When you think home gym, the first thought is often: That’s expensive. Gym equipment certainly isn’t cheap, but you might be surprised what you can get for $1000.
It’s possible to built a home gym for that provides all the exercise options you want for less than $1000. It’s necessary to make a few compromises to stay within budget though. Making sure you get equipment that’s multifunctional and shop second hand.
There are a lot of things that to think about when creating the best free weights home gym within any budget. Our $1000 is no different so keep reading to find out what compromises you might have to make by spending this amount.
Is $1000 enough to build a home gym?
Home gyms can be very expensive. It’s very easy to spend many multiples of $1000. Even if you look at the recommended pages on this site, you’ll go over that amount pretty easily. The recommended equipment on this website has a good balance between quality, features and price.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get good stuff if you want to spend less though. There are a ton of equipment options from reputable brands that are cheap but still provide great quality and enough features to build a great gym.
The equipment recommended below, still has great quality and a very good price. It might miss some features versus its more expensive counterparts but together you’ll still have a completely functional gym.
Not everyone wants the same thing though. That’s why I’ve made 4 example setups here. What’s best for you really depends on your goals.
#1: $1000 home gym weight room
This setup is for the serious weightlifter that wants to get big and strong. All the equipment you need to get there is in this setup.
- Power cage/squat stands
- Weight plates
This is a barbell setup. That means of course we need a barbell. It will be used for almost all the exercises in this setup. That means it’s worth it to get a good one since you will be touching and using it all the time.
To adjust the weight you’re lifting, you’re going to need a set of weight plates. You want a variety of different weights to tailor the weight to the exercise.
For some exercises the barbell has to be held at a certain height. For example, for squats, overhead presses and bench presses, you don’t want to lift the barbell from the floor. A power rack or barbell stands do exactly this.
There are two choices; a power rack or barbell stands. A power rack is a full cage with four upright posts. Barbell stands have two posts. The first option is safer and sturdier but also more expensive and takes up more space.
Finally you need a bench. Having a bench, especially an adjustable one, opens up more exercise options like the bench press.
For under $1000 you can’t have everything. To make sure the equipment we have is decent, it’s better to focus on those key items and not spread our budget too thin. So there are a few things missing that could make this setup even more complete;
- Cardio machine: While not all cardio machines are very expensive, a decent one costs more than we have left in our budget.
- Dumbbells: Dumbbells are great for even more exercise options, especially lighter isolation exercises. A full set of dumbbells or even a set of adjustable dumbbells will cost much more than we have left in our budget. While we don’t have dumbbells, there are weight plates. There are quite a few exercises where you can use the plates as you would a dumbbell.
- Accessories: Resistance bands, kettlebells, timer, etc.
While these items are missing, they are easy to add on later. By getting this setup, you have a very solid base to build from later.
Power cage/squat stands(~$300): You need something to put the barbell on. A power cage or squat rack both do the job. A power cage is slightly more expensive and bigger but also safer. A decent power cage only costs about $50 more than a good barbell stand. So for a little bit extra money, you get more safety and generally a sturdier piece of equipment. However, if you don’t have the space, a barbell stand is fine.
The Fitness Reality 810XLT is a good option in this case. It’s sturdy, affordable and doesn’t have to be bolted down like many others. Check it out on Amazon
Bench (~$110): We definitely want an adjustable bench (adjustable backrest) for this setup. Because we have to make some sacrifices at some points, we can’t get the absolute best bench.
In this price range the Fitness Reality 1000 (Amazon link) is hard to beat. Great specs, 800 lbs. load limit, good adjustability options and it folds up so you can store it in a small space.
If you’re bench pressing very heavy (300 lbs+), it might be necessary to upgrade. In that case the Steelbody Deluxe is a very good step up but costs about $50 extra.
Barbell(~$150): XMark builds a range of barbells. It’s a good brand with good customer service which is lacking from a lot of the foreign brands. There are two options from XMark;
Barbell #1: XMark 700 lbs. barbell (Amazon link). A 7’ Olympic barbell with 28 mm diameter shaft and 2” sleeves. The load limit is 700 lbs. This isn’t the highest quality barbell but it’s plenty good enough for the vast majority of home gyms. It also easily fits in our budget. The bar is protected from corrosion by a coating so it will stay in good condition for a long time.
Barbell #2(Upgrade): The XMark Crow bar.(Amazon Link) This bar has an overall higher quality and load limit. Just better materials, quality control, engineering, etc. The load limit of this bar is 1500 lbs. Which should be more than enough for any human. Is it worth the extra money over #1? That depends on what you ask from a barbell. If you lift very heavy it’s worth it. Otherwise you’re just getting a bit better quality and better looks. Nice to have but not strictly necessary. #1 is of course cheaper as well.
