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.
By picking the right Power rack, dumbbells, barbell and weight plates that work well together, you can build a home gym 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.
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.
Need a bit more help building your home gym? Check out my eBook! It tells you exactly how to create the perfect home gym in a small space.
What do you need to build a home gym?
So to know how to build a home gym on a certain budget, we need to know which pieces of equipment we need to get. Different types of gyms require different types of equipment.
Type of gym
In this post I’m talking about a free weights home gym. That means there are no all in one solutions here. This gym will have all the equipment you need to perform the vast majority of free weights exercises.
Squats and variations, deadlifts, presses, rows, etc. All of the big lifts and a whole lot of the smaller ones can be done with the equipment you’ll see below.
This type of gym can be used for many different styles of lifting. Bodybuilding, powerlifting, cross fit, etc.
What do you need for a free weights gym?
- Weight plates
- Pull up bar
- Jump rope
How can we get all of these pieces of equipment for under $1000? Keep reading to find out what to look out for and which options you have.
Prices of equipment change over time so the total price might change a little. At the time of writing the total of this gym is just under $1000.
While you can do bodyweight exercises, that’s not what most people want. And since this is an example of a free weights gym, you need …. weights. And also some other things to actually be able to lift those weights.
With the equipment listed below you can build a complete free weights gym and do all the major exercises and many of the less known ones. Of course it’s possible to build it further out from here. There might be some accessories and other things you might want to add. Those didn’t fit in the budget however. You can easily add those later once you’ve got some extra cash laying around.
Any extras are not strictly necessary however and with the equipment named here, you can build a fully functional free weights gym.
The barbell is by far the most important piece of equipment for a free weights gym. There are so many exercises that you can’t do without a barbell, it’s worth it to spend a little bit extra on it.
A bad barbell can take away your joy in lifting and make you use it less that you should. Knurling that’s too sharp or aggressive, sleeves that don’t spin properly and just all round bad quality can ruin your lift and possibly cause injuries. Another potential problem with lower end bars is that the finish isn’t as strong, causing it to corrode quicker. This can be prevented with extra careful maintenance.
That doesn’t mean you have to get a certified Olympic bar that costs a slightly ridiculous amount of money. There are plenty of options that don’t break the bank but still offer great quality.
Option 1: Rogue Echo 2.0
Rogue is known for making quality products period. Usually those products also come with a price tag that is fits that quality. Although their bars are already pretty affordable as long as you stay away from the competition certified ones.
The Rogue Echo series is a line of products that keeps many of the awesome high quality features that their other lines have but at a very affordable price point.
The Echo 2.0 barbell is a great bar for many reasons. Great tensile strength, 28.5mm shaft, high quality bushings for the sleeves, 20 kg/45lbs and full sized. It’s a full sized barbell that will last you for ages if you take care of it. And that’s the only downside to the echo bar; the coating.
While the shaft and sleeves are both bright zinc coated, this can still corrode slightly over time if not taken care of properly. That means you have to clean it regularly. Not a big deal and you get a whole lot of barbell for your money.
If you don’t want to do any maintenance, you can upgrade to the Ohio stainless steel bar but that’s almost twice the price.
Option 2: Titan fitness 6’ bar
Many people will still think that’s a bit too expensive or maybe too long. A 7’2 bar is long. Longer than most people actually need. A 6’ bar still fits on a rack and while you can load a few less weight plates on one, it can still hold more than enough weight for most lifters.
The Titan fitness 6’ bar is an awesome option. Not only priced very friendly at less than half the price of the Rogue bar but still provides pretty good quality. It’ll easily fit on the squat rack recommended below so you don’t have to worry about that.
It has a 28mm shaft diameter and weighs 15 kg/33 lbs., rotating sleeves and is still rated to handle 750 lbs. of load.
Of course your barbell is pretty useless without weight plates. Weight plates come in many, many varieties at different price ranges. Weight plates can be surprisingly expensive. Even the cheapest option still costs a decent amount of money.
It’s necessary to save some money on this part to not go over budget. The difficult part is to get an amount of weights that’s enough for most people. The most important factor in the costs is the actual weight. You pay for the amount of material that’s used and since you need more material to make a plate heavier, more weight is more expensive.
For the vast majority of people around 250 lbs. will be plenty of weight for a while. With the bar that’s almost 300 lbs. The good thing about weight plates is that it’s very easy to add more later if necessary. Just get a pair of 45 lbs. plates extra and you’ve got 90 pounds extra. Sure, you would probably go over the $1000 total but it will take a while before you need more so you’ve got time to save up.
