You’ve asked yourself, “How much does it cost to build a home gym?” Probably right after you left your last session at the local big box gym. The music was terrible or the staff put up a sign that said “Sorry, chalk no longer allowed.”
It’s a fact (says the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) that half the number of potential gym goers never join a gym because it costs too much – anywhere between $50 and $200 each month plus membership initiation fees. So why not build a home gym? It’ll save you hundreds of dollars in the long run, and you’ll never again have to deal with the gimmicky commercial gyms that won’t let you do any serious training.
How much does it cost to build a home gym?
Bare minimum with floor mats, a good squat rack, bench, weights, and barbell, you’re looking at about $1,500 to get started.
For a comprehensive list of everything you need to build a home gym (it’s not as much as you think), check out our Ultimate Home Gym Essentials Checklist.
Once you have everything, it’s all your’s. And whenever you feel like working out, it’s just a few steps away.
Not like driving to the gym, going to the locker room, doing your workout, getting cleaned-up, driving home. It can be demotivating just thinking about all of that. It just makes so much more sense to have everything you need right at home.
Getting Started: The Space and Flooring
First, you should think about available space before choosing any training equipment. Scope out your garage, basement, or spare room. The ideal space is one where you can shut the door and limit distractions while you work out. The garage or a basement is the obvious first choice.
Don’t despair if it seems like you’re lacking space. Take inventory of under-used spaces in your home and clear out a small training area. You can get an excellent workout with only a pair of push up handles, a yoga mat, and a doorway pull-up bar at a total cost of about $100. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can throw in a suspension trainer for less than $60 more. Start your home gym small and build up as you find your training needs growing or changing.
Most serious gym-goers prefer to convert their garage into a home gym. What many people don’t realize is that garage floors are built with a slope? You probably can’t tell with the naked eye, but it’s usually about 1/4 inch slope per foot. Doing repeated lifts on a sloped floor might do the body more harm than good. Not to mention the dangers of a bar that wants to roll off the lifting platform.
Floors and Insulation
You’ll need to level the floor, costing around $300 for self-leveling compound to cover a 250 sq. foot area. You could also go the plywood rout. Nail down some layers of plywood of varying thicknesses and cleverly placed shims, and you could get the job done for less than $100.
You should also consider the ambient temperature in your garage, particularly if you live in a dry desert area with long hot summers or an area with cold snowy winters. Most garages are not insulated. To do it yourself, the cost of insulation, caulk, weather stripping and plastic sheeting will run you around $500 on average. You can also get a garage door insulation kit for anywhere between $100 to $200. Electric garage space heaters will run you between $50 to $200 depending on wattage and quality of construction.
Proper form is always important for preventing training injuries. If you don’t have a training partner to help you out, you can use a full length mirror to pay attention to your exercise form. A decent full length mirror will cost around $20
In addition, you will need at least one full-length mirror so that you can see yourself from head to toe. Being able to watch your form as you work out is a highly successful way of reducing chances of injuries. A full-length mirror will cost you around $100.
Strength Training Equipment and Floor Mats
The type of training you plan to do will be the deciding factor in what equipment you finally purchase. Spending thousands of dollars on commercial grade equipment is completely unnecessary when you can get high quality weight sets on Craigslist and during sales mid-February, after Christmas.
Basic strength training equipment includes:
- Olympic weight set (bumper or iron) and barbell(s)
- Squat rack
- Weight bench
- Dumbbell weights and a rack for storage
- Heavy duty floor mats
Olympic weight sets can cost between $200 and $600, depending on the style of weights. Basic cast iron weights are the cheapest, and rubber encased iron weights will cost you slightly more. Bumpers are the most expensive weights, but you’ll have to invest in them if you plan on doing any Olympic weight lifting or Crossfit style training.
Where you buy is as important as what you buy. Buying online usually requires some extra shipping costs because of oversized shipping weight. Buying from a local fitness shop limits your choices but you’ll avoid paying for shipping. Transporting the weights home after making a purchase can be tedious though if you don’t own a truck or large vehicle.
A Good Bar Pays for Itself
Most barbell’s the come with all-in-one Olympic weight sets are very poor quality. You’re better off either using the included bar as a “beater” bar or getting rid of it all together. A good replacement barbell will cost between $150 and $300, but you can find used ones for cheaper if you shop around.
Heavy barbell squats should be a foundational lift for any serious training program. To that aim you’ll at least need a good squat stand, but a power rack/power cage will help you maximize your progress in heavy squatting. A quality power rack with safety bars is also great for doing bench presses and overhead presses without a spotter.
A good power rack can cost between $600 and $1500, depending on safety features, adjustability and brand. If that seems kind of pricey, we’ve compiled a list of the best power racks for under $400.
A decent weight bench will cost between $100 and $200, but as with all equipment be sure to research different sources and look at feedback before buying.
A set of dumbbells is also essential. You can save some space and get an adjustable set for between $100 and $300. If you want standard dumbbells, start with the three weights you’ll use most often, usually 25 lb, 35 lb, and 45 lb. Fixed weight dumbbells cost about a dollar per pound.
Floor mats should be chosen after you have decided what equipment you want in your gym. Heavy duty mats for heavy equipment such as tiled, interlocking mats of EVA foam or rubber can cost you around $100 – $200 for 150 sq feet.
Cardio Training Equipment
Unless you’re into long distance running, you also want some good cardio equipment in your home gym. The big three of cardio training equipment are
Skipping rope and aerobics are great (and inexpensive), but you probably want something more serious for your cardio training. A treadmill, an elliptical, or rowing machine are great pieces to round out your home gym. A top of the line treadmill can cost between $8000 and $10,000, but models suitable for home gyms can be found for $2000 or less.
Highly rated elliptical trainers can cost anywhere from less than $1000 for basic models to more than $8000 or more for high-end models. Expect to spend around $600 for the average quality home gym elliptical.
Rowing machines are a fun and useful alternative to more traditional cardio training equipment. Not only will you build cardiovascular health and endurance, but rowing machines provide a whole body workout that is difficult to match. A good rower for your home gym will cost in the range of $500 to around $1000.
The Next Step
As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to start small, with your favorite strength training and cardio equipment, and then add to your home gym as you discover other needs. You might also want to add some inexpensive stability balls to build your balance and core strength, or some versatile resistance bands are relatively inexpensive an a great space saver.
How much does it cost to build a home gym? Way less than the money and time you’ll spend going to a commercial gym.
Before you get started, though, make sure a home gym is for you. If you need to be out of the house to get motivated for your workouts, then maybe sticking with your gym membership is a good fit after all. But if you’re serious about training exactly how you want, you can save thousands of dollars in the long run on gym memberships.
Are you ready to get started?