Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Patrick
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Home Exercise Equipment For Beginners
If you don’t want to go to the gym but you still want to have a good fitness routine, putting together a home gym is the obvious thing to do.
But where to start?
The best workout equipment when you’re just starting out can vary depending on your fitness goals and you really need to ask yourself some questions to find the right path to take for you.
What are your goals?
One the of the great things about building your own home gym is that you can get the gear you need to meet the goals that you set for yourself.
Start by identifying what results you want to see.
Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve?”
Want to Get Strong or Build Muscle?
Get a Weight Bench
Talk about an invaluable piece of gym equipment. Fitness experts will tell you unanimously that the weight bench is an extremely versatile piece of fitness equipment for strength training and is vital for reaching pretty much any fitness goal you may have.
It’s great for getting a full body workout to increase your power output, boosting your calories burned and increasing your overall fitness level.
Your weight bench is going to be your best friend. You are going to get to know it intimately, because you’re probably going to use it every day.
Your weight bench is simply a reinforced bench with a padded seat where you sit to do curls and shoulder exercises and lay on to do bench press. You’re also going to use it for things like dumbbell rows etc.
Some benches have a variety of seat positions to allow for more versatility.
The weight bench is probably going to be your go to for resistance training and getting a challenging workout.
From core exercises to getting a great workout for your upper body, your weight bench is a vital piece of gear for hitting all major muscle groups.
Want a space efficient way to target a specific muscle group? A bench is a great investment.
Check out these articles to get a great workout. With a bench you can target:
There are even a bunch of exercises you can do with a bench without even using weights!
Most home gyms have either a flat bench or an adjustable bench and they both have their pros and cons.
A flat bench is generally going to be sturdier, meaning you can lift heavier weights without worrying about weight capacity. They’re usually a bit more stable, meaning less wiggling and jiggling too.
A great quality flat bench is generally super durable too so they don’t generally need a lot of maintenance or repairs.
The other big pro is price. Flat benches are usually less expensive than adjustable ones.
Check out the Doeplex Flat Weight Bench for a great example. It’s one my top rated weight benches for less than $350.
An adjustable bench lets you do incline and decline exercises. They can also provide more support for sitting exercises and shoulder work. Overall, an bench with four seat positions is going to be a more versatile piece of home gym equipment that will let you do more exercises, probably at the expense of having a lower max weight limit compared to a flat weight bench.
If you’re into powerlifting and you want to feel confident that your bench isn’t going to give out on you when you’re benching 250 pounds, I would strongly recommend a high quality flat bench.
If you’re more interested in overall fitness rather than trying to lift 500lb over your head, or if you’re looking for something that will let you do more than just flat bench exercises, an adjustable bench is what you want.
Bowflex makes a great adjustable bench. The 5.1s is another one of my top budget recommendations.
You can read my review here, or check it out on Amazon!
If you want something commercial grade, I strongly recommend checking out Rogue Fitness.
Rogue Fitness is a great company with great gear, weight benches included, and I don’t hesitate to recommend their products to anyone looking for quality gear, and they have great options for flat and adjustable benches. They even have some really nice combination bench/rack options! If you’re looking for really high quality gear, then this is where I would start.
Get a Squat Rack
Your squat rack is where the heavy lifting happens.
A good squat rack is sturdy, safe, versatile and invaluable for lower body strength training as well as getting a great full body workout.
Sturdy so it doesn’t fall over. Safe so it doesn’t fall over on top of you. Versatile because, despite it’s name, a squat rack is used for so much more than just squats. Your rack is where you will be doing most of your barbell exercises, and with the right set up it can also be used as a pull up station, with gymnastic rings, a suspension training kit like the TRX or Monkii, or any number of other accessories.
I almost always suggest getting a power rack over a standard squat rack. A power rack is a safer, more versatile option and it allows for additions and upgrades over time. (You’d be amazed by the variety of exercises you can do with a power rack and a set of resistance bands!)
The only time I might prefer a traditional squat rack is in small spaces, but even then there are some pretty awesome wall mounted racks that are very compact to take into consideration!
The main things you’re going to want to pay attention to when you’re looking for a power rack are build quality and size.
The quality of construction and material are very important to ensure that you get a squat rack that will last a lifetime, won’t damage your floor and most importantly is safe to use.
Size is an important factor when it comes to any home gym equipment, since you’re generally working with a limited amount of space. When it comes to a power rack it’s especially important because this is probably going to be one of the largest pieces of gym equipment in your set up.
Many power racks are modular so the size can be adjusted, but you should still take into account the height and overall footprint of the rack to make sure it will fit into your space.
Don’t let lack of space deter you from getting a good rack! Even if you’re working with very limited space, there are some great compact squat racks out there and even wall mounted options!
Get a Barbell
You are probably going to be doing a lot of work with your barbell and I strongly suggest you get a high quality one that you’re:
- Going to enjoy using
- Won’t break or rust
There are areas of home gym building where you can skimp and save some money.
The barbell should not be one of those areas.
Your barbell should feel comfortable to hold in your hands. You should be able to get a good grip on it, especially when its got weights on it. This means you need to take into account the type and location of the knurling.
It also needs to be strong enough that you can be totally confident using it to lift heavy weights.
A good barbell will last you a lifetime. You’ll get to know it more and more each day you use it.
A bad barbell will rust after a few months and end up in the dump.
Check out FreedomFitnessEquipment.com if you’re looking for a great barbell at a great price, it’s one of my number one spots for quality barbells!
There are some decent options on Amazon as well, like this CAP Beast Bar!
Get Some Dumbbells
Dumbbells are one of the most versatile pieces of workout equipment in your whole setup. There are so many exercises you can do I’m not even going to try to list them all, but suffice it to say that dumbbells are extremely versatile and are the next step up from using your own body weight.
