Building a Home Gym for Lifting: How I’d Do It

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Have you ever wondered what you actually need to build a home gym? If yes, I’ve wondered the same thing. I’ve looked all over for the best quality and cheapest pieces of equipment and compiled them all here.

If you’re looking for a home gym meant for fitness, this article isn’t for you. This being said, if you’re any type of lifter or bodybuilder, you’re in the right place for learning how to build a home gym. Just below, I’ve made a chart of all the equipment I’d buy, and how much it’ll cost.

Equipment (links to Amazon):Price:
Squat RackOpens in a new tab.$315
BenchOpens in a new tab.$145
BarbellOpens in a new tab.$125
Weight PlatesOpens in a new tab.$535
Adjustable Dumbbell SetOpens in a new tab.$105
Foam Tiles (Flooring)Opens in a new tab.$20
Total Price:$1,245

In fact, I wanted to make this so simple for you that I made a Google Sheets file for you to design your own home gym. You can access the sheet above, where you can edit it in sheets or download it to use in Excel or Numbers. Feel free to download it, edit it however you’d like, and build your own home/garage gym!

Below, I’ll go over each piece of equipment and why it’s important. After that, you can read some safety tips for home gyms, as well as why you would even want to build one.

Building a Home Gym: A Few Things You Need to Know

Before you start buying equipment, there are a few things you should know about the setup.

First, gym equipment is heavy. They’re weights, after all. Your home gym should be built in a basement or garage, or somewhere with a very good foundation. If you built it upstairs in your house, you’d run the risk of collapsing the floor. Just keep in mind the location of your equipment.

You also need to make sure you have enough space. Not only for the equipment, but you need enough space for yourself and your movements while you’re lifting. Once you pick out your equipment, find out their dimensions, and make sure it’ll all fit.

Next, I’m going to go over all of the equipment that I’d put into my home gym, and why. There are also some safety caveats that you should know about, which I’ll also go over below.

Reliable Squat Rack

Someone squatting in their home gym.

If you’re a weightlifter or powerlifter, squat racks are an essential part of your routine. This means that if you’re building a home gym, a squat rack should be first on your list.

With a proper squat rack, you can do squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and many other lifts in the comfort of your own home. Now, a squat rack is essential, but it’s not going to be cheap.

You want one that’s high quality, so it doesn’t break, but not so expensive that it’s out of the question. My pick is from HulkFit. It’s $300, and it’s available on Amazon.

It can hold up to 1000lbs of weight and has the ability for you to do accessories like dips, pullups, and more. $300 might sound like a lot, but for a high-quality piece of equipment, it’s not expensive at all. You can even have an expert assemble it for 100 extra dollars, but I’d recommend just doing it yourself.

In my opinion, a squat rack is the most essential piece of a home gym that’s meant for lifting. They’re very versatile with the amounts of lifts and exercises you can do, and they’re worth every penny. Your squat rack will most likely be the biggest piece of equipment you need for your home gym.

With dumbbells, weights, a barbell, and a bench, you can do almost every lift that you’d ever want to do, right in your own house. Squat racks will take up a lot of space in your home gym, but that space will be used. With the right bench, you can do lifts like bench presses, incline presses, and dumbbell rows. Next, I’ll go over what bench I’d buy for my gym, and why you need one in the first place.

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Adjustable Bench

Someone bench pressing in an outdoor gym.

A good bench is the next biggest piece of equipment you’ll need for a home gym. If you’re building a home gym just for general fitness, you probably won’t need one, and you can save on the cost. This being said, if you’re reading this article, your home gym is for lifting, and not fitness.

With a bench, in combination with a squat rack, you can do countless amounts of different lifts. Bench press, incline press, dumbbell rows, and many other lifts are quite hard to do without a proper bench.

My pick is from Flybird, and it’s also available on Amazon. It’ll cost you $145, but again, it’s worth every penny. It’s adjustable, so you can use it as a flat bench or an incline bench, and it also folds up so you can put it away when you’re not using it.

This is great for a home gym and can save you a surprising amount of space. It’s not the cheapest bench out there, but that’s for good reason. Other cheaper benches are non-adjustable, meaning they can only be used as a flat bench.

Along with this, some other cheaper benches are so cheap that they’ll snap if you hold too much weight on them. This isn’t only a safety hazard, but buying cheap equipment like this will only cost you more in the long run.

When you’re going to use your squat rack for lifts that don’t require a bench, you can simply fold the bench up, and put it out of the way somewhere. While a good bench might be $145, it’s essential to building a good home gym. Without one, you’ll miss out on many key workouts that you need to do if you’re a lifter. In my opinion, a bench is second in importance, which is why it’s second on my list.

Squat racks and benches are the two big pieces of equipment that you’ll need for a proper lifting home gym. Next, I’ll go over smaller pieces of equipment that are just as essential.

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High-Quality Barbell

Someone picking up a barbell.

