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How to set up a home gym

The ability to exercise at home can be useful whether you have a gym memberhip or not. This article will explain how to set up a home gym whatever your budget.

How to set up a home gym min

Why do you need a home gym

Many women who want to exercise find that going to the gym doesn’t work for them. They may not like the gym atmosphere, the extra time it takes or the difficulty getting access to the equipment they like. These women may choose a home gym instead of a fitness facility to work out.

Some women may just want the option of being able to work out at home when they are pressed for time.

Or you may be an introvert (like me) who would rather workout by themselves than with a big crowd.

What equipment do you need for a home gym?

Depending on how you use the home gym it should include equipment for cardio, strength and stretching. I’ll go into details on each separately. You can spend as little or as much money on your home gym as you like.


Many people purchase cardio machines that end up becoming clothes racks. In order to avoid this, make sure that any cardio equipment you purchase is something that you will enjoy using. If you live in an hospitable climate, then you may be able to do most of your cardio outdoors without the need of any extra equipment.

Some examples of cardio equipment you might want to consider:

  • Treadmills
  • Exercise or spin bikes
  • Rowing machines
  • Elliptical machines
  • Bike trainer if you already have a bike

Investigate these carefully. Pick the most sturdy machine you can afford and pick the options that make sense for you. Since cardio equipment is usually boring, choose equipment with workout choices and ways to keep you entertained. If these are out of your price range, then some alternatives are:

  • Stairs in your home
  • A workout video (Youtube, download an app)
  • An aerobic step (which can also be used for several strength exercises)
  • A Bosu ball (this can also be used for strength and balance exercises)
  • Make up your own interval workout using some of the equipment above and a timer


I’ve talked about how important strength training is for women. Having a way to do strength exercises is an important part of a home gym. Some options for strength equipment are:

  • Resistance bands or tubing
  • Dumbbells
  • Barbells and plates
  • Adjustable dumbbells
  • Suspension trainer like a TRX. These allow you to use your body weight and to increase the resistance by adjusting your body position.
  • Kettlebells (can also substitute for dumbbells in some exercises)
  • Supporting equipment like a mat, an exercise ball (also called a Swiss ball or physio ball), a step or a Bosu ball
  • Body weight

Two important things to consider with exercise equipment are ability to progress and being able to get the most out of each exercise you do. For example 5 lb dumbbells may be good to start, but you will soon find they are too easy for many exercises. In order to progress you want to choose a weight that is a little bit challenging. You also don’t want to use the same weight for every exercise. 5 lb might be enough for a shoulder exercise, but you will hardly feel it with a squat or a bent over row. 

Adjustable weights or suspension trainers offer the ability to increase the resistance as you get stronger and to change the resistance depending on the exercise.

Another option if you have a large budget and lots of space is a multi gym or adjustable cable machine. With the multi gym make sure that it is adjustable for your body size. Even many commercial systems don’t fit small women properly.


All you need for stretching is your body. A mat is nice, if you are doing floor stretches. A band or strap can be used for some stretches. A foam roller is useful for self myofacial release which also helps to relax the muscles and increase range of motion.

Technology that helps your workouts

A timer app on your phone is useful if you are doing interval style workouts. A workout app helps by giving you options for working out at home. An online personal trainer can help by providing customized workout plans (sign up here for a free trial of my online training program).

If you are doing cardio outside, then you might want a GPS running watch or bike computer with an accompanying heart rate monitor. Check out DC Rainmaker for reviews on fitness products.

Other equipment you might want.

If you want to get serious about your weight training workouts, or want to add some other aspects to your workout, you might want to add a few other options:

  • Balance board
  • Adjustable rack (for barbell squats and pull-ups)
  • Bender balls
  • Resistance band loops
  • Bench (but an aerobic step might be a more useful option)
  • Medicine balls
  • Pull up bars (if you are attaching to a door frame, make sure it is sturdy. If it’s a wall attachment, make sure you are attaching to studs)

How much space do you need?

How much space do you have? You can adjust your home gym to fit into almost any space. Move your living room coffee table and you have a space to do workout videos and floor exercises. You can attach a resistance tubing to a railing or door. A pull-up bar can fit in a door way.

If you choose to set up a dedicated room, here are some things to consider:
How are you using the equipment? Is there enough space in every direction?
If you are doing an interval workout, make sure there is enough room to move around safely and to quickly switch from one exercise to another
You might want cardio equipment facing a TV or a laptop stand so you have a way to distract yourself.
You should have room around your step or bench to step on and off and to extend arms out. Or if you are using a barbell make sure you have room for the barbell around the step.
Leave some room for stretching and floor exercises


Setting up a home gym or home workout area can be a great way to get in more exercise. You don’t have to factor in travel time to the gym or fight others for equipment. You can do the workouts you want, when you want to do them. If you are looking for help with setting up your home workouts, check out my free trial of online personal training.

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