Money and cost are always big considerations for doing anything. Planning a home gym is no different. How much does it cost to build a home gym and is it worth it?
A home gym can cost anywhere from $100 to hundreds of thousands. A basic new weightlifting setup can be bought for about $1400 or less if you buy second hand equipment. Prices go up from there. A good cardio machine costs around $1000 although a basic one can be had for about $350.
What do you need to set up a home gym and what does each part cost? Which equipment should you spend a little bit extra on and which equipment can you spend less on? Keep reading to find out.
Which Equipment Do You Need For a Home Gym?
A home gym is not one thing. A gym is a collection of equipment. Commercial gyms have tons of machines. Way more machines than you could even fit in your house. To build a home gym, you don’t actually need all those different machines.
Some of what you need depends on what type of workout you like to do. Different workouts require different pieces of equipment. However, most people have goals of looking better, being healthier, building muscle and/or getting stronger. All of those goals can be reached with a free weights setup.
Using free weights is a great way of working out and very space efficient. In a home gym, you don’t have enough space to have all the machines you’d have in a commercial gym. Every machine just exercises one or two muscles at the same time. That would mean you need a whole lot of them to be able to get a full body workout.
Free weights can be used for more than one exercise so are much more space efficient. It also means you have to buy less equipment so it costs less. For some people it might mean a change in exercise routine but in my opinion training with free weights is better for most people anyways. And for a home gym, it’s really the only option.
Besides free weights, some type of cardio machine is great to add to a home gym. Cardio exercise is good for pretty much everyone. There is a lot of variety in cardio equipment so we’ll look at that separately.
What do you need to be able to lift free weights in your gym?
- Power rack
- Weight plates
Below is a short description of every piece of equipment. If you want a more in depth explanation about a specific piece, there will be a link to a post on this site that explains more. But for the sake of brevity, I’ve kept it short here.
- Power rack
A power rack is a large frame made from metal tubes. It’s used to rest the barbell on when setting up for an exercise and as a starting point for many exercises. It also provides safety by limiting where the barbell can go. It’s a very important piece of equipment that allows you to do many exercises you couldn’t do otherwise like;
- Bench pressing
- Overhead pressing
And many more.
Power racks are available in a giant variety of models and sizes which all come with a different price tag. Some have four upright posts while others have six. The load capacity, finish, features and accessories can also vary widely.
For a home gym, a power rack with four upright posts is enough and even in that category you have more choice than you can imagine.
Power racks that are suitable for home gyms range from $300 to $1500+. For $500 to $1000 there are tons of great models available.
The barbell is the long metal rod that can have weight plates at both ends. It’s a seemingly simple piece of equipment although producing a really good one is more difficult than you might think. That makes them relatively expensive for their size.
A barbell is something you’ll always need in a home gym and are always touching so you might as well buy something that is great quality and lasts for a lifetime. Sure you can get cheaper bars but they might not last as long.
Even though they might look very similar from a distance, barbells have a surprising amount of variety. For general fitness a barbell built to Olympic standards is fine.
Barbells are available from $200 to $1500. There is no need to go to the higher end of that price range for a home gym. Those expensive bars will be the highest quality barbells that are certified for Olympic use. For $250 to $350 there are a few awesome barbells available that will last a long time.
3. Weight plates
Weight plates are the round things that go on the ends of a barbell. Without weight plates there isn’t much weight you can actually lift. Weight plates are pretty simple things but they are important.
There are a few things that are important in weight plates.
- Rubberized. This allows you to treat the plates a little rougher. You should use a rubber floor or lifting platform with rubberized plates
- Different weights so you can increase the weight in small increments.
- Enough weight in total (300 lbs. set should be plenty for most lifters. if you need more, just add more 45 lbs. plates.)
- Has to fit the barbell (50mm inner diameter hole)
The brand doesn’t matter too much with weight plates. Sure, there are differences in quality but it’s not too big a difference.
If you know how much weight you can lift, it’s obvious how much you need. For beginners, a 300 lbs. set will be enough. That’s an amount most people will be able to utilize on some lifts.
You can save some money on getting a smaller set but make sure that you have at the following set;
- 4x 1lbs./0.5 kg
- 4x 2.5lbs./1 kg
- 2x 5 lbs./ 2.5 kg
- 4x 10lbs./5 kg
- 2x 25lbs./10 kg
Just add 45 lbs. plates from that set until you get to the weight you need.
Especially the smaller plates are quite important since they allow you to step up the weight on the bar a little bit every time.
