In this ultimate guide to weight training at home, we are going to go over the basic fundamentals of training at home such as planning out your home gym, finding, and then buying your equipment.

I will say up front that the majority of equipment related links goes to the store Strength Junkies that I personally run. I want to present to you a non biased article that you can use as a guideline to building a home gym and buying equipment from Strength Junkies will help support this site and grow my business so that I can help you guys (and girls) better.

So for those who are new here, I’ve written a few articles on the home gym I am building for myself and I have gone over a few topics in these articles… but I wanted to make the ultimate guide to weight training at home.

Check out my home gym chronicles here:

Training at Home

Training at home is great; no worrying about weather, if your squat rack is taken, if there’s enough weights, or whatever your pet peeves are in the gym.

Training at home also sucks because some people just cannot perform without leaving their house – similar to working from home.

So below lets check out some of the pros and cons of training at home so I can help you decide whether you should build that dream gym you’ve always wanted to.

Benefits of training at home

  • Equipment – It is your equipment and you do not have to wait on someone else to use it. You don’t have to readjust the seat or the weight catches – it’s just ready for you.
  • Music – You can listen to whatever floats your boat. Listen to some death metal, hardcore rap, or even Adele.
  • Equipment you like – Hopefully you were able to buy some good equipment that you like and are comfortable with.
  • Deadlift naked – If you are an iron head as much as I am, I don’t see anyone disagreeing with this one.
  • Training – You can train uninhibited and let out the nasty demons.

Disadvantages of training at home

  • Equipment – It is your equipment and your equipment only. This means when something breaks it is on you to fix it. Kind of sucks but if you take decent care of your equipment this isn’t an issue.
  • It’s at home – Some people prefer to get out to the gym and make a social setting out of it. I personally would rather train alone or with strict training partners.
  • It’s expensive – Decent equipment costs money. If you aren’t willing to buy at least some decent equipment, your workouts may not be as effective.
  • It takes up room – Wherever you decide that you have room to build your home gym, you’re going to lose that space to store useless crap.
  • It can take some time – Sourcing, buying, and assembling equipment can be time-consuming. Finding a reputable place and buying as much as you can at one time will save you money on freight.

Buying Equipment for Your Home Gym

This part of the article is going to ask some questions and I’m going to give you the best answers I can to help guide you in the direction that is best for you.

First of all, what type of training do you do?

The way you train will make a big difference in how feasible a home gym is for you.

Generally when I refer to a home gym I am talking about the gyms that take up a small portion of your space – not a full 4 car garage full of everything you need.

  • If you do traditional weight lifting where the majority of your exercises use free weights and then maybe you jump on a machine or two for “finishing work” then a home gym will work for you.
  • If you are trying to train like a powerlifter and start competing, a home gym will work for you.
  • If you are more into machines and cardio, a home gym will work for you but it will rely heavily on space and budget.
  • If you are limited on space, finding a multi-function trainer makes for a great and compact workout. The downside is there won’t be room for free weights which means there is a limit to your progression.

What is your budget?

You really don’t have to spend thousands on a home gym to get quality equipment.

There are certain pieces that you can get by with buying a more economical choice such as adjustable dumbbells. Buying a full 5lb-100lb set of dumbbells can get costly, but buying some adjustable dumbbells and extra weights is a much cheaper option.

Sure, you are losing out on some convenience when you have to switch weights out, but the money saved is hard to pass up.

Tips for budgeting:

If you do not have money saved up for this and you will build as you go (like I have) then there are some important steps you should decide when starting out.

These are tips, thoughts, and issues that I have run into when designing my home gym.

  • Are you going to use a power rack? If so, do you have room for a full rack or a half rack or squat stands?
  • Once you have the space designated, come up with maximum measurements so you know exactly how much room you have.
  • If you cannot buy huge chunks of equipment at a time, start with the basics – an adjustable bench, and some adjustable dumbbells. You can a complete workout with just dumbbells like this 3 day routine I created.
  • The rack will be the most expensive purchase in your build and also one of the most important pieces – You don’t HAVE to have it in the beginning but I would advise to buy it before buying more weight plates. The reason behind this is because you can at least do volume work with lower weight while you recoup your money from buying a rack. If you buy a bunch of weight to start barbell benching or squatting, you won’t have the rack to squat or bench in.
  • Learn to make some things yourself – learning to make safety catches for while you bench or squat can make it so you don’t have to buy a $1000+ power cage. Instead, you can buy the $200 squat stands and build the catches.
  • Getting the fundamentals first is important – get a barbell, a few weight plates, adjustable dumbbells, adjustable bench, flooring (if necessary), and then some type of rack. The EZ Curl Bars, 2 tons of weight plates, all kinds of chains, and bands are all “extra” things that will make your gym unique, but are not necessary in the primary planning of your home gym.

