How To Build Your Own Home Gym—And Why You Should Do It

So you’ve decided to start lifting and you’ve walked into your local gym. Inside you are greeted by a cute blonde behind the counter and walls painted orange or purple. You sign up for a membership and change your gear.

You will find that free weights are hard to find. Instead, the place is filled with treadmills and elliptical machines. You try to get in the mood but Lady Gaga is blasting of the radio. Focusing on your sets is difficult with all those 20-year-old girls in yoga pants.

comparance

While you wouldn’t want to find yourself in a bed with Bill Kazmaier, he doesn’t fuck with your focus at the gym.

A MRA would whine that gyms are not immune to the feminization of the society. A MGTOW would cancel his membership. You, however, will be kicked out for dropping your clean-and-jerks. Then you drive halfway across the town to find a meathead gym or go for possibly the most manly of options: building a gym of your very own.

First of all it must be stated, obviously, that this is not a possibility for everyone. To start with, you should have a place to build the gym in. Ideally, you own a house with a garage large enough. A little craftsmanship in carpentry or blacksmithing won’t hurt you. Other things to consider are the cost of the equipment and the time and effort to put in. Some equipment you can make pretty easily yourself; others you are probably better off buying.

What You Will Need

Building is a gradual process. You will prioritize and acquire first what you need the most. Lets say you are into Olympic lifts. Then a solid platform is a must. For calisthenics a pull-up bar would be the number one thing. In the case of your average gym bro, here is a list of what you would need, roughly in the order of importance:

Barbell

barbell

And enough plates for your needs. This beats dumbbells hands down in home gyms. Adjustable dumbbells are pain in the ass to use and solid ones would end up costing a fortune. Besides, try doing deadlifts or squats with dumbbells.

Forget the famous brands unless you want to spend a thousand bucks on an elongated piece of metal. That doesn’t mean you should buy the cheapest thing out there that will bend permanently at 315 pounds. A new quality barbell will set you back around $300, used ones obviously less. The internet is full of information on the best buys.

Platform

No floor can take continuous hits of hundreds of pounds. This is of utmost importance if we are talking about one’s home. My recommendation is to arrange old tires on their sides single file and have a sheet of thick plywood on top. Heck, put some rubber mat on top of that and the floor is safe and sound. Size can also be adjusted to your needs. If you are one of the good guys who quietly lower their weights, you can get along with the rubber mat alone.

Power Rack

power_rack

You can buy one or you can build one. Either way, it should be strong. Commercial racks can be expensive, but they are easy to adjust. A handy man will improvise and use 6-by-6 lumber or railroad tracks. Make sure there are hooks at proper heights for squats and bench presses.

A tip: cover the hooks with rubber to protect the knurling of the barbell. Gyms are full of bars that cannot be used for snatch anymore as the knurling at the ends has been honed off by metal hooks.

The top of the rack is an ideal place to fit a pull-up bar. The interior you can equip with safety pins. Those come in handy when bench pressing.

Bench

bench

Unless you are into sewing leather, this is an item you should buy. Just don’t get one with too thick a padding. Those are unstable to lift of. Consider whether you want an adjustable one to allow incline press or a regular flat one. Flat benches usually beat the adjustable ones in stability.

The Sky’s The Limit

With simply this hardware you can do a lot. From here on it is completely up to you. I have seen people build leg presses, cable machines, heavy bags, stripper poles and everything in between. Also, strongman training goes hand-in-hand with garage gyms. If there is some space outside, like a parking lot, the next additions could be farmer’s walk handles, easy-peasy to make with a little welding skills.

