For some people, the gym is much more than just a place to work out and get in shape, the gym for them is an escape, it’s their form of therapy and it’s a place they go to in order to have their “quiet time” and release all of their stress and frustrations that may have accumulated over the day/week.
Unfortunately, sometimes gyms can cause a fair amount of stress and frustration, which is the polar opposite of what gym-goers will be looking to achieve.
If you’ve ever spent time in a busy commercial gym during peak hours, you’ll immediately know what we’re talking about.
You’ll be fighting your way through crowds to find pieces of equipment to use, people will constantly be hurrying you up when they want to use a machine that you’re on, and as a result your workout can suffer greatly.
Then there’s the membership and travel costs, as well as the time-factor to consider as well.
If you enjoy your commercial gym and thrive in all gym environments then that’s perfectly fine.
If however, you’re sick of large crowds, long journeys, expensive memberships, and increasing fuel costs, instead of training at a commercial gym you don’t actually enjoy, why not work out at home and create a home gym instead? In this article we’ll be taking a look at the ultimate guide on building your own home gym, weighing up the pros and cons, plus looking at some of the best pieces of equipment based on your goals and requirements.
Why build a home gym? What are the benefits?
More and more people all over the world are actually choosing to cancel their gym memberships and work out in the comfort of their own home.
There are a number of different reasons for this, and here’s a look at just a few of the more prominent examples:
Did you know that the average monthly gym membership is around $60? That means that over the course of one year, gym members will have spent an average of $720, on gym membership fees alone.
Then of course there’s the travel to consider, as driving to and from the gym will use up fuel, so three or four trips to the gym a week and you can probably add another $40 – 60 to your total monthly, bumping you up to around $1200 – $1440 per year.
By building your own home gym, you can save yourself a small fortune on membership fees and fuel prices in a relatively short amount of time.
Of course you have to actually purchase the machines and the equipment in the first place, but once you’ve purchased all that you require, your gym can then begin to pay for itself.
Just to give a rough idea about how quickly all of this can be achieved.
Many experts agree that if you find the right deals, and perhaps scour craigslist etc, you can build an efficient home gym for around $500 – $600.
That means that within less than six months on average, your gym will have paid for itself and from that point onwards you’re basically saving money.
Another benefit of creating your own home gym is the fact that you can save so much time.
Most people who work out at the gym, will get a work out in after they finish work.
Say they work a 9 – 5 like most people, travelling directly from work to the gym during rush hour traffic will take time, possibly twice as long as it should.
Obviously we don’t know how long it takes them to get there because we’ve no idea where they work or where the nearest commercial gym to them actually is.
All we do know is that once they’ve finished work, driven to the gym, worked out, and driven home, it will be pretty late on in the evening and will be close to bedtime for them.
By having your gym in your home or on your property, you can finish work, or school, or anything else for that matter, make your way home, get straight in the gym, and then have the rest of the day to relax and do whatever you like.
Working out at home could save around 60 – 90 minutes per day, and when you consider what you can do in 60 – 90 minutes, that’s definitely not something to be sniffed at.
Your music, your way
Music is one of the most powerful tools we can use to motivate us and drive us when we workout, which is why pretty much all commercial gyms will be playing loud music as you walk through the door.
Unfortunately, as they’re commercial gyms they have to cater to everybody and so generic pop music will probably be the music of choice.
If you can’t stand pop music then you’re out of luck.
You could go ahead and throw in some headphones and listen to your favourite music from your iPod but music through headphones never sounds as good, and besides which, the cables can get tangled and in your way which will distract you when you workout.
By having a home gym however, you can listen to whichever music you like, as loud as you like, within reason of course.
If you’re a fan of heavy metal, create a heavy metal playlist, crank up the volume, and power through your workout like never before. Just be wary if you do have neighbours.
Another fantastic benefit associated with home gyms is the convenience-factor of them.
As mentioned previously, gyms can get pretty crowded, especially during peak hours, which in turn can make it very difficult for you to get an effective workout in.
If you’re constantly waiting for equipment and machines you won’t know whether you’re coming or going.
Say you’re working your back for example, and all of the back machines are occupied, you’re going to be struggling until somebody finally does finish up using one of them.
With a home gym however, there are no large crowds of people to have to fight through, there will be no queuing for machines and equipment meaning you can use what you like, when you like, for as long as you like.
What’s more is the fact that if you can get out of bed early enough, you can grab some breakfast, go workout, grab a quick post-workout snack, shower, and then you have your entire day freed up.