The good thing is that you don’t touch weight plates during your lifts so it’s not as important to get nicely finished plates as it is to get a good bar. Rubber coating is nice to have but costs extra as well.
Option 1: Second hand
Weigth plates are one place where you can save significant money by buying second hand. Also because it’s the most expensive part of this gym setup. Check out craigslist and other second hand sites to find good deals. Just make sure the plates you buy fit on your bar. So don’t get 1” plates for a 2” bar.
The good things about plates is that there is very little that can go wrong with them. Just check for cracks and damage before you buy. Other than breaking, they’re just heavy so they’re pretty safe to buy second hand.
Option 2: Cap Barbell plates
If you really want a new option, the Cap barbell iron plates are the cheapest option out there. They are not rubberized so they might be a bit noisier to use, but the quality is good and weight is weight. A full set is still a considerable chunk out of our budget but it’s necessary and It’s not going to get much cheaper than this.
The inner hole is 2” so it’ll fit perfectly on the either of the recommended barbells above.
You could work around not having a bench in your home gym for many exercises. There are alternatives for many lifts that require a bench. The most popular lift that uses a bench is the bench press. Almost everyone that has seen a barbell up close will have performed a bench press at some point. It’s one of the most popular lifts in any gym and a mainstay in almost all workout programs. That’s why it’s still necessary to get a bench in this setup.
The bench press is also the most difficult lift to replace by other options. Since most of the alternatives also require a bench, it’s pretty much mandatory to have one. Of course if you’re sure you don’t want to bench press or do any of the variations, you can forego this piece but most people won’t want to.
It’s another part where we have to save a bit of money by going for a bench with fewer options that’s still sturdy and strong. It’s still a good idea to get an adjustable bench because you get a few extra exercise options like incline bench that are great to be able to do in your gym.
Recommended: Fitness Reality 1000 Super Max
While it has a bit of a cheesy name, what you get is actually really good. The backrest is adjustable in many steps from -20 to +80 degrees so you even have a decline option. There is a very small seat gap and an extra wide backrest for good stability.
The bench is rated to support 800 lbs. which is more than the raw bench pressing world record at the moment so that should be enough. The bench can be folded away for easy storage and the leg support bar is detachable if you don’t need or want it.
The rack is important for a few lifts. The squat and the overhead press are two of the most important ones. But a rack is also often used for pull ups and rack pulls. In a home gym setting, the power rack is also often used for bench pressing.
A full sized power rack is quite expensive and also very large. If you’ve got the space and money it’s worth it since it’s sturdier and safer to use than just a stand. However to stay within the budget, we’ll have to make a compromise here.
A combined squat and bench rack is a lot smaller and cheaper than a full power rack so that’s a great option for this budget. While it’s a little less safe and versatile as a full rack, you can still do the vast majority of lifts. The biggest exercises you usually can’t do with a squat rack are pull/chin ups. That’s easily solved with a separate pull up bar though.
Recommended: Vanswe barbell rack
This rack is pretty awesome for the price. It’s one of the best you can get without actually getting a full power rack. It’s very adjustable and sturdy, all for a great price.
Here are some of the features;
- There are two pairs of hooks you can put the bar on. One high (for squats and OHP) and one low (for bench press). Both of those are also adjustable so you can always find a good position to put them in.
- On top of that, the width is also adjustable so you can even make it work with shorter barbells.
- The high hooks also have dip handles attached to them for extra exercise options.
- The maximum loading capacity is 550 lbs. There won’t be a whole lot of people who need more than that.
- Plate storage pegs so you can keep your plates tidy.
- Click here to find the best price on Amazon.
Next up are dumbbells. While you can choose to do the vast majority of exercises with a barbell, dumbbells provide a different way of lifting and are great at providing options for alternative exercises. Dumbbells provide a way to do unilateral movements and can help you prevent muscle imbalances and other problems.
However, like weight plates, a full set of dumbbells is surprisingly expensive. A normal set or good set of adjustable dumbbells costs several hundred dollars by itself. That means it’s necessary to make a few compromises to stay within budget.
That compromise is an adjustable set of dumbbells that’s loaded with weight plates. Yes, these things look like they come straight from the 80’s but they are a lot cheaper than the other options. You get two handles, a set of weight plates and a set of screw on collars.
You have to screw the collars off and on, every time you want to change the weights. This takes some time and can get a bit irritating. That’s a compromise you’ll have to make to stay within budget.
