent trend online of many people creating their own pop-up gyms at home since commercial gyms have closed. While this initially led to most equipment being out of stock, It is now easy enough to purchase home gym equipment on a budget.
The idea behind a home gym is not to find every single piece of equipment which you can find in your local gym. Instead, we aim for a smart choice of equipment and weights which will allow us to do as many exercises as possible with only a small number of machines. Depending on your fitness goals, you may choose to adopt the equipment selection to better fit your requirements.
Ready to get started and build a home gym on a budget? take a look at the basic steps below.
Where to build your home gym
The first consideration is exactly where you are going to put your home gym. This is an important consideration as it will determine which equipment you can fit in and also how you are going to use it. While you can build your home gym almost anywhere, there are some benefits to choosing each location.
Garage or summerhouse
Our favourite place to put together a home gym is inside an unused garage or summerhouse. These locations are often cooler than the interior of a house and provide a better temperature for an intense workout. Furthermore, the noises from moving weights around and using machines are going to be less noticeable to others that you live with, inside of the house.
A consideration when using a garage or summerhouse is whether you have an electric supply inside. This could be required for some larger fitness equipment including treadmills and also for a TV/speaker set-up. You can still build a great home gym without an electric supply in your garage by using equipment which does not require an electric supply, and also a portable wireless speaker.
A separate location such as a garage or summerhouse allows you to create an isolated space which can be completely customized to work as a home gym. In both of these locations, we would recommend a rubber floor mat if you are using weights, for both non-slip and also to avoid any damage if dropping them.
If you have a spare room or even spare space in part of a room, this can be a great location to build your home gym on a budget. Remember that a spare room will often be as warm as the rest of your home, which is going to be warmer than you are used to in a commercial gym. An open window or fan whilst working out can be an easy way to resolve this. If you already have carpet, there won’t be a need for rubber mats and you are pretty much ready to move your equipment straight in.
Preparing your spare room may involve clearing out anything that may get in the way of your workouts; a home gym should be clear of anything you could trip over or damage. Considerations should include the noise for nearby rooms and also how much space is inside the spare room. Even a small room can allow you to get a basic home gym set-up if smart choices are made with the equipment. Many home workout machines are foldable and can be easily packed away or folded up against a wall when not in use.
While this may not sound like the best idea in the UK, if you are really struggling with space, the garden could be the only option. There are many obvious downsides of using a garden, including the unpredictable weather and variation in temperatures. If you do decide to use a garden, we recommend using equipment which can be folded and moved easily.
This way, it can be brought out for workouts and then easily put away (inside the house) when it is not being used. This will protect equipment from weather damage.
How to turn your space into a home gym
Just throwing your gym equipment into a spare room is going to do little to get you motivated and create the feeling of a gym at home. If you think about any commercial gym you have been to, they all have various features in common. The benefit of a home gym is that it can be personalised exactly how you feel like. Below you can find some of the features we find essential.
Mirrors – Most gyms feature full-length mirrors on at least one of the walls and often multiple to see your workout at different angles. Whilst you don’t need to go to that extreme, we recommend at least one mirror in your home gym. Mirrors can be picked up for fairly cheap and easily attached or even placed against a wall. Using a mirror allows you to optimise your form on resistance exercises and also see the progress which you have made.
Inspiration & motivational quotes – You may have already had enough of these from the internet, but fitness quotes are a great way to keep you motivated. They can be purchased as stickers which can be placed on the walls of your home gym easily and provide a boost when you are struggling to get motivated. Posters are also a nice idea. many old school gyms feature posters on the walls of bodybuilders.
Music & entertainment – For us, a solid playlist of fast-paced songs really allows us to focus on maximising each workout and getting focused pre-workout. While we use headphones in the gym, at a home gym you can play whichever songs you like through the speakers. These days, even a portable Bluetooth speaker can be enough. For those focusing on cardio workouts, a TV in the home gym can also be a good idea. Keeping distracted when using a treadmill often helps us to push further.
Miscellaneous – Further additions will depend entirely on your budget and the space you have for a home gym. Remember you don’t need to spend loads to achieve results. If you are using a garage or summerhouse, a small heater may be required to take the edge off in the colder months. Also, a rubber floor mat gives the feel of a gym and also protects the floor & equipment from damage. When on a budget, we recommend just purchasing the essentials at the beginning. You can always add more at a later date.
Choosing your equipment
As we have already discussed, for a budget home gym we want to focus on smart equipment choices which will allow us to get the maximum number of different exercises in. Depending on your goal, you may choose to change this equipment selection to meet your requirements.
Strength and resistance training focuses on improved power and endurance. For those looking to increase muscle mass, strength training with weights is usually the best choice for noticeable results.
Our number one recommended piece of equipment for a home gym on a budget is dumbbells. These are very flexible and allow for a lot of different exercises to be performed, working virtually all muscle groups. Whether it’s chest, back or biceps, dumbbell workouts are easy to perform and don’t take up too much space.