If you are heading to work, you know that you’ve already worked out, so that once you get home, you can relax and put your feet up without feeling guilty.
How about some disadvantages?
Of course there are also certain disadvantages associated with building a home gym otherwise everybody would be doing it, right? Take a look at a few possible examples and see whether they’re that much of a big deal to you:
Lack of space
Of course when you walk into a commercial gym there will be dozens upon dozens of machines, and heaps upon heaps of various pieces of equipment, covering a large open space.
When building a home gym, unless you’re very fortunate you simply won’t have the added luxury of much room.
Most people will simply convert their spare bedroom into a gym, and whilst still being big enough for one person, more than one person in there would be cramped. That also means you won’t be able to have too much equipment in there and will have to choose wisely.
No “gym atmosphere”
When some people work out, they actually thrive in gym environments and atmospheres.
The grunting and screaming as people push their bodies to the limits, the clanging and banging of the iron, people talking away etc, all create a typical gym atmosphere and if you enjoy these sorts of conditions then perhaps a home gym isn’t for you.
Home gym equipment
If you’re seriously considering building a home gym, it isn’t necessarily an expensive procedure and it doesn’t necessarily have to take up too much space either. Here’s a look at some pieces of home gym equipment essentials:
First up we’ll take a look at some basic home gym equipment, for people who don’t have too much space and just want to be able to get a solid workout in at home on a regular basis.
Although they’re more expensive than most traditional dumbbells, the great thing about adjustable dumbbells is that as you perform different exercises, and indeed as you grow stronger, you can adjust the weights of the dumbbells as required.
Instead of having to buy an entire dumbbell rack, or several sets of dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells are just one single set in which you can adjust the weight of them with the turn of a dial, and use as required.
Powerblocks or Bowflex SelectTechs come highly recommended, and although expensive brand new, if you search various websites, you may be able to find a heck of a pre-owned deal.
If adjustable dumbbells are out of your price range, or if you simply don’t feel like using those one, a set, or a few sets of dumbbells will work just as well.
Remember to choose a relatively light set, a medium set, and a heavier set to allow you to perform a range of different exercises.
You can easily get dumbbells for a cheap price on sites like eBay/gumtree, or even just ask your friends. Lots of guys (and girls) go through a stage of buying dumbbells but then they just end up collecting dust.
An adjustable bench
Adjustable benches are simply a must-have for any home gym as they will allow you to perform a whole variety of different exercises that work each of your major muscle groups, with nothing more than a set of dumbbells.
Just to give an example, you can use them to perform flat and incline dumbbell presses, seated shoulder presses, seated French presses, one arm dumbbell rows, bent over lateral raises, seated dumbbell curls, and much more besides.
If space is an issue but you have enough room for one or two decent sized machines, a multi-gym could be ideal.
Although not always cheap, multi-gyms can be purchased relatively cheaply and they’re basically a number of different gym machines all in one.
Tip: If you are buying one, look on eBay or Gumtree, as you can often get people unwanted home gyms for a cheap price (sometimes for free, if you will take it off their hands).
Cardio is just as important as weights, so pick yourself up a cardio machine if possible.
Popular options include treadmills, exercise bikes, or cross trainers.
If you have a little, or a lot, more space and money and want to build yourself the ultimate home gym, here’s a look at a few highly recommended suggestions:
A power rack is designed to protect you when you train alone without a spotter.
Power racks come in all shapes and sizes and are a common sight not only in home gyms, but commercial gyms as well.
Olympic barbell set
You should already have an adjustable bench from our basic equipment suggestion a little earlier, so now you’ll need a barbell set to use with your bench in your power rack.
Olympic barbell sets can be purchased pre-owned for very reasonable prices, or alternatively you could go with the barbell and a couple of plates, and keep adding plates to your collection each month.
Pull up bar
Most power racks actually come with a built-on pull up bar, but if not it’s very highly recommended that you purchase one.
Pull up bars allow you to perform pull ups/chin ups, which are extremely beneficial compound bodyweight movements that many people believe to be the most effective exercise when it comes to working the back.
Of course, depending on where your home gym is, you might have something strong enough that you can use.
Kettlebell training is very much in-fashion at the moment but it is far from just a fad or a trend and because of this it looks set to stick around for the foreseeable future.
Simply purchase one of two kettlebells and you can perform a whole variety of different exercises that will work mainly to strengthen your core.