Home Gym Essentials Checklist: What You Should Have


Building the home gym of your dreams is perfectly achievable with proper planning, and even home gym assembly doesn’t have to be daunting if you’ve got the right equipment.

As long as you don’t have a tiny apartment where there really isn’t enough space, there’s room for gym equipment in most houses. If you’re forced to work with relatively little square footage, you’ll just need to get even more creative.

The benefits of owning a home gym are endless. Think of it as building a space where you’ll undergo immense personal growth. You’ll cut down on wasted time, too, since you’ll no longer need to head to the gym and back. Although the upfront cost is greater, you’ll save money in the long run by canceling your monthly gym membership.

Let’s look at how you can get a functional home gym tailored to your needs.

Gym Essentials Checklist

A quick note: the following equipment is only listed as a way of sparking your thought process. Before buying anything, think long and hard about your fitness goals. Focus on equipment that furthers these goals, and don’t waste your money on anything that doesn’t.

1) Dumbbells

As the most commonly-owned home gym equipment, dumbbells are small but deceptively powerful and versatile. You can buy a whole set if that’s in your budget, but if not, just start with one or two. You can always expand your collection later.

Think about your fitness goals and make sure you buy dumbbells with appropriate weight. Too little weight won’t do much good, but starting off with too much weight could lead to injury.

2) Barbells

Investing in a barbell and plates will take your weight training to the next level. When someone mentions a barbell, your mind probably goes right to bench presses, deadlifts, and squats.

While these moves are true classics, there’s so much more you can do with a barbell and plates. You can isolate and exercise almost any body part with this simple but highly effective equipment.

Barbells come in a range of configurations:

  • Standard Barbell: This all-purpose bar is ideal for recreational use in a home gym.
  • Weightlifting Bar: If you’re lifting heavier weights, step things up to a proper lifting bar.
  • Power Bar: For heavy lifts and power lifting, you’ll want a dedicated bar.

What makes the best barbell for you depends entirely on your fitness target and the style of lifting you prefer.

3) Squat Rack and Stand

A decent squat rack or squat stand is a crucial focal point of any home gym. This simple but devastatingly efficient piece of equipment allows you to perform a far broader range of exercises than just squats, so don’t be put off by the name.

Squat racks and squat stands serve slightly different workout purposes and differ in price.

Squat Rack

A rack normally comes with plate holders. You’ll often get a pull-up bar as well, which is another wonderful addition to your home gym. Racks are incredibly rugged and sturdy, but on the flipside, they’re pricey and eat up a lot of real estate in the gym.

If you just haven’t got the space or the budget for a squat rack, consider a squat stand.

Squat Stand

Requiring slightly less assembly, squat stands are cheaper than their rack counterparts, too. A stand’s functionality is much more limited, but you’ll also need far less space to accommodate it. This is a smart solution in compact gyms.

Space and budget dictate which type of squat rig will make the best fit for you, so choose accordingly.

4) Pull-Up Bar

We mentioned that some squat racks come equipped with pull-up bars. If you opt for a stand instead, or you don’t have a dedicated bar, you should remedy that. Many pull-ups bars simply fit within your door frame, so you’ve got the motivation in place to do a few reps every time you walk underneath it.

Whatever variant of pull-up you attempt, you’ll get plenty of use out of this home gym staple. Tracking progress through reps is straightforward, and these bars are relatively cheap as well. Just ensure that you install it properly, because it will need to take your full body weight.

5) Kettlebells

Kettlebells allow you to inject a little more versatility into your workout than regular dumbbells permit. They come in a broad range of configurations and work very well in limited spaces. You can perform a range of movements without needing too much room.

6) Medicine Ball

You might remember the medicine ball from gym class. Used well, it can be a potent addition to any home gym at an extremely reasonably price-point. You won’t need much room to stash a medicine ball, so these work well in apartment gyms.

You can train almost any body part with this versatile equipment, so decide whether this makes a good fit with your training routine. If you’re looking to train your whole body, medicine balls are well worth adding to your home gym.

7) Suspension Training System

While a suspension training system might not be the most effective way to pack on serious muscle, this type of take-anywhere equipment is ideal for anyone with a busy lifestyle who’s always on the road.

There’s no complex home gym assembly to worry about, and you’ll be able to enjoy a vigorous workout using only your own body weight.

Your dream home gym

All you need to make the dream of a home gym a reality is time, proper planning, and a reasonable budget. There’s no need to go all-out with home gym assembly right away. Start with a few central pieces of equipment and build out slowly over time. You’ll find it’s well worth the effort.

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