How To Build Your Home Gym On Any Budget
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By Takia McClendon
In February 2017, I faced my first real running injury: tendinitis in my left foot. There were days when taking a step felt so horrible that I couldn’t even imagine running again.
After I was cleared to run, I was so afraid to get injured again that I did the bare minimum to get by - run on Wednesdays with City Fit Girls. That meant no racing, no long runs on weekends and no track workouts on Tuesdays.
This past summer, I decided that I was ready to take control of my running again and train for the Philly Half Marathon (my first since Feb 2016). If I was serious, I knew that I would have to make drastic changes to my routine. I had to train the way that I would instruct my clients to by mixing up my runs, incorporating more strength training and following a stretching routine.
Although I’m a member at a few local gyms like Subversus Fitness, my schedule does not always permit me to make it to classes. Was that an excuse to skip strength training? Nope. I decided to take matters into my own hands and purchase the equipment I needed to workout at home.
I know what you’re thinking, “gym equipment is expensive!”. Well, yes and no. While some equipment can average over $1,000, I was able to get the basics for about $250.
Whether your budget is $25 or $250, you can incorporate a few essentials into your home gym to make sure you never skip a workout again while working towards becoming a stronger runner.
Now, before we get into picking equipment based on your budget, let’s make a few things very clear:
A home gym doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t take classes at other places. The movements I learned at Subversus Fitness were very crucial in being able to workout at home. It’s never a bad idea to train with the experts.
Once you start building your home gym, you still have to find the motivation to workout. Create a schedule and stick to it.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss specific equipment based on your budget:
$50 can go a long way. Start by incorporating more body weight training and plyometrics to your routine. Adding resistance bands and dumbbells will be a game changer so that you can begin to add weight to the movements that help runners the most - squats, deadlift and hip thrusts.
Resistance Bands: $11.00 - Then try this: 33 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Literally Anywhere
10LB Dumbbells: $31.00* - A single 10lb rubber encased dumbbell starts at $15.50. You’ll need to order two to make the most of your workouts
Yoga Mat: $13.00 - You’ll be doing movements on the ground so a yoga mat is a great way to protect your knees.
Nike Training Club App: Get access to hundreds of workouts from your smart phone for free.
City Fit Girls Newsletter: We send a weekly newsletter every Monday morning that includes workouts to keep you moving throughout the week…also for free.
Total: $52 (or $65 if you don’t have a yoga mat)
If you have $150, you can really up the ante with dumbbells, a kettlebell and a medicine ball to incorporate more compound movements to your routine. These items are all space savers so if you don’t have a lot of space, you can easily store your gym away under the bed or in a closet.
Heavy Duty Pull Up Assist and Powerlifting Stretch Bands: $10.00 - I use them as a part of my warm-up (usually with Good Mornings) and during some workouts. Watch this video to learn how to incorporate them in your workouts.
Medicine Ball: $37 - If you want to add weight to movements like squats or sit-ups, the medicine ball can be a great way to add variety.
Cast Iron Kettlebell: $51 - Great for kettlebell swings, squats and deadlifts
I know that there are higher quality versions of all of the pieces I purchased but I didn’t want my budget to get in the way of my strength training routine. If you have unlimited funds, I recommend doing a lot more research to find out which brands work best for you.
Bench: $30 - Not only will you need a bench for bench pressing, you can use it for single leg squats, tricep dips, and more.
Pair of Adjustable 41"-66" Rack: $63 My basement ceiling is too low to accommodate a larger rack so this works perfectly.
Barbell Collar Pair: $9 - These prevent your plates from falling off your barbell. Don’t skip them!
Rogue HG 2.0 10LB Plates: $47.50
If you have unlimited funds, you can invest in higher quality versions of the equipment listed above. I would focus on getting a really good barbell (if you plan to drop it from high up) and a more versatile rack.
Higher quality, sturdy squat rack: $350 and up
Rogue Barbell: $250 and up
Heavier Rogue Bumper Plates $60 and up
Gym/Exercise Mats: $20 - This will come in handy when you drop weights onto the floor. Not only will they keep your floors safe, it’s less impact on your equipment and will keep your barbell and plates in better shape.
Nike Metcon Training Shoe: $95-$150 - If you can, swap your running shoes for a lightweight, lifting shoe that will keep you stable throughout your workout.
Now that you got the basics down, it’s time for you to start planning your home gym! If you don’t have a large budget, start small and add a new piece of equipment to your gym every couple of months until you have all of the gear that you need. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below!
Takia McClendon is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She’s a Certified USA Track & Field Coach who enjoys leading group runs and track workouts in Philadelphia.