Building a home gym — the essentials | MuscleSquad

icon Jun 03, 2024 - Cameron Brierley

How to build a home gym setup you’ll love

We love home gyms at MuscleSquad. It’s where we started as a fitness company and it’s a core part of our DNA. Since 2017 we’ve helped thousands of people outfit their garage, spare room or bedroom with high quality equipment. We like to think we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, so we’ve bundled up our most essential tips into this article.

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First things first, what is a home gym?

To us, a home gym is any type of workout space you have at home. We don’t fuss about minimum requirements or sizes; if you can get a session in from home then it’s a home gym.

What are the benefits of a home gym?

There’s more benefits than we can list, but here are our top benefits of building a home gym.

  • Saves money on gym fees
  • Saves time and money spent traveling to the gym
  • Eliminates reasons to skip a workout
  • Allows you to train without feeling self-conscious
  • Gives your family a reason to get active
  • Makes supersets and custom circuits much easier
  • Open 24/7
  • You set the rules on music, dress code and atmosphere

To us, as long as you have the space it’s a no-brainer to develop a home gym over time. So now that we’ve established the motivation, let’s run through the essential checklist of what you need in your home gym.

#1: Suitable flooring

You should lay a solid foundation down whenever heavy weights are in the picture, which is why gym flooring is at the very top of our list. Whether you’re training with dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell, the right gym flooring will protect your equipment and your home’s foundation.

We recommend floor tiles that are at least 20mm thick. Some retailers sell 10mm tiles, but we don’t find this to be thick enough when considering the impact they take on a regular basis. We sell a range of 20mm, 30mm and 40mm floor tiles to give you peace of mind when handling your weights.

If these are out of budget, then a set of interlocking mats is your next best bet. These don’t offer the same protection as purpose-built mats, but they’re better than leaving your floor bare.

#2: Dumbbell set or adjustable dumbbells

No gym is complete without a good set of dumbbells. Ask any fitness trainer and they’ll tell you that dumbbells are all you need for a full-body workout.

Now ideally, you’ll have the room and budget in your home gym for a set of fixed dumbbells. A 5-30kg dumbbell set will give most people all the weight they need to bring the traditional gym experience home. However, buying so many dumbbells is expensive and requires significant floorspace.

In those instances, a pair of adjustable dumbbells is the perfect substitute. Our adjustable dumbbells range from 12.5kg to 40kg and give you access to as many as 12 dumbbells in one. This means major savings in both cost and floorspace.

#3: Adjustable bench

If a pair of dumbbells is the superhero of your home gym, then a sturdy bench is the sidekick. Adding an adjustable bench to your setup gives you a base for presses, rows and lower body movements.

The main thing to consider here is the max load of your bench. Are you planning on performing bench press and other heavy lifts on it? If so, then you’ll need to look for a bench with a high load rating. Our Phase 2 Incline Bench clocks in at a 250kg max load, while our commercial-grade Phase 4 FID Bench boasts a load north of 300kg.

#4: Power rack (cable-equipped if possible)

At the start of your home gym journey, it might have felt unrealistic to have a squat rack in your home, but the truth is you can buy one for a lot less than you might have thought. Our most affordable options start at £400 for a brand new piece of equipment.

And while a power rack is essential for performing compound lifts in your home gym, if you have the budget for a cable-equipped power rack then you’ll be ticking off two essential machines in one purchase. Our bestselling Multi-Functional Trainer is the epitome of this, giving you access to a squat rack, dual cable pulleys and a smith machine in one product.

#5: Barbell

A squat rack without a barbell is like a burger without the fries. It’s your gym buddy for the big three lifts of squats, bench press and deadlifts, and can also be used for overhead press and bent over rows.

Go for a barbell with 2’ sleeves so that it’s compatible with Olympic weight plates and choose between a 6ft and 7ft bar depending on your gender, space available and width of your squat rack.

#6: Weight plates

A barbell without weight plates is like a portion of fries without the ketchup. We’ll stop the food metaphors there, but in all seriousness if you can’t load your barbell then it may as well stay in the box.

As we’ve already said, 2’ weight plates are the industry standard here and can be bought in a number of styles, from bumper plates which are ideal for deadlifts to tri-grip plates which excel in being moved easily.

#7: Cardio

You might be prioritising strength in your home gym, but it’s still a good idea to get that cardio in to futureproof the space. Popular options for staying fit at home include treadmills, exercise bikes, rowers and cross-trainers.

You can even keep it simple with something as small as a skipping rope or a plyo box. Both of these allow you to perform simple cardio routines from home without blowing your budget.

#8: Kettlebells

The full-body assassin, kettlebells are fantastic for building functional strength and toning your body. Even if you can only add a few kettlebells to your gym setup, you’ll benefit from the range of swinging movements you can do with these mobility favourites.

While many kettlebell movements can be performed with dumbbells too, the kettlebell swing, halos and other twists make them well worth adding.

#9: Storage

Did you think we were going to leave this imaginary gym that we’re building messy? Not a chance! The crowning touch to your home gym should be storage equipment. Whether that’s storage racks to keep your dumbbells tidy or weight poles to keep your plates organised, once you’ve grown used to a neat gym you’ll never go back.

#10: Optional extras

While we’ve covered our home gym essentials, there’s more equipment you can add if they take your fancy.

Now that we’ve covered everything you need for your home gym, we’d say it’s time to get to work.

If you don’t feel confident building the gym yourself, we do offer gym design services for homes and commercial spaces. Our team would be more than happy to hear about your goals and the space you have available, and work with you from there to build your ideal gym.

Whatever route you take, we wish you the very best with your home gym and we know you’ll become as embedded in the thriving home gym community as we are.

Happy training!

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