Many lifters dream of having a dedicated training space to call their own, set up to their exact specifications, and brimming with only the finest pieces of equipment. Well, owning your own home gym doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Sure, it’ll take some budgeting and planning, but like training itself, building a home gym is a lengthy endeavor that pays for itself over time.
Owning a home gym is convenient, cost-effective in the long run, and more private. Better yet, if you train for a specific sport, you can outfit your home with only the equipment you need. For most home gyms, you’ll want a weight rack, a versatile barbell, a solid weight bench, and a set of weight plates at the minimum. Other pieces of equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, plyo boxes, and cardio machines can be essential too depending on how you like to work out. Of course, you need to know where to start, which is why we’ve curated a list of home gym essentials to get you started.
Home Gym Essentials
- Weight Rack
- A Barbell
- Weight Plates
- Resistance Bands
- Training Bench
- Cardio Machines
- A Plyo Box
If you’re a strength athlete, then a power rack is like the dining room table of your home gym. That is, it’s the centerpiece, where you and your fellow muscle mavens will gather to squat, press, and deadlift every weight plate you own. A weight rack is what supports your barbell so that you can hoist it for all sorts of lifts.
But a quality weight rack should do more than hold your barbell in place for sets of bench press and squats. If you want, you should have the option to add extras such as dipping bars, cable pulleys, and extra plate storage. The right weight rack can and should serve as the hub for your training session,
Whether you’re a strongman, powerlifter, or CrossFitter, you undoubtedly squat and bench press — and you need a rack to do those movements. But you may as well get something you can customize for your training endeavors.
Our Favorite Weight Racks
Because everyone has different space requirements and needs, you’ll need options when it comes to weight racks. Below, we’ve compiled three choices — a traditional garage-friendly power rack, a foldable rack, and a squat stand.
Force USA MyRack
This customizable and sturdy power rack from Force USA can make a great centerpiece for your home gym. The rack is constructed from laser-cut 12-gauge steel and can support up to 2,000 pounds. Force USA offers a variety of attachments to increase the versatility of the rack too with options like a cable crossover, landmine, lat pulldown, and more. You can choose between a red, black, or blue powder coat to match your gym’s color scheme. Pick one up with a lifetime warranty starting at about $499.99 (plus tax and possible shipping charges).
This power rack is sturdy, can support 2,000 pounds, and can hold various accessories such as band pegs and dip bars. You can also add a cable pulley system and lat pulldown machine to really get the most out of your gym.
The MyRack can do just about anything you ask of it with over 20 attachments available. The design is sturdy and the price is affordable, which makes this a great option for a home gym environment.
REP PR-4100 Folding Rack
Say you want to own a power rack but also be able to park your car — well, that’s not a crazy ask, and there’s a rack for that. Our favorite space-saver is the REP PR-4100 folding rack, which is made from top-quality 11-gauge steel. That steel is shaped into 3×3 inch uprights giving this rack a 1,000 pound weight capacity and the ability to use a variety of attachments from REP and other manufacturers. It comes in two depths — 21.5 inches and 41 inches — which come six inches and 24 inches off the wall (respectively) when folded closed. The only downside is that it’s only available in black. The REP PR-4100 starts at about $499.99 before taxes with free shipping.
The PR-4100 comes in two sizes — the 21.5” and the 41”. Both options fold into the wall when not in use thanks to four heavy-duty pull-pins, which can save users a lot of space.
This rack is easy to set up and fold away, heavy-duty, and compatible with a ton of attachments. REP obviously designed this rack with a home gym owner with limited space in mind. The bottom of the uprights even have protective caps to prevent damage to your floor when unfolding or closing the rack.
Rogue SML-2 Monster Lite Squat Stand
It’s a squat stand by name, but Rogue’s Lite Squat Stand can really support any compound movements like overhead pressing and bench pressing in addition to squats. This stand only weighs in at 166 pounds but can support 1,000 pounds of weight, which is pretty incredible. Because it’s so light, you can easily move it around your home gym. If you don’t want to buy a more cumbersome power rack and don’t want a wall-mounted rack, then the Lite Squat Stand is a solid compromise. You get the support and the mobility.
