What you classify as home gym essentials says a lot about where you are in life. My beloved grandparents likely have a very different opinion about what should make the list than I do. My teenaged self…I don’t want to even think about his list.

If yoga or jogging is your only thing, your home gym is going to look a lot different than someone into something like CrossFit. That said, there are some go-to items that every home gym should have, and even if you’re working with a limited budget, you can set up a space you can be proud of.

Make It Cheap To Fail

Let’s talk about taking the first steps and applying ourselves. How well do you know yourself? You can spend literally tens of thousands of dollars converting your garage or basement into a home gym…

…but will you use it?

Prove to yourself that you have the discipline to consistently show up and achieve your training goals. If you’re starting out, that means you must start small but think big. Begin with what you have and build on this, step by step.

Consider your home. Do you have neighbors above or below in your apartment (you must consider thicker floor mats and bumper plates, for example), do you have a garage that has enough insulation (so you don’t freeze in the winter), and is your basement ceiling high enough (to allow you to lift a barbell over your head)?

If you end up failing to maintain a home gym habit, make it a cheap miscalculation. Don’t spend a fortune equipping your place unless you’re certain you’re going to use it. Set yourself a goal of completing a month with equipment you already have, and then rewarding yourself with strategic purchases of key equipment after you complete each stage. Make it a virtuous cycle of achieving your goals, and reinvesting into yourself each time, achieving greater and greater goals.

Walk Before You Run

When I say you should “make it cheap to fail” this doesn’t mean you purchase the lowest priced items on the Internet. It means you should tailor your purchases to your own unique situation. A beginner’s home gym essentials should consist of things like:

  • Pull-up bar (door mounted)
  • Dip stands (two n-shaped, height adjustable)
  • Jump rope (extremely good cardio compared to time invested)
  • Kettlebell (35lb to start with)

All these items should cost under $300 in total and will take up very little space. You could look at this as a kind of “gym in a box.” Even with this small amount of equipment, you can hit almost all areas of your body.

Once you’ve committed to a reasonable period of time successfully showing up and training with these home gym essentials, you’re ready for the next step. (Only you know how long this period is and will be…but it is probably not going to be measured in mere days).

Buy Once, Cry Once; Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

Assuming you have a room in your home that you can dedicate as a home gym space, measure the distance between the walls, and the ceiling height and start with the following list.

Power rack:

A rack such as the F22 is an excellent starter investment and should serve as the “centerpiece” of your home gym. As you scale your training up, make sure your rack can handle your vision – can you add attachments over time to increase the functionality? Also be sure your ceiling height can accommodate the rack you choose. The power rack is a must-have for a number of reasons, one of them being the safety features that allow you to fit safety catch bars so you don’t need a buddy to spot you when benching or squatting.

Major Fitness power rack f22

Adjustable bench and plates (most likely bumper plates):

Along with the rack this equipment will form an essential foundation of your home gym. Adjustable benches such as the PLT01 have the key feature of being able to change the angle of the back so you can engage different parts of your body while doing the same exercise. For example a flat bench will allow you to bench press horizontally but by moving the back more upright you can also perform an incline press. Bumper plates are designed to be dropped without damaging your floor or making the loud noise (like iron plates do).

gym essentials Major Fitness weight bench

Barbell:

Buy the best barbell you can afford. It’s likely it will outlive you and serve you well for many, many years. I’ve seen barbells literally bend and permanently deform due to poor quality construction. Don’t skimp out on this one. Check out the 8-bearing, 45-grade steel Major Fitness barbell to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Major Fitness barbell

Dumbbells:

If money is not a problem, you can progress to a set of dumbbells. These will greatly supplement your barbell and bodyweight exercises and will allow you to perform modifications of common barbell lifts and other movements.

Major Fitness urethane dumbells 55lb pair

Where To From Here?

If your home gym already boasts all of the above, I offer you my hearty congratulations...

…but where do you go from here?

Maybe you want to upgrade your power rack to and splurge on a Smith Machine like the Spirit B52. Maybe you want to invest in some cardio equipment such as an exercise bike or rower. Perhaps your idea of home gym essentials includes something like a home sauna and cold plunge.

Whatever path you take, the great thing about home gyms is that you can make it your own. You can be yourself there, train whenever you like, make it easier to train by having everything you need on hand and where you want it, and not have to worry about driving there or waiting for someone to finish at the squat rack. And as you’ve seen, it doesn’t need to cost a lot. You can easily build up your training setup step-by-step with just a few home gym essentials.


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