One of the most frequently asked questions I get it: “what equipment should I get for my home gym?”
In a previous post I included only the basics, but many of you expressed a desire to know more about what to add as you expand your home gym, so I’ve broken down today’s post into:
The Starter Wish List
The Intermediate Wish List
The “I Want To Do It All” Wish List
I’ve included links to where you can purchase items, but please note I am not in any way affiliated to these companies. Some items I have personally purchased, others I have not - please do your homework, particularly for higher ticket items, prior to purchasing. These links are just to give you some ideas of what is out there. Prices may change after this post is published, so they may not be exact.
While name brand stuff may look cool and offer fun colours, know that you’re definitely paying a premium for the name. Unless you plan to open a commercial gym one day, the basics (without the name brand) will definitely suffice.
Kijiji is also a great place to find used equipment, especially for simple things like dumbbells or kettlebells.
The Starter Wish List:
Quantity: 1 lighter set for upper body + 1 heavier set for lower body
Weight: This is TOTALLY dependent on you. If you are relatively new to lifting, 8-12lbs may be enough for upperbody, and 15-20lbs for lower body. If you're deciding between a set, my recommendation would be to pick the heavier option - ie. go with the 10lb set instead of the 8lb set for upper body - because initially you can decrease reps, and then add in reps as you get stronger. If you go for the lower weight that you can comfortably do now, you'll be needing a new set in short time - not a bad thing, but if cost is a consideration, go for the slightly more challenging weight now.
Style: I prefer the hex dumbbells, simply because they don't roll across the floor when I set them down, and can also be used from a plank position safely.
Fitness Depot sells dumbbells at the lowest price per lb I've found and are usually just under $1/lb. Click here to shop dumbbells
Quantity: 1 medium band, 1-2 heavy bands
Resistance: I'd recommend getting one medium and one heavy resistance to start so you can swap between the two or combine them. Even if you’re relatively new to weight training, usually the lightest resistance will be too easy, so skip it and head straight to medium resistance.
Amazon.ca for a 5-pack, all of varying strengths, for $19 here.
Quantity: 1 light, and 1 medium
Resistance: One light band is a great start (0.5"), but for some movements you want a heavier one as well (0.75") - again this will totally be dependent on you!
Door Anchor: To add versatility to your banded workouts, these door anchors are a super simple solution that won’t break the bank. You can grab a 2-pack here on Amazon.ca for $15.
The Intermediate Wish List:
Box and/or bench
Additional dumbbell weights
Box or Bench
Having a raised surface adds so much versatility for training, and are great for hip thrust variations, step-up variations, box jumps, etc.
For a Rogue box shop here, cost is $160. If someone in your house is handy with woodworking, build one yourself for $30 worth of supplies.
If you want to incorporate box jumps but wood edges scare you, there are also foam plyo box options available, like this stackable set from Fitness Depot for $388 or purchase single foam boxes like this one from Amazon.ca.
For some movements, an exercise ball will do the trick as a raised surface, and are much friendlier on the budget if you’re starting off. For $12.88 you can get a 55” ball at Fitness Depot here. Adjust the ball size based on your height.
More versatile that rings, and easier to install as you can purchase door attachments to make it usable in the space you have. Great for adding in more rowing work, or some more advanced hamstring curls, or core work.
Much easier on the budget, and much easier to install if you don’t have a dedicated gym space where you want to be bolting things into the wall, is the doorframe pull-up bar. There are lots of options available, but the one I started with is similar to below. Note - it will mark up your door frame at the top a bit, so be aware of that when deciding where to do your pull-ups if that’s a concern.
Additional dumbbell weights
The key to getting stronger is to continually challenge yourself, so as you progress you will find you’ll need a larger variety of weights so that you can pick an appropriately challenging weight no matter what the rep scheme is.
Resistance: Go for a firmer roller, as they do tend to break down and “squish” overtime.