Rogue's squat stand has a pull-up bar, comes with spotter arms, and is light enough (166 pounds) to move around at will.
At 92-inches tall and 49-inches wide, this mobile squat stand can support over a grand of weight, which is a lot. One note about this product: It’s not ideal if you bench press alone. You can bench press on this rack, but you’ll need to take the spotter arms off, and then you’re in trouble if you go heavy.
Kettlebells offer a unique array of benefits for home gym owners: they’re compact, versatile, and you only really need one to perform dynamic flows. Compared to barbells and dumbbells, they can be more easily swung and tossed around for ballistic, power-building movements.
Even if you’re not a kettlebell sport athlete, you can benefit from the power-building prowess of these funky-shaped tools. Swing a heavy bell for more hip strength, or swing and clean a lighter bell as a quick cardio finisher. You can even string specific kettlebell movements together to create a full-body flow.
Our Favorite Kettlebells
Like most of the equipment on this list, kettlebells don’t need to be fancy or frilly to be effective. When choosing a kettlebell, you need to ensure it’s balanced, easy to grip, and can handle a drop (because you will, at some point, drop your kettlebell mid-snatch). It’s best to stick with a trusted brand that prioritizes high quality construction over aesthetics.
Onnit kettlebells offer quite a few upsides for athletes. They look sharp, they have a solid grip, and they’re well-balanced. The powder coat is chip-resistant and grips well both with and without chalk. Onnit uses a unique forging process called gravity casting, which results in a more durable bell that can last a lifetime. The gravity casting process produces a more consistent weight distribution as well since it forms the kettlebell in just one piece (instead of two), which makes the kettlebells better balanced and more durable. These are available in weights from four kilograms to 32 kilos in six kilo jumps.
Onnit makes a quality cast iron kettlebell that is affordable, color-coded, and durable. The powder-coat finish is durable and consistent. It's the perfect starter kettlebell and also one experienced users will get great use out of, time and time again.
Onnit color codes the handles on their kettlebells too, so you know exactly which weight you’re grabbing. This can make transitions both quicker and easier. The price on these is reasonable for home gym owners starting at about $32.95 before tax and possible shipping charges.
A barbell needs to be grasped with both hands, but dumbbells offer single-sided versatility. Even if you’re lifting two dumbbells at once, your muscles work independently to support these singular weights. Or, you can perform unilateral movements such as dumbbell rows to increase your overall capacity and target one side of your body at a time.
When it comes to dumbbells, you can buy pairs of them at specific weights or go for an adjustable pair of dumbbells. Buying separate pairs of dumbbells is more expensive, but, like bumper plates, they’re more durable and available in heavier weights. Adjustable dumbbells offer up an average weight range from five to 55 pounds. So you save a lot of money compared to buying each set of dumbbells in five-pound increments. However, they’re typically made from less resilient plastic and top out in the high 50s to low 60s for weight.
Our Favorite Dumbbells
On this list, we opt for non-adjustable dumbbells. If you have barbells and weight plates, then a wide range of weight isn’t as much of a concern, so you may as well opt for quality over quantity.
Living Fit Hex Dumbbells
These dumbbells are a modern take on the classic hex dumbbell with some notable upgrades. A moderately knurled handle for better grip and rubber coating around the ends of the dumbbells to protect your home gym floors are included. These dumbbells are less likely to roll away on you thanks to the hexagonal shape and even make doing chest presses easier.
These hex dumbbells from Living Fit come with an etched, knurled, grip, and durable rubber cap to help you hold them and protect your floors. Available in weights from 5lb up to 100lb, they’ve got what you need to progress along your fitness journey.
Living Fit priced these dumbbells well for home gym owners too with a standard five to 50 pound set coming in at $1099.00 plus tax with free shipping. If that’s too light, they have sets up to 100 pounds too. The weight tolerance is somewhat generous at +/- 3 percent, but for the quality and price, these are a score for anyone looking to add dumbbells to their workout space.
