You don’t need a gym membership to stay in shape and work toward your fitness goals. By stocking your home gym (aka, your basement or your garage) with at-home fitness equipment, you can reach your fitness goals and save yourself the cost of a gym membership.
The best equipment for your home gym includes an adjustable dumbbell set, resistance bands, push-up bars, a pull-up bar, medicine balls, and kettlebells if you’re looking to build strength. There are also yoga mats and stability balls to help with flexible, balance, and core exercises.
You’ve probably heard of most of these before, but we want to make sure that you’re getting the best when you’re purchasing equipment for your home gym. So, we’re going to go over what to look for in these products and how much you’ll probably be spending.
Adjustable Dumbbell Set
When you buy individual dumbbells or dumbbell sets, you’re likely going to be spending around $2 per pound.
This doesn’t sound like all that much right now. But, it does start to add up when your strength begins to improve and you need to move up in resistance.
For example, buying one set each of 5s, 10s, 15s, and 20s will cost you around $200. Plus, stocking up on regular sets of dumbbells eventually begins to take up a lot of space in your home gym.
That’s where adjustable dumbbell sets come into play. And, there are actually a few types of adjustable dumbbell sets.
Here’s a look at the major differences between the types.
- Loadable sets. These sets come with dumbbell handles, collars, and weight plates. It might take a little effort to load and unload the handles between exercises, but these sets are usually pretty cost-effective and can support weights of around 52.5 pounds each.
- Water-filled sets. They might sound ridiculous, but they’ll do in a pinch. They’re very affordable and all you have to do to change the weight is to fill each dumbbell with some water. They’re great for travel, but they usually max out at around 45 pounds.
- High-end sets. If you’re willing to shell out around $1,000, some of the more expensive sets are definitely easier to use. All you have to do is turn a dial to easily adjust each dumbbell to your desired weight.
Save yourself some money and space and splurge on a decent adjustable dumbbell set.
Cost: About $39 to over $1,500
One of the biggest misconceptions about resistance training is that you need heavy weights to do it. You can actually get a full-body workout by just using a set of resistance bands.
Note: We’re talking about resistance bands with handles.
Resistance bands usually come in sets, sometimes with five different colored bands. Each color describes the amount of resistance the band supports, usually ranging from about 10 pounds to about 50 pounds.
Some sets also allow you to combine resistance bands, supporting exercises with up to 150 pounds of resistance (perfect for heavier lower-body exercises).
The best resistance band sets come with ergonomic and flexible handles that support exercises like squats, bicep curls, and triceps extensions. Better yet, some of these sets come with door anchors and ankle straps to provide you with even more exercise possibilities.
Why spend hundreds of dollars on a dumbbell or barbell set when you can get a similar amount of resistance for just a fraction of the cost?
Just make sure that you’re buying a set that’s known for being durable and not snapping.
Cost: About $30 to $80
Even if you don’t do yoga or pilates, you could still benefit from adding a yoga mat to your home gym. These mats provide superior balance and comfort when doing exercises on the floor, such as push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and stretches.
They’ll keep your feet or socks from slipping on the carpet while also protecting the more sensitive areas of your spine, elbows, and palms. They’re also extremely easy to wipe down with some gentle soap and water.
What’s even better is that yoga mats are priced pretty well and last for a year or more.
Keep in mind that the average yoga mat is about 71” x 24” and approximately ⅛” thick.
Thinner mats are great for achieving that “grounded” feeling. But, thicker mats like those about ¼” thick will be best for optimal comfort and cushioning.
Cost: About $17 to $150
Stability balls, sometimes called yoga balls, are heavy-duty pieces of yoga and pilates equipment that can also double as ergonomic office chairs.
They’re monumental in resistance training as well. That’s because they’re useful for exercises like stability ball crunches and dumbbell flyes.
Stability balls are extremely effective when it comes to building core strength and boosting balance across the body. They’re also extremely gentle on the back, meaning stability balls are a great alternative to regular floor exercises.
They usually measure in at 45, 55, 65, or 75 centimeters, with larger stability balls being ideal for taller people.
Most stability balls are designed to be thick and avoid bursting. So, they’ll be able to support up to 2,200 pounds of resistance in some cases.
Cost: About $17 to $35
Door Pull-Up Bar
There’s no doubt about it, the lats are a difficult back muscle to target unless you have a gym membership. That’s because the ideal lat exercises are pull-ups, chin-ups, and lat pulldowns, meaning you need heavy-duty equipment or a home pull-up bar to make them work.
The good news is, there are actually pull-up bars that you can hang over the door frame to help you crank out some pull-ups at home. Most of these pull-up bars are easy to install and don’t involve any drilling or screwing into your walls or door frames.
With one of these nifty pull-up bars in your home, you can get some pull-ups, chin-ups, and hanging leg raises into your weekly workouts.
The biggest issue is the risk of equipment failure. There have been plenty of instances where door pull-up bars have totally destroyed door frames or collapsed under the bodyweight of a user.
So, keep that in mind before making this type of purchase.
Cost: About $30 to $90
Push-Up Bars (or Handles)
Push-ups are great exercises for improving the strength and endurance of chest muscles.
The major issue is that push-ups don’t allow for a great range of motion mid-exercise. This is where push-up bars can be useful.
These push-up handles allow you to lower your upper-body a little deeper into a push-up. They can better hit the smaller muscles of the chest while also putting a lot less tension on your delicate wrists and elbows.
There are also a few variations out there.
Some are raised enough where you can do gymnastics maneuvers in your own home gym while others have a twisting motion that allows you to rotate your upper-body during the push-up. That way, you can activate more muscles.
Cost: About $15 to $80
Medicine balls are quite useful because they can add weight to just about any of your favorite exercises. You can use a single medicine ball to perform front raises, add resistance to your sit-ups, or perform weighted squats.
There are quite a few types of medicine balls out there, each with its own benefits.
There are medicine balls made out of soft leather, which can then be used to perform medicine ball slams or throws without damaging the medicine ball. There are also some with handles, which can allow you to complete an even wider range of exercises.
In terms of how much resistance you’ll be provided, most medicine balls range between 2 and over 25 pounds.
Just remember that medicine balls can be a little pricey and will definitely take up a decent amount of space in your home gym.
Cost: About $11 to $130
The major benefit of kettlebells is that they’re only about $1.62 per pound, meaning they’re much more cost-effective than regular dumbbells.
Better yet, you can perform most dumbbell exercises with kettlebells and even a few unique kettlebell exercises.
The best kettlebells are usually coated in vinyl, which will protect your floor from damage since kettlebells are usually made of iron. Textured handles are an ideal feature for keeping your grip during all sorts of exercises, including kettlebell swings and farmer’s walks.
For the most part, kettlebells range in weight from about 5 pounds all the way up to 60 pounds.
There’s also a possibility that you can buy an entire set of kettlebells. But, that’ll definitely run up the bill a lot more than a single kettlebell.
Before you think about entirely replacing dumbbells with kettlebells, keep in mind that kettlebells can be a bit awkward in terms of grip. For example, they might knock against your forearms when attempting bicep curls.
Cost: About $20 to $200
You don’t need a home gym loaded with expensive equipment, especially if you can just go to the gym and access the same equipment for as little as $10 a month.
But, it’s always nice to have your own equipment at home, right?
In all honesty, you can completely stock your home gym for as little as a few hundred dollars and still see gains and improvements. You just have to take the time to find the best products to save yourself a little extra money.