How to Build a Home Gym: Step by Step
Step 1: Determining how much space you have.
When planning the setup for building your own home gym the first step is figuring out where you’re going to put it. Do you have a spare room, or a basement, or a garage? Will you have the whole room or just a small corner? You’ll need to figure out the best use of space and how much room you have within that space.
If it’s just a portion of any of the above then you’re going to have to make do with a smaller overall setup than if you have a larger utility room in the basement or a garage. Don’t worry if you’re lacking in space as just as there is equipment for any budget there’s also equipment for any sized space.
You also have to figure out ceiling height. The majority of homes built before the dawn of the McMansion have eight foot ceilings (2.4m). If you’re on the shorter side, this might be high enough to do overhead lifts. If you’re a 6’4″ like me then that won’t work as you’ll be crushing the weights into the ceilings. As with space issues, there are workarounds to ceiling height, too. You can stick with dumbbell or kettlebell seated presses and skip the Olympic lifts until you get more room. You could even do barbell lifts depending on your other equipment so we’ll get to that in a bit.
When we were looking at houses I made sure to bring a tape measure with me to figure out the ceiling height. It wasn’t looking good until we found our current townhouse. I knew it was THE place when we went downstairs and saw the utility room with massive 14’ ceiling. My dream of straight-legged pullups would actually come true!
Step 2: Deciding on flooring.
Once you have determined where your home gym will be located you’ll need to work on getting flooring down. Gym equipment is hard on floors and most people use rubber mats as this will lessen noise from plates hitting the ground and also cushion your body for ground work. The most important thing, though, is it will protect your floor as the last thing you want to do is drop a heavy plate and dent your floor or nick a nice piece of hardwood.
You can buy small 3’x3′ interlocking squares or you can just buy bigger pieces of 4’x6′ mats from various gym equipment companies or even farm stores like Tractor Supply Company or Farm & Fleet. These are thicker than the smaller interlocking pieces and quite a bit heavier around 100 pounds each. In the long run, though, they are well worth it.
I ended up with six mats from Tractor Supply Company and saved on shipping by being able to get them all in the back of a Scion xB. I even carried them from the car down the stairs on my own and stacked them three deep a side since that’s all the room I can afford. I figured my next place would be bigger so I’d have them for future use. Better to buy once, cry once then have to hunt them down again.
Once you have the flooring in place you can decide next on the centerpiece of your gym – a power cage or squat stand.