A quality barbell is a bridge between you and the weight that needs lifting. Without one, you can’t perform deadlifts, bench presses, and barbell rows. If a weight rack is your dining room table, the barbell is your chair. One is essentially useless without the other.
When it comes to picking a barbell, you need to factor in quality, durability, and the type of barbell. Typically, weightlifters want a barbell equipped with bearings that allow for more spin of the sleeves. When performing a dynamic movement like the clean and jerk and snatch, you want the weight to spin separately from the bar so the hand positioning can be easily adjusted. On the other hand, powerlifters performing heavy deadlifts, squats, and bench presses don’t want the bar to spin as this can cause instability.
Regardless of the barbell you choose, you want to know it’s durable — otherwise, you’ll be looking for a new bar in a couple of years.
Our Favorite Barbell
This weightlifting bar is made from high-quality steel alloy and has a unique bearing system. Any lifter will appreciate it and find it both utilitarian and useful.
X Training Elite Competition 2.0 Barbell
A barbell in a home gym needs to be able to stand up to heavy daily use and oftentimes a variety of temperatures. This bar from X Training has a black chrome coat to help prevent rust and is made from top-notch steel alloy.
On top of that, it can handle nearly anything you throw at it with a high tensile strength of 215,000 PSI and bronze bushings. It features both powerlifting and weightlifting knurl marks and a medium amount of whip.
The X Training Elite Competition Barbell has a 215,000 PSI tensile strength, and features medium, dual knurl marks. This bar is made with alloy steel and has a black chrome finish — plus, its oil-impregnated bronze bushings provide a great spin.
The spin and whip are both moderate, so weightlifters will be happy with the ease of turnover, but powerlifters won’t feel off balance from too much sleeve rotation. X Training includes a lifetime warranty and priced this bar at a friendly $229 before tax with free shipping. The Elite Competition 2.0 Barbell is a steal for your home gym and is available in 20kg and 15kg options.
Weight plates are what you load onto your barbell (and your loadable dumbbell and kettlebell handles if you have those) to increase the weight you’re lifting. When assessing weight plates, you want to make sure the weights are accurate and the build is durable enough to hold up if you drop them.
There are two main types of weight plates — bumper plates and traditional weight plates, typically made from iron or steel. The former is more expensive but coated with rubber or urethane to protect both the plate and your floor. (That said, we don’t suggest dropping bumper plates on the ground for fun unless you have a platform). Iron plates are more affordable and differ in diameter, which means they’re less cumbersome to store. But they don’t have that protective rubber coating.
Simply put: You likely won’t be able to progress without a set of weight plates. You’ll want to lift more weight over time to get bigger and stronger, so these are a must-buy.
Our Favorite Weight Plates
They’re more expensive, but bumper plates are generally more durable and better protect your floor, and these are color-coded to help you more easily identify weights at a glance.
Again / Faster Crumb Bumper Plates
Weight plates are pretty straightforward at first glance, but there’s more than meets the eye. These plates have the steel collars co-molded into the rubber of the plates for better longevity and durability. They are also made to IWF size standards, which competitive weightlifters will appreciate. Being made from 100 percent recycled, vulcanized crumb rubber these plates offer less noise than traditional bumper plates but do bounce more.
Again / Faster Crumb Bumper Plates are made from 100 percent recycled vulcanized rubber and built to last. These tough bumpers are a great value thanks to their durability and engineering.
Again Faster color-coded these plates with flecks throughout the plates to make what weight you’re lifting easy to identify. Crumb bumper plates offer some of the best durability of all weight plates which is why they’re used in most CrossFit gyms where they take a beating daily and keep going. If you decide to pick these up for your gym, you can expect them to last for many years with proper care.
Resistance bands offer a more unique challenge than any other tool can provide. Because of their elastic makeup, a lifter’s muscle is challenged throughout an exercise’s full range of motion. Take barbell curls as an example. A barbell is heaviest at the furthest point away from the body — mid-way. The biceps muscle is relaxed at the bottom of the lift and the very top. Bands, however, are taught throughout, so the biceps are always active.
