Best home gym set up, blog post cover image. Raising The Bar Fitness

Best Home Gym Setup for Lifting Weights at Home

Recently I was asked by a client to advise them on the best home gym set-up for lifting weights at home. 

They wanted to be able to do full-body weighted workouts from home without needing to go to the gym.

The client also had limited space and wanted equipment that:

  • Didn’t break the bank in terms of cost 
  • Space-saving 
  • Safe on the floor and at home
  • Offering as much versatility as possible 

Best Home Gym Setup For Lifting Weights at Home.

Other considerations

As I am sure, they are also many people, especially at the moment looking for the same setup I have included what I recommend and why below to help you all get lifting from home.

This was not the easiest of challenges as there are so many pieces I could have included and I had to really consider my client’s goals when making my final choices 
Goal: Lift weights to gain primarily size and gain some strength without needing to go to a gym.

Here is my recommendation and the final eight pieces of equipment I settled on:

Adjustable Dumbbells

Image of bowflex adjustable dumbbells as used by raising the bar fitness

These are a must-have, and if I had to pick one piece of equipment for lifting weights at home, these would be it.

Dumbells (especially in a range of different weights) are incredibly versatile.
They can be used to perform a multitude of different exercises, allowing you to work, every muscle group in the body.

They also offer different variations of exercises as opposed to their barbell versions meaning you can mix up and vary your workouts where and when needed and hit other muscles in slightly different ways and angles.

When combined with an adjustable bench, the list of options increases, giving you more tools for your toolbox so to speak and allowing for more variation and specific muscle targeting.

Since the day I started one-to-one training from my studio, I have used adjustable dumbbells, and although when I first purchased my pair, I did have some concerns I haven’t looked back since.

The other alternative is having a rather large rack and a full range of dumbbells costing into the thousands and taking up ten times more space.

I would recommend getting the largest range of weight on a set as you can, i.e. up to 35kg as opposed to 25kg max weight etc.

They get my thumbs up for overall value, space-saving and versatility.

Olympic Barbell

A 7ft Olympic barbell

The second piece of kit is a barbell, and for this, I am recommending a 7ft 20kg Olympic barbell.

These do come in different weights and sizes, but 20kg is the standard weight, and the 7ft length is going to give you more options and works best in conjunction with the corner landmine.

Also if you add more equipment to this set-up in the future, you have to bear in mind that a lot of racks and cages are built to accommodate a 7ft bar, and a shorter bar just won’t fit.

A barbell and weights are going to be vital for those big compound exercises and give us more versatility and options for performing specific exercises.
Combining it with a landmine unit increases the amount of exercise that a bar can be used for.

Although these are 7ft, they are relatively space-saving as they can be rested upright in the corner of the room or laid down flat against the wall.

In terms of cost, it is best to shop around as the price can vary dramatically, but you should be able to pick one up in the 100 – 200 region.

Weight Plates

A rubber tri-grip Olympic weight plate

No barbell is complete without weights, so the next piece of equipment we need to get are weight plates. 

The amount of plates you need is going to be determined by how much you can lift on your heaviest lift (usually deadlift), but you always want to buy more than you currently need as you are going to be always progressing and the weight should be moving up consistently. 

Believe me; there is nothing worse than maxing out your weights and having to wait a couple of weeks for new plates to come.  

For training at home, I recommend rubber-coated tri-grip plates. 

The rubber offers an extra layer of protection for the weight and most importantly for your floor and house, and the tri-grip gives us more versatility by giving us different ways to lift and use the weight. 

Weight plates are essentially large lumps of metal so the more you have, the more space they will take up, I haven’t added a weight rack to the list as it would add extra cost and sometimes the best way to store these is just to pile them on top of each other in the corner of the room.

When starting out look for barbell and weight sets where the weights and barbells are packaged together as this is usually the cheapest option.

If you are buying weights, separately remember you have an Olympic bar and will need Olympic weight plates or a 2inch diameter hole.

