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How to Set Up a Home Gym: All Your Questions Answered Hero Image

How to Set Up a Home Gym: All Your Questions Answered

Want to invest in exercise equipment for a home gym? This comprehensive home gym setup guide will answer all your questions and help you decide which machines are best for you.

Home Gyms

How to Set Up a Home Gym
Have you noticed that more and more people seem to be investing in home gyms? According to Entrepreneur, the reasons why are clear—the internet has given rise to at-home workout programs and health coaching, while "functional fitness" (workouts requiring minimal equipment) and wearable fitness trackers are trending. All of these factors mean that the physically fit are a lot more comfortable and motivated to get their pump on at home.
If you're one of the many people looking to learn how to set up a home gym, you've come to the right place. We can help you determine which home exercise equipment is a must-buy or a must-skip for you and your space, all while sticking to a budget that actually makes sense. Read on to get answers to some of your most pressing questions related to building a solid home gym setup.
Why Women Don't Go to the Gym Quote

Q. Do I Really Need a Home Gym?

A. It's a great idea, and here's why: 65 percent of women say they avoid the gym because they fear they'll be judged. So, the simplest reason to build yourself a well-equipped home gym is because it strips away the intimidation factor and lets you explore and learn how to be physically active on your own, with less judgment.
With that being said, in order to be successful in your fitness endeavors, you need to know how to properly handle all gym equipment, so make sure to get a professional demo beforehand. Ditching the membership also means you have to hold yourself accountable, so we recommend starting your journey with a buddy to help keep you on track!

Some more of the biggest benefits of the gym include:

  • No traffic. Commute got you down? Building a home gym totally rids you of the post-workday stress associated with rushing out the door, getting stuck in traffic and having to pack all your gym stuff before work.
  • No scheduling limits. Prefer to work out at 2 a.m. or 10 p.m.? The typical gym has set hours that may not work with your daily schedule or preferences. On the other hand, your home gym is always open!
  • A customized setup. When you belong to a gym, you're paying for all the gear, including the pool, the cardio equipment and the weight room, even if you use just one or two of these things. Your home gym can be customized to your preferences with the equipment you need to stay fit.
  • More affordable. If you invest in high-quality fitness equipment, you'll definitely save money on gym membership costs in the long-run. Though the upfront investment is higher, it's well worth it over time.
  • More privacy. Though likely unwarranted, the intimidation factor is real and can deter you from getting to the gym in the first place. The privacy of your home gym makes you feel more confident and secure.
Weight Loss Workout Goal Quote

Q. What Equipment Should I Buy?

A. The most important part of designing your home gym is determining which type of equipment you should buy. You need to ask yourself three important questions before sinking any money into gear:
  1. What are my fitness goals? Obviously, your ultimate fitness goals will drive what type of equipment you'll need to buy. If your main objective is weight loss and cardiovascular health, you'll need a cardio machine or two. If you want to build muscle and tone up, you'll need either free weights or weight machines (more on that below).
  2. What are my space limitations? How much space you have for equipment will narrow down what you can place in your new home gym. You may not have room for a complete weight bench or machine, but you can probably fit in a few free weights. There are tons of unique ways you can build a personalized fitness room with serious space constraints.
  3. What is my budget? Finally, you need to determine a budget. Luckily, with options ranging from full-blown treadmills and all-in-one home gyms to affordable resistance bands and jump ropes, there's a way to create a residential exercise center to suit pretty much any budget.
Man Standing Next to Exercise Machine

Q. Should I Buy Free Weights or Weight Machines?

A. If weight training equipment is what you're after, you'll have several options at your disposal. The biggest drawback of weightlifting gear is that, well… it's heavy. Because of this, it tends to be bulky and space-consuming, but there are a myriad of ways you can address this if you're working with a smaller space.
  • Free Weights—Free weights are the most basic type of exercise weights you can buy and require no complex rigs or machines. Examples include dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells with weight plates. The benefit of this type of equipment is that it's simple, affordable and relatively space-effective. Additionally, with a small investment, you can train the entire body. On the downside, free weights can be harder to master and more dangerous because they don't guide you through the movements.
  • Weight Machines—Weight machines are the machines you generally see on the floor at the gym, with different machines targeting different muscle groups. These are among the safest and most effective weight training options out there, but they require a whole lot of space, especially if you want to train the entire body. For this reason, these types of weight machines are usually relegated to commercial gyms.
  • Home Gyms—Think of home gyms as the best of both worlds because they offer the compact versatility of free weights coupled with the guided safety and stability of weight machines. Generally, they include strength-building options for the whole body or multiple muscle groups, so you'll only need to buy a single piece of equipment. The downside of this option is that it can be dangerous, especially for families with kids, and expensive, depending on what you want to achieve with your setup.

