I really love having the option to use my home gym any time I want. However, it can be difficult putting together a versatile and functional gym in a home. To get the most out of your exercise room, I’ll be helping with a few small home gym ideas and tips.
Even a compact home gym can be incredibly useful. Not only for a time-saver but also to avoid waiting in traffic or leaving the house in the rain or snow.
I’ve had several small home gyms myself, so I’ll be providing suggestions on some must-have exercise gear, compact exercise machines as well as full body fitness equipment. So let’s get to it.
How To Buy for a Home Gym
Before purchasing anything, take some time to assess your small home gym needs. If you have limited space, it’s important to get the best home gym equipment the first time.
To be efficient with your home gym selections, my recommendation is to focus on a couple of key pieces of equipment that you can use for more than one muscle group. You can find this kind of versatile equipment that is also compact and inexpensive.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to make any major decisions right away. As your home exercise program evolves, it will reveal what to buy for a home gym next. After that, you can base your purchases on ones that are the most beneficial to your home workout routines.
Small Home Gym Ideas
Depending on the amount of space available, start planning your layouts for what wall space you can use and work your way around. This is a start to making the best use out of your exercise space. Below, I mention several different ideas for efficient wall use.
After you have planned this out, you will have a better idea of what fits best in the middle of the room. For a garage or basement home gym ideas, you can even start with attaching items such as pull up bars and heavy bags to the ceiling.
Don’t overcrowd your workout area so it is too confining. And be sure to leave some room to stretch or perform simple bodyweight exercises such as pushups and situps.
How to Set Up a Home Gym
What kind of space do you have to work with? Some of you may have a one bay garage gym, a small exercise room in your home, or just a corner of your bedroom or office.
Whatever your situation, consider other gym items that will enhance your workouts besides exercise equipment. Once you have the basics in place its easier to proceed from there.
Here are some of the important options to keep in mind for your home gym design setup: mirrored wall, gym flooring (rubber protective mats or vinyl flooring), floor or ceiling fan, music, proper lighting, a TV monitor.
Once again, take a hard look at what your current and future exercise goals are before you start designing your home gym setup. Remember that you don’t have to get all of your gym equipment at once. Over time, you will see the best way to expand the home gym as your workout program progresses.
It may help to look up examples of other small home gym setups online. However, from what I’ve seen, most of the pictures are of roomy exercise studios, so you will have to get more creative.
You can read about other suggestions at Best Home Gym Design Ideas of 2020.
Wall Racks or Hooks
This is an excellent way to conserve a lot of space by holding your random gym equipment. Racks and hooks are an inexpensive way to easily hang things out of the way. Some of the items that would hang are TRX straps, resistance bands, jump ropes, exercise mats, workout towels, etc.
For under $100, you can get a multi-purpose storage rack. They don’t take up much room, and some brands even come with wheels. These are not designed to hold heavy weights, but they can store many of your workout items out of the way.
A gym storage rack can be used to organize medicine balls, Bosu balls, stability balls, and any other kind of workout gear (bars, handles, collars) that would otherwise be laying around in your way.
For a rack that holds kettlebells, dumbbells, heavy balls, and weight plates, you will want to consider a more heavy duty universal storage system.
Slimline and Folding Weight Racks
If you have an empty wall left, foldable exercise equipment can really help to amp up your workout. My favorite wall rack is a folding squat rack that conveniently hinges flat against the wall.
To accompany this foldable squat rack, look into an adjustable folding bench. These weight benches have several backrest angle settings, will fold up to be quite compact, and even come with wheels to roll it into a closet.
Dumbbell racks are also streamlined, compact, and an efficient way to store weights out of the way or against a wall.
I go into more detail on these weight racks below.
Set Up According to Your Exercise Goals
When thinking about what you need for your home gym, there are a few main exercise categories to think about.
If you are focused on endurance and cardio, I highly recommend an exercise machine for cardio to get you going. This exercise category can even include interactive home gyms. Some other great pieces of exercise equipment for cardio would be any type of stationary bike (especially an air bike), a folding treadmill, or a rowing machine.
