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How To Set Up A Home Gym For Less Than $500

by Dejan Antic | Follow Dejan on Twitter

Building A Home Gym

Is it possible to have a perfect home gym for less than $500?

I say yes!

From a financial standpoint (and many other standpoints), setting up a home gym is far better than visiting a commercial gym.

Good news for people with tight budgets!

Lets take my home gym for example.

My home gym is worth approximately 1800€, and I have the following:

  • Power Rack with a lat attachment,
  • bench,
  • 3 barbells (200 cm, 180 cm & EZ curl bar)
  • 2 pairs of dumbbells
  • 193 kg in weights (425 lbs)
  • 3 types of rubber bands
  • various attachments for the lat attachment
  • dip station (home made)
  • bench for the glute ham raise (home made)

First of all, I must say this … if you’re serious about adding muscle, then you must see your lifting equipment as an investment and not as an expense.

What’s also worth mentioning, is that I didn’t spend all the money at once. I built up my home gym during the course of several years (I think I started in 2006). I bought the stuff I needed, whenever I had some money available.

I made my biggest investment in 2008, when I bought the power rack, the bench and the lat attachment for 1200€. I ordered my stuff from Germany, and just the cost of getting the equipment here to Slovenia was 120€.

I wish they included free shipping.

So I’ve been “building up” my home gym since 2006 and so far, I’ve spent 1800€. This means that on a monthly basis, my gym is costing me 25€, and the monthly cost will gradually decrease as the time goes by.

This makes my home gym, the most affordable gym in the area. While being cheap, I’m still able to perform the best compound exercises for building muscle.

Take that, greedy owners of expensive commercial gyms!

For a decent home gym, one that will allow you to add pounds of muscle, you just need some simple things, starting with the absolutely critical …


Absolutely necessary if you want to set up a home gym.

Yeah, I know this is pretty obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning.

I’m holding all of my equipment and doing all of my exercises in a space, that’s two and a half square meters big. For doing just the bare essential lifts like the deadlift, barbell rows and the military presses, you require even less space.

If you’re lacking even this minimal space, then the best thing for you is to join a commercial gym.

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Bare Minimum

The bare minimum equipment every home gym should have, is a 300 lbs Olympic barbell set.

For just $499, you can get a great Olympic Barbell Set with free shipping – lucky American bastards.

With a barbell set you’ll be able to perform the king of all exercises, which is the deadlift. Your primary focus – when starting out – should be, to deadlift those 300 lbs for at least 10 reps. This will get you growing like a weed.

Other exercises you can do with a barbell:

  • Military press,
  • bent over rows,
  • barbell lounges,
  • good mornings.

Seriously, a 300 lbs barbell set, will allow you to do all the best muscle building exercises.

Basic Stuff

The basic stuff includes:

The dumbbell pair is the first thing you should get from the basic category. I won’t go into details about which exercises you’ll be able to do with them, since there are literally hundreds of them. Type “best dumbbell exercises” into Google or YouTube, for the best exercises.

Your next priority should be getting a heavy-duty bench. And when I say heavy-duty, I mean heavy-duty!

Don’t buy cheap benches, since they will probably collapse when you start to lift heavier weights. People have almost died (some probably died), because they bought flimsy benches in order to save some money.

A bench like Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Bench Series 3.1 has a great quality to price ratio and I definitely recommend it.

The last piece of equipment – probably the most expensive, yet the most valuable – you should get from the basic category is a Power Rack.

I like to think, that power racks are the granddaddy of all exercise equipments. They allow you to safely perform all of the major compound movements, even the prince of all exercises – the squat.

After the deadlift, I’d say that the back squat, is the most effective exercise for building legs like trunks and backs of titans. Every trainee should at some point do them, the sooner the better.

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Advanced Stuff

Huh, where should I begin?

Having a power rack is great, because you’re able to upgrade it with several attachments. Definitely aim at getting a lat attachment first.

With a lat attachment, you’ll be able to perform exercises like:

  • Lat pulldowns,
  • cable tricep extension,
  • seated cable rows,
  • pull throughs,
  • and many others.

Next, you should get a pair of dipping handles/dipping station – depends if your power rack has dipping handles available for purchase – for weighted dips. Weighted dips are a great alternative, if you find that progress on your bench is starting to hit a wall.

Another good addition to your equipment arsenal are rubber bands. I use Woody Bands (Intermediate Push-up Package) and I must say that I highly recommend them, because they add a lot of variety to your workouts.

There’s literally an infinite number of items I could still recommend, but there’s really no need for that since the stuff I mention here, is all you need in order to build an amazing physique.

Once you have all of the equipment, the only thing left to do for you is to put in the work – there’s no way around it. Just be sure to avoid mistakes most people make, while trying to gain muscle mass.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer going to a commercial gym instead of building a home gym? Did I forget to mention a vital equipment every home gym should have?

Please let me know in the comments section below.

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