When thinking about purchasing equipment for a home gym, most people tend to think of treadmills, stability balls and yoga mats. Not today. We’re going to cover the essentials of a home gym that will be the envy of your gym-goer buddies and will get you some real results without breaking the bank.

First and foremost, the bread and butter of any program should be based around big movements – your squats, deadlifts and presses; start outfitting your home gym around those. You can’t squat a yoga mat so where does that leave us to start?

Power Rack

1) The power rack

This piece of equipment should be the staple in your home gym. You can squat, press, pull, chin, and dip, among a variety of other things. You can also do all that stuff safely with help from your trusty spotter arms or pins. You’re not going to be squatting or benching air in our new power rack, though, so what else?

2) A bar and some plates

What bar? What plates? As with all equipment, I would suggest the best you can afford. Get a decent bar, and it will last you forever. Plates – steel? Rubber? Bumper? In most home gyms your average steel plates are fine, but if you feel the need to use bumper plates for certain lifts, get bumper plates. Now if only you had a place to sit…

3) Adjustable Bench

Again, get the best you can afford. The bench is not somewhere you want to cheap out on considering it will be holding you up while you’re holding hundreds of pounds of weight. Get a sturdy bench that adjusts at least from upright to flat.

You now have a power rack with a bar, some weights and a bench. You can go to town with some hellish workouts with just this equipment but for those who want a bit more out of their home gym, let’s explore some additional options.

4) Accessories

Power racks are the perfect place to start. Without emptying your wallet, you can add things like a dip station, t-bar row attachment, chin-up bars and band pegs. Resistance bands and chains are a great addition to any home gym and will add a new element to your training. If your home gym is in the basement as most are, a few horse stall mats are an inexpensive, long-lasting rubber flooring solution. Want some dumbbells to drop on that new flooring? No problem. Grab a couple dumbbell handles, a few 5-lb. plates and a bunch of 10-lb. plates and voila; dumbbells from 10-100 lbs. for a fraction of the cost. Lastly, let’s not forget about our hated friend – cardio.

Treadmill

5) Cardio

If you want the cheapest cardio machine, you already have it – your feet. High-intensity circuit workouts are great cardio that never gets boring. You can also “invest” in a skipping rope. For those who have the space and budget for cardio machines, rowers, treadmills, ellipticals and bikes are all fine as long as they don’t become clothes hangers.

There you have it, the essentials of a real home gym you can be proud of. Now go use it!

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