Welcome everyone and join me in my journey to inspire and assist those looking to make health and fitness a priority in their lives. I've been very passionate about the subject over the last twenty years and my mission for this blog is for it to serve as an informative and real life experience backed area where new to intermediate fitness enthusiasts can go to for no-nonsense information that's aimed at results. I figured a good starting point for this blog and my members would be to go over the basics of home gym setup since I exclusively utilize my home gym for all of my training, all of my programs can be performed in a home gym as described here and I consider myself an expert on the subject through years of trial and error with my own gym. I absolutely love having my own gym specifically for the freedom that it gives you. The freedom to blast the music of my preference (Heavy Metal, Hard & Classic Rock, 90's Hip Hop and maybe even some 80's classics sprinkled in), the freedom to train how and when I want to and the freedom of having my personal space to escape to for some private Iron Therapy. Another big reason for making the switch to a home gym for many is that they just don't want to deal with the volume of people and personalities which come with a public gym membership. So having a home gym means no more waiting around for equipment and no rushing your own workout session in order accommodate others in the public environment. Then there is the cost factor of having a public gym membership versus owning your own home gym. For many, gym memberships can range anywhere from $240/year to $1,200/year with more than half of the gym's amenities going un-used by the member. If you take 1-3 years of your typical gym membership and use it wisely on setting yourself up at home it will pay for itself within the same time frame and after that you can consider the year over year savings from not having to pay the gym any longer. The last major and maybe best reason for wanting to train at home is there is absolutely no commuting involved. What a time saver! Just think about the time you spend to go to and from the gym. Now total that up and subtract it from your day to day. Depending on how inconvenient your commute is this not only can save you a bunch of time during your already busy week, but also saves you on aggravation and stress. For someone traveling 15 min. to the gym, training at home saves you 2.5 hours per week on a typical 5 day workout week. Just think about it. That's 2.5 hours you get to spend with family, run errands, get that project done for work, or spend it leisurely catching up on another two episodes of your favorite show! Not to mention more saving the gas and needless wear and tear on your car.
So here are my guidelines on setting up your home gym and while my personal home gym is much more diverse now compared to its first version, the basics of what makes it work still hold true.
Do you have the space? Now the most important thing about home gym setup is actually having the available space to create your personal home gym. I gather that if you're reading any further you will have at least 350 sq. ft. to work. If you do have an area of this size then it would be preferred to be in a basement or ground based space such as the garage or outdoor shed. This leads us to the next question.
Is the space durable? Can your floors handle at least 300 lbs of dead weight slamming down on it without cracking, breaking, or creating a new entry point to the level below? Please think hard on this because even if you think your good you may also want to consider if there is a sub-floor within the space you are considering using. For example, my gym is setup in a carpeted basement, on-top of a wooden sub-floor. I didn't realize I was on a wooden sub-floor until one night I was deadlifting and put a hole in that sub-floor so to this day I still have a "soft" spot in the carpet. So heed my advice here and check. Even if you have a sub-floor you can still possible (like me) to setup your gym, but it's something you either need to be careful of when dropping heavy weights or potentially getting a deadlifting platform built which will handle the additional force.
Is the floor/ground level? So your floor may be durable (concrete/sturdy flooring/etc...), but it may not be level. While having a few small patches of un-level floor can work it becomes a big problem if most of the floor is not level and your looking to do any major compound movement (which is what my programs are based off of). In cases where the ground is not mostly level I would recommend either having it leveled or building a platform or sturdy subfloor which enables you to lift on a level surface and avoid any potential injury risk.
How high is your ceiling? At absolute minimum your ceiling needs to be 8 feet high. While not optimal, especially depending on if your a tall person or not, an 8 ft. ceiling allows for all major home equipment to fit in your space, although you will need to be making adjustments on the type of exercises your gym can accommodate. For instance, if you're six feet tall and looking to do any type of standing overhead pressing it's just not going to work when you consider the length of your arms and the added height of weights at the end of those arms. Fear not though, it just means you can't stand and press. You can still do traditional sit down presses so you won't be losing much by way of variety here. It's just something you will be cognizant of going forward and will need to modify/substitute your standing pressing exercises for sitting versions.
Now that we have the physical space constraints worked out we are ready to move forward and look into equipment. Most people will have a budget and can't just get everything at once so I always recommend to start with the basics and slowly purchase more equipment as needed. Please see my Home Gym Setup page for a full list of recommended gym equipment.