What about cardio? Running is boring and results in injury. Find an old truck tire and a sledgehammer and put your back into it, or make a jump rope out of metal wire and learn dancing.

africa

African ingenuity

Things To Consider

  • The room you have greatly dictate your options. If there is not enough space to safely move around with a barbell, you may want to reconsider the project. You don’t want to break the ceiling with over-head presses or scratch the door of your car in a garage.
  • Everything you build should be well fastened. If you mount a pull-up bar on the ceiling, find a heavy supporting beam or solid concrete and use it.
  • In case you are building your gym in a basement for example, keep in mind the ventilation. In a garage you can simply open the door. If you live up north, that may not be an option. If the climate is very warm, on the other hand, consider air conditioning.
  • Garage floors may incline slightly toward a drain. Note this if setting up a power rack.
  • Also lighting, mirrors for checking out your body, a tap for water, if the gym is not at your home where to take a shower, what if the place is rental…

Pros And Cons

While by staying home you avoid the broscience, you also lose the valuable advice of other men. Gyms should, along with being sports facilities, serve as places to find other like-minded men to get to know and share masculine ideas with. Insofar as solitude can be precious when training, so can having a spotter. Naturally you can invite others to train with you, but then you may need more space and equipment.

Evidently, a project like this takes time, depending on how much you build yourself of course, and shouldn’t be taken up unless one is going to enjoy the process itself. Money-wise, you can get a year’s cheap gym membership with the price of a mere barbell. In the long run, you may break even or save some money. That should not be a ruling factor here though.

A huge upside is certainly the chance to avoid the problems of generic modern gyms. No more waiting to use the barbells. No more complaints about grunting and dropping weights. No more notifications on the wall banning the use of chalk. Simply put, you do what you want to. It is your gym and your responsibility.

It’s Perfect For Kids

little_hercules

U mirin’ brah?

Lets say you found your unicorn, married her and made children. Gyms are usually off-limits for kids and possibly, in the future, for teenagers too. While we wait for this great advice to be implemented, you wouldn’t want to count on school gym classes either.

Football with the neighborhood kids is becoming increasingly rare, with electronic screens becoming the preferred pastime. A garage gym is the place for introducing your offspring to sports. Children’s wrestling classes, for example, only allow so much. At home you control what they do, what they learn, and make sure they are safe and ready to take on real sports classes in a couple of years.

In Conclusion

When choosing a gym, try to avoid the big chains with the word “fitness” in their name. Meathead gyms are usually not found there. If you choose to train at home, understand that a home gym is more than a spider-looking Weider Home Gym machine. Building a place of your own is not a possibility for everyone. While it takes work, the results are rewarding and you get to exercise your natural manly instincts to invent and create. Lastly, there’s no better place to take your kids to for their first workout.

Read More: Build A Bachelor Pad And Save The World

81 thoughts on “How To Build Your Own Home Gym—And Why You Should Do It”

    1. The thing is that those individuals don’t often buy good material. People who are more serious about training tend to buy the quality stuff,

  1. Don’t forget the obligatory Kratom dispenser on the wall. Can’t lift without it.

      1. Is there a quantity of Kratom so heavy that a man who has snorted an identical amount of Kratom cannot lift?

        1. I had girls discuss which of the Norse gods I would be. It ended with a split between Loke and Tor. I’m thinking Loke is probably closer..

        2. I’m a strong empowered lebanese transwomyn and I bet I lift more than all of you you shitlords

        3. This is rich!
          Who’s sock account is this?
          C’mon guys, it’s one of ya. Fess up.

  2. worst part about the gym is making the trek to the gym. If I had the room I would def have my own

  3. Converting my garage into a gym was a fucking masterstroke. Even on the laziest of lazy days I stroll in and hit the bench for 20 mins
    Do it, do it today!!!

    1. I say convert, about £600 worth of gear off ebay and various backyard sales got me a bench, a squat rack, bar for deadlifts, and literally hundreds of kilos in weights
      A lick of paint, an ipod and you’re set for life

      1. If you have the space. I’m not sure if I had to choose between a mechanics setup or this, which I would choose.

    2. I’m not ready to give up the gym but I think I’m going to build at least an area to do deadlifts and squats. On lazy days I would still be able to make it back to the garage.

      1. I don’t think I could ever do a gym. At hoe I can put food on the stove and work out whilst it cooks. For my wife and I, our job demands are so high that neither of us really has time to travel to and from a gym.

  4. You can get weights for usually $0.50 a pound on Craigslist, btw.
    I set up a home gym years ago and have never looked back. I went along with a buddy a few months ago to a commercial gym – what a fucking nightmare. Lines, Taylor Swift blasting… the only solace was that the squat rack was wide open cause everyone was benching and then checking themselves out in the mirror.

