T Nation

Recommendations for a Home Gym


I'm considering purchasing a home gym for my basement. I've been to Gyms/Health Clubs before, but I never really "fit in" and end up leaving before I know I'm done. I'm just not a gym person, so I'd like workout at home for those reasons.

I was going to get a bowflex, until I read all the bad things about it on this message board.

So which piece(s) of equipment would be the best. I was thinking a machine or free weights. I can spend $1000-3000 right now.

Any good books for home workouts too?



Well I think a you need to start off with a an olympic barbell set. The standard is 300lbs of weights. Should be about 150 to 200 dollars. And then you can build that up with a bench, and a squat rack. Here is a really good resource: powerathletesmag.com/archives/Girevik/Five/garage.htm


That is an OK budget. What are your biggest problems:

being able to put all the gym gear away in a corner?
being able to move house?
ceiling height?
angry wife who doesn't want a gym room?

Machines are dumb.

Most important items are:

barbell + plates
a stand or rack - rack is better
a bench
adjustable dumbells

that is all you need


Space really isn't an issue for me, I have about half of a large basement worth of space that I could use for the equipment. The ceilings are over 7 and a half feet high.

I was thinking about getting a Body Solid cage and bench with the weights, and possibly the bow flex adjustable dumbbells (are they too expensive?).


Check out rubber flooring from a tractor supply store. It is cheap and thick.


Reconsider. You don't have to "fit in" at a gym, you just have to train there. A home gym can be expensive, bulky, tedious, and lacking in variety.

If you still want to buy your own stuff, then as everyone is saying, just get an olympic bar, plates, power rack, bench, and dumbells.

Yes, the bowflex dumbells are absurdly expensive, plus they don't go heavy enough for anyone with balls. Just get regular Olympic-size loadable dumbells and make sure the loading ends are pretty long. I got mine at Dick's for I think $25 apiece. You can load 25 lb plates on them. The plates don't get in the way and I can load them up to 210 lbs each (you need more 25 lb plates than you would otherwise get, though).


What are your goals? How much equipment do you really need.

I know that if i didn't work in a gym, I'd probably stay away from them.


Well if you have a good space for the gym I would recommend in this order

olympic barbell + plates. get a seven foot bar to use in the power rack.

power rack - this is the best item. the safety bars will help save you especially if training alone.

a bench. get one that is easy to adjust. it does not need anything fancy on it but should be strong.

adjustable dumbells - olympic size so you can use the same plates as the others.

a storage rack for the plates - best thing I ever got. but some racks have this built in.

I am all for the home gym. commercial gyms can have many problems, you add the time to commute there, you have to re-rack weights and wipe things down etc.. what a waste of time, and most have stupid policies and rubbish gear - so then you have to find a good one.

At home you have total control of what you do, when, music, etc.. it is much better.

The biggest problem is if you buy all the stuff and then decide you don't want to do it, but you can usually sell it again if needed, especially quality stuff.

I recommend this book

For anyone starting out to read and also Starting Strength for technique in the important lifts.


T-Nation is also an overwhelming wealth of resources.

  1. power rack
  2. adjustable dumbells
  3. flooring


iron master looks pretty solid for dumbbells.


EliteFTS = good


Iron Master DB are okay, I have the base set. A set of DB that hold Oly plates are much cheaper though. Iron Master bench looks good for the price, but never used one. And there are tons of power racks out there.

I wish I'd done a little more shopping around before I bought my smith rack. I think I used the smith bar once. Mainly use pins on the front to use free weights. I'd make sure your new rack can be upgraded. Mine has cable exercises for a change up. Try a google search and i'm sure you'll have plenty of companies to compare equipment.


$1700 will get you

* (1) Combo Power Rack
* (1) Texas Power Bar
* (2) Boxes of Chalk
* (1) Dragging Sled
* (6) 45lb Black Olympic Plates
* (2) 35lb Black Olympic Plates
* (2) 25lb Black Olympic Plates
* (4) 10lb Black Olympic Plates
* (2) 5lb Black Olympic Plates
* (2) 2.5lb Black Olympic Plates

Shit will last forever too.



A grand is possible, but some compromises will have to be made. 3 grand however is plenty. I'd get 2 bars. You can have more variety in a single workout without having to spend a lot of time switching equipment around. With that much money I'd get a rack with a high and low cable outfit or at least high. I have a cheapo that I fixed up and it is really handy. Bottom line is, assuming decent space you can do plenty with your available funds. Hell you could probably afford a set of hex dumbells.

If you do get adjustable ones get a few pairs of handles or a multi set which I personally find a bit bulky. In any case I can't emphasize enough how easy it is to underestimate how much time it can take to switch equipment around. One other thing. Set up your stuff so minimal refurnishing is necessary during a workout as well. I don't know how many times I've rearranged my shit because in the middle of a workout it occurred to me that "if I put that there and that there I wouldn't have to be moving this right now". Plates and collars on and off, slide this their and that over here adds up quick and can get frustrating.

If you can find used stuff it is plain eye popping what can be had for a song sometimes.

I spent about 2 grand, a computer and some side work for all this shit. Nothing matches, but I get everything done quite nicely.



EliteFTS = must be a lottery winner, but they do carry first rate equipment.


Power Cage with a weight stack
Olympic weight set
Olympic barbell
Adjustable bench

I'd consider that the basics.


I agree with everyone. Forget machines, get the following:

Olympic barbell and weights (of course, the regular kind are cheap and fine. If you want to spend the cash, bumper plates would be better).

Adjustable dumbells

adjustable bench (so you can do incline as well as flat bench stuff)

Squat rack or stand. The latter is cheaper but the squat rack is prefered if you are not going to have a spotter.

One essential piece of equipment you should get is a chin-up bar and a dip stand.


Damn, almost my exact home setup.

Bumper plates coming soon. :slight_smile:


Also have a look for a rack that has a plate loaded cable/pulldown attachment. They don't cost much and can be handy.


Another essential ingredient for home training unless you have Coleman's gym is a creative ability to use what you do have. It's incredible what can be done with less than you think if need be. Thibaudeau's good for coming up with some off the wall movements or at least reminding us of them.