Let's face it, trekking to the gym every day can be exhausting. Even if you live near your local gym, you need to travel, check in, head to the lockers, and find a spot before you can even begin your workout. Many people are left wondering: couldn't I just do my workouts at home? If that sounds like you, you've come to the right place. We've done our research and chatted with experts to find out how to build your own home weights gym.
We have a step-by-step guide to building a home gym. We'll also get into all of the equipment you need for a home gym, including the best adjustable dumbbells, state-of-the-art benches, and useful accessories like gloves, mirrors, and mats. There are also a few tips from weightlifting pros about how to create and stick to a home lifting routine. New to weightlifting? Check out our guide on weightlifting for beginners.
Planning and personalization
One of the main benefits of having a home gym is that you can personalize it to your tastes. No longer will you have to put up with awkwardly shaped dumbbells or complicated machinery, as you'll be able to fill the space with your favorite bits of kit.
This is key when it comes to the design; make sure that you only buy things that you will definitely use. It might even be a good idea to visit your local gym a few times to see which equipment you like best; do you think you need a row of kettlebells, or do you prefer dumbbells and barbells?
Before you start purchasing, you will also need to map out your space. Ideally, you'll have a large room or section of a room where you can organize your equipment and perform workouts – but all you really need is an empty wall and clear floor space.
Once you've set aside your space, there are two main things to consider; how you'll store your equipment and whether or need a mirror to monitor your form. For storage, we'd recommend a good rack to keep your weights in order. And if you do want a mirror, mount it onto a wall to make sure it's properly secure.
If you begin blindly looking for weights online, you'll quickly become overwhelmed. However, while there are plenty of options, your home gym equipment doesn't need to be complicated.
"The key things you'll need are a selection of dumbbells so you can increase and decrease weight if you need," says Charlotte Brown, personal trainer and fitness expert at Innermost.
We recommend getting a selection of dumbbells that will suit strength and endurance types of weight training workouts. With a few sets of lighter weights that are between 0.5kg and 5kg, you'll be able to perform a lot of reps to slowly build endurance. With heavier dumbbells of around 10kg to 20kg, you'll be able to perform strength-building exercises to increase muscle mass.
Brown suggests getting a bench, too, though for beginners this may not be necessary. Other useful pieces of equipment include:
- Gloves for heavier weightlifting sessions
- A mat to protect your knees and other joints
- Kettlebells and barbells
- Resistance bands
- Chalk to help with grip, if you're not using gloves
If you want to throw some cardio into your workouts, it's worth investing in something like one of the best rowing machines or one of the best exercise bikes. These bits of kit are fairly low impact, so they provide an easy way to get your heart rate up without putting too much stress on your joints. They do take up a lot of room though, so make sure you have the space for them before buying.
Following a routine
Hopefully, you have access to a simple weights at home workout routine, whether you're working with a personal trainer or with online guided weightlifting videos.
"For a beginner, two workouts per week would be sufficient," says Paul Jenkins, founder of DNA Lean. "I would advise training upper body on one day, and lower body on another. This would mean doing less volume per muscle group, and more muscle groups per workout. The overarching goal would be to train every muscle group within a weekly cycle." More advanced lifters might aim for four sessions a week.
Even with a plan in place, it can be hard to stick to the routine. "To get into a routine, you need to make it a habit," says Brown. "Even on the days you don’t fancy it, go for it!" Brown recommends taking note of how you feel about your workout each day. Do you find yourself more energized in the morning or the evening? The more you understand about your habits and preferences, the more you can tailor your routine to your needs.
If you're still in need of a little more encouragement, read through our piece on how to prepare for a workout, which should get you in the zone.
Working out with weights comes with a few risks – especially when you're doing it at home. Here are tips from Brown on staying safe in your home weights gym:
- Clear space to avoid working near hazards
- Use a mirror or a camera to keep an eye on your form
- Have a spotter present for heavy lifting sessions
- Only attempt exercises you feel safe doing
- Use a mat if you have hard floors to keep your joints protected
- Make sure your storage is secure and sturdy.
Weightlifting is a great way to boost your fitness regime and build strength, but getting to the gym several times a week can make it feel unrealistic. With a home weights gym, you can add weight training to your routine from the comfort of your living room. Soon enough, you'll be lifting like a pro.
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Meg Walters is a freelance journalist and features writer. Raised in Canada and based in South East London, Meg covers culture, entertainment, lifestyle, and health. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, i-D, Refinery29, Stylist, GQ, Shondaland, Healthline, HelloGiggles and other publications.
When she's not writing, Meg is probably daydreaming about traveling the world, re-watching an old rom-com with a glass of wine, or wasting time on Twitter, where you can follow her @wordsbymeg.