  5. Also worth mentioning: you can do a number of dumbbell and kettlebell exercises with your plates. I’m cheap as anything, so I haven’t built a home gym yet, but I do have a 6’x6′ foam matted area and a few of the plates with handles.
    You can swing ’em (tie them together with sturdy rope and swing the rope), curl ’em, press ’em, use ’em as platforms for deeper pushups, use them to make core exercises more difficult…
    The list goes on. It’s a nice way to supplement your big 3 lifts.

    1. Nice, I don’t have space for anything… I will have to move soon as the family grows, but I doubt I will be able to have the space for any sort of gym ever.

      1. If you are into the full solution, I’ve seen some impressive rack setups composed of 2×4’s, which served for the 3 lifts, pullups, and even plate-weighted cable pulling exercises. They tend to be about 3-4′ long by 4-6′ wide. As an added bonus, you can rig up swings or something so the kids have something to play with in their free time.
        I set up a matted area that I cover with carpets when company comes over. When it’s time to work out, I just move the carpets and the obligatory table (small thing to hold drinks or plates) off to the side and go to work. I also have a blank spot of wall where I do handstand pushups and a doorframe-mounted pullup bar.
        It can take as much or as little as you need.

        1. Mm I hear ya but like I said I don’t have space. Not even 1×1′ for that right now. Making children is expensive lol.
          People think Europe is some magical place where all your shit is paid. Unless you are a rapefugee nothing is free, everything you pay out of your own pocket but to fixed set prices. No competition allowed. Disgusting quite frankly

  6. Wish I had the space and time. That said good article Kullervo, and I hope to see more.

    1. Thank you!
      If you don’t have space, see if a friend has, and build something together at his place.

  7. impressive. nice piece.
    just a question for my fellow rok brethren; what are yall’s thoughts on bodyweight only exercise plans? I peeped a few of those cats on the BARbarians page on youtube and they look way more fit and way more strong than weight guys. anybody got any experience?

    1. You can definitely get strong with just bodyweight exercises. The only issue is when your body adapts to the stimuli. If you’re pounding out 50-60 pushups at a time, you’re pretty well adapted and won’t be putting on much muscle. To fix this, you will need to learn/incorporate new exercises and variations to existing exercises (think one-arm pushups, handstand pushups, etc). Al Kavadlo is a great resource for bodyweight exercises. I prefer a hybrid of bodyweight and weights; best of both worlds.

      1. Absolutely. I like the “Convict Conditioning” series of books, which lay out a number of stages for bodyweight exercises. Anyone who can master the highest level of each (one-arm pushups, handstand pushups, etc) has tremendous strength.
        However, if you want to extend your raw power beyond your own weight, you pretty much have to get something heavier. It’s especially important for those of us who aren’t already sitting close to 200 lbs (183 and falling, but I pretty much can’t go below 165 without losing either bone or muscle density).

      2. We exercise the same. 3 days weight room; 3 days bodyweight, sprints, soccer. Bodyweight exercises are dope. When it gets too easy, just tie a weight belt.

      3. thanks for the good advice my friend. quick question, have you ever seen those guys that do only bar exercises in city parks? man those dudes are beasts…still tryna work my way up to a 1/4 of their routine. but I like lifting though, always have since football. just don’t want to get an injury from over exertion in combining the two. what would you recommend as a good split between body weight and weight lifiting?

        1. It really depends on your goals. My ideal setup would be weightlifting 3x per week and body weight exercises focusing more on skill development 2x per week (think handstands, pistol squats, etc). Just listen to your body and if you feel close to injuring yourself, back off a bit.

        2. Those are unemployed guys living in the parks. Just barbell train and don’t try to be a park freak. You’ve seen the guys doing the insane things on bicycles too? So if you’re a casual cyclist, you shouldn’t try to be an internet freakshow. It takes 16 hours a day on bike. Do fundamental barbell training 3 times a week and move on.

        3. don’t know much about bikes, but I gotta disagree with you on ppl who bar train. they aren’t homeless bums living in the park getting ripped lol. just a few guys that came up with zero cost bodyweight exercises that can get you strong, lean, and ripped over time. and barbell training alone isn’t enough for me, if that’s your thing I can’t knock it. but I def gotta have more than that.

