Do you want to know how to make a home gym with no money?
No worries, It’s way easier than you might think.
And in the next couple of minutes, I’ll show you exactly how.
Are you excited? I am!
How to Make a Home Gym With no Money: The 6 Essential Steps You Need to Take
Step 1: Get Clear On Your Goals
Before getting any equipment for your home gym, it’s essential to be clear on your fitness goals. This will point you in the right direction and help you make better buying decisions.
For instance, if you’re interested in whole-body strength and muscle mass, your initial purchases might include a barbell, weight plates, a bench, and a basic squat rack (1, 2). If you prefer aerobic exercise, you might go for a treadmill and jump rope.
Whatever it is, take some time to consider it because it will help a lot down the line.
Step 2: Clear Some Room For Your Home Gym
The next important step is to choose where to put your home gym. If you have a spare room, that could work well. Alternatively, put your home gym in the basement or garage.
Step 3: Invest In Floor Pads
Floor pads are an inevitable expense for your home gym if you want to protect the floor from damages. Good floor pads also offer good grip and a solid foundation for your feet.
There are many options on the market, but you should do your research before making a purchase. It’s also important to calculate how much area you want to cover with flood pads before ordering. For instance, if you have a space of four meters by five meters, the square meterage of it would be twenty. Based on that, you can calculate how many pieces of floor padding you need to cover the whole area.
If you’re not good with square meterage calculations, don’t worry. All you have to do is measure the room’s width and length and multiply the first value by the second.
Step 4: Get The Most Basic Equipment to Start
Once you’ve calculated your home gym’s square meterage and have a good idea of how much it would cost to add floor pads, it’s time to move to the next step.
Depending on your budget, you can go down one of three paths:
- Buy new equipment.
- Buy second-hand equipment.
- Make your equipment.
There is also a fourth and more sensible option: do all three things.
If you’re interested in training for strength and muscle mass, traditional barbell training will be one of your best options (1, 2). To pull it off effectively, you’ll need:
- A bench
- A barbell (standard, 20 kg)
- Weight plates (2.5 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg, 15 kg, and 20 kg)
- A squat or power rack
- Clips for the weight
If you don’t have the budget for a power rack (with a pull-up bar), you can get yourself a basic squat stand. These tend to run cheap, especially second-hand ones. Alternatively, you can make it yourself with the help of an expert. Like this:
A decent barbell for home use isn’t that expensive, either. It’s best to go with a brand new one. Weight plates tend to be problematic because you typically have to pay per kilogram, which can add up. Alternatively, make some yourself with concrete:
Benches are more affordable, and you can build one yourself. Here is a video with instructions:
Step 5: Add Small Pieces Of Equipment As You Go
When putting together a home gym, think simplicity. Your initial goal should be to have the essential equipment to start having productive workouts at home. For instance, the setup we went over above might look overly-simplistic, but it gives you the chance to do just about every strength exercise you’ll ever need.
As you start training and earn some extra money, you can set it aside and look for additions for your home gym. For example, a pair of adjustable dumbbells will complement your setup because of their versatility (3, 4). You can adjust the load and do various assistance and isolation exercises like dumbbell chest press, goblet squats, rows, and lateral raises.
You can also get yourself a set of good resistance bands (4). These are fantastic for various exercises you would normally do in a gym (think bicep curls, lateral raises, and similar), for warm-up and mobility work, and for making bodyweight movements more challenging.
Step 6: Include Bodyweight Movements
Many people are under the impression that bodyweight training is only suitable for beginners. The idea is, most bodyweight exercises become too easy after a while, so there is no point in doing them. This is false.
The truth is, bodyweight training is terrific. There are countless exercises and variations to pick from, and you can always find a way to push yourself.
Take the classic push-up as an example:
Is the regular version of the exercise too easy? Well, in that case, why not do decline, plyometric, uneven, and single-arm push-ups? Each of these is more challenging and will help you grow your chest, shoulders, triceps, and serratus anterior better.
And what if even these tend to be easy? In that case, you can fill a backpack with some books, put it on your back and do the movements. You can also do more repetitions to challenge your muscles enough. Research finds that even low-intensity training builds muscle, so long as we push ourselves near failure (5).
As you can see, putting together a solid home gym doesn’t need to be a considerable investment. All you have to do is get clear on your goals, find some room, and invest in the most basic gym equipment.
If your budget is really tight, you can even go down the do it yourself route, and make most of the equipment yourself.
Or do like me. Go all-in on calisthenics!
Learn more about calisthenics and bodyweight workouts in my at-home strength-building archive, LOADED with actionable fitness tips!
See you there!
Other Helpful Resources
- The Best Affordable Home Gym Equipment: The Ultimate Guide
- TRX vs Weights. Weight Lifting vs Suspension Training: The Showdown!
- What is the Best Exercise Equipment for Home to Lose Weight
- Benefits of Stability Ball Exercises? The Science Behind Their Effectiveness
- Stock MS, Olinghouse KD, Drusch AS, Mota JA, Hernandez JM, Akalonu CC, Thompson BJ. Evidence of muscular adaptations within four weeks of barbell training in women. Hum Mov Sci. 2016 Feb;45:7-22. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2015.11.004. Epub 2015 Nov 14. PMID: 26583966.
- Hammond, Alexander et al. “The effects of a 4-week mesocycle of barbell back squat or barbell hip thrust strength training upon isolated lumbar extension strength.” PeerJ vol. 7 e7337. 26 Jul. 2019, doi:10.7717/peerj.7337
- Solstad, Tom Erik et al. “A Comparison of Muscle Activation between Barbell Bench Press and Dumbbell Flyes in Resistance-Trained Males.” Journal of sports science & medicine vol. 19,4 645-651. 19 Nov. 2020
- Andersen LL, Andersen CH, Mortensen OS, Poulsen OM, Bjørnlund IB, Zebis MK. Muscle activation and perceived loading during rehabilitation exercises: comparison of dumbbells and elastic resistance. Phys Ther. 2010 Apr;90(4):538-49. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20090167. Epub 2010 Feb 4. PMID: 20133444.
- Kikuchi N, Nakazato K. Low-load bench press and push-up induce similar muscle hypertrophy and strength gain. J Exerc Sci Fit. 2017;15(1):37-42. doi:10.1016/j.jesf.2017.06.003