At the gym, there will often be a massive rack with lots of different dumbbells to pick from. Commonly, they will start at 2kg and go up to 50kg. In a home gym, we don’t have the luxury of all that space and so we recommend adjustable dumbbells. These allow you to change the wait on the bars by adding and removing plates to achieve the desired weight.
This way, you only need one set of dumbbells for all your workouts. Different types are available depending on the budget. Vinyl dumbbells are lower cost and often provide good value for money. If you are not lifting massive weights, vinyl dumbbells are a great choice. Cast iron dumbbells are the full metal dumbbells which you are likely to come across in the gym. While more expensive, they are usually harder wearing and often take up less space.
They may not be your first go-to equipment in the gym, but resistance bands are a very versatile bit of kit for a home gym. Taking up little space and providing a lot of flexibility, resistance bands are great for strength-based workouts. The price of resistance bands also makes them probably the cheapest piece of equipment in your home gym.
A multi-function bench is an essential piece of equipment for any home gym and perfect for a huge number of resistance exercises. There are several considerations with a weight bench. First, consider whether you need the bench to fold away.
If you only have a small home gym, a folding bench can allow you to maximise space by keeping it away when not in use. Secondly, consider if you need an adjustable bench. A bench with both incline and decline can provide the ability to increase the number of exercises and variations which can be achieved.
A good home gym will feature a variety of resistance and cardio training equipment. For those looking to burn more calories or increase stamina, a good cardio selection is important.
A great piece of equipment to get a cycling workout in without actually leaving the house. An exercise bike in your home gym is an easy way to add cardio into your routine. When it comes to finding an exercise bike, lots of different models are available. A folding spin bike is a budget-friendly option which can save space when not in use. While there are many great budget exercise bikes, they often won’t have the resistance of more expensive models.
A good-quality treadmill allows for both walking and jogging from inside your home gym. While treadmills can be expensive, there are some great budget options available. Just like with a spin bike, we are a big fan of folding treadmills. Some advanced models will offer greater speeds, inclines and even speakers inside. A treadmill is not the most budget option so if you will not be doing much cardio, this is one piece of equipment which can be skipped.
Don’t forget the supplements
When it comes to maximising results and progress, supplements can make a big difference. While you can achieve all the nutrients you need from your diet, supplements make it easier. Furthermore, if you are on a budget, consuming a whey protein shake is often more affordable to hit protein goals. Using supplements alongside a balanced diet can boost macros and improve results
Whey protein – The number one supplement we would recommend is a whey protein shake. A whey protein supplement is ideal for straight after a workout when your muscles are like a sponge ready to absorb nutrients. Whey protein gets to the muscles quickly and provides around 20g of protein with each serving.
Creatine – Creatine is one of the most widely researched sports supplements. Using creatine can help muscles produce more energy by increasing phosphocreatine stores inside of muscles. This allows more ATP energy to be produced which provides fuel during high-intensity exercise. In real life, this could translate into an extra rep in resistance training to maximise performance.
Multivitamin – An often overlooked supplement, multivitamins are ideal for those who may find it difficult to fit in all of their vitamin and mineral requirements. While a diet is the best place to get the required nutrients, it can often be difficult for those with a busy lifestyle. Multivitamin supplements often pack a huge amount of vitamins and minerals into each capsule. Common nutrients include Vitamin D, Calcium and Zinc.
Staying motivated to use your home gym
Putting together your home gym is great, but the next challenge is actually using it consistently. With a home gym in your spare room, it is very easy to quit a workout after just a few exercises and return to the sofa. Staying motivated and consistent is crucial to seeing results.
Track progress – For us, tracking process and seeing the results is the best way to stay motivated to stick to the gym consistently. Before and after photos are an easy way to see the process that has been made and provide a real boost to motivation. Many great apps are also now available for tracking progress.
MyFitnessPal is a great resource for tracking weight and also macros. Further apps include the ability to log each workout in the gym. It could just be as simple as writing down on a piece of paper the details of each workout.
Set a routine – A plan before you go into the gym is a solid way to make progress and see results. for example, you make a routine for different muscle groups at different days each week. We also like to plan a time where we will workout. for example, it may be each evening or in the morning before work. Creating a routine and sticking to it creates consistency and results.
Create an atmosphere – At a commercial gym, the atmosphere is often geared towards a great workout. Whether it’s loud music or the print on the walls, the aim is to keep members motivated. Creating an atmosphere in your home gym on a budget can be more difficult. A workout playlist and good sound-system is the first step. Motivation quotes and pictures on the walls are also great.
Overall, building a home gym on a budget is a great idea to achieve results from home. Your own personal gym can be tailored to fit your exact requirements with all your favourite equipment. Even better, there’s no one using the equipment when you want to. Choosing the location is an important first step. An unused garage or spare room makes the perfect location to set-up all of your equipment.
While many pieces of gym equipment are expensive and space-consuming, they don’t have to be. Smart choices including adjustable dumbbells provide the most flexibility and take up little space. Remember, you can always add equipment at a later date as you expand your home gym. For maximum results, supplements including whey protein and creatine are a great choice for beginners.
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