    2. I did it getting ready for USMC OCS… Bodyweight only exercises (pullups, pushups, dips, hollow rock hold, box jumps, etc) are good in terms of building initial strength.
      That said, I plateau’d out after a couple of years, and had some underdeveloped muscles due to improper programming.
      I found Olympic lifting 8 months ago (and an accompanying interval program which shall remain nameless), and I’ve broken every plateau since.
      Basically: do bodyweight workouts, BUT ALSO do squats, deadlifts, clean & jerks, and snatches. You will go far if you do.

        1. You know it. I just PR’d my jerks yesterday, will not be touching that for a few weeks.

        2. That is not really necessary. Progressive overload will challenge the body. If you switch exercises every day you won’t learn how to perform them properly.
          For example, Olympic lifters train the same exercise multiple times per week. The things that change are the number of sets and the weights. And it’s all programmed properly. That is how they make progress.

        3. We’re comparing apples and oranges. I’d argue that most Olympic athletes, particularly weightlifters, aren’t well-rounded. They’ve trained for a single, narrow event. They’re like surgeons who’ve specialized and can’t do general surgery.
          For Joe Average, who wants better health and lower bodyfat %, changing the exercise daily is key.

        4. How do you determine your progress then? I mean obviously average joe isnt squatting every day like an oly lifter or having 80%+ of his training volume in squat bench deadlift like powerlifters, but surely doing each exercise at least once a week with a logical set rep progression using progressive overload to hit a specific PR is superior to just arbitrarily training something different every day. That sounds disturbingly crossfit like.

        5. Broscience bullshit. “Progressive” weight training. It’s called “progressive” for a reason. You’ve been duped by people trying to make money out of exercise advice. Exercise is a very simple concept. Learn the full, compound lifts (Rippetoe) and then get stronger at them.

        6. Bullshit. Olympic weightlifters would be up in the 1 percentile for vertical leap and would also be incredibly fast runners, most of the time.

          He’s flipping 363 pounds up in the air lie it’s a broomstick and he’s a buck fifty two. You think he’s not an athlete?

        7. There’s more to good health than compound lifts. There’s sprinting, flexibility, and VO2 max. Pushing iron does nothing for those qualities.

        8. Even for the Average Joe. A relatively simple 5×5 program with progressive overload will get you great results. In fact, many people have gotten bigger and stronger on those programs.
          To be more well-rounded you can do some other sport. Some form of endurance training will help improve your health, for example. And lowering bodyfat % can be done by adjusting your diet.
          What would a program look like when you change the exercises all the time?

        9. More broscience. Pushing iron does nothing for flexibility? Laughable. Nothing for VO2 max? You are full of shit. Go do some planks.

        10. Calm down, we’re all on the same side here. You wanna be pissed off, there’s plenty of manosphere websites full of hate. Go to them.
          Clearly you’re on team meathead. Yes, professional weightlifters are athletes, but very specialized ones. Good luck running half a mile when you’re 5’10” and 280 lbs. Good luck demonstrating agility when you can’t bend over your own muscles to touch your toes. Our Paleolithic ancestor Grok didn’t need that kind of musculature. Grok needed VO2 and agility and strength — a balance of all three — when pursuing game across the savannah. That’s the only kind of body that I want. Most people feel the same.
          That said, I push iron three days a week, have done so for years. It’s essential. But without sprints, box jumps, high-interval training, yoga, biking, swimming, etc — I’m not making full use of my body.