These opinions are also space-saving since most of this is foldable exercise equipment, except for the fan bike. A couple of simple and inexpensive exercise equipment options include jump ropes, a mini trampoline, and step or aerobic platforms.
For strength building, you may need to take up a little more space in your compact exercise room. As I mentioned earlier, for bigger muscle, be sure to consider a foldable squat rack and a folding weight bench to go together. On top of this, add dumbbells or a barbell with plates to give you a powerhouse full of strength-building workouts.
My favorite Crossfit idea to save space in your home gym is a quality power rack or squat rack that accepts accessories. This way you can add tons of Crossfit accessories from just one home gym exercise machine, saving a lot of space.
This opens up multiple Crossfit garage gym ideas. These accessories include ropes, pulleys, lots of pull up bar handle arrangements, landmines, dip bars, and the list goes on.
Small Home Gym Equipment Starters
For the basics, here are a few exercise equipment options that everyone should have. These items are reasonably inexpensive, take up very little room, and can be used to work out several muscle groups in one product.
If you are concerned about space or budget, you don’t need to start out will a full set of these. I’m recommending either just one adjustable dumbbell set or just a couple of dumbbell sizes in the weight that you will use the most. Once you feel out what sizes you need for a home gym, then you can add other dumbbell weights as needed.
Now if you have the space and budget, a full dumbbell set with a dumbbell rack is ideal. Dumbbell racks come in all different lengths and sizes depending on how many pairs you get. You can find a good dumbbell rack that is low profile and can fit tightly against the wall and out of the way.
Pull Up Bar
The best pull up bar for the doorway will have several different handle options to do wide grip pull-ups, narrow or underhand pull-ups, or hammer grip pull-ups. A pull-up bar will give you an excellent back workout using just your bodyweight.
As you get more advanced, I recommend trying on a weighted vest to make your pull up program more challenging. If you end up getting one of those compact power racks such as a folding squat rack, be sure to get one with a stable pull-up bar already attached.
If you invest in a good foldable bench, this will multiply the amount of exercises available to you, and it will fold neatly out of the way. Look for one that is fully adjustable, from a straight-up 90-degree position and down in increments to flat or decline.
For a small exercise room or home gym, you can get one of these convenient folding power racks or squat racks. This type of rack attaches to the wall, has over 1000lb weight capacity, and folds down almost flat to the wall (usually around 5″).
When you invest in a quality folding squat rack, be sure that it is one that can accept attachments. Squat rack attachments hook up to your columns to give you a variety of other exercises. One good example of a squat or power rack attachment is a dip bar.
Although boxing is a little more specialized type of workout, boxing equipment doesn’t take up much space. You could easily fit a heavy bag and/or speed bag along with other boxing accessories in a smaller home gym.
If you are working with a basement or have a garage home gym, this equipment will attach easily to the rafters in your ceiling. Boxing fitness is excellent for cardio and great for endurance building.
Exercise resistance bands are probably the most versatile and cheapest exercise equipment available. They are an effective exercise from building muscle to working damaged joints. If you get a resistance band workout guide, you will find every exercise for any body part that you can think of.
TRX Suspension Training System
This is one of the strongest lightest, and most compact exercise equipment out there. The kit includes a booklet containing exercises for full body workouts. TRX Home 2 is their most popular system and for all of the benefits, it costs only $200. The functional design uses your own weight for complete bodyweight training. No steel weight bars or plates required.
Compact home gyms
Sometimes the best home gym idea and the easiest small home gym solution is finding multi-use exercise equipment that is an all-in-one gym system.
We have reviewed a few items such as an exercise resistance band set, the TRX suspension system, and full dumbbell sets that can offer a full-body workout. However, these options only go so far, so here are some compact home gym machine ideas.
Total gym machines
You may remember the heavily advertised Total Gym machine in the past, but this system actually works. Not only can you get a full-body workout from this unit, but it also folds up to be very compact.