Weight plates(~$430): Now the last part is the weight plates. The problem with weight plates is that you basically pay per pound and everyone lifts a different amount of maximum weight. Weight plates are heavy and therefore actually pretty expensive, especially if you’re lifting higher weights.
Starting with just the weights you need and building from there is the right choice. You’ll likely have to invest a little bit extra over time as you get stronger. At the moment, weight plates and dumbbells are insanely expensive. Over time the prices should come down. So for now, just get the minimum you need and buy more later.
The CAP barbell grip plates (Amazon link) are the best cheap option that’s available. They are simple cast iron plates but do have grip holes so you could use them as makeshift dumbbells.
Accessories (~$10): There is one accessory that should you should really consider with this setup even if it would fall slightly outside the budget and that is; barbell collars. These are the things you clamp on the sleeves to prevent your weight plates from falling off.
Simple barbell spring clips (Amazon link) only cost around $10 and really make your weightlifting a lot safer.
#2: $1000 Home dumbbell setup
If you’re not into lifting heavy weights, foregoing the barbell, weight plates and rack for a set of dumbbells is a great idea. You save some space and money you can use for other equipment that fits your goals better.
This is a setup that’s great for general strength, health and conditioning.
Dumbbells tend to be lighter but with the right workout program they can certainly build muscle and can be used for more different exercises as well. So it’s a very flexible setup. The bench is still necessary for a lot of exercises
Since you’re likely after a well-rounded physique but also conditioning, a cardio machine is a great addition to this setup. Lowering your body fat percentage is going to show off your new muscle. Because we are not getting some of the equipment mentioned in the first setup, we have money left over for a simple cardio machine.
- Cardio machine
Dumbbells(~$650): A full set of dumbbells (pairs 5 to 50 lbs.) is an awesome thing. It’s also really expensive. Because of Covid, the prices of dumbbells have gone up quite a bit. So much that it’s actually out of budget where it wasn’t before. Hopefully the prices will come down over time.
For now, adjustable dumbbells are more suitable option. Since they are a lot cheaper, we have enough money left in the budget to buy the other equipment we need. There are two good options for adjustable dumbbells;
PowerBlock EXP Stage 1: Really cool adjustable dumbbells that are adjustable from 5 to 50 lbs. Sturdy construction and easy adjustment. Also very reasonably priced compared to some other models.
They are also extendable later to 70 lbs. or even 90 lbs. later on if necessary. This is really cool to be able to do. Many other adjustable dumbbells don’t have this options
Yes4All Screw collar dumbbells: If you want something even cheaper, get a set with screw collars. This means you don’t have a slider or dial to adjust the weight but have to unscrew the collar and put other weight plates on it. It’s much more time consuming to use but it’s significantly cheaper.
Bench (~$110): The same bench as for the first setup is suitable here. The adjustability means it’s flexible and usable for many different exercises.
Cardio machine(~$230): If we go for a set of adjustable dumbbells, you can still get a lower end cardio machine. Cheaper treadmills are usually not the best quality. You’re likely better off with an exercise bike. Exercise bikes tend to be a bit cheaper.
For this amount of money, the best cardio workout you’re going to get is an air bike. This means you’re moving a big fan. This type of bike always matches the resistance to the effort you put in. That means you can go really hard or do a more relaxed workout. The Marcy Air bike is the best option in this situation. Check the current price on Amazon
#3: $1000 All-in-one home gym
Maybe you’re not a fan of free weights (barbells and dumbbells). But you still want to build some muscle. An all-in-one home gym is a good option. This type of machine combines a ton of different exercises into one single piece of equipment.
That means this single machine can provide you with a complete full body workout. It makes life easy and you don’t have to worry about buying a ton of equipment.
Of course all the exercise options mean that these are quite complicated machines. This means the price is quite high. I wouldn’t recommend going for the cheapest option either since those tend to have fewer exercise options, resistance and quality. For a little under $1000 there are a few good options available though.
It’s still good to have gym flooring or at least a rubber mat under the machine as well.
- All-in-one multi-gym
All-in-one multi-gym: You might remember them from cheesy TV commercials, but Bowflex actually makes good home gyms for a very reasonable price. They are cheaper than similar machines with similar quality and exercise options. That’s because they use metal rods for tensions instead of weight plates. That saves a lot of money in material cost meaning a lower price for you. There are actually a few options in our price range;
- Bowflex Blaze
- Bowflex PR1000
- Bowflex PR3000
- Bowflex Xceed
The PR3000 is the best one but also so close to our $1000 budget that there is no money left over for flooring and/or accessories.
