HOW TO SET UP A HOME GYM

April 12, 2022 8 min read

HOW TO SET UP A HOME GYM

There are a number of benefits to building your own home gym or garage gym. Firstly, having it right there means you’re more likely to stick to your training regime and secondly, once you’ve put in the initial investment for equipment, you’re going to save on the monthly fees of a gym membership.

If you have the space to set up your own gym but not sure where to start, read on to learn about how to build the best home gym!

FIRST THINGS TO CONSIDER

It’s easy to get excited about setting up your own personal gym and diving straight in to ordering kit. Before that though, think about the following things

SPACE

Are you setting up in your garage or a spare room in your home? Wherever it is, you’re going to need to measure up the space, and don’t forget the ceiling height. If you plan on purchasing something such as a power rack, you need to know it’s going to fit properly.

BUDGET

Some people want to create beautiful home gyms with high quality rubber flooring, mirrors and ambient lighting whilst others simply want a space to fit the kit they need and are happy to forego any luxuries. Whichever you choose, first decide on how much you can and are willing to spend. It’s easy to blow the budget with a home or garage gym and that’s before you’ve even invested in any equipment.

WHAT EXERCISES DO YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO DO

This has got to be the most important consideration. It’s not worth going to the hassle and expense of setting up a home gym if you can’t achieve your training goals. You’ll just revert back to your usual gym with your home set up sitting idle.

Depending on budget constraints and your available space, jot down a list of exercises or workouts you want to be able to undertake. From here you can then work backwards and make a list of equipment requirements.

For example, maybe you just want to be able to thrash out the occasional squat and bench pressing session. So you’d consider a power rack, adjustable bench or flat bench with a barbell and some plates. If you’re more limited on space maybe a combination rack would be more suitable.

For those who want to do a full body workout, you’d again look at the power rack and bench option but perhaps add in some dumbbells and a deadlift platform. Maybe even consider a spin bike or treadmill to warm up / down.

NEIGHBOURS

Don’t forget to consider your neighbours. This of course won’t be an issue if you live in a detached property with no other houses nearby. However, if you have close neighbours, consider if they could be impacted by any noise or disruption. It’s surprising how much dropping a loaded barbell onto the ground during a deadlift session can reverberate through the walls.

If you know you want to undertake some heavy deadlifts, you’ll want to think about flooring that could absorb the shock and reduce vibrations. Even running on a treadmill can vibrate through walls.

TEMPERATURE

According to some studies the optimal temperature for working out is between 20 and 22 celsius. This is whether you’re using a cardio machine, lifting weights or doing aerobics exercises.

For a garage gym you could look at something like a space heater. These are available in many different sizes and shapes. Alternatively, insulating your garage door could help to retain as much warmth as possible. This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to make quite a big difference.

If you’re setting up your gym in a spare room in the home, you’ll likely not need to worry about additional heating. Be sure that the room doesn’t get too warm though!

HOW MUCH SPACE WILL I NEED?

When it comes to how much space you’ll need for your home gym, this very much depends on what kit you plan on accommodating. As we've already mentioned, it’s worth considering the space you have to work with and then jot down a list of exercises you want to be able to do. From here you can put together a wish list of equipment and then list this into priority.

Once you’ve decided on what kit you absolutely have to have, it’s worth contacting your chosen supplier and asking for dimensions. Many gym equipment sellers should be able to assist when it comes to helping you work out what will and won’t fit into your home gym.

WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BUY?

As gym equipment can be costly, many people choose to purchase items over a period of time with the most important pieces being bought first. A common set up to begin with, could comprise the following:

POWER RACK

If you have the space a power rack will offer you plenty of versatility. To get the most out of it, it will also be worth investing in a flat weight bench or adjustable bench. This increases the number of exercises you'll be able to undertake. You'll also need a barbell and some plates.

Before purchasing a rack it's vital to measure up the space where it will be positioned including the ceiling height. If you have limited space but are still keen on a rack there are companies who can custom manufacture power racks to specific dimensions.

You'll also need to decide if you'd prefer a wall mounted rack, full power rack or half rack. You can read our article 'How to choose a Power Rack' to help you make a decision.

BARBELL

There are a massive number of barbells on the market so you'll be spoilt for choice. They also vary in cost hugely. However, not all barbells are created equal and in some instances you will pay more for a better branded barbell.

A number of differences between a lower cost barbell versus one that's five times the cost, could be factors such as being made with better quality material, higher tensile strength, rated to a higher weight and the material may have been heat treated. A heat treated barbell will be significantly stronger and shouldn't bend, even with a large number of plates on it.