Aside from big pieces of equipment, a good barbell is essential for building a home gym, especially if you’re a lifter. Once you buy a squat rack and a bench, they’re pretty much useless without a barbell to actually start lifting.

My pick for a barbell is from CAP Barbell, which is also available on Amazon.Opens in a new tab. It’s not the cheapest one available, but I’m not designing a budget home gym. The equipment on this list is for a home gym filled with quality equipment that’s gonna last you a long time.

This barbell is great because it can hold a lot of weight, which is good for serious lifters. If you aren’t a serious lifter, or you’re not lifting a lot of weight yet, you can rest assured that your barbell won’t break on you. This is especially important because if you’re lifting in a home gym, and your barbell breaks, you can experience a serious injury if you’re alone. Because of this, it’s important to fill your home gym with only the best equipment.

High-quality barbells are going to last you a long time, and ensure that they don’t break. This one may cost more initially, but it’s not going to break on you, so you won’t have to replace it for a long time. After all, if you’re potentially hundreds of pounds on your barbell that’s on top of your body, you should want to make sure that that barbell is of good quality.

Another thing that sets this barbell aside from others, is its weight. Some of the cheaper ones online don’t weigh 44lbs, or 20 kilograms, which is the standard in almost every gym and lifting competition. If you get a barbell that weighs something other than this, it can throw the way you keep track of lifting and just confuse you in the long run.

In the end, if you’re building a home gym meant for lifting, you’re going to need a barbell. Without one, there are hardly any lifts that you do properly. Even if you don’t purchase the one I recommend, it’s just important that you have one.

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Olympic Weight Plates

A set of Olympic weight plates sitting on the ground.

Just like buying a barbell is essential for a home gym with a squat rack and bench, weight plates are essential for a home gym. Without weight plates, you won’t be able to do anything real with your barbell. Sure, the barbell weighs 45 pounds, but most lifters are going to be lifting much more than 45 pounds, especially if you’re dedicated enough to be building a home gym.

My pick is from XMark, and they’re built to Olympic standards. And if I haven’t mentioned this enough times, they’re available on Amazon! Unbelievable right? Anyway, I do have to say, while this set of plates is great, it might not be the best option for you. There are countless combinations of different weights that each set has, so do some digging and look into how many weights you really need.

One reason I like these plates is the exact reason I cautioned you about just now. There are so many combinations of weights that you can buy, that there’s a set for every type of lifter. When you’re building your own home gym, it’s fully customized, so you should be getting exactly what you want and need.

If you’re like me, you were shocked to find out how much weight plates actually cost. Weight plates are so expensive because they have to be made to be high quality, and survive drops from lifters in the gym. On top of this, weights weigh a lot, so they cost a lot to ship and handle and move around from store to store. This cost of shipping is handed down to you, the consumer, so you end up paying.

If you’re like me and you don’t want to spend $500 on plates of metal, check on eBay or your local craigslist. It’s usually filled with people that had built their own home gyms, but now want to get rid of their valuable weight plates. If you do this, you can probably save yourself a few hundred dollars.

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Adjustable Dumbbell Set

Adjustable dumbbells laid on the floor.

Along with weight plates, if you want your home gym to have full functionality, you’ll need a good set of adjustable dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells allow you to change their weight, so you don’t have to have a massive set of every different weight. Instead, you can switch your dumbbell weight easily, and save on money and space.

Dumbbells are very versatile with the amounts of lifts you can do. Bicep curls, rows, skull crushers, and incline press are a few that come to mind, but I could never hope to name them all. If you’re building a home gym, dumbbells are essential. Without them, you’re missing out on so many important lifts and workouts.

My pick is from Yes4All, and you guessed it, they’re available on Amazon. These weights are great because of their adjustability, and the number of sets they have for sale. Their sets go from 40 pounds all the way up to 200 pounds, so whatever weight you need in your home gym, you can get it.

Most commercial gyms have huge racks, filled with every weight of dumbbell that you could imagine. While these are convenient in a conventional gym, buying a set like that would be a nightmare for a home gym. Because these sets are adjustable, there’s no need for dozens of different weights. This means that you save money, as well as space in your home gym.

When you’re buying a set of adjustable dumbbells, you want to make sure that they’re high quality. Not only with the materials they’re made with, but also the mechanism you use to adjust the weight level. You don’t want the adjustability part of your dumbbells to break on you, so you want to get a set that’s high quality.

Just like with weight plates, Craigslist may be a great place to find deals on adjustable dumbbells. Many people have built home gyms and decided they don’t want one anymore, and are selling their gear cheaply online. Always check eBay and Craigslist before you buy brand new.

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Foam Tiles (Flooring)

Foam tile flooring installed in a home gym.
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Foam flooring is an unconventional option for most homes but makes great sense for a home gym. These tiles can snap together and make a soft platform that fits any type of floor. Sure, you could get rubber padding, but foam or rubber tiles are a cheaper, easier option that works just as well.