Bands are either lifted or looped around an implement to provide what’s called accommodating resistance. This reverses the resistance curve of a lift to train the muscles in the opposite pattern of what they’re used to, which can lead to some great gains. Bands are also a great way to bump up the intensity of bodyweight movements like banded push-ups. Ideally, you want a band that can do both. That said, bands for lifting are also often equipped with wanted extras, and bands are cheap enough that you can own a pile of them without really breaking the bank.
Our Favorite Resistance Band
We like Living Fit’s resistance bands because they come both individually and in sets, which can save you money — something that’s always important when putting together a home gym. Aside from that, they’re well-made and durable bands that are unlikely to lose tension with use.
Living Fit Resistance Bands Set
Living Fit’s resistance bands are made from a natural rubber latex and come in six different resistance ranges from five pounds up to 200 pounds. The resistances are listed as the amount from the start to most resistance the band applies, which is a welcome departure from the fixed resistances that most other brands list. For example, the green band offers tension resistance of 50 pounds to 125 pounds depending on how much the band is stretched.
Living Fit makes their resistance bands from natural rubber latex. They’re available in six different tension ranges from five pounds all the way up to 200 pounds and are sold both individually and in sets. Add some variety to your workouts or have more thorough warmups with a set of resistance bands from Living Fit.
Living Fit offers their bands individually or in a set of four or all six. The set of four is reasonably priced at $79.99 while the full set of sex will cost you $199.99. The bands included in the set of four are the red from five pounds to 35 pounds, 30-60 pounds, 40-80 pounds, and 50-125 pounds. The six pack adds the final two strongest bands of 60-175 pounds and 70-200 pounds.
A training bench is a support system. You can lay on it for lifts, prop your feet and hands on it to angle your body, and use it as a step for step-ups. Adding a training bench to your home gym expands your training possibilities.
For one, you can’t train horizontal presses — i.e., the dumbbell bench press and dumbbell pullover — through a full range of motion on the floor. And if you’re a competitive powerlifter, you need a bench to train the bench press. You can also lay belly down to better isolate your lats with chest-supported rows.
Your training sessions will benefit big time from owning a training bench, and so will your gains. Also, this isn’t the area you want to cheap out either, since you’ll presumably be hoisting hundreds of pounds while planted on the bench. Weight capacity is a big factor here.
Our Favorite Training Bench
Versatile, durable, and affordable — our favorite home gym training bench isn’t one you’d likely find at a commercial gym. That’s because the needs of a home gym owner are different and versatility reigns supreme. The MyBench from Force USA can do nearly anything you need.
Force USA MyBench
The Force USA MyBench is the pinnacle of versatility for a weight bench, making it a great choice for home gyms. In a few moments you can go from flat, incline, or decline benching to using a leg developer, doing decline sit-ups, or even preacher curls. The back pad has a wide degree of movement available from -25 degrees to 75 degrees. Force USA even includes a set of wheels to allow for easy rearranging.
The Force USA MyBench comes with flat, incline, and decline settings, and also offers preacher curl and leg extension attachments. Though versatile, this bench still comes at a very affordable price.
The weight capacity of 705 pounds should be sufficient for most people (except elite powerlifters who are benching in the 400+ pound range). No need to worry about longevity either as this bench comes with a lifetime structural warranty. The MyBench can be had for around $399.99 plus tax with free shipping.
Cardio is important for heart health, and as a way to burn more calories for speedier fat loss. Sure, you could jog outside, but for serious runners or CrossFit athletes, outdoor cardio doesn’t always cut it. And then what do you do if it’s raining outside?
Owning a solid piece of cardio equipment can also encourage you to train more. Stepping onto a treadmill with built-in classes is way more motivating than talking yourself into lacing up your running shoes and pounding the pavement. Also, other machines such as a rower are both a full-body workout and competition-specific for fitness athletes.