The “I Want To Do It All” Wish List:
Cardio machine: rower, bike, etc
Anything else you consider the fun, but not necessary stuff: battle ropes, rope anchored for rope climbs, rings, slamballs, hurdles, etc.
Quantity: 1 lighter and 1 heavier to start your collection, and build from there.
Weight: I'd recommend getting one lighter one that you can use for single arm overhead work to start (overhead press, snatch), and one heavier one for things like kettlebell swings, single leg work, etc.
There are various styles of kettlebells, pick what works for you and just go with it.
Competition kettlebells: are all the same size, but different weights. Price will vary by weight of the kettlebell, this 16kg is $58 from Fitness Depot here.
Russian kettlebells: again will vary in price based on weight, an example is here from Fitness Depot for $40.
Vinyl coated: there are various versions of these, but they might be a kinder option for your floors depending on where your workouts are happening. A 40lb vinyl coated option from Fitness Depot for $44 can be found here.
Style: Go with what you enjoy! Rower, bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc.
Shop it: I’ll leave the shopping to you here, as there are SO many options out there and price points. If you have specific questions, let me know:) We have a Concept 2 rower, and an Assault Bike, so those are really the only two brands and machines that I can personally speak to.
Barbells + plates
Quantity: 1 barbell (women’s specific) + numerous plates + safety clips
Weight: Women’s bars are not only lighter (35lb versus 45lb for the men’s bar), but the diameter of the bar is smaller as well. For most women, it will be more comfortable to get a solid grip on a women’s bar - particularly helpful for anything taken from the floor like deadlifts, snatch, or cleans, but also helps with overhead work like overhead press and thrusters.
For plate weight, it will depend where your current strength is at, but start with a set of 10lb, 15lb, 25lb, and you’ve already got enough to make any combination from 35lb to 135lb. Add to your collection as needed:)
This is one category you can definitely keep on the simpler side, or blow the budget on. Honestly, be realistic with what you’re using it for. I went with basic Fitness Depot Northern Lights bars and they have stood up to numerous personal training clients and classes over the past 4 years. But hey, if a custom designed pink or purple Rogue barbell is calling your name and Santa is willing to bring it, nothing wrong with that! Eleiko bars are bar-none (pun intended) the best barbells out there, and have an incredible customer service policy. They come with a price, but if you are a high performance athlete, or plan to run a performance gym, they may be worth the investment to you. Or, again, if you have a super generous Santa.
Note: You’ll see bars labelled as “weightlifting”, “Olympic”, or “powerlifting” bars. Weightlifting and Olympic bars (the same thing, just different names depending where you’re buying them from), will have more whip to the bar and rotation in the bearings since they are designed for the snatch and clean. Powerlifting bars are designed for the power lifts - deadlift, bench press, and squat. What do you need? Again, if you aren’t a competitive athlete in any of the above sports, just grab yourself an appropriately weighted bar (35lb women, 45lb men) that’s within your budget.
Fitness Depot models can be found here.
Rogue Canada models can be found here.
Eleiko top notch bars can be found here.
I kept this separate from the barbell and plates, because you really don’t have to have a squat rack to be able to start using a barbell - you can do deadlifts, cleans, and snatches without a squat rack, and once you know how to clean you’ll be able to get the weight up to do overhead or squat work as well (of course at weights limited to your cleans)
Similar to the cardio equipment, I’ll leave this one up to you to seek out. There are SO many models, price ranges, sizes, from basic to having tons of features - it’s going to come down to how much space you have, money you want to spend, and how many of the additional features you really have to have.
What else do you want to add in? This is where you get to customize based on what you like to do! Hate jumping? Probably don’t want to invest in hurdles. Want to learn entirely new skills? Maybe a rope for rope climbs is on your list.
If you have any questions, as always feel free to email me. I could talk gym stuff all day long.
P.S. Here’s the link again for your FREE 7-Day Workout Plan, available only until June 29th. Grab yours while you can!