How to Build a Home Gym

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Working out at home has never been easier with numerous fitness and yoga studios providing free online classes. Even if you were never into exercise before, now is the perfect time to establish a workout routine so that when life gets crazy, you will have an easier time sticking to it. You can spend as much or as little money as you wish, but you really only need a few things to get a very efficient workout in, build strength and improve your fitness.


Bodyweight workouts are fine, but to switch things up add some weights. Search your home for everyday items that can be used as weights.  Here are my recommendations:

Cans of vegetables, beans, or soup: 1 lb

Tub of laundry detergent: 6 lbs

1-gallon jug of water or milk: 8 lbs

1-gallon can of paint: 9-11 lbs

Large bag of pet food: 30-40 lbs

For heavier weights to replace a barbell or kettlebell, try using a suitcase or backpack filled with books, cans or other heavy items. You can do squats, lunges, glute brides and side squats holding it close to your chest.

Other useful items: washcloths or paper plates can be used for glider workouts. These are great for doing lunges, hamstring curls, and ab workouts. Stairs and chairs can be used to do pushups, tricep dips, step-ups and lunge variations. And when you are finished, lacrosse or tennis balls are helpful for rolling out sore muscles. A broom or mop is useful for stretching, deadlifts, overhead squats or presses. A deck of cards is a great way to get some variety in your workouts. Each number or face equates to reps while the suit is an exercise. Example workout: spades= pushups, diamonds = crunches, clubs = squats, hearts = burpees. Draw 10-20 cards from the deck and complete the designated movements, rest 30 secs between movements.


You can work your entire body with these fitness items and get as creative as you want.

Resistance bands and mini resistance loops: You can do curls, presses, upright rows, squats, kickbacks and twists with bands, adjusting the resistance as needed. Mini bands (aka booty bands) can be used for working hips and glutes.

Jump rope: A great tool for adding some cardio to your routine. You can also use it as a warm-up or intervals to get your heart rate up.

Foam roller: Useful for rolling out sore muscles before or after a workout. A rolling pin can also work as a substitute.

Yoga mat: Having one of these will making doing burpees, pushups and crunches more comfortable. You can also use it for doing yoga via online videos, or stretching.


Doorway pull-up bar: Use it to work the upper body with pull-ups, or the core by doing knee-ups and leg raises. You can also take it off the door and use it on the ground to do pushups, dips, or mountain climbers.

Kettlebell: Ideally you would get a light and a heavy kettlebell to be used for both strength and conditioning workouts.

Weighted medicine ball: You can use these for core exercises, squats, wall balls, or ball slams. You can get a few different weights to keep things challenging.  


These items are not necessary but can help complete a home gym setup and provide more variety in your workouts.

Barbell with light and heavy plates: If space allows, a barbell is a great way to increase your strength and also keep workouts interesting. You can use it for both upper and lower body strength and conditioning workouts.

Dumbbells: Same as a kettlebell, its best to have a set of light and heavy dumbbells. Light dumbbells are good for doing higher reps and working the upper body, while heavier dumbbells are great for low reps and lower body workouts.

TRX System: This can be a great investment for a full-body workout. You can do pushup variations, rows, split squats, one legged squats, hamstring curls, and even work your core. There are tons of workouts and videos online to choose from. It is also easily adjustable to all fitness levels.  

Cardio equipment: You can certainly get a great cardio workout without any equipment, but if you want to mix things up, a rower, assault or peloton bike, or treadmill can be a great addition to any home gym.

A good set of wireless Bluetooth headphones and speaker can make any workout come to life!

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