We finally completed our home gym during quarantine! If the gym being closed for over four months and preparing to have our hands full with a newborn weren’t signs that we needed to get our basement gym complete, I don’t know what would have given us the motivation.
When the gyms first closed back in March, I had purchased some additional equipment for our basement gym setup that came in handy very quickly. After realizing that we were going to be at home for much longer than two weeks, we had a bit of panic and tried to purchase a squat rack. Along with everyone else.
That order was canceled and the rack never arrived.
Then one fine day in June, we happened to be browsing Amazon and saw that the rack we wanted was in stock. We jumped on it and it arrived! The day it was assembled, we canceled our gym members (they had been frozen since March) and now have a fully functioning home gym in our basement.
I filmed a home gym tour and shared in on my YouTube for those interested in seeing the full setup. It’s not glamorous and may not look the nicest, but it gets the job done which is what matters.
my picks to start a home gym
So you’re interested in starting your own home gym? Maybe because your gyms are still closed due to the pandemic. Or if you’re like us, it’s going to help save time (and money) to complete our workout and reach our goals.
Before we had our current setup, we had the basics for many years that worked in a pinch when we were super busy or stuck at home due to a snowstorm. So below are my picks and recommendations of what to buy if you’re just starting your home gym and for those that are looking to build a little bigger.
I like kettlebells because of their versatility. They can do the job of barbells and dumbbells for compound and isolated movements. They’re also great for circuit training and don’t take up a lot of room.
I recommend grabbing 5, 10, and 20 pound kettlebells if you’re just starting out. A set of each weight would be good, but just one of each should do the trick.
There’s a few options out there to get for your at home gym: circle bands (elastic and fabric), cables, or pull up assist / long resistance bands. We have all three for our setup, but to get started I would recommend the circle bands and cable set. The cables can be attached to a variety of objects around your house and usually come with handles, ankle straps, and a door stopper. Circle bands are also great for a variety of exercises including
If you have the space, I highly recommend getting a jump rope. Jumping rope is one of the simplest cardio exercises you can do, and one of the most effective in my opinion. I easily get my heart rate up by adding jump rope in between two or three of my exercises per session.
Grab yourself a speed rope, similar to this one, even if you’re a beginner. They’re WAY EASIER to use since they’re light weight and move fast, plus they rarely get tangled. Just move the ball bearing to the length you need – I don’t recommend trimming the wires in case you end sharing it or reselling it in the future.
A bonus of jumping rope is how impressed others will be! If your at home gym is a temporary setup and you’re planning to go back to a regular a gym, I promise jumping rope will help you make some gym friends and get you a lot of compliments. People will be very impressed!
If you have Amazon prime, then you have access to a library of free workouts. I only found out about these videos a few months ago, and plan to use them for some cardio sessions after baby arrives.
additional home gym must haves
This is the most obvious thing you would want to get to complete your home gym setup. When you’re looking, be sure you’re looking for one that includes adjustable safety bars so you can do squats and bench press (ALWAYS use a spotter when you can).
Here’s the rack that we purchased from Amazon which we are absolutely loving! It’s not the highest quality, say if you’re training for a competition, but it works for us. It also has the option to add on a lat pull down attachment, which I would like to do in the future when we have a bit more room.
barbell & weights
To go with the rack, you’re going to need weights. This is where things get expensive. Pre-pandemic, used weights at $1/lb was what we would purchase, but since March when most gyms closed I’ve seen most weights going for a minimum of $2/lb. Thankfully, we already the weights and bar for a rack, so we didn’t pay this out of pocket this year, but it’s likely going to be the bulk of your cost.
If you’re getting a squat rack, you’re going to want a mat to protect the floor and your knees. We purchased a stall mat from a local farming supply store for $40 which is way cheaper than gym flooring, and even better quality.
Grab an EZ bar or a lighter weight barbell (around 20 lbs) for curls, shoulder press, and other miscellaneous isolation movements. I prefer an EZ bar as it’s better on my wrists (hence the name). Also be sure to get one that’s compatible with weights you already purchased for the barbell and weights – 2″ is usually standard.
These are really optional, but great to have so the weights don’t fall off the bars. Our bar and weights are pretty slippery, for lack of a better word, so clips are essential for us.
I hope this was helpful if you’re just starting out your home gym!