WEIGHT PLATES

When it comes to plates there are a number of different ones available including bumper plates, Olympic plates and calibrated plates.

Bumper plates tend to be made from solid rubber and are the most cost effective. Being made from rubber, these could be ideal for a home gym where you want to keep noise to a minimum when being dropped. They are usually the same diameter irrespective of their weight and tend to be quite chunky. If you want to load quite a lot of plates on to your bar you may prefer Olympic or calibrated plates.

To find out more about the different types of weight plates, read our article here.

WEIGHT BENCH

You can choose between a flat bench or adjustable bench. Your decision could be based on what exercises you plan on doing. An adjustable weight bench is going to give you more versatility but a flat bench will offer more stability, this could be important if you plan on doing exercises such as heavy bench presses.
Dumbbells

As with plates, you'll have a quite a choice with dumbbells being made from cast iron, rubber or solid steel, all of which will be complete with different finishes. The most important thing to consider here, is what set size you'll need. Many dumbbells are available to buy in pairs. If you're limited on space, you could consider adjustable dumbbells. These are dumbbells where you can adjust the weight as required.

If you're looking to purchase a set, for example 2.5kg to 25kg, make sure to factor in storage. A dumbbell rack will keep your dumbbells off the floor, preventing a trip hazard.

MULTI GYM

Some of you will like the idea of a multi gym which can allow you to perform a number of exercises such as bench press, squats, shoulder press. Essentially, they should be versatile enough so you can undertake a full body workout.

The downside with a multi gym is that they are generally very large and very expensive. One of the reasons for the cost, is that most are manufactured with weight stacks (selectorised) as opposed to plate loaded. This means you won't need to invest in any plates but they do require a fair bit of maintenance to keep the stacks running smoothly.

WHAT CARDIO EQUIPMENT IS BEST FOR A HOME GYM?

Many of you may not want to invest in cardiovascular equipment due to the space and costs, CV equipment tends to be expensive. However, for those cardio bunnies, what you choose for your home gym could depend on what you prefer; be it running, cycling, rowing etc.

When it comes to price, this would depend on brand, model and whether or not it is a commercial machine or for low usage. Some cardio machines, for example treadmills, can be very basic with no set programmes, digital display etc. with the opposite end of the scale offering a fully immersive, virtual reality experience where you can run or cycle through scenic places such as Yosemite National Park!

There are cardio machines ideally suited for home or garage gyms. Whilst they tend to be without the frills, they subsequently cost much less and tend to be more space savvy with some being fold-able.

Before buying, consider your cardio preference, budget constraints and the space you have available.

WHAT FLOORING IS BEST FOR A HOME GYM?

Depending on what exercises you plan on doing and what kit you'll have in your gym could be a deciding factor as to the best kind of flooring.

If you plan on focussing on floor based exercises such as yoga and pilates, then a flooring made from foam would be most comfortable.

If you'll be lifting more weights then consider a rubber flooring. This would offer the best protection to the floor underneath and reduce both noise and shock.

You may not want to completely cover the space in gym flooring in which case consider the use of exercise mats for floor based training and if you're going down the power rack route, look at those that have the option to incorporate a rubber platform. These options would be far more cost effective than full flooring, which would also require proper installation pushing the cost up.

DO I NEED PLANNING PERMISSION TO SET UP A GARAGE GYM?

There should be no requirement for obtaining planning permission to turn your current garage into a gym, especially if you plan on keeping the original garage doors in their place.

Some properties can take advantage of what's known as 'Permitted Development Rights' meaning you can add a small extension without the need of seeking authority from your local council.

The rules can differ however, if you happen to live in a listed building or a conservation area. So before committing to anything we would recommend contacting your local council, especially before commencing any structural works.

IS A HOME GYM WORTH IT?

The answer to this question very much depends on your own circumstances, the property you live in, financial situation etc. We believe investing in a home gym is an excellent way to invest in your own health and fitness. Having your own personal gym is very convenient and, over time, will save you money when compared to paying a monthly gym membership.


To sum up; before you begin the process of converting your garage or spare room into a gym make sure to plan out the following:

  • Note down exercises you want to be able to undertake
  • Come up with a budget, and stick to it.
  • Measure the space you have available
  • Produce a kit list keeping it in line with your budget
  • Consider any heating requirements
  • Consider your neighbours (if you have any) when it comes to noise
  • Consider any flooring requirements


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