The Bowflex Blaze is the best option for our situation. It is super flexible with 60+ exercise options, it’s upgradable from 210 lbs. of resistance up to 410 lbs., flat bench press, sliding seat for rowing exercises and folding seat so it takes up less space when not in use. It’s also priced so there is still some money left over for flooring and accessories.
Accessories: Now we still have some money left over for accessories. This way you can tailor your home gym to what you want exactly. Kettlebells for extra free weights, resistance bands, a jump rope, ab wheel, etc. Most gym accessories are still within budget.
#4: $1000 Cardio focused home gym
Don’t have much interest in building muscle but want to get a good cardio workout done? This setup is much more focused on cardio exercise than anything else although through the accessories you choose, you can still work on your muscle as well.
A cardio machine of your choice and a few well-chosen accessories can provide what you need. For a little under $1000 you can get a good mid-range cardio machine. Treadmills and elliptical machines can be bought for that kind of money. A great rowing machine is an option although you won’t have much money left over for accessories. Exercise bikes tend to be quite a bit cheaper.
So you can see that you have plenty of options and it really depends on your preference.
The accessories can help you to tone some of the muscle groups you want. A single kettlebell can actually be used for a full-body workout. So if you’re only going to add one thing, a kettlebell is a good option. For the same price of a single kettlebell, you can also get a full set of resistance bands or a whole range of other accessories.
- Cardio machine
- Accessories (Kettlebells, resistance bands, ab wheel, etc.)
Cardio machine: Within our budget, we have plenty of choice for cardio machines. Maybe not the top of the line ones but certainly some good options. Here are some suggestions for the most popular types of machine;
- Treadmill: The price range of treadmills is very wide. So there is almost always something you in the price range you choose. For our budget the NordicTrack treadmills have a good balance of quality, features and customer service. Check the current price on Amazon.
- Elliptical: The Proform Hybrid trainer is a really cool combination of an elliptical trainer and recumbent bike. It’s high quality and versatile. Check the current price on Amazon.
- Rowing machine: The best rowing machine is the Concept2 Model D. It’s just within budget but you won’t have any money left for anything else. Another good option is the Fitness Reality 3000WR (Amazon link)
- Exercise bike: Almost all exercise bikes are within our budget. Schwinn has some awesome options in different styles that are easily within budget.
- Schwinn IC3 (Spin bike Amazon)
- Schwinn 170 (upright Amazon)
- Schwinn 270 (recumbent Amazon)
Accessories: Depending on the cardio machine you choose, there might be some money left over for a few accessories. If you want a single piece of equipment that can build some muscle, kettlebells or resistance bands are great additions to a cardio machine.
In some cases a set of light dumbbells is even possible.
Other pieces of a home gym
The setups above only have the basic equipment. There are some pieces of a home gym that aren’t included in the setups above.
There are a few things that are not included in this budget;
- Full flooring
No, not talking about theoretical physics here. In this budget, the space or room in your house isn’t counted in the budget. If a space in your current house is used, you’re already paying for it and changing its purpose to a home gym doesn’t mean you have to pay any extra. Of course it’s the most expensive part of your home gym but you won’t be paying cash for it to build it.
The other part that’s not included is the time investment. Doing research, buying things, assembling everything and putting it in the right places all take time. As we all know; time is money. If that is something worth thinking about really depends on your personal situation.
In my opinion a mirror is an essential part of any gym, especially in a gym where you work with free weights. Free weights are great and can yield amazing results if used correctly. The flipside of that is that they carry a higher injury risk. If you perform exercises with free weights in the wrong way, you can possibly hurt yourself.
In a home gym, there are no trainers or other people that can correct you and prevent you from hurting yourself. A mirror can help you get visual feedback so you can improve your form by yourself.
Big mirrors are quite expensive though. It would take up most of our $1000 budget by itself. Getting the equipment first and adding mirrors later when you feel its necessary is possible. However, it’s easier to install mirrors before putting gym equipment in a room.
Flooring is not something that’s used to work out directly but it does improve your home gym quite a bit.
Gym flooring protects your equipment and the floor underneath. Gym flooring is easier to clean so it stays more hygienic especially in a spot where you sweat a lot.
Also, if you’re throwing weights around in a gym, a gym flooring will considerably lower the noise level. Because the flooring provides a soft surface your weights land on which creates less noise in the first place. But also because rubber or foam absorbs a lot of noise.
All these things just make your home gym a lot more comfortable to use. If you use nice flooring it looks much better too.