Recommended: Yes4all adjustable Dumbbell set
The simplest and best adjustable dumbbell set for the money. It comes with two chunky 1.15” handles that are thick enough to feel good in your hands and provide good grip. It comes with a total of 105 lbs. of weight plates so you can load the two handles up to 52.5 lbs. per side. This is enough for the vast majority of people.
If it isn’t enough, the adjustability actually becomes a benefit since it’s pretty easier to mount bigger plates. The collars that come with the set will hold the plates on the handles.
The reviews are overwhelmingly positive with the only drawback being that the enamel can chip off the plates. This is really a small thing. Sure, it doesn’t look the best but that doesn’t change the functionality of the dumbbells in any way. For the price you’re not going to find a better option.
If you need something a bit easier to use and don’t mind spending some extra money, click here to find an awesome adjustable set that adjusts with the turn of a button.
A gym needs proper flooring. Not using correct flooring can cause damage to your floor or equipment. Having a good floor also makes using the gym a lot quitter since it absorbs a lot of noise and softens the impact when you drop weights. Gym flooring also helps keeping things clean since it’s a bit easier to clean than a bare concrete or even wooden floor.
The cheapest option for gym flooring are foam tiles. This is not the most durable option but will last for a year or two if you don’t treat it too roughly. Foam tiles are cheap and soft so they’re good for absorbing impacts. Because they’re soft, leaving heavy weights on it for a while leaves an imprint, causing it to look a bit messy. While not the best looking, it’s the best option on a budget.
Recommended: BalanceFrom EVA foam tiles
Simple, cheap and effective. This is the most popular gym flooring solution and for good reason. You get a lot of value for your money. It comes in different thicknesses and you can choose the surface you want.
It’s moisture resistant so easy to keep clean with some water and soap. Getting the ¾” version is recommended since it’s just a bit thicker than the original which provides a bit more protection. The ½” tiles can be a bit thin.
Pull up bar
Pull ups and chin ups are amazing exercises that can build great upper body strength. In many home gyms, the pull up bar is part of the power rack. However, since I recommended a squat rack above, there is no pull up bar included in it.
That’s why we need a separate pull up bar. It’s a cheap and small place piece of equipment that allows you to perform one of the best exercises you can do.
Recommended: Yes4All doorway pull up bar
The same bar I recommend for every other home gym. It’s super cheap, sturdy, easy to mount and provides 5 different grips for 5 different hand positions. Stainless steel is used to create this bar so it’ll last for a long time. For the price this pull-up bar is hard to beat.
It’s available in different widths so make sure to select the version that best fits your doorways.
Finally, a way to exercise our cardiovascular health would be very welcome. Decent cardio machines are expensive and take up quite a bit of space. While this is a free weights gym, cardio is still important and should be a part of every workout program whatever your goal is.
A jump rope is by far the cheapest, smallest and easiest way to get a cardio workout done at home. Of course you could just run outside but that’s not a good solution in many cases.
Recommended: Survival and Cross jump rope
Jump ropes are simple and cheap. That’s why it’s even more surprising what this jump rope offers for the same price. The rope is easily adjustable and even replaceable with two thumbscrews.
It uses a nylon coated steel wire that’s still lightweight so it’s easy to keep the momentum going. The motion is also helped but the fact that there are ball bearings that facilitate the rotation. The steel core also keeps the wire from getting tangled up.
Finally you get a lifetime guarantee. Seriously, check it out. You’re not going to find a better jump rope that costs the same as others.
What’s not included
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.
While there is a little bit of flooring included this won’t be enough to cover your whole gym. It’ll only cover 48 sq. ft. That’s enough to cover the area where you deadlift and maybe drop your weights. It’s not enough to cover you whole gym unless it’s only 48 sq. ft. large.
Of course it’s not too expensive to add extra square feet of flooring so if you’ve got a few extra bucks to spare, it’s worth it to do this from the beginning since it’s easier to put flooring in before you put any other equipment in your home gym.
|Barbell||$$$$||Buy Barbell Directly on Rogue website|
|Weights||$$$$$||Buy Weight plates Now on Amazon|
|Bench||$$$||Buy Bench Now on Amazon|
|Rack||$$$||Buy Rack Now on Amazon|
|Dumbbells||$$$||Buy Dumbbells Now on Amazon|
|Floor||$$||Buy Flooring Now on Amazon|
|Jump rope||$||Buy Jump Rope Now on Amazon|
|Pull up bar||$||Buy Pull-up Bar Now on Amazon|
As said, the prices change over time so they aren’t named here. Click the links to check the current price. At the time of writing the total of all of these is just under $1000.
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