Weight plates are actually surprisingly expensive for what they are. A set of 300 lbs. with enough different sized plates will cost about $600 – $700. That’s for rubber coated plates. If you go for bare cast iron you can expect to pay about $400 to $450 for the same amount. Of course of you want more weight, it’s going to be more expensive.
Dumbbells open up a ton of extra exercise options. That’s why it’s worth getting them next to a barbell and weight plates.
The choice of dumbbells is between a good set of adjustable dumbbells or a full set of fixed ones. Fixed dumbbells are sturdier and are easier to use but are also more expensive and take up more space.
The main consideration is how much space you’ve got. If your space is limited, get an adjustable set. For people with enough space in their home gym, it’s a better choice to go for a set of fixed dumbbells since they are more durable.
You’ll want a range of dumbbells from 5 to 50 lbs. with small increments.
- Selectorized adjustable dumbbells 5 to 50 lbs.: +-$350
- Screw collar adjustable dumbbells 5 to 50 lbs.: +- $120
- Set of fixed dumbbells 5 to 50 lbs. with 5 lbs. intervals: +-$700
The last piece of weightlifting equipment is the bench. A bench is pretty useful for quite a few exercises. Pretty much every exercise that is not done while standing on your feet uses a bench.
The bench press is the most popular lift that requires a bench. To make the bench as versatile as it has to be, you want it to be at least adjustable from 0 to +- 80 degrees. Weight limit and build quality are other things to look at.
Decent benches start at about $120 but can cost up to $1000. Like with most equipment, you don’t have to shop in the upper regions of that price range. You can buy a great bench for $120 to $300.
Cardio equipment for a home gym
There are many different types of cardio machine and they all come with very different price ranges. Also, the width of the price ranges is quite wide for most machines. How much your machine should cost really depends on what kind of quality and features you expect.
However, just to give you an idea of what to expect, below is a list of the most popular types of cardio machine, their rough price ranges and around what price you can expect a good machine.
The most common types of cardio machine are;
- Treadmill: $150 to $9000+ Good models available for $1000 to $2000
- Exercise bike: $150 to $5000+ Good home models available for +-$400 for a spin bike and +-$800 for a recumbent bike
- Rowing machine: $100 to $2500. Good models available for +-$1000
- Elliptical trainer: $179 to $7000+. Good home model: $2200
You can only spend your money once. Think about which part of your gym is most important to you. If weightlifting is more important to you, spend your money there. If a good cardio machine is more important, it’s a good idea to spend more money here.
Above you can find all the big ticket items. The equipment above is a complete setup. That doesn’t mean you can’t add some extra accessories though. Some common accessories that can improve your gym;
Of course you don’t absolutely need any of those things but they’re nice to have. Most of these items aren’t very expensive or are available in cheap versions.
- Resistance bands: +-$50 for a set
- Kettlebell: $40-$80 depending on weight
- Timer: $50-$200
- Decorations: +-$50
- Sound system: +-$50-$150
There are a few things you need to complete you home gym although they aren’t strictly necessary. In my opinion, any gym is better with these things;
Mirrors are more important for a home gym than you might think.
Mirrors can really differ in price. A glass mirror that is big enough as a gym mirror without any seams costs upwards of $300.
A set of frameless acrylic mirror sheets that can be made into a gym mirror can be bought for about $100 – $150.
Gym flooring protects your equipment and your floor while also damping some noise. Rubber interlocking tiles are the easiest to put down and make fit in every room. A good thickness for gym flooring is ¾” thick.
Everyone’s gym has different dimensions so how much gym flooring you need will be different for you. For the purposes of telling you how much a home gyms costs, I’ll take a size I know works. If you read this post, you’ll find that I recommend dimensions of 8’ by 10’ for a home that’s big enough to fit a free weights setup and a cardio machine. So for that reason I’ll assume you’re going to use 80 sq. ft. of gym flooring.
The last thing to complete your own personal gym is a fan. This is especially important if you are in a space without decent ventilation or is very hot. A fan can push a good amount of fresh air into a room and doesn’t cost much. It’s certainly cheaper than buying and running air conditioning.
For a home gym you want a fan that pushes a good amount of air and creates some airflow from one space into another. Some blower fans might look attractive with good specs. Many of them take the air from the side however. That means you’re not pulling air from another area of the house. If you don’t need any fresh air and just need the airflow to cool down, blower fans are a good choice.
If you need the fan for ventilation and pushing fresh air into your home gym, a traditional fan is a better choice since it pulls the air from the back. When you put it in a doorway, it’ll push the air from another room into your gym.
The last thing you need is also the hardest to quantify because it’s so different for everyone. Some spaces need a lot of work to be ready while others are good to go. That makes it pretty much impossible to put a dollar amount on this part of building a home gym.
