Where to Start When Building a Home Gym – Part 1
(Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)
I’ve spoken to several people lately that have asked what I recommend when setting up a home gym. Whether you’re doing it because your normal gym is closed or because you’ve been wanting for a while, now is definitely a great time to start, since we really don’t know when gyms will open again.
I have had a pretty solid home gym for the last couple of years. However, I still find myself constantly adding to my collection of gym equipment to make it more and more comprehensive. In doing that, I would guess that I’ve spent at least $300 on things I don’t really use or were just an utter waste (Like that damn slide-board. I swear it was for a client though!). Unfortunately, my impulse finger doesn’t learn well, especially when bored. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.
In this 3 part series, I’m going to go over which equipment you should look at buying if you’re trying to build a home gym. I have separated my suggestions into three tiers. The first tier, are the items to buy to get the most bang for your buck and the most versatile, for all types of training. The second tier are the items that are not necessary, but certainly helpful to getting you closer to your goals. The third tier are “nice to have” items, but those that might cost more or take up more space and certainly won’t hinder your home fitness journey.
Tier 1 Items – Get these first
I buy 99% of my equipment online. Pricing and convenience really can’t be beat. Even if I spend $5 more on something listed online, it’s still going to be cheaper than driving to several stores looking for what I want.
The first item to buy when building out your home gym would be one or a pair of kettlebells. I like kettlebells more than hand weights because they are just as versatile, if not more so, with a more comfortable grip. They are also more ergonomic for holding them during exercises like goblet squats.
For men, I’d recommend a pair of 35lbs and for women, a pair of 25lbs each, but of course this is going to be dependent on your level of fitness. These are pretty modest in weight, but again, you’ll get the most use out of a set where you can split the movements to use just one two-handed, or use one in each hand. If the weight is too light or too heavy, just make sure you adjust reps accordingly. Above all, make sure you have good form.
Here are some exercises you can do with 1-2 kettlebells:
Deadlifts – Goblet Squats – Front Squats – Snatches – Cleans – Should Press – Bent Over Row – Floor Press – Overhead Tricep Extension – Biceps Curl – Elevated Push Ups – Shrugs – Goblet Lunges – Upright Row – Windmills – Single Leg Deadlift – Split Squats – Farmer’s Carry – Waiter Carry – Front Rack Carry – Russian Swing – Swing Squat – Kettlebell Swing – Bottom’s Up Carry
Again, most of these items can be done with dumbbells, but there are at least four movements on that list that can only be done with a kettlebell (hint: it’s the last four mentioned), proving how much more versatile they can be–and these were just the exercises I thought of off the top of my head).
When purchasing kettlebells, you don’t have to look for anything specific, other than the size you want. They don’t have to be fancy to do the job. I prefer THIS Amazon Basics version, with my second choice going to THIS one from Yes4All. Kettlebells that are powder-coated or rubber coated will cost more. While these features are nice, they are certainly not necessary, especially if you take care of your equipment.
If you can’t find kettlebells online to your liking or you really just like dumbbells more, that’s fine, but definitely start here when trying to build a home gym.
Tier 1 Alternative: If your budget is smaller than would allow for a double kettlebell purchase, get a set of bands. You can find a quality set for under $30 that will include a bag and door anchor. Like THESE.
As I mentioned before, I’ll be following up in the next two posts about my Tier 2 and Tier 3/Tier 4 options to building your home gym. Keep a lookout in the coming days for it.
NOTE: Yes, I realize COVID-19 has screwed up all the pricing for home fitness equipment. DO NOT pay more than $2/lb for any type of weight or kettlebell over 10lbs. I recently saw a 4 kg (8.8lbs) kettlebell for $400. SMH.