Are you sure where to start building your home gym? There are many factors that you should consider and questions that you should have answered before building your gym. Addressing these questions early could save you thousands of dollars and a great deal of frustration. As a fitness professional who has helped hundreds of people design and build home gyms that produce results, I can assure you that answering these questions up front will greatly benefit you.
Without further ado, here are 11 questions to ask yourself before building your home gym:
1. What is the purpose of your home gym? Will it be a supplement to your gym membership or will it be the only training venue for you? Having a clear vision of what you want your home gym to deliver is essential from the start.
2. Will you start small and expand later or go big from the start? Do you want to fully equip your home gym right away or add equipment gradually over time? Personally, I started small and gradually added select teams over time. I started with a pair of dumbbells and a stability ball. I eventually added a barbell, various size kettlebells, a weighted vest, fitness bands, and a drag sled. Every once in a while I come across another piece of equipment that I will add to my wish list and eventually purchase. Slowly over time you can build a well-equipped home gym this way.
3. How much space do you have available? The space you have available for your home gym will dictate what equipment you should purchase. For example, you may not want to buy a large machine for multiple gyms if you have low ceilings and little available space. I would recommend starting with a stability ball and some dumbbells as these could easily be used to get a great workout in minimal space. The key is learning how to use the equipment correctly and learning how to get results from your training. Any good fitness professional can teach you how to do it.
4. What is your budget? If you have a lot of money on your hands, you might have no problem outfitting your entire home gym with the latest and greatest equipment. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on your home gym, you can start for free with bodyweight training exercises like squats, pushups, calisthenics, and eventually add small pieces of equipment over time. Remember, there were people who got great results from their training long before sophisticated machines were available. Don’t let your budget determine the quality of your training.
5. What is your training experience? Are you new to fitness training or are you a seasoned veteran? Your answer to that question will probably have something to do with how you build your home gym. A beginner can make great progress initially with very little weight and training equipment. An experienced trainee may require heavier weights and a large selection of equipment to add the necessary variety to the routine to avoid the adaptation curve.
6. What are your training goals? If you want to be a competitive powerlifter, the equipment you buy may be a little different than the equipment it would be if you were simply trying to supplement your gym membership. Consider what your main goals are and keep them in mind when building your home gym.
7. Are you sharing this space or is it dedicated to your home gym workout? This one is self explanatory. Do you have a space that will ONLY be used for your home gym workout or do you have a space that will pull double duty? For example, in my apartment right now I have an office that also houses all the workout equipment for my home gym. I just pull out the gear I need when I want to train and go to work. This is obviously not ideal, but it works and is better than doing nothing. My eventual plan is to dedicate a section of my house to a home gym when I buy a house (hopefully sooner rather than later!).
8. What type of training do you enjoy? Your home gym setup will likely be affected by your preferred training style. Do you like functional training, powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, bodybuilding, weight training, kettlebell training, weight training, grip strength work, strongman training, aerobics, pilates, yoga, etc. Build your home gym to support the style of training you enjoy. With that being said, I encourage everyone to include aspects of each type of training in their overall training toolbox to provide variety and a well-rounded program.
9. What kind of “footprint” will your team have? Every workout piece of equipment you add to your home gym has a “footprint” it leaves on your floor. Some pieces of training equipment have larger footprints than others. You’ll want to consider the footprint of any piece of equipment you’re considering adding to your home gym. What kind of space will the equipment occupy? How will it affect the use of your other equipment? Will you have enough free space in your home gym to do everything you want to do? I tend to prefer to buy equipment that takes up little space and leave most of my home gym for open spaces. This allows me to do whatever I want in the space provided. The exceptions to this rule for me are squat racks and benches.
10. Will you have room for expansion? Like I said earlier, I’m a big fan of periodically adding new equipment to my home gym to expand my options and keep my body from adjusting to the same old monotonous workout. When I design my clients’ home gyms I try to leave them a good amount of free space so they can later add workout equipment that interests them.
11. Will you be the only person training in your home gym or will others use it too? Will your home gym be solely for your needs or will others use the space as well? Will your spouse, children, friends, training partners also use the equipment? These are things to consider, as the people who use the equipment will influence the equipment you buy and the overall setup of the gym.
Hopefully, by answering these 11 questions, you’ve provided yourself with some ideas that will help you save a lot of money and a lot of frustration. The simple answers he provided above will give you a blueprint to help you build a home gym that suits his needs. Enjoy the process of building your home gym and train with a purpose,
Kyle Battis CSCS, ATC, NSCA-CPT