The 5 Home-Gym Essentials

Read Time: 8 Minutes

Do you ever wish you could have 24/7 gym access, never wait for equipment, not have to worry about what you wear, crank loud motivational music, and avoid commuting to and from the gym? Having gym equipment in your home, garage, back yard, or barn is becoming more and more advantageous in today's world. With the current global pandemic, having a gym you can access whenever you’d like without relying on the laws and mandates in your state of residence is a game changer for maintaining your fitness routine.

In this blog post, I will break down the top 5 pieces of equipment to build your home gym around. I’ll include the benefits of each piece of equipment along with price breakdowns of a few popular brands. I truly believe that you can attain a great physique and maintain or improve your current health with just 5 pieces of equipment.

If you’re worried about the cost, consider the long-term investment of a home gym compared to what you’d pay monthly for a gym membership. Although you’re paying more up front for your personal equipment, after a few months or years (depending on how much you want to invest), you’ll end up saving money. Additionally, the price range for gym equipment is enormous, so I’ll include product recommendations for budget shoppers and high end shoppers. There are also some companies like PRX that allow you to finance your equipment, much like paying for a monthly gym membership!

If you’re like me and you enjoy changing up your training locations to help stave off the monotony, nothing says you can’t also keep your gym membership and do some workouts at home, and some at the gym. Whatever your preference, here are the 5 must-have pieces of equipment for a versatile home gym.

Always remember to ensure you’re practicing safe lifting techniques, especially when training alone at home. If you’d like to learn how to safely and properly execute the most effective muscle building exercises, please feel free to check out the demos on my youtube channel!

#1 A Barbell with Appropriate Plates

A barbell with plates is first because of it’s versatility. If you’re going to invest in one piece of equipment, this is it. You can build a solid workout program and maintain a great physique with just a barbell and the ability to load it with weight that’s appropriate for your ability and goals. I realize that a barbell and plates are technically more than one piece of equipment, but having an empty barbell won’t get you very far. There are many different types of barbells, including olympic barbells, hex bars, specialty bars, power bars, and deadlift bars. Some are affordable, some on the pricey side. Here’s a breakdown of bars I recommend. 

Best Brands and Prices


Best Budget Barbell: REP fitness Sabre Bar- $199

Best Overall Bar (non-olympic lifters): Rogue Ohio Power Bar - $415

Best Overall Bar (including Oly Lifting): Rogue Ohio Bar- $305

Best Value Olympic Weightlifting: FringeSport Wonder Bar- $283

Best Deadlift Bar: Texas Deadlift Bar- $345


Note: bumper plates will be more expensive than steel. I recommend steel unless you’re into olympic lifting.

*Bumper Plates: Fringe Sport Black Bumpers-$340 (120lbs)- $1182 (460lbs)

*Steel Plates: REP fitness Old School Iron Plates- $144 for a pair of 45’s

Super Budget Plates+Bar Combo- Weider cast iron olympic weight set- $385 (300lbs total)

#2 A Squat Cage, Stand or Rack

Having the ability to load your barbell for back squats and bench press and also do pull-ups will really increase the versatility of your home gym. If you do prefer a squat stand over a cage (or you’re limited on space), I recommend getting one with a pull-up bar, like the one I have listed below. If you already have a place to do pull-ups, a standard squat stand will suffice because they can be used for bench pressing and squatting. Here are the best racks and stands:

Best Brands and Prices

Best Squat Rack (budget)- Fringe Sport Squat Cage- $522

Best Half Rack- Rogue HR-2- $795

Best Squat Stand- Rogue SML 2- $525

Best High End Rack- Sorinex SL series Power Rack- $2,849

Best for limited space- PRX performance foldable rack-$899

#3 A Flat or Adjustable Bench

Having either a flat bench or adjustable bench will enable you to further expand your breadth of exercise selections. Flat benches are cheaper, but less versatile. However, there are some simple hacks that you can use to make your flat bench an incline bench (to an extent) like putting one end of the bench on top of a stack of bumper plates, rubber mats or a platform (just make sure the bench is centered to keep it stable). As long as you can attain a 30 degree incline with your bench, you can perform almost any lift that I recommend most people do. Here are the best benches:

Best Brands and Prices

Best Flat Bench- FringeSport Gym Bench- $215

Best Adjustable Bench- REP AB 5100- $399

Best For Powerlifters- REP FB 5000 Competition- $209

#4 Adjustable Dumbbells

Unless you want to purchase multiple different pairs of dumbbells with a wide range of different weights, a pair of adjustable dumbbells are a versatile and (relatively) affordable option. In order to progress in the gym, it’s important to overload your muscles by either doing more reps, sets, or using more weight. Having adjustable dumbbells will enable you to move up or down in weight easily and continue making gains. They also take up very little space, and are easy to use. If you purchase adjustable dumbbells but are a strong lifter that needs more than the maximum weight of the adjustable dumbbells for some lifts, you can purchase separate heavier dumbbells and still save a lot of money overall. Here are the best adjustable dumbbells:

Best Brands and Prices

*Best overall: Nuobell from SMRTFT, 5-80 lbs- $745

Best for stronger lifters: Powerblock- 120 and 175 lbs option- $1,859-2,238 (far cheaper than buying individual DB’s)

Best for beginners- Bowflex 552- 5-52.5 lbs- $399

#5 Suspension Trainer

Suspension trainers (TRX is the most popular) are an extremely versatile piece of equipment for training the entire body. There are countless exercises that can be done with a suspension trainer. Suspension trainers are also easily adjustable, so you can tailor it to your needs and strength levels. If you have only a suspension trainer and no other piece of equipment, you can certainly build a great workout program that will result in strength and muscle gains. Here are the best suspension trainers:

Best Brands and Prices

*Best overall: TRX- $169.95

Best Budget/beginner: Fitindex Bodyweight suspension trainer $49.99

Best Advanced: TRX Pro4- $249.95

If you’re able to build your home gym around just these 5 pieces of equipment, you’ll have access to all the tools you need to build a great physique, get stronger, and stay healthy. You’ll never have to rely on your gym being open, and you’ll never have to awkwardly stand around a piece of commercial gym equipment in hopes that whoever is using it is almost done. Again, some gym equipment can be pricey, but there are plenty of affordable options. The trick is not to wait! We live in a world of uncertainty and you never know when the next “lockdown” could occur. Having your own equipment is a great way to guarantee yourself 24/7 gym access!  Even if you love going to the gym, we’ve now learned that we can’t rely on it to be consistently open. Consistency is key when it comes to exercise, and having a home gym will ensure that you can always train, no matter the situation.

Are you thinking of adding more equipment than what I have here? Stay tuned for a future blog post that will cover 5 additional home-gym essentials to complete the home-gym of your dreams. 

Do you have a home gym? If so, what are your essentials? If not, do you have future plans of constructing a home gym?  Thank you for reading and be sure to leave a comment below!

1 comment

Monica Smith

Thanks for the recommendations. I’m a big fan of your content!
Would love to get your opinion on recovery tools like foam rollers, etc.

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