Nordictrack is a one-stop shop when it comes to functional exercise equipment from ellipticals to skiers. For this compact home gym review, I’m going to recommend the NordicTrack Fusion CST. This amazing machine provides 2-in-1 trainer-led cardio and strength workouts.
This model is the least expensive on in the NordicTrack strength-building line but still offers live, high-intensity workouts. The Fusion CST is a cutting edge, really cool machine that you will never get bored with.
Bowflex Home Gyms
This home gym is an all-in-one home fitness machine. I feel the best bargain is the Bowflex Xtreme 2 XE Home Gym. Get a full body workout with endless strength training exercises.
This Bowflex system keeps it challenging with its 210lbs of resistance, but is capable of being increased as you get stronger. Bowflex is efficient, versatile, and is still fairly compact.
There are many different exercise bike categories to choose from depending on your fitness goals.
If you are getting older, or want a more laid-back exercise, try a recumbent bike. They are low to the ground making it easy to get on and off, and the comfortable seat allows you to lay back.
For a hardcore bike workout, an air bike (the one with the big fan) is an excellent choice. The fan bike gives you an intense, full-body workout using both arms and legs. It may also be the best type of bike for interval training. The faster you pedal, the harder the resistance gets.
Another option is an interactive exercise bike that offers live spinning classes as well as thousands of on-demand classes.
You may not realize this, but nearly all running and walking treadmills fold up and have wheels making this an excellent small gym idea. Besides being compact, folding treadmills are sturdy, come with a cushioned running belt, and they will make you sweat with challenging incline increments.
Most of the better ones come with a large LCD display, a heart rate monitor, Bluetooth capabilities, and even cooling fans. Look for ones that offer several training programs for interval training, weight loss, and cardio challenge.
Get a full-body workout focusing on strength, endurance, weight loss, and cardio. The rower LCD screen will show all of your vitals, laps and duration.
BodyBoss 2.O Home Gym
It comes with a strong base, handles, bar, door attachment, and a carrying bag. If you decide to give the BodyBoss Home Gym a try, I do recommend purchasing the second set of bands for extra resistance.
Just to review this one more time, there are several options available for the most compact home gym equipment. Look for folding exercise equipment. You can find these in squat racks, weight benches, adjustable dumbbells, rowing machines, exercise bikes, or anything that folds up and has wheels.
Interactive Home Gyms
These all-in-one home gyms are taking the market by storm. The highlight is being able to enjoy live classes from home with a certified fitness instructor and the motivation of having a group class.
There are many different categories of interactive gyms depending on your goals. There are several “mirror” home gyms for mainly cardio workouts. You can get one with weight classes for strength building. Then there is my favorite, the Tempo Studio for strength, cardio, and endurance.
Keep in mind that with any of these home gyms with live classes, a monthly membership fee is required to use the classes.
For more informantion on interactive gyms, see my Best Interactive Home Gym Reviews.
My favorite interactive home gym, Tempo Fit, is priced right in line with the other ones in its class. However, I feel that this one stands out for a few reasons.
The biggest benefit to this gym is it’s truly interactive, so the teacher can actually correct your movements and help you in real time. Tempo Studio Home Gym also comes with all of the weights and bars that you need.
There is a large selection of live and on-demand class categories depending on your fitness goals. This gym is state of the art, and you will never get bored with its class options and versatility. Here you can see my Tempo Studio Review.
Small Home Gym Ideas Conclusion
Although everyone’s situation is different when it comes to putting together the best workout area, most home gym choices come down to how much space is available and the budget.
When trying to layout your home gym, first think about your exercise goals which will narrow down what exercise equipment will work best for you. Next, be creative on how to make the best use of walls, ceilings, corners, and even ceilings when putting together your exercise room.
I’ve listed some of the most functional, full-body, and all-in-one exercise equipment ideas to help get you started. Some of the best home workout machines can be used for multiple exercises, so you don’t have to purchase several different workout stations.
Putting together an exercise room or garage gym is exiting and can be fun. Good Luck!
If you have any questions or comments on the best small home gym design ideas, please leave a message below.