When gyms shut down around the world, many bodybuilders, powerlifters, and gym rats were left wondering how they were going to train.
Many turned toward building a home gym, ensuring the quarantine passed by and no muscle was lost. However, what about those who couldn’t afford to buy a full home gym setup?
If you can’t wait for gyms to reopen but you’re also tight on cash, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at how to build a budget-friendly home gym.
Budgeting Tips for Building a Home Gym
Follow these cash-saving tips so you can earn the extra money to buy budget-friendly fitness equipment.
Check Your Expenses:
It’s not the most glamorous part of fitness but taking a look at your spending habits can help you find opportunities to save up for home gym equipment.
Go through your online statement or use an app like Mint to see a full month’s layout of how much you’ve spent and where you spent it.
Find things you can do without for a few months such as those extra drinks at the bar or meals at your local fast food spot. Be conservative about this, eliminating the non-essentials.
Calculate how much you can save up per month without the extras and make that your goal.
The Latte Rule:
Continuing with the idea above, if you’re a coffee drinker who frequents a certain black-and-green café, you’re easily spending at least five dollars per visit. Do that a few times per week and the latte habit starts to add up.
You can skip on the latte to pay for the gym equipment. There’s two ways to do this: First, simply save the money you’d normally spend on coffee treats and put it in an account. Don’t touch it until you’re ready to buy your home gym equipment.
Another option is to finance gym equipment. Use your coffee money as the monthly payment for the equipment.
Some New, Some Old:
While it’s possible to build a home gym from used equipment, there are some items that we highly recommend you purchase brand new.
Buy new equipment that is going to be the center of your workouts, holding or supporting your weight. For example, a squat rack, power rack, and bench.
Given how important they are for your safety, you want to buy these pieces new because you don’t know how much a used piece of equipment has been through. If the previous owner was rough with the equipment and didn’t care for it, that increases the chance it’ll fail for you.
Secondary pieces of equipment like dumbbells are safe to buy used because you can easily assess the wear and tear.
Equipment for Home Gym
Let’s review the most budget-friendly equipment for a home gym. We’ll order the fitness equipment from the biggest pieces to the space-friendly options.
As far as size goes, a cable machine is going to require a basement, garage, or large recreational room. If you have the space, you can easily find these for sale on third-party websites.
Overall, a cable machine will most likely be the most expensive thing on this list; however, it also has the potential for the greatest longevity and variety of workouts.
Let’s say a cable machine costs $1,000 and it lasts for more than ten years. You can break this down over the course of a decade, which brings the cost to only $100 (or less) per year.
Best of all, if it’s still in good shape after that time, you can sell it and make some of the money back.
Squat Rack / Power Rack
Next up is a proper squat rack. We highly recommend a squat rack, power rack, or cage-style rack for anyone who is interested in pursuing powerlifting-type goals.
A strong rack or cage will provide the security and safety you need to go after those bigger plate numbers and personal bests.
Want to improve your performance during your workout? Check out our article on how to improve your powerlifting workout.
Bench (with Squat Rack)
If you have limited space in your home, the best piece of foundational equipment would be a three-angle bench.
You can perform a variety of both upper and lower body exercises, including the bench press and Bulgarian split squat. Ideally, you'll find one that has a squat rack.
Given their popularity, it’s easy to find a decently price bench either brand new on sale. Or you can buy a used one through a third-party site.
Olympic Barbell with Weight Plates
Paired with a bench, you have a space and budget-friendly fitness setup. You will have dozens of options for upper and lower body exercises with the barbell and bench alone.
Even without a rack or a bench, an Olympic barbell with weight plates is still a must-have.
Let’s say that your space is extremely limited, but you have an open doorway. A pull-up bar is going to be your best friend.
A removable pull-up bar sits comfortably in your door frame, allowing you to work your upper body and core.
You can also hang wooden gym rings from a sturdy and safe pull-up bar, allowing you to perform CrossFit style workouts that incorporate gymnastic movements.
A few pairs of dumbbells can go a long way as far as a fitness program at home. Just like with a barbell, you can use dumbbells with or without a bench. The former is preferable, of course.
Dumbbell are extremely popular and easy to find through online sources on sale, new or used.
Adjustable dumbbells require a fraction of the space of traditional dumbbells and they are usually more cost effective.
Depending on your workout style preference – bodybuilding vs. CrossFit – kettlebells might be a better choice.
Kettlebells allow you to perform more hip hinge and swinging movements when compared to traditional bodybuilding workouts that focus on strength and hypertrophy.
Even if you have an extremely limited budget and several feet of space to exercise in, there’s still hope for adding some resistance to your workouts with bands.
Resistance bands are an excellent purchase regardless of your budget or space. They are convenient, and easy to travel with. You can take them with you no matter where you go to perform a workout while traveling for business or pleasure.
Have Your Own Budget-Friendly Home Gym?
What do you have in your gym? Have pictures or videos that we can share to give other readers ideas? Tag us on Instagram so we can share!