Know when to spring for a more expensive piece of equipment.

When it comes down to it, knowing which pieces of equipment you can skimp on is important because not everyone is made of money.

Below I will list some of the items that I will not skimp on and some I would skimp on.

Equipment I will NOT Skimp On

  • Power Rack – Whether I choose a full rack, half rack, or squat stands, I am going to purchase a rack that I know will hold up to the weight and abuse I am going to throw at it.
  • Bench – I currently have a second-hand bench and it seems sturdy enough. I will spring on a better bench when I can.
  • Bar – I sell Texas Deadlift Bars and they are some of the best bars I’ve ever been able to get my hands on. I do have cheaper bars that came with other things I purchased, but a good bar is important to me.

Equipment I will Skimp On

  • Accessory type pieces – EZ Curl Bars, other specialty bars, and things like a dip belt I will skimp money on. They don’t pose a huge danger if they are cheap and for the most part they will work just fine.
  • Weights – While I prefer having nice weight plates like Troy Barbell plates, I will take mostly any type of weight plate I can get at first. Note: I do plan on selling off the cheaper weight plates for better quality plates as soon as I can.
  • Flooring – You don’t have to have flooring that looks like it is out of a magazine. Buying some wood and laying some rubber horse stall mats over the wood works just as well as the scholastic deadlift floors you see out there. I personally plan on building a decent floor and may even build a platform up so that I don’t have to worry about any direct impact from deadlifting will affect my flooring in the garage.

How much room do you have?

Figuring out how much room you have for your equipment is pretty important. It will determine exactly what type of home gym you are going to have.

Some of the most cramped home gyms can be a great training environment and help you stay focused and not staring into mirrors and taking selfies.

Space is key because if you cannot fit a full rack because of height or overall size there are still options out there that will let you train hard without sacrificing your bedroom.

Space saving ideas:

  • Buying a half rack or squat stands give you the ability to have a sturdy rack to squat from. You may or may not have to build or add-on some catches for the weight.
  • Look for multi function use – My goal is to have a full rack and even deadlift inside of the rack. That means whatever the size of my full rack is will be the space I need.
  • Use a functional trainer to get many cable exercises out of a relatively compact design. One of these along with an adjustable bench, adjustable dumbbells, and a bar to deadlift with would make a great compact home gym.
  • Vertical racks vs horizontal racks will save space. Finding a nice weight tree helps you keep weights organized and easily accessible. The weight tree I linked to also has 2 bar holders. (See below for a picture of it in my garage)

How to find a reputable dealer.

So this part of the article is going to be a shameless plug to my store and company Strength Junkies as well as some general guidelines that I would personally follow if I didn’t run my own store.

Things to be cautious of in a company:

These are all things that I personally look out for in a company/website to save me hassle and/or scamming.

  • Prices that are way too low – If the price is almost too good to be true, it is.
  • No way of contacting the store – If you can’t so much as talk to a real person either through email or phone, there could be a reason.
  • Shady looking website – If the site looks like it has been created by copying and pasting everything, broken links, and broken images… you should steer clear.
  • Money order only – This should be a dead giveaway something is not right.

Things to look for in a company:

These are all things that I personally look for in a company/website.

  • Prices are on par with other places – I don’t use price as my only factor in buying so I don’t mind paying a little extra to know I’m going to get taken care of. I highly recommend not using prices as the only factor.
  • A clean website – The website doesn’t need to be worth $1 million for me to shop there, but having clean colors, a decent layout, and a somewhat usable user interface is important.
  • Transparency – I don’t need to know your sales for the last quarter, but seeing “people” in a company is important. Being able to learn who runs the place and learning a little bit about the company is something I like to know. I like making a personal connection when possible.
  • Payment options – I don’t mind only being able to pay with my card, but having the ability to maybe pay with my Paypal account is certainly a plus. This is also an added layer of security for the buyer.
  • Decent pictures – Some places (like myself) don’t keep all of the equipment in stock so you only have the pictures that they give you. I try to do my best to get my own pictures of equipment I have and add them to the store. Again, a personal connection.
  • Non-Spammy – If I have seen the store spammed, plastered everywhere, and shoved down my throat, I probably won’t buy from that store.