Dumbbells can give you a great upper and lower body workout, take your sit ups to the next level to improve your core stability and don’t even get me started on bicep curls.
You might be wondering how many sets you’re going to need to get a good variety of different weights.
How much money are you going to have to spend?
How much space are you going to have to dedicate to a big rack of dumbbells?
The good news is that there are some great adjustable dumbbells out there.
Adjustable dumbbells let you use a variety of weights in a very small form factor.
The fact that they take up such minimal space makes them the perfect solution for home workout equipment.
Bowflex makes a very popular option. the Selecttech 552s. Check out my review Here!
The Powerblock Personal Trainer Set is another popular option.
Rogue sells the Powerblock Series – EXP, a super high quality set that can be adjusted from 5lbs all the way up to 90lbs!
Get a Pull up Bar
A pullup bar is a surprisingly versatile piece of gear. You can do a lot of different exercises with just this one piece of equipment!
There are an endless number of pullup variations that will get you shredded six ways from Sunday.
If you decide not to get a power rack with an attached pullup bar, I strongly suggest getting a wall or ceiling mounted pullup bar.
Compared to a cheaper, door frame mounted pullup bar, a wall mounted pullup bar is a much more reliable and stable option. Wedging a bar into your door jamb might be ok for awhile for very standard, very careful pullups, you’ll want a sturdier mounted version for anything else.
If you want to perform any kind of kipping movements, you definitely need something that is mounted and sturdy. Same goes for some of the more difficult pullup variations.
Having a dedicated pullup bar is super valuable. Many, many workout routines incorporate pullups and for very good reason.
In my personal experience, pullups are one of the most effective full body exercises and can help you build strength quickly.
Pullups can be used as a great motivator as well!
Going from being able to do zero pullups to being able to do one pullup is a relatively simple thing, but the motivation it will give you is invaluable.
After hitting that first milestone, you will want to do more. Guaranteed.
Yes4All makes a very highly rated and versatile wall mounted pull up bar. Check it out Here!
The Rogue P-4 is my personal favorite wall-mounted pullup bar. Want to know why? Check out my review Here!
Don’t Forget Floor Mats
Floor mats are important because:
- They protect your floors (especially important in apartments)
- They reduce the noise from dropping heavy objects
- They make your floor comfier to walk and workout on
- They can prevent slipping
- They can really bring the room together
Floor mats come in all shapes and sizes for all budgets and styles. You can even use yoga mats! (A yoga mat is always a great travel companion for taking your home workout on the road too!)
Rubber flooring is super simple to work with and can go right over your existing floor, even carpet! It’s tough and will last you a long time. There’s a reason why most commercial gyms have rubber flooring.
Foam padding might be the most popular home gym option because its super easy fit in almost any space, it provides a lot of cushion and comes in a huge variety of shapes and colors at a very good price. I especially like foam floor tiles that fit together like puzzle pieces.
Another option you may not have considered is carpet. Outdoor patio carpets with rubber backing come in all sizes and patterns and are a great option for home gym flooring.
Want to Lose Weight or Improve Cardiovascular Health?
Cardio is one of the best things you can do for your heart and lungs.
Luckily, with all of the cardio machines available today, it’s easy to get a great cardio workout at home these days. There’s a huge variety of treadmills at all price points. Most likely, your treadmill includes varying resistance levels designed to help you get that runner’s high without leaving the house!
If you want something lower impact and easier on your knees, there are so many options for ellipticals to fit any budget.
You can get a stationary bike with live on demand studio workouts! You don’t even need a gym membership for personal training or spin classes!
If you already have a bicycle, and you don’t want a new exercise bike, you can even get a bike trainer stand which will hold your bicycle in place, so you can go for a ride without even opening the front door.
What About All In One Solutions?
If you want to get in shape, but building a whole gym is too much for your space or for your needs, take a look at all in one home gyms.
These all in one solutions, sometimes called multi gyms, can be a simpler way to get you the workout you want without taking up as much space as a whole home gym setup.
Ankle Weights and Resistance Bands
Ankle weights and resistance bands are some of the best home gym equipment, especially for beginners just getting started.
Ankle weights can help turn run of the mill aerobic sessions into intense lower body workouts!
Resistance bands are cheap and effective ways to add resistance to other workouts. You can use resistance bands by themselves or in conjunction with other pieces of gear!
Resistance bands with a door anchor can serve as a portable and compact all in one home gym!
You can even use resistance bands, along with a bench, to do bench press exercises!
At the End of the Day, Your Home Gym Can be whatever You Want it to be, and You Can Personalize it to Your Wants and Your Needs!
When you sign up for a commercial gym, your membership is paying for the squat racks for the powerlifters, the treadmills for the marathon runners and everything else in between.
Are you going to use it all?
How often are you really going to need to use the elliptical and the stationary cycle and the treadmill and the stair climber? Sure, variety is great and all, but the truth is that you really don’t need to use all of those different machines and your membership is really paying for everyone else to work out!
Whatever your reason, setting up a home gym is a rewarding experience and can be the thing you need to take your fitness to the next level!
Remember, the best home gym equipment is the equipment that you’ll actually use!
Take a look at my other reviews and roundups if you’re ready to get some gear for your set up!
Hey I’m Patrick!
I built my first home gym in 2012, when I decided I was tired of waiting in line for the squat rack and I started GGC in 2020 to help people find the info they need to improve their fitness and their lives.
I’m passionate about fitness, especially when it comes to working out at home. I’ve learned a lot over the years about what to do and what not to do, and my mission is to share that knowledge with the world!