A picture of a standard and Olympic weight plate side by side with hole measurement size indicated

Adjustable bench

An adjustable gym weight bench

A bench is a must, and by the adjustable bench, I mean one that can be adjusted to an incline.
For this setup, decline probably isn’t necessary as there will be a limited amount of exercises it would help with.
In terms of added extras like leg and preacher curl extensions from my experience, these add-ons aren’t great unless you’re going high end and end up floating around, taking up space and getting in the way.

You want to stick with a bench with different levels of incline like the one in the image.
You also want to avoid a bench with fixed uprights to hold the bar as they won’t be needed and will limit what you can do on the bench.
This will give you the most amount of variations when it comes to exercises.

The most significant factor when choosing your bench will be, max load (the maximum amount of weight the bench can hold).
You need to take in to account your weight and the heaviest amount of weight you will be lifting on the bench, so your weight + max bench press weight + projected weight increases (remember the bar weighs 20kg).
I generally go for a bench with a max load of 250 -300kg.

Quality is also going to be a consideration for this item; it needs to be comfortable study and safe.
These also take a bit of a battering over time, so spending a little extra here will go along way.

Adjustable Squat Stands

Pair of adjustable squat stands

In terms of the brief, for space-saving and cost this style of stand take my vote and can be used for both squatting and bench pressing.
Racks and cages are nice to have but need a lot of space and have a high initial cost.

These stands are easy to manoeuvre, easy to store and transport if needed.
The adjustable feature allows you to change the height so they can be used in conjunction with the bench for benching.

Again the primary consideration here is max-load: bar + max lift + projected weight progressions, you always want to go a bit over for safety.

Quality with these you just want to make sure they are not a Micky mouse set and too lightweight and ensure the adjustable part and the pins look good and sturdy.
Solid and sturdy is vital for this piece of kit.

Corner Landmine Unit

Corner landmine unit

Another piece of kit that I love and can add some significant variations and fun exercises to your workout is a landmine unit. 

Small cheap and versatile this slots nicely into the corner of the room and attaches with the Olympic bar. 

There are various handle attachments that will work well with this setup, but starting they are not needed. 

The only thing you need to ensure here is that you get a landmine attachment that takes an Olympic bar. 

Skipping Rope

Red and black skipping rope

Small, cheap, and portable a skipping rope is an excellent piece of kit.

No workout would be complete without a cardio element, and while most people would opt for any cardio machine, i.e. treadmill, bike or cross-trainer save space and money by purchasing a skipping rope.

As you get better at skipping, you can skip for more extended periods and slow down your pace or speed it up and make it a quick burst of HIIT.

Floor Mats

Red and black fitness mat
Different thickness gym flooring mats stacked up

So when I say floor mats this is a two in one section as what I am referring to is an exercise mat and matting for the ground (optional)

You may feel that an exercise mat is not needed as you can perform floor exercises without the mat, but an exercise mat will protect not only your floor but also you.
If you have ever had carpet burn from doing crunches, you will know what I mean.

It protects your floor from sweat and is easier on your wrists when performing pushups.

Floor mating protects your floor from the weights, and although I have marked it as optional if you are deadlifting, they are a necessity.
Even if you have carpet down deadlifting and weight lifting, in general, can damage the floor underneath.

When it comes to floor mats, there are a lot of options out there and from my experience, any matting fitness branded or labelled as “gym flooring” is more expensive.
Personally, I use cow matting from my local co-op 2inch thick crumbed rubber you can’t beat it

Also, watch out for cheap options that market themselves as gym options but are just way to thin to serve any purpose here.

Other Considerations

Flooring – When lifting at home, you should always set your gym up downstairs on the ground level as more often then not, you will be on a solid concrete surface. 

I don’t advise lifting weights on a tiled floor even with mats this doesn’t end well. 

Entry points and space – Although there is no large equipment in this setup if you are ever progressing and getting bigger kit bare in mind sizing, available space and door widths. 

I hope this helps.

Stay well and safe, keep lifting and remember every day is a day to Raise The Bar

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