So, you'd like the convenience of working out at home. No more awkward locker-room glances or the thuds of a gym bro throwing down iron. No more waiting for someone to get off the chest press. No more unpleasant body odours that aren't your own.
The problem is, home gyms are expensive. Or so you think! You can create a flexible setup that serves your fitness goals without breaking the bank.
So, if you've been putting off setting up a home gym due to the cost, delay no further! It's more affordable than you realize. Read on to learn about the best products for a versatile home workout.
First, let's make sure you have the basics. Gym flooring is critical to any workout space. Even if you're not slinging your weights around, they do tend to strike the floor at times. You need a surface that can absorb the shock — and protect your home's actual flooring. (Unless you feel like paying for refinishing every year.)
What you need is called a sprung floor. This is also better for your health. The shock absorption reduces the impact on your joints. If you've ever tried jumping onto a plain wooden or tile floor, you know what we mean.
But you don't need to replace your home's floor. Just use sprung pro gym tiles. They're 30mm thick, giving you a nice cushion — plus, they're durable and non-slip. These tiles are available in 50cm x 50cm, starting at £13.95 each with quantity discounts for orders over 15. You would need about 36 tiles to cover a 3m x 3m room.
If you need even more cushion, say for yoga, gymnastics, or martial arts training, go for these EVA interlocking mats. Made of 40mm closed-cell foam, they're highly shock-absorbent yet ultra sturdy — so you can practice both your tree pose and your kip-up.
Dumbbells are a staple of any gym's free weights set, and it's no wonder why. These versatile weights can be used in a variety of standard exercises (bicep curls, lat raises, etc.) or to add resistance to your lunges, squats, or jogs.
We recommend these hex dumbbells, which feature easy-grip, knurled steel handles. The hexagonal rubber ends prevent them from rolling around your new gym floor. They're available in a wide range of weights, from 2.5kg to 40kg, with prices from £17.99 to £219.99, respectively.
Which weights do you need? For your home gym's initial set, purchase one lightweight pair, one medium-weight, and one heavy-weight. This will let you perform most exercises for all muscle groups.
To ballpark your resistance needs, try curling a 1-litre bottle, which weighs about 1kg. If this is easy, try it with a 5-litre container. Find a weight that lets you do about 10-12 reps before muscle fatigue sets in. This is your lightweight range.
For your medium range, fill a backpack with 1-litre bottles. See how heavy it needs to be that you can perform 8-10 rows or overhead lifts with moderate effort.
Your heavyweight range is generally about 50% heavier than your medium set. So for example, if you need 15kg dumbbells for your medium weight, choose the 22.5kg for your heavy set.
A barbell is another versatile free weight that's perfect for your home gym. You can use it for deadlifts or bench presses, or add some resistance to your squats and lunges.
This Gorilla MAX Barbell (£169.00) will have you feeling like a mighty silverback! It clocks in an impressive 20kg itself, but for the extra beast factor, you can add bumper plates to the bar. Simply use the spring clamps to hold them in place.
Try these sprung-rubber bumper plates to increase your barbell's resistance. They're designed to be dropped repeatedly with less damage to themselves and the floor. So, you can practice your Olympian-style lifts without building a platform for your home gym. (However, you should definitely consider protective mats/flooring).
The plates come in pairs ranging from 5kg each (at £29.99 per pair) to 20kg each (at £109.99 per pair). Choose a resistance that lets you deadlift about 1-1.5 times your body weight. (Don't forget to consider the weight of the barbell itself!)
For example, if you weigh 84 kilos, aim to deadlift up to 126kg. That would take 2 pairs of 20kg bumper plates and 1 pair of 10kg plates on a 20kg barbell.
The best part of a home gym is that you can mix and match the equipment you need for your goals. Look for versatile weights that are suitable for various exercises.
We recommend quad-grip plates, which can be used on a barbell for your deadlifts and power cleans or as hand weights. They feature ergonomic handles on four sides (hence the name), plus a durable rubber coating to reduce shock.
Try using quad-grip plates for your goblet squats or sit-ups. They're also a decent substitute for kettlebells, which are pricey and can't be put on your barbell!
As with any weights, start out with a lightweight, medium-weight, and heavy-weight set. Note that these plates are sold separately unless you buy the 100kg set. Weights range from 1.235kg at £5.40 each to 25kg at £65.00.
Home Gyms Are Affordable
With a few smart choices, you can have a versatile home gym that lets you hit beast mode — or at least get in a good workout without having to fight someone for the bench press! It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive. The right equipment can pull double-duty for a broad range of exercises.