Building a Home Gym on a Budget – Part 1

Anybody that knows me knows that I love the gym.

True LOVE.

Like dogs love cat poop.

But we all have days where no matter how much you truly love the gym (or truly loathe it, either way), a trip there just ain’t happenin’.

Sometimes your schedule just wont allow it in between work, trips to the grocery store, and other life events. Sometimes it’s closed, or, heck, it’s blizzarding (yep, I said that) outside and the last thing you want to do is risk your life for a good deadlift sesh. I happen to have a slightly different problem than most, in that I work out in the gym at work (at a college), so when the college is closed, so is the gym.

For example, over the Holidays, there is a period of time where I can’t go in and lift, and it’s not because I’m too busy stuffing my face with Christmas Cookies. This can be a little bit frustrating at times, but luckily I have a great set up at home that allows me to get in a great workout with out even leaving the house. All of my equipment is small, mostly portable, and relatively inexpensive, but certainly gets the job done as long as I am willing to get a little creative. Today I want to show you guys what I have in my home “gym”, and give you a few ideas about how to build your own home gym while still on a budget.

While it would be nice, trust me when I say that it is not necessary to have a lot of weights, barbells, a weight rack, etc. in order to build a successful home gym. Read on for some of my favorite pieces of equipment, and also the things that are on my home-fitness wish list.

KettlebellsIn my opinion, kettlebells are essential for any home gym, preferably in a few different weights. Will and I happen to have several, only because he’s even more of a fiend for workout equipment than I am. We have them one 15 lb, two 53 lb, and one 70 pounder which allows for a great variety of exercises. Many people think that kettlebells are just for “swinging” exercises, but the truth is they can be used in many different types of lifts and movement patterns (much like dumbbells). I’m not one of those people that thinks that KBs are a magical gift from above, but they are an excellent, versatile, space efficient piece of equipment for any gym.

Price Point: If bought new, these can get extremely pricey, unfortunately. A good KB will run you about $1-2 per pound, putting you at about $20-30 for a 15 lb and upwards of $130 for a 70 lb.  Budget Tip: Buy used! The only one that we bought new was the little one, and that was only because I had a gift card. The rest we’ve acquired over time, but all from Craigslist. The good thing about buying these bad boys used is that they will seriously last forever. A giant hunk of cast iron is not going to break down any time soon, so used ones are virtually identical to new ones, besides a few scratches on the surface.

Our little KB family

Weighted Ball A medicine ball is another versatile tool that can be used for much more than weighted ab work. I use mine for med ball slams, throws, and different upper body movements, and it’s also a great tool for partner work. The possibilities are endless here.  A soft-coated one like we have may be gentler on your floors, but you can also get rubberized ones if that’s your preference.

Price Point: These can get pretty pricey as well. This 20 lb ball sells on Amazon for about $100.  Budget Tip: Again, buy used! We actually found this at a thrift store, believe it or not, for $15. A little sanitizing and it’s good as new!

Pull Up Bar This is one of the essentials, in my opinion. A pull up bar takes up virtually no space in your home (unless, of course, you are really short on space up in the tops of you door frames), is very inexpensive, and gives you the opportunity to do some of the very best upper body exercises out there. They’re also extremely easy to put up and take down, so you don’t have to worry about what it will “look like” when people come over. Personally, I think it’s a pretty badass decorative piece and is nothing to be ashamed of.  Can’t do pullups? YES YOU CAN. You can at least do negatives, use a resistance band to provide assistance, or even have a roommate give you a little boost or support throughout the movement. Who needs that silly assisted machine at the gym?

Price Point: This is where you’re gonna get the most bang for your buck. You can pick one of these up for about $30 at most sporting goods stores. Budget Tip: Really, you probably won’t find much better than that. $30 is darn good for a piece of equipment that makes you exponentially more awesome.

It’s nice to have a little foliage next to your head during pullups

Heavy Resistance BandThis one goes hand in hand with the pull-up bar, as one of these can be used to help you do assisted pull ups until you can build the strength to do them unassisted. That is certainly not the only use for this band though. You can grab a partner and use this for resisted runs, you can step inside it and use it for band resisted squats, and you can even use it for some pretty great mobility work (more on that in a separate post). Also, this is an excellent piece to bring with you for outdoor workouts since it is so portable and light!

Price Point: This one is about $20 and provides about 75 lb of resistance/assistance. Budget Tip: No big tip here, but shop around for sales, and make sure you know what you want it for. If you’ll be using it for assisted pullups/chinups, make sure you buy one that offers enough assistance so that it will actually be useful.

Now that I’ve given you a small glimpse of some equipment that I use, I’m going  to have to bid you adieu. In order to keep from writing a novel, I’m going to have to break this into 2 posts because otherwise I might bore your pretty little pants off.  Stay tuned  for the rest of my home gym, including something you can make yourself, as well as my wish list for the future, and some other fun tips about working out at home.

What do you have in your home gym? Do you workout at home, at the gym, or at a combination of both?


16 thoughts on “Building a Home Gym on a Budget – Part 1

  1. This is such a great post!!! I have been looking into starting a home gym but I didn’t even think of relying on KBs for some reason!

    1. I use our KBs SO much, and for so much more than just swings!! They’re just such a great compound piece of equipment… maximum space efficiency!

  2. Totally agree on the pull-up bar and the resistance bands. The only other piece we use is a stability ball. With these three things we take over the world! (or, you know, the small community room in our complex.)

    1. Nice! I have a stability ball…but have yet to inflate it so it just sits flat in my closet. One of these days I’ll get around to it…

  3. Great post girl!! Working out at home rocks 😀
    I literally JUST wrote a post yesterday for how to build your own squat rack– it only cost me $40 too! It officially my new favorite home gym item haha

    1. Thanks girl! It is great sometimes, isn’t it? I have to check out your post, sounds awesome!!

  4. Nice post. Bonus for the fat grips. Also, don’t leave out a jump rope. $10 bucks. Total body cardio.

    1. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post 🙂 And the Fat Gripz are kind of my worst enemy, but I know they’re helpful!

  5. OMG I was going to write a post like this next week!!! You stole my idea 😉 Haha, but it wasn’t going to be as good as this so you win!

    1. Haha, you should still write yours!! Great minds think alike I guess? 🙂

  6. Great ideas here Steph! I don’t really have much at home other than a foam roller and yoga mat because I always go to the gym for my workouts except for running. I just feel like I will get a better workout there, even though I know that’s not necessarily true. 😛

    1. Totally understandable!! I prefer to work out at the gym, but for days that I can’t, I like knowing that I can still get a great workout in at home. Some people just need to be in the gym environment to get a good session in, so there’s nothing wrong with that!

  7. Hey I just found you, as I’m trying to build my home gym and a friend linked up your post 🙂 I really like your ideas. I’ve been trying to grab a weight set off kijiji or craigslist….just waiting for the right price 😉 I don’t do any heavy lifting but want to get into it

  8. can you please tell me which pull up brand you have? Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close