weights are heavy... and expensive...
You've probably seen all the other pins on Pinterest talking about building a home gym with "no weights", "minimal equipment", etc... But what if you LIKE using the big stuff? This is the exact issue I had. Weights are fun, but because they are heavy they are also pricey. I started out with all the "typical", "cheap" things that you see on those Pinterest lists like a mat, stability ball, mini bands, etc. But I knew deep down that I NEEDED more.
The list below shows the exact order I purchased things and the prices I paid!
Dumbbells were priority number one for me, and they were one of the most intimidating purchases too because of the expense and because there's just so many types! To not clutter our basement, I decided to find a set of adjustable dumbbells. To not break the bank, I also decided to buy these dumbbells USED because really, a weight is a weight. It doesn't matter if it's scuffed, rusty etc, all it's doing is weighing you down. On average, you will pay AT LEAST a dollar a pound for the most basic dumbbells (new), but when buying them used, I was able to get about 200 lbs of weight for only $100. I found this deal by scouring Craigslist (Facebook marketplace didn't exist back then) until I finally found a used set of dumbbells really similar to these. Once I brought those home, I thought I would be set for awhile, until I decided to bench press with them.
At first, I thought I could get away with benching on my stability ball, but there was just no way for me to keep my neck in a comfortable position for that long. So... next on my list was a flat weight bench. I am pretty sure I tried to find a bench like this on Craigslist, but when I couldn't find anything used, I went to Amazon. I still have this bench today and it works great, but every so often I do need to retighten the bolts.
3. BARBELL (#1)
I love barbells. Working with them makes you feel like a bad ass, and they are just so convenient when you want to pick up heavy stuff like I was used to doing. My college gym had beautiful Olympic bars, plates and racks and I had no idea that there was any other type. I looked up these Olympic barbells (2" diameter on the ends) online and was shocked by their price. So, I then discovered standard bars and plates (1" diameter on the ends). These bars would be a perfect fit for the weight plates that I already had from my adjustable dumbbells, so I decided to buy a bar for deadlifting. The bar I chose was the cheapest I could find and also the shortest (in order to save space).
4. SQUAT RACK
So I could bench, I could deadlift, I could do any accessory work I wanted with dumbbells, but I couldn't really squat like I wanted to. Sure I could put dumbbells up on my shoulders, do goblet squats, or overhead press the bar up on my shoulders, but my shoulders then limited how much weight I could use. This dilemma really got to me (to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore) about 3 months after buying my dumbbells and so my quest started for a rack. This was definitely going to be my biggest purchase, so I made sure to do my research. I didn't need anything fancy, but I wanted something that would keep me SAFE. To me, that meant a power rack (four corners that "box" you in) rather than just a squat rack (only two supports for the barbell). At the time I purchased my rack, it was NOT available on Amazon, but here it is now, even with free shipping (which I didn't get 5 years ago). This specific power rack from Titan Fitness was easy to assemble and HEAVY, a great safety feature. It has a pull up bar, safeties, and was easy to assemble for my husband and I. I have even taken this rack apart and moved it to a new basement, and we had no issues at all!
This was definitely the biggest purchase, but it was also the most useful and paid for itself easily. Right now you can get it for $335, so let's do the math. At the time I am writing this article, Goole says that the average cost for a gym membership is $58 per month.
$335 / $58 = 5.77 months. Say what?
You can make up the cost of that squat rack in 6 months??? Even if you live somewhere that a gym membership is HALF that, you could still make up the cost of the squat rack in a year. And who knows, maybe you can even find a used power rack near you for cheaper!
5. BARBELL (#2)
Remember how I bought a short barbell in step 3 to save space? This decision bit me in the butt really... Please keep in mind that you need a 7' barbell (not 6') in order to make it span the width of a squat or power rack. This is the exact reason I now have two barbells (this is the 7' bar I bought). One stays on the floor for deadlifts, and one stays in my power rack for benching and squatting.
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6. PULL-UP BANDS
Without an assisted pull up machine, how was I supposed to work up to a full pull up? Bands. Simple as that! Again, I did my research on these bands and based off my bodyweight (around 140 lbs) and ability, I decided on a green, purple and red band. These are way cheaper than an assisted pull up machine right???
7. SUSPENSION TRAINER
Notice how I didn't say TRX here? That's because I was NOT going to pay the price for a name brand system. Although the exact brand I have is not available on Amazon anymore, there's lots of great options that my clients have found, like this one specifically (same price as what I paid for mine, and way cheaper than a $200 TRX!)
8. BOSU BALL
At this point in my fitness journey, I knew I was lacking in the area of stability (because I was going through my personal training certification)... Once I learned what a bosu ball is and learned how they can change almost any exercise and turn it into something totally new, I was sold! It is now one of my favorite pieces, even more used than my stability ball!
Total damage (over the span of 9 months or so) = $1,200
Let's go back to that calculation from before. If Google says that the average gym membership is $58 a month...
$1,200 / $58 = 20.7 months to make up your cost.
That's under two years! I bet that you have been lifting in a gym for at least 6 months if you're reading this, so you're a quarter of the way there! Wouldn't your money be spent in a better place (like your own home) rather than a gym?
Now I am not going to lie and say that I do not want anything else for my home gym... In fact, I have upgraded my dumbbells (but I still bought them used through Facebook marketplace!), and I do dream of buying Olympic barbells and plates... But until that day comes, I am perfectly happy with the home gym I created because it has given me all the tools I need to progress in my fitness journey!
Do you have any specific things you love in your home gym? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Pin now and come back later!
My name is Laura and I help overly tired 20something women overhaul their lives, energy and confidence without overwhelm.
Although I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and write to the best of my knowledge on fitness, nutrition and lifestyle practices, I cannot be made liable to know all information on a particular subject. Knowledge gained through this blog is to be used at your own risk and all lifestyle changes should be discussed with a doctor before starting.
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