Building a Home Gym

One of the biggest hang ups that kept me from exercising regularly and putting the time in the gym was the fact that I didn’t want to have to travel to a gym before or after work.

It felt like I had to go on some hero’s journey to just put a workout in. Plus, the extra 10-15 minutes going there and back just ate up more of my already busy day.

I then did the math. If I used the $360 a year I was spending for a gym membership (not to mention the gas money to drive around town) to just buy my own equipment, in a couple years I could have a pretty decent home gym.

Now, I might’ve been a little better off than most people when starting out with my own home gym. I already had a modest set of dumbbells that I had pieced together over the years, a standard sized barbell set with about 200lbs of weight that I had gotten from my dad, plus a couple kettle bells.

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The start of my home gym. A bench press with rack, rubber mats/deadlift area, and a squat rack.

I decided to get started I really just needed to get myself a bench and I could start just doing dumbbell exercises.

So, I went into Dick’s Sporting Goods to shop around and saw that they had a model year close out on a bunch of equipment. I went a little bit over my “yearly budget” buying a bench press rack and a half rack for squats – in total though, I got both for under $400 with a couple hundred in savings. Not too shabby.

From there, it’s just been adding pieces here and there. I work really close to the old York Barbell plant in York, PA so I would pop into their outlet store there and check out the refurbished and scratch n’ dent area.

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You can make a straightforward and sturdy pull-up bar yourself for under $30 using pre-cut steel pipe from your local hardware store.

So far I’ve  gotten together a  32mm Olympic barbell and over 200 lbs of Olympic plates. I also kept an eye out on Craigslist for people getting ride of used stuff – from which I was able to add another 200 lbs of weights to my standard sized set. From a secret squirrel source, I also got about 100 sqft of Ecore Smash Tiles which was laid out as my deadlift area – now I can drop weights without fear of damages or making noise.

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The Ecore SmashTile. They are fantastic for keeping a home gym quiet. (The snowman container is where I keep my chalk.)

Now, I’m not saying all this to brag. I’m just trying to show what you can put together when you really put your mind to it. I’ve got a great setup now, and it didn’t take all that long to accomplish.

I work out nearly every day now, and it’s due mainly to the fact that I no longer have an excuse not too. It’s as easy as walking 10 steps down into my basement (those steps are hell going back up on leg day though).

My workouts take less time because there is no waiting for someone else to get off the equipment I want to use – I don’t have to put all the plates back where I found them when I’m done – and again, there’s no commute to the gym.

In reality, if you own your own house and are paying for a gym membership you hardly use then you really have no really to keep the status quo. Go out there and do yourself a favor and build a gym at home. An investment like this can pay off huge later on down the line. The best part is, if you take care of your stuff – it could last you a lifetime.

As for the future of my gym? Well, I hope to keep adding to my collection of Olympic sized iron – especially bumper plates. My dumbbell set currently goes from 5 lbs to 35 lbs, in increments of five, so it would be nice to get up to 55’s or even 65’s. A cardio machine of some sort would be cool too, like a treadmill or elliptical. That would be a ways down the road because I really don’t feel like lugging that down into my basement.


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