        1. Full disclosure (mentioned this in a previous post)… medically discharged halfway through OCS after fracturing my right ankle and tearing ligaments off on a ruck march. Waiver to get back in was denied.
          To answer your questions, I’d recommend the following:
          Use a five day plan for your workouts, save the weekends for stretching and rest only.
          Spend two days on Pullups and bodyweight exercises (pushups, dips, planks/hollow rock hold). If you wanna get good at pullups, look up either the Armstrong program or the Recon Ron program. If you can’t do one pullup yet, or have difficulty with doing many, then do negative pullups (jump up to the bar and slowly lower yourself down) or use a band to take some of the weight out of the pullup.
          *note on the bodyweight days, do NOT do them back to back, you’ll overtrain and will have a bad time*
          Spend two days on weightlifting. I recommend learning how to do deadlifts, front squats, and back squats. If you want to be adventurous, learn how to do power cleans and snatches (learn from someone who has good form). These lifts are good for all around strength and good confidence builders.
          *weightlifting note #1: don’t do all of these movements each weightlifting day, pick two and do sets of 3×5 or 5×5 with appropriate weight*
          *weightlifting note #2: make sure, before you start learning how to front or back squat, that you learn how to squat appropriately (full depth, appropriate leg width, where your knees end up). Only once you can do air squats or squats with light weight with good form should you move up.
          Finally, save the 5th day for explosiveness. Use a rower or do sprints for short distances, and do box jumps as well.
          *do dynamic stretches before each workout, always warmup, do static stretches once you’re done*
          Hopefully this helps… it’s been awhile since I’ve programmed my own workouts, but this is how I’d do it personally.

  8. It would have been more appropriate to say “20 year olds in spandex taking innumerable gym selfies for innumerable Likes and Comments from her Beta Brigade while she brags about another “intense gym sesh” stop-start jogging on the treadmill after her yoga class”. There, fixed.

  9. ” You, however, will be kicked out for dropping your clean-and-jerks”
    What does that mean?

      1. There is a legit reason for that (well somewhat at least). Some plates aren’t meant to be dropped. As far as I know, only bumper plates (the kind used in Crossfit) and Olympic Plates (the ones measured in Kilos) are meant to be dropped.
        But as we all know, no one who works the desk at Planet fitness knows the difference between these plates.

  10. Equipment doesn’t have to be very expensive. You can get great deals on second hand hardware. Gyms go belly up all time, for example, and those are your best bet. A good quality bar is very important. Those are not cheap, but they do last very long if treated properly.

    1. Exactly. I got a couple of barbells from a gym that was renewing their equipment. They are not in the best shape anymore, but will do great for powerlifting. All you have to do it ask somewhere.

  11. Go to Planet Fitness. This will build your rage up to a point that you can go home and workout with amazing intensity.

      1. Even the set up there is hideous with dim lighting and a barf inducing purple and yellow color scheme. I’m surprised that the hefties on the treadmills don’t set off the lunk alarms.

        1. I’m surprised those treadmills can support a 1000 pounds without collapsing to a pile of rubble.

  12. My last home’s gym was set up in the garage. The cat’s litter box was in there and he’d specifically wait until I started working out to take a horrendous dump.
    You ever do Insanity to the smell of cat shit? It’s like having it on Expert Mode, even after you clean it up. Eyes all tearing up, coughing. All of a sudden doing Mountain Climbers makes you feel like you’re climbing Shit Mountain.

    1. Physical exertion increases your sense of smell. It’s an evolutionary adaption from the hunting days… and probably because your breathing rate increases.

      1. Interesting! That’s one of those things I didn’t know but makes sense when I think about it.

      1. I incorporate everything into my routines each week. P90X, Insanity, free weight workouts I find online, everything. Then I change it up every few months. I’m in my mid 30s and I’m in better shape than everybody I know.
        Besides projecting, what do you do?
        Edit: Never mind, I just looked up your profile and you’re just some asswipe that thinks he knows everything. Not even worth the time.

        1. I lift iron. I don’t prance around like a bunny rabbit. You know that you’re being a fag. Somewhere in your heart of hearts, you know that dancing around like a girl is wrong. Stoppit. Lift iron and quit acting like a dancing faggot.

  13. “Adjustable dumbbells are pain in the ass to use and solid ones would end up costing a fortune.”
    The Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells seen in the background of the first photo are simply awesome – easy to use, solid and reasonably priced. They work great in my home setup.

  14. A home gym is the way to go. A power rack can be purchased for $200, with the bench and bar for another 250 total. I did it.
    Convenient and inexpensive in the long run.