My pick is from BalanceFrom, which is also available on Amazon.Opens in a new tab. There’s not a whole lot that separates these from other ones, but they’re still great. The price is cheap, and the reviews are good.

Foam tiles make a great option for home gyms for a vast number of reasons. For one, you want to protect your floor from your weights, so foam tiles provide a layer of protection. They’re also cheap, and they can be installed by anybody. It’s easier to put these together than it is to complete a puzzle, so really, anybody at all can do it on their own.

While quality doesn’t matter too much here, you don’t want something that’s going to fall apart after a few days of use. Just read the reviews online, and make sure you’re getting a good quality product.

While you can get away with buying other things off of craigslist, this is one thing you should buy brand new. Gym floors are gross and get covered with sweat and other things, so I’m sure you’d want to buy something you know for sure is clean.

While foam tile flooring isn’t essential for a home gym, it can make your home gym safer, and less of a headache. Just make sure you install the tiles before installing your squat rack and other equipment, otherwise, you’ll have an even bigger headache.

How to Put Your Home Gym Together

While I’d love to give you a detailed plan for how to put your home gym together, I can’t. There’s a countless amount of combinations of types of equipment, and each piece of equipment has different assembly instructions, so that’s all up to you. This being said, I can give you a general outline of what to do, which I’ll do below.

Make Sure You Have Enough Space

One of the most important things to do before you bring all of your equipment into your home gym is to make sure that there’s enough space. All of your big equipment should have its dimensions printed somewhere, so read that information, and make sure that your home gym has enough space in it. You can even lay some tape down to make sure it’ll all fit properly.

Lay Down Flooring (If You Have It)

Once you know you have enough space, you can start laying down your flooring, if you’re going to use it. It’s important to do this before you bring in your equipment, otherwise, you’ll have to shuffle everything around to get your flooring down. If you’re not installing any additional flooring in your home gym, skip this step.

Assemble Big Pieces of Equipment

Next, you can start assembling all of your equipment. Things like your squat rack and bench usually come in a lot of pieces, so you need to put them together. Hopefully, they all come with instructions, so you can probably do it yourself. If not, Amazon has options for a professional to install it for you for many products, so if all else fails, do that. While you’re doing this, leave all your other equipment in another room so you have space in your home gym to put everything together.

Bring in Weights/Barbells

This is an easy step: bring in all of your weight plates, dumbbells, and barbells. You should wait to do this until after you’ve assembled all of your equipment, otherwise, they’ll clutter up your gym area and possibly confuse you while you’re putting things together.

Enjoy Your Home Gym!

Finally, your home gym is done! all you have to do next is start lifting and start enjoying your own personal gym.

Safety Tips for Home Gyms

A home gym built in someone's basement.

When you’re lifting at a commercial gym, there are many safety precautions in place without you even knowing. When you’re lifting at a home gym, you need to keep these things in mind. Below, I’ll go over a few things you should know about.

Don’t Lift Alone in Your Home Gym

Now I know that the purpose of building a home gym is to be able to lift weights in your own house, potentially without other people around. It’s okay to lift with nobody else in your home gym, but there should be another person in your house while you’re lifting. Just in case something bad happens, if you drop weights, or if you pass out, there’s someone around that can help you in case of an emergency.

Let Somebody Know When You’re Lifting

If having someone else around while you’re lifting is out of the question, you should tell somebody when you’re going to lift in your home gym. This way, somebody knows about it, and if there’s an emergency and they don’t hear from you, they can get you the help you need.

Keep a First Aid Kit Close

You should also keep a first aid kit close by. Honestly, everyone should have one in their house, but having one in your home gym is even more important.

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Final Thoughts on Home Gyms

If you’re a lifter, a home gym is a great option. You can customize it however you want, you don’t have to deal with other people, and you can lift in the comfort of your own home.

This being said, if you are a lifter, a home gym can set you back a considerable amount of money. While I don’t have one myself, one day, I plan on building one. If you have the money and space in your house, I highly recommend building your own home gym.

Related Questions

How much does it cost to build a home gym? The price of a home gym changes drastically depending on what you’re going to use it for. My home gym design costs a little over $1000, but other types can cost you only around $100. It all depends on what equipment you need.

What equipment do you need for a home gym? The most essential pieces of a home gym are a squat rack, bench, barbell, weight plates, and dumbbells. With these, you can do almost any lift that you’d want to do.

Is building a home gym worth it? Again, it depends. If privacy, sanitary issues, social anxiety, or convenience are important to you, then a home gym is definitely worth it. If not, you might be better off at a commercial gym.

Pete Schenkel

My name is Pete Schenkel, and I've been into weightlifting since I was a teenager. Now, my main focus is growing Powerful Lifting and putting more information out there. In fact, I'm also currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer.

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