Our Favorite Cardio Machines
Concept2 Model D
The name “Concept2” has become synonymous with rowers. Their Model D is effective and basic. It is 96-inches long and 24-inches wide and weighs 57 pounds. Concept2 suggests having at least a nine by four-foot space to use the rower. It’s equipped with a PM5 performance monitor to track all relevant data — calories burned, wattage, meters rowed, and your splits. When you’re done torching calories, you can stand it up to save space.
The Concept2 Rower is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and a nifty monitor to track meters rowed and calories burned.
With an adjustable fan, comfortable, ergonomic handle, and PM5 monitor, the Concept2 Model D rower is a trusted piece of equipment that can level up your cardio sessions.
NordicTrack Commerical 1750
On the technical side, NordicTrack’s Commerical 1750 boasts adjustable cushioning — to help minimize joint impact or mimic outdoor runs — and decline capabilities down to negative three percent. When you purchase this treadmill, you also get a free one-year iFit membership (valued at $458), so you can add classes to your running routine.
The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 comes with a year of free streaming classes and boasts adjustable cushioning to help minimize joint impact and replicate outdoor terrain.
If you’re looking for a product that has it all, The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is durable, packed with technology, and will keep your runs interesting for years to come.
A plyo box is a bit more specific than other pieces of equipment on this list, but it’s a must-have for athletes and fitness competitors, like CrossFitters. Box jumps, for example, are a move often seen in CrossFit competitions. They’re also a popular exercise among athletes who want to up their hops and improve lower body power.
Beyond box jumps, you can also use a plyo box to sit onto for box squats, step on, jump over, or test a bunch of push-up variations. Plyo boxes are also one of the most affordable essentials you can stock your gym with — plus, they’re lightweight and, for the most part, portable. While buying a weight rack is a serious financial investment, you can rest a bit easier knowing a plyo box will not leave your bank account full of dents.
Our Favorite Plyo box
This plyo box has three different jump heights built into one unit to stretch your dollar even further. It also boasts a high weight capacity thanks to a reinforced design, so weighted movements are possible here.
REP Fitness 3-in-1 Wood Plyo Box
The 3-in-1 design allows you to change from one height to another quickly and easily by simply turning the box to a different side. Each box has three different heights that correspond to sitting on different sides with four options available. The small measures 12x14x16 inches while the in-between is 16x18x20 inches. Opt for the medium and receive a box of 16x20x24 inches. And finally, the large measures 20x24x30 inches.
The REP Fitness 3-in-1 boxes offer three different heights depending on which side of the box you lay down. Their sturdy, interlocking design allows for a 400 pound weight capacity and their affordable price make them a great choice for anyone looking for a high-quality plyometric box.
The weight capacity on these boxes is quite high at 400 pounds, with pre-drilled holes and interlocking joints to thank for that. They’re affordable too starting at $60 and ranging up to $120 (for the larger boxes) plus tax and possible shipping charges. REP ships these with all the necessary hardware, but you’ll need a drill to complete the assembly (which should only take around 20 minutes).
Once you’ve built a solid foundation, you may want to add to your iron paradise.
Here are a few other pieces you should consider buying for your home gym.
Check out these quality slam balls.
If cardio is a consideration and not a priority, then you’re probably not going to shell out for a rower or treadmill. A jump rope, on the other hand, is affordable and effective. Plus, you’ll build a stellar pair of calves in the process.
Check out these jump ropes.
Hoisting a barbell or heavy kettlebell and dumbbell will improve your grip, but targeted grip work can really amplify your ability to clutch. If you’re a powerlifter or strongman, then you may want (or even need) grip strength beyond what simply lifting can provide.
Check out these grip strengtheners.
Compared to a traditional barbell, a trap bar has the lifter stand inside the cage, so they’re centered next to the weight. This allows for more efficient movement mechanics. The perpendicular handles mean the lifter maintains neutral wrists — which is a more natural and comfortable position. As a result, you’ll be able to lift more weight more effectively with a trap bar for various exercises.
Check out these trap bars.