  15. Something like this is extremely versatile:
    http://www.roguefitness.com/rogue-yoke
    Add the safety spotters for bench pressing and you’re good to go.
    Good article, agree with buying a good bar. Cheap bars are guaranteed to bend eventually, especially if dropped into the spotter pins.
    Buy stall mats at TSC for flooring-cheap, thick and heavy duty.
    Buy weights used (I got mine at a salvage yard).
    Read Mark Rippetoes Starting Strength for learning technique.
    If funds permit, a pair of weightlifting shoes are very nice, particularly for squatting.

  16. Rack and barbell. You don’t even need a bench. Just do standing military presses.
    Deadlift
    Squat
    Press
    Power clean
    Pullups
    Wind sprints
    Hike
    That’s it.

  17. Iron gym-pull up bar and Fat gripz. If you are able to do 4 sets of 10 wide grip pull-ups with 60s of rest between sets, you’re fit enough.

  18. One of the many reasons why living in big cities like NYC in my case is more and more a disadvantage. Unless you own a home in queens or Staten Island

  19. being at the gym listening to mainstream garbage, while all the weak idiots peek at each other. awkward. its just a social gathering of disgusting people. i rather train alone in peace without all the bluepill idiots around me. disgusting narcissistic atmosphere from all the braindead morons.

  20. It can’t be stressed enough, the one exercise that can kill you working out alone is the bench. If you don’t have a spotter you have to bench within the power rack with safety bars just below where the bar hit will touch your uplifted chest. You don’t want to drop a 250 bar on your neck or face or have it pin you down when you miss the last rep. Rippetoe’s Starting Strength has additional safety warnings, also a detailed diagram for building your own home rack.

  21. I was lucky to go to a school that still had a PE program that was taught by our football coach. The coach used our PE period to get the football players an hour of weightlifting. We had great equipment and a large gym.
    I went to a gym right out of HS and while it was OK it was a gym and I had to tack 45 minutes to each side of my workout to get there, dress out, return and get to the rest of my day. The downside of having a home gym is you have to watch out for fuckaroundites. My sons both played football in HS and never took advantage of my home gym but now that both are in college and have jobs, we’ve been working out together. That’s a real treat!
    I’ve had home gyms in every house I’ve lived in starting when I lived at home. After my first tax return I bought a cheap bench and some of that concrete/plastic weight. My first roommate and I welded up a quality bench and used that for a couple years. After a short amount of time we started to collect weight. There’s always someone wanting to get rid of the weight they’ve stopped using and are tripping over.
    One thing I was always lacking in was a pulldown. I bought a cheap machine at one point that turned out to be a waste of money. After I bought my house I bought a half cage, a nice bench and a nice Olympic bar set. I also have a lot of Olympic weight people have let go of, along with their shapes. I eventually bought a pulldown attachment for the cage. The only thing to consider when buying a pulldown for a half cage is it will make it useless for doing overhead presses, especially for my son’s who are both 6’3. I can get away with it but height restrictions become a factor with taller people in a garage.
    The way I see it, you have to have a home gym if you have anything going on in your life.

  22. One tip on the mats, I ended up using horse stall mats in my garage. Still rubberized, but hard. I also don’t drop my weights

  23. Good point about avoiding the big chains.
    I recently signed up to a family-owned cheap gym charging $10 a month. It is cheap and rough, but that is the gym where all the really jacked guys go and the female presence is at a minimum. At heart, all you need is some good weights. Saunas, spas, and the like are useless.

  24. One of the Best Decisions I’ve ever made was to build my At-Home Gym!
    I’ve had some great experiences over the years at a couple of good hardcore gyms; one was even owned by a pro bodybuilder. But as life changes, and you move to different places, you encounter the commercial gyms – what a nightmare!… Shit music, no work ethic, etc. – When you factor in the gym membership costs, the commute, the absolute frustration of the commercial gym experience, the negatives greatly outweigh benefits.
    Getting back to Basics is the key! My attitude has changed dramatically since I built my home gym… I can walk down the hallway, turn on Real Music, or none at all, and have a killer workout! I cannot put a price-tag on the amount of Time, Stress and Frustration this has saved me!
    This can be done on a budget also… check Craigslist for used equipment, purchase rubber mats from Tractor Supply, handles/accessories from Amazon etc. and get to Bangin’!!!

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