Q. How Much Does a Home Gym Cost?

A. As previously mentioned, you can build a home fitness center for virtually any amount of money. A jump rope, a fitness ball and YouTube may be all you need to kickstart your workout journey, but that's often not quite enough for people looking to make the switch from a regular gym to a home gym.
Fitness Equipment In Home
Naturally, how much you spend will totally depend on what type of equipment you need. Free weight sets are among the more affordable options, as you can get a solid set of kettlebells or dumbbells for under $200. With that said, prices shoot up for heavier and more high-quality dumbbell racks, with some ringing up for over $1,000.
While the all-inclusive home gym machines tend to cost a couple thousand dollars for the top options, you have to consider that they actually replace a ton of equipment, including free weights and benches. So once you add up everything you need, a home gym may actually wind up being the more cost-effective option.
Treadmill in Home Gym

Q. How Should it Be Laid Out?

A. Designing your home gym's layout is more important than you might think, for two reasons. First, keeping bulky, potentially dangerous equipment out of the way is important for preventing injuries and keeping your gear in tip-top shape. Second, the way the gym flows will help ensure that you feel comfortable and at ease in the room, which in turn will ensure that you spend lots of time in there crushing your fitness goals!
  • Line all free weights along a wall, preferably in a corner away from any heavily trafficked areas. Invest in a free weight rack to keep everything neat, tidy and off the floor where they can cause accidents.
  • Protect your floors (and your joints) with rubber flooring, available in rolls and tiles. Rubber is the preferred option because it's super durable, easy to clean and affordable. It offers some shock absorption to help protect your joints and keep your sub-floor from scratching.
  • Install a mirror. Home gym mirrors aren't just about vanity. They're also about safety because they allow you to watch your movements and correct them as needed. They can also make the room look a lot bigger.
  • Don't underestimate the power of lighting. When you and your guests are wielding hundred-pound weights, they need to be able to see. Make sure there's ample lighting in the room.
  • Don't forget the extras! You'll be much more likely to work out if your space is equipped with things you enjoy, such as a sound system or a TV.

Q. What is the Best Home Gym System?

A. Finding the best home gym system really comes down to your unique workout goals and needs, but there are a couple of excellent options for those looking for the best in versatility and performance.
Life Fitness G7 Home Gym Quote
The Life Fitness G7 Home Gym is a great option because it features 20 pulley adjustments per column, which means you can use it for a limitless array of exercises. You can use it to achieve as many as 10 lower body exercises, five ab and oblique exercises, 15 shoulder and back exercises and 12 chest exercises.
Another top pick is the Body-Solid Multi-Stack Bi-Angular Home Gym, which allows you to do dozens of different exercises, including chest presses, leg curls, ab crunches and more. This is a popular option for anyone who wants professional-level equipment in the comfort of their own home.

Q. Where Should I Set Up My Home Gym?

A. Can you have a home gym in an apartment? What about upstairs? The most popular spots for a home gym are the basement, garage and first floor because carrying heavy, bulky equipment upstairs is a challenge and may require the help of professionals. Additionally, some of these systems weigh close to 1,000 pounds, so they may not be the ideal option for placement upstairs.
With that being said, if you have the space and the help to move heavy gear, you can set up your home gym anywhere you want! If you do opt to have your gym upstairs, you need to make sure the floor is strong enough for the weight of your gear and that it's spread out enough that it doesn't put too much pressure on a single part of the room. If you rent your apartment or house, make sure to check with the landlord before bringing in any heavy equipment.

Q. Can I Have a Trainer Come to My Home Gym?

A. Absolutely! There are plenty of personal trainers who take on private clients and don't work through a specific gym. This is an excellent idea for people who are new to working out and who want a customized workout regimen. Just note that your favorite trainer from the gym may not be able to provide you with training sessions in your home if he or she has a contract with the gym (though this is not a hard and fast rule, so it's worth asking).

Worth the Effort

So, now for the real question: Is setting up a home gym worth the effort and money? For most people, the answer is yes. You simply can't put a price on good health, and home gyms can help you stay healthy and active. By eliminating all of the stressors associated with the typical gym environment, this option sets you up for success every step of the way!