Storage is a vital component of a home gym. That said, you can always store a barbell on your power rack (make sure it’s unloaded), rest your dumbbells in the corner, and most racks come with plate storage. Of course, if you buy more plates, barbells, and dumbbells, you’re going to need a dedicated place to store them. There are a variety of weight trees, dumbbell racks, and barbell holders you can buy. Not only are they handy, but they also look pretty cool.
Check out these great weight racks.
What to Consider Before Building a Home Gym
Your home gym is only as great as the sum of its parts. There are, of course, singular home gym machines you can buy that promise to replace multiple pieces of equipment. That’s not a bad route to go down, but buying multiple pieces to stock your gym with offers more customization and specificity — which matters if you compete in a particular strength sport. Also, there’s some pride associated with taking time to curate pieces of equipment over time. You’ll end up with a gym that is uniquely yours — and that’s pretty cool. Here’s how we evaluated the pieces of equipment above.
You’ll notice we don’t say “price,” and that’s because many of the picks above aren’t cheap relative to other selects in the same category. That’s by design. See, we define value as to how far your dollar stretches. Sure, some of these picks are pricier than you may like, but many of them come with lifetime warranties, so you’re only going to have to spend on them once. Can you buy a more affordable barbell? Sure, but then what happens when lifting chalk mucks up the bearings beyond repair, and you find yourself shelling out for another bar two years later?
There’s a saying in the home gym community — “buy once, cry once” — meaning you purchase the more expensive and higher quality option, and only have to do so one time rather than buying replacements every time a cheaper or less well-made option breaks.
Of course, not everyone can spend a lot up front, and many of these products are priced within normal market value. That said, buying a rack or kettlebell or barbell that’s a bit more than you kind find elsewhere but is built to last forever may actually be a better value in the long run.
Not one of these home gym essentials is all show and no go. We ensure that every product on this list is built with performance being the number one priority. You’ll recognize a lot of brand names on this list, and that’s because they’ve proven to build outstanding products. The kettlebells on this list are designed to take chalk better for a more optimal grip; all three squat racks are built from durable, high-quality steel. The rower is the same model used in past CrossFit Games. If you buy a tool from this list, you can be sure that it will work well and last a long time.
The products you need for a home gym are different than what a commercial gym needs. The chances are high that even if you have a dedicated training space, it also serves as an office, garage, basement, or guest room. For that reason, it’s important that the equipment on this list either doesn’t take up a lot of room (i.e., dumbbells, kettlebells, and bands) or can be folded up and easily stored (i.e., the rower and power rack). Almost all of the picks on this list are space-friendly.
If you’re building your home gym piece by piece, you need to ensure that everything works together. You can’t own a barbell without weights to load on it or a rack to support it. And what use is a bench without dumbbells to hoist? These aren’t the only tools you may want for a home, but they’re called essentials for a reason — any gym worth its weight has at least most of these items. In combination, they allow you to hit the most complete workout and hit a variety of types of exercises.
What should I consider before building out my home gym?
There are three main factors to consider before building a home gym: Space, functionality, and budget.
- Space: You need to know how much space you have to train. If you’re confined to a guest room, then a power rack is off the table. But dumbbells and some bands are fine. If you have a two-car garage to work with, then you have many more options.
- Functionality: What are you training for? If you’re a competitive CrossFitter, you’ll need a lot more equipment than a kettlebell sport athlete.
- Budget: This is vital information to know ahead of time. Figure out how much you have to spend upfront, and then figure out which essential pieces are a priority. After that, figure out what pieces you want to add next and adjust your budget accordingly.
What's the best rack I can buy for my home gym?
That depends on what you’re using the rack for and the amount of space you have. If you’re working out in a spacious garage, the Rogue RML-390F Monster Lite Rack is a robust choice. If you need more space, then Rogue’s RML-3WC Wall Mount Rack folds inward and outward. Or, Rogue’s Lite Squat Stand is light enough to move around often but can also support 1,000 pounds as a free-standing rack.
Is there any reason I should choose standard plates over bumper plates?
Yes. Iron plates are cheaper per pound than bumper plates. Also, if you own a loadable kettlebell handle or dumbbell handles, iron plates are compatible with those tools.