Are you trying to create a complete weightlifting home gym but only have a little bit of space available? You’ve come to the right place. Here is how you can create a compact and complete home gym in the smallest space possible.
The smallest possible weightlifting gym consists of a foldable bench and a set of adjustable dumbbells which requires a space of 5’ by 6’ to use. For using a power rack and barbell, a space of 7’by 8’ is OK if you use a short barbell. A compact multi gym can be used in a 6.5’x4’ space.
Find out more below about which setup would be best for you and what the floor plans for that would look like.
Compact Weightlifting Gyms Options
There are four ways you can build a fully functional yet compact weightlifting home gym:
- Dumbbells and Bench: Minimum space required: 5’ x 6’
- Power cage, barbell and bench: Minimum space required: 7’ x 8’
- Multi-gym: Minimum space required: 6.5’ x 4
- Functional trainer: Minimum space required: 8’ x 8’
Keep in mind, those are the absolute minimum amount of space you need with the right equipment.
Of course you could combine the different pieces of equipment as well but that will take up a lot of extra space. If you have the space and budget, my ideal home gym would be a set of dumbbells, power cage, barbell, weight plates, bench and a functional trainer.
Let’s look a little closer at those four options and how much space they take up. Not only to place but also to actually use. You can also find some recommended equipment that is good yet compact.
1. Dumbbells and Bench
The most basic setup that works for many people is just a set of dumbbells and a bench. A full rack of dumbbells isn’t small or cheap but adjustable dumbbells are relatively affordable and only take up the space of two large dumbbells.
A weightlifting bench is compact and if you get the right one, they can be folded up so they take up even less space. Make sure to get an adjustable bench where you can adjust the angle of the backrest. Those are slightly larger than fixed benches but allow for way more different exercises.
Those two pieces of equipment take up very little space and allow you to train pretty much all the muscles in your body.
The tricky part is how much space you need to actually use that equipment for all the possible exercises. Most weightlifting benches are about 5’ long. You’ll need a bit more space to actually use it because your legs are hanging off one side. A 6’ long space is the minimum but 7’ would give you a bit more breathing room.
The width depends on how wide you get with your arms. When fully stretching your arms to the side, your wingspan is roughly the same as your height. However, there are very few exercises where you need all that width. I can only think of the dumbbell fly and lateral raise. Both of those can be modified where you keep the dumbbells a bit closer to your body but use a heavier weight. That means for the average person, a 5 feet wide space is plenty of room for 99% of the exercises.
To fully use dumbbells and a bench you need a minimum space of 6’ by 5’. (+-183 x152 cm)
2. Power Cage, Barbell and Bench
A full power cage is large but provides a lot of safety for when you’re lifting heavy. However, if you feel comfortable with a half cage (two upright posts in front of you but not behind you), you can get a lot of the same functionality in a smaller footprint.
The barbell is the longest piece of this gym. A full sized bar is more than 7’ long but it’s not really necessary to use on of those. You can find 6’ long barbells that fit on a power rack which saves a good chunk of space. You’ll need about a foot on both sides of the bar as well to be able to load it and not bump into the walls when moving. That means you need an 8’ long space.
The bench has to sit perpendicular in the power cage. As you could read above an adjustable bench is about 5’ long. However, you need to be able to place the bench in such a way that your chest is under the bar to bench press. For most half power racks that means your head has to be about 1 feet away from the wall. On the other side you need at least one feet for your legs but two would be better. That means you need an at least 7’ but preferably 8’ wide space if using a half rack.
In total that means a minimum 8’ by 7’ (+-244 x 214 cm) space to be able to use a power cage, bench and a barbell properly.
For people that prefer to lift weights on machines, the multi-gym is the right way to go. A multi-gym is an all-in-one home gym that combines many gym machines into one piece of equipment.
That might sound like that gets very large and while some do, there are some pretty good compact options that don’t take up much more space than the two setups outlined above.
I’ve written a whole article about the best compact multi-gyms so if you’re interested click here to find it.
The best compact multi-gyms are the Body-Solid GL and BodyCraft G1S.
The G1S requires a space of about 6.5’ by 4’ to be fully used. The amount of space it takes up when not in use is considerably less.
The Body-Solid GL is a bit more expensive and larger but has a lot more exercise options and possible extensions that allow for even more exercises. The GL can be placed in a corner and used diagonally which means that while it’s bigger when not in use, a free space of about 6’ x 5’ is enough.
4. Functional trainer + Bench
Functional trainers are sometimes also called dual pulley machine. You have two height adjustable pulleys that are adjusted to a weight stack. It’s possible to attach many different handles to the cables for a ton of different exercises.
The big difference between a multi-gym and a functional trainer is that you stand on your feet for most exercises. It’s possible to add a separate bench as well though. The bench is not strictly necessary but definitely nice.
I’ve written a separate article about how much space a functional trainer needs. You can find it by clicking here. That post outlines why you need a space of at least 8’ by 7’ but preferably 8’ by 8’ to properly use a functional trainer and bench.
Of course it does depend on how large the specific functional trainer is. I’ve compiled a list of the best compact functional trainers you can find by clicking here.
The BodyCraft HFT is the best all-round option. Not quite the smallest (also nowhere near the largest) but it has all the right features and very high build quality. As a nice bonus it fits under ceilings which are only 7’ tall. The HFT is 55” wide and 40” deep however, the pulleys are only about 32” from the back.
Compact Cardio Home Gym Options
Want to add a cardio routine to your weightlifting workout? Treadmills and ellipticals are great but probably way too big if you’re reading this.
The best option for a compact cardio machine is a spin bike or air bike. Exercise bikes take up the least space of any cardio machine and they’re pretty easy to move around. They’re light and usually have little wheels on the front so you can move them around.
To use an exercise bike, a space of 4’ by 2,5’ is enough. And since you can easily move them around, you can use the open space that’s already in your weightlifting gym. After you’re done, just push it into a corner.
Looking for a compact and simple spin bike? Check out this Yosuda one on Amazon. It’s very affordable but sturdy.
More Small Home Gym Ideas
Do you want to see many, many more home gym layouts with equipment recommendations and full explanation on how to set up your home gym? I’ve got a whole eBook that comes with a lot of example gyms that show you exactly what is possible in the space you have available.
You’ll get a ton of floor plans, exact equipment recommendations and it’ll take out all the stress of building a home gym. It aims to make creating a home gym as smooth and stress free as possible.