Do you have a full spare room or are thinking about clearing out your garage to turn it into the ultimate workout space? Here on this page we are going to look at how to maximize that space with everything your going to need to get that dream physique at home.
For an in depth tour of my small spare room home gym click here
If you’re lucky enough to have a full space for your workouts then I highly recommend you invest in a good quality power rack as your starting point.
What is a power rack?
The power rack is often the core of a great small home gym. The power rack has lots of functions. It can be used to stack your bar with weights for safe executions of exercises such as the chest press, shoulder press etc. You can also transform the power rack into the perfect squat rack. Most good power racks also come with pull up bar attachments at the top and dips attachments at the side. Some even the option for an adjustable weighted cable attachment. This makes the power rack the ultimate piece of equipment for your home gym.
But the biggest selling point of the power rack is it’s safety. One of many people’s concerns when working out at home is not being able to try really heavy weights out of the fear of messing up and dropping them. Especially the chest press.
The power rack allows you to set two bars each side above you which will catch any weights making it impossible to drop weights and injure yourself. See the diagram below to see exactly how this works.
When purchasing my first power rack I did a ton of research to make sure I was buying the best one I could for my money. Click here to see all of the power rack reviews.
Bar and weights
For most power racks you’re going to need to use a 7ft olympic bar. See my bar reviews here for the best value for money and where to buy.
Got your bar? Now we need some discs to add to it.
I recommend you buy a good quality selection of olympic discs. It’s much better to buy olympic discs when you have a choice as they will be compatible with any bar or extension you add to your gym later down the line using a simple conversion attachment. It’s much easier conversion if required.
What’s the difference between olympic and standard weight discs? Click here
Now that we have our power rack, dumbbells, bar and weight discs, to finish off the fundamentals of our home gym we are going to need a good quality solid adjustable bench.
The great thing about the bench is that if you spend a little extra you can find a bench which goes beyond its primary purpose and comes with some really useful extra attachments. The BodyMax CF330 bench recommended below for example comes with an additional leg extension attachment at the front which works perfectly with weight discs. This is the bench I use myself. You can read my review and where to buy this bench here. Also below you can see all of my bench reviews if you’re looking for something cheaper or more basic.
Dumbbells are an important part of any home gym. Your going to want to have a variety of light and heavy dumbbells so you can isolate areas and also hit those big compound moments.
With a larger space you have a few more options when it comes to your dumbbells.
1. manual disc dumbbells
If you have some good Olympic discs like the ones mentioned above you can buy a pair of olympic dumbbell bars. This is great because then you can re-use your discs to create custom dumbbell weights.
The only downside with this method is that building each dumbbell takes time and can be frustrating if your trying to swap weights on the fly without interrupting your workout.
2. Selection of fixed weight Like many commercial gyms.
If you have the extra space then you could buy a selection of fixed weight hex dumbbells. The only disadvantage here is your going to need to keep buying more weights as you get stronger or lighter weights as you do different exercises. The biggest concern for many is that this is a very expensive route as fixed weights can easily start to rack up in price. It’s true they can be a little pricey but there’s actually a brand on amazon that makes these brillant quality rubber coated hex dummbells just like the ones in top commicercial gyms. And the best part is they are almost half the price of anyone else. I took a gamble and picked up a pair of the 30kgs to review and I was really suprised with how well put together these are. You can see my review along with the link on Amazon here.
3. Adjustable dumbbells.
These are my favourite of the 3 for cost, convenience and space. You will see me using these a lot in my workout videos. I bought my first pair back when I started and they have been with my the whole journey. Adjustable dumbbells allow you to have the equivilent of an entire dumbbell rack in a small space in the corner of your gym.
How do they work? You can read all about the adjustable dumbbells on this page here.
Mats and flooring
Your going to need to something to protect your floor and also provide a comfortable base to your workout space. When I started working out at home I came across these amazing rubber floor tiles which you can buy really cheap on amazon. The best part about this is that they tile and connect together. So you can buy a set and fit them perfectly to your space. And then if you ever expand your workout space you can simply buy more tiles.
With a solid set of weight discs you can start thinking about adding extra bars. The first extra bar I got was the E-Z Bar. The E-Z bar is a great way to use your weight discs to do bicep curls. The bar is slightly curved so that when you perform the exercise it puts far less tension on your wrist. If you suffer from wrist pain when curling this is a really good bar to have in your selection. For the E-Z bar review and other extra bits see the equipment reviews pages at the top.
These are the perfect fundamentals you will need to convert your room or garage into the perfect workout space. Starting off with these myself over the years I’ve added more and more small things and extras. For a tour of my home gym complete with a updated list of what I have click here.