Setting up a home gym can be as simple as dropping some weights in the middle of the floor, right? But if you’re thinking about creating a space for your workouts long term, a little extra effort can turn it into a place you love to be in. Along with being a convenient way to get your workouts in, a home gym can also help increase fitness motivation and accountability. Use these at home gym ideas to get you started.
5 Tips to Create a Home Gym You Never Want to Leave
Are you ready to get your home gym ready for all your amazing future workouts? Follow this checklist:
1. Set up your space
Do you have enough room?
You should be able to lie down completely as well as reach all the way up and to the sides without hitting anything; this should be enough room to accommodate most exercises you choose. If you don’t have much space at home, choose a room where you can move things easily and store fitness equipment out of the way.
Do you have a workout-appropriate floor?
Hard floors like wood, vinyl, tile, or linoleum have the possibility of getting damaged during your workouts and can be dangerous to work out on (no slips and falls please!). Carpet can work if it feels comfortable to you, but the best choice is to get a fitness or yoga mat to cover the floor. These will provide grip and cushioning while also protecting your floors.
Is the space clutter-free and well-lit for safety?
You don’t want to trip over or bump into things as you’re trying to workout. This space should stay free of anything but your workout equipment.
2. What equipment should you get for an at home gym?
Workout equipment for home use can certainly start from whatever you may have on hand, rest assured it doesn’t need to be large or expensive.
Probably the most well-known piece of equipment, dumbbells can be used for all sorts of exercises. Since they only come in set weights, you can accumulate a lot as your muscles get stronger. You can get shelves or a cart to hold them and keep them off the floor. Dumbbells can be found online and in the fitness section of most stores.
Kettlebells are versatile weights that can be used for most of the same movements as dumbbells, in addition to some specific exercises like kettlebell swings. Some stores will have kettlebells, although you’ll find a wider selection online.
Resistance bands are probably the most versatile piece of equipment on the list. Holding them and anchoring them in different ways gives you the ability to replace many pieces of other equipment. Because they’re lightweight and portable, they’re ideal if you don’t have much space for an at home workout room, and great if you’re new to exercising.
A workout isn’t just about the actual work—it’s about the warm up and recovery too. You’ll want to invest in a foam roller, massage ball, or other recovery tools to keep your muscles healthy and happy even in between workouts.
There are many, many other options for home workout equipment depending on how specific and intense you want to get with it. You can look into TRX, pull-up bars, medicine balls, or even a full barbell and squat rack setup. Workout rooms that include machines like rowers, bikes, treadmills, or ellipticals are also possibilities; just make sure they don’t turn into a giant clothes rack!
3. What weights should you get?
The most helpful thing when choosing weights is to try them out. You can go to most stores and find weights to see what 5lbs vs 10lbs vs 20lbs feels like. Until you try some different weights, you won’t know what feels light or heavy to you.
A good place to start is having at least one pair of lighter weights to use for smaller muscle movements and at least one medium or heavier weight to use for larger muscle movements.
The weight of these will depend on your exercise experience and current fitness level. 10-15lbs can be adequate for lighter weights, but it can be helpful to have an additional pair of 5lb or lighter weights to use for specific movements and learning new things.
Depending on experience, anything 15lbs or heavier generally works for a medium or heavy weight. When in doubt, start lighter, but be prepared to progress quickly and need heavier weights soon!
Home gym ideas on a budget
If you’re not quite ready to invest in a set of weights or other equipment, you can do many exercises with what you have right at home! Try these at home gym ideas for weight alternatives:
- Backpack filled to your preference for weight
- Laundry basket filled with items
- Soup cans or other holdable items
- Gallon jugs with a handle as an alternative to kettlebells
- A chair or stool to sit on, push off of, prop your feet up on, step onto, etc.
4. Keep a workout tracker nearby
Keeping track of your workouts can help you progress over time. It may not feel important at first, but it’s incredibly motivating to look back and see how much you’ve progressed. Hang a whiteboard for tracking your workouts, keep a notebook in your space for writing down the exercises you did and how much, or keep it on your phone.
5. The Extras
Finally, an important part of putting together a home gym is making it a space you actually want to spend time in! Paint the walls a fun color or hang wall decorations that make you happy. If you have a goal you’re working towards, write it down and hang it up to keep you motivated.
If music is an important part of keeping you engaged in your workouts, add a speaker. That way, you can always have your workout playlist ready to go.
Accessories and staying focused
Add other items you want around, such as a sweat towel, a few extra hair ties for long hair, a water bottle, or anything else you need. If you have everything you need during your workouts, you’re less likely to leave your gym space and get distracted by other things. Leave out anything that can distract you!
While you may need to multitask, try to reserve your home gym as a space that keeps you focused as much as possible. After your workout, you’re free to move on with your day and accomplish things!
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Sarah Siertle, a strength and movement coach, specializes in introducing people to strength training and works to make the fitness world a more inclusive place. She has been a movement instructor since 2012 and also teaches swing dance around the US.
Find other articles written by Sarah on her coach profile. Let Sarah help you get STRONG so you can take advantage of life’s adventures!