If all you need is to get everything out of your room and a fresh coat of paint, you’ll be done for less than $100. However, if you want to make significant changes to the space, maybe carry out some repairs and hook it up to your HVAC system, it can cost thousands.
How much does a home gym cost?
Now we know what it takes to build a home gym, let’s put everything together and see how much it’s going to cost. Of course, every piece of equipment is available from many brands and there are tons of models. All those different brands and models come at different prices.
That’s why below you can see the price ranges off all the different pieces of equipment. Then, there will be examples of different gyms at different price points. Of course you can buy an expensive version of one piece of equipment and a cheap version of another. The price examples are just that; examples. There is an almost endless list of possible combinations of examples of different equipment.
- Budget: The cheapest option for every piece of equipment that’s still of decent quality and safe to use. It’s not the best stuff but it’s certainly workable and will last for a while.
- Mid-range: A good balance between quality and price. Not the absolute top of the line stuff but almost as good for a lot less money.
- Upper-mid range: This is a slightly nicer version of the mid-range stuff. You might wonder why I didn’t go for High-End here. There are two reasons for that. (1) If you want to build a high end home gym, you probably don’t care about the prices anyways. If you are wondering, expect $10k and up. (2) Some high end products are needlessly expensive. Just picking the most expensive piece of equipment in every category isn’t going to be very helpful.
As you can see the costs of any home improvements aren’t added in that chart since that is very difficult to put a price on.
Can I do it cheaper?
Maybe the price you’ve seen above is too high for you. What can you do to get the price down? I wouldn’t recommend finding cheaper new equipment since you’ll be making big sacrifices in quality and even safety. Here are a few other things you can do.
There are some ways to build your own home gym cheaper. But only if we’re talking about the amount of dollars (which is probably what you want to know). Below I’ve outlined some ways to save money on building a home gym. These methods do come at the expense of time, effort and/or functionality of your gym.
If the time and effort and possible functionality is worth more than the money you save this way is up to you to decide.
The most obvious way to save money is by buying second hand equipment. Many pieces of equipment are simple pieces of steel. Things like weight plates and power racks are hard to wear out. A weight plate is broken or it isn’t, pretty simple.
There are plenty of people who buy workout equipment and then not use it enough to justify it taking up space. Or maybe people sell their old equipment because they want to upgrade. Either way, it means you can save money by buying used.
Buying second hand things almost always costs more time and effort than buying new. You have to find something that’s good, go there, check it out, deal with the seller, etc.
Skip the dumbbells
In my opinion dumbbells are a very valuable addition to any home gym that adds so much functionality. However, you could get away with not getting a set of dumbbells and just using the barbell.
This will take some functionality away from your home gym but it does save quite a bit of money.
Alternatively you can choose a cheap set of adjustable dumbbells. The type with plates and screw collars. I generally don’t recommend these because they are quite difficult to use and changing weights takes more time than you want to spend during a workout. They are significantly than fixed dumbbells or good adjustable dumbbells however.
Build your own
For people that are skillful with metal and power tools, building some of your own equipment can be an option. Especially the power rack and bench are things that can be DIYed relatively easily. How good the result is going to be is completely up to your skills.
The benefit is that you can make something that’s completely how you want it. You can create something to the exact dimensions and specifications that you want/need. In the end you’ll only pay for the materials and use your own labor. It does take quite a bit of time to build your own equipment so how much is your own labor worth to you?
Money isn’t the only cost you have to take into account when building a home gym.
Costs of a home gym besides monetary;
The thing about money is that it’s really easy to quantify. You see what something costs. There’s a dollar value that’s pretty easy to find. The other factors listed above here are a bit more difficult.
Space can be quantified pretty easily although it might be different for everyone. Some people prefer to have a bit more space and others are OK with less. You can find suggestions for how much space you need here. For a weightlifting gym with cardio machine, a space of about 80 square feet is good.
How much time you need is much more complicated to predict. You need time for;
- Preparing the space
- Selecting equipment
- Buying equipment
- Laying flooring
- Assembling equipment
How long will any of those steps take you? Hard to say. Some people have a space ready to go and can order equipment now. In that case you can probably be done in a week. Others need much more time and research. It all depends on your skill and efficiency. Most people won’t mind spending time on building their home gym since it is related to their hobby.
Effort is the hardest to quantify of these three factors. How much effort it’ll take you depends on how much you do yourself, how detail oriented you are and what kind of equipment you buy. Some pieces of equipment require more effort to assemble and some rooms are more difficult to prepare.
While you might already be aware of the other costs ,it’s worth keeping in mind.
Favorite home gym tools
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.