I’ve said above a few times that pricing should not be your only factor in buying from someone. Sure, you could get a killer deal on a “new bar” from eBay, but what happens if it has been improperly handled or stored and you have a rusty bar? All of the headaches and fighting you have to go through with the seller is time-consuming and can be a pain.

Should you shop for a deal? Of course, I’m just saying don’t pass on a store simply because they don’t have the lowest price.

Sample Workout for Weight Training at Home

I’m going to write a bonus and hypothetical workout to show how weight training at home can be easy and effective.

As a matter of fact, I’m going to write this 12 week routine so that you are adding new equipment each month – starting out with an adjustable bench and dumbbells and the last 4 weeks you will be training with a full home gym.

This workout is an A/B workout and is going to focus on full-body work, compound workouts, some accessory movements, and a lot of volume.

I would recommend making this a 4 day A/B full body workout meaning you just alternate between the A workout and the B workout.

Sample Routine Schedule:

  • Sunday – Off
  • Monday – Workout A
  • Tuesday – Workout B
  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – Workout A
  • Friday – Workout B
  • Saturday – Off

There will be (3) different phases of this workout; one for each month. The next phase will introduce more equipment and will further along your progress. The goal of this sample workout routine is to show you that you do not need to have a fully furnished gym to make gains.

Weeks 1-4

For this sample week we have the following equipment:

  • Adjustable bench
  • Adjustable dumbbells
  • 5′ bar
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
DB Incline Bench 4 8
Flat DB Flyes 3 12
1 Arm Dumbbell Rows 4 12
DB Deadlifts 3 15
Cross Body Hammer Curls 3 AMAP
2 Arm Overhead Tricep Extension 4 15

 

Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Flat DB Bench 4 12
DB Overhead Press 3 15
Goblet Squats 5 8
Pull Ups 2 AMAP
Shrugs 4 15
Weighted Sit Ups 2 AMAP

Weeks 5-8

For this sample week we have the following equipment:

 

  • Adjustable bench
  • Adjustable dumbbells
  • 5′ bar
  • 300lb weight set with bar
  • (2) bumper plates

So now we have some weights to do a few movements with and enough weight to do it. Lets see what we can do differently this time.

 

Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline DB Bench 4 8
Skull Crushers 4 12
Bent Over Barbell Row 5 10
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 3 12
Weighted Walking Lunges 2 20
Barbell Curls 2 AMAP

 

Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Flat Barbell Bench (light)* 3 12
Seated Overhead Press (light)* 3 12
Deadlifts 4 8
Tricep Kickbacks 4 15
Goblet Squats 4 12
Stiff Leg DB Deadlifts 4 8

Weeks 9-12

For this sample week we have the following equipment:

  • Adjustable bench
  • Adjustable dumbbells
  • 5′ bar
  • 300lb weight set with bar
  • (2) bumper plates
  • Additional random weight plates
  • Weight plate tree
  • Power Rack
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Push Ups 2 AMAP
Standing Overhead Press 3 12
Barbell Squats 4 8
Good Mornings 3 10
DB Curl 2 AMAP
Pull Ups 2 AMAP

 

Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Bench 4 12
Close Grip Bench 4 15
Bent Over Barbell Rows 4 12
1  Arm DB Rows 3 15
Concentration Curls 4 8
Weighted Sit Ups 2 AMAP

 

Conclusion

Weight training at home doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. You can start with a small amount of equipment and adjust your workouts as you get more equipment.

Be sure to plan well ahead, shop around, and budget appropriately. Being able to train with dumbbells only is easy and you can get a pretty good workout out of it.

Be sure to get in contact with me if you are looking to buy equipment. Strength Junkies is picking up popularity and I would like to grow into a company that helps facilitate powerlifting meets by providing equipment and/or a venue.

Big things are coming so stay tuned.