How to Build a Home Gym

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By JOEL TOLEDANO


So you have been doing CrossFit for a while now; you are thinking it is time to take it to the next level and build yourself a home gym. Is it right for you? And what equipment do you really need? How much will it cost you? Let’s take a look.

Should I build a home gym?

If you love the community and motivation of group training, think carefully before you invest in a home gym.
This is the key question you need to ask yourself. And don’t forget to ask the others in your household, since this potentially impacts them as well – get their buy-in before commandeering a room in the house or half your garage. On the one hand, a home gym sounds like a great idea:

On the days I’m not scheduled to go to my CrossFit gym, however, I’m at a bit of loss as to what to do. … At first, I thought I’d have to re-join a big globo-gym to get access to the equipment I’d need. But then I read this article in the CrossFit Journal explaining how to fully equip one’s home gym for CrossFit. It sounded fun, so I started cramming stuff into our little garage. – (Fitbomb)

But on the other hand, make sure you will actually use it:

Working out on your own isn’t for everybody. Some people would buy this equipment and never use it, because they actually find better motivation in group classes.– (BreakingMuscle.com)

Most people think first about how much money they would save on affiliate gym dues and commuting costs. But you should also spend some time thinking hard about whether you are motivated enough to use that home gym and not just let it accumulate dust.

OK, I am motivated to kick butt and I want to build a home gym. What are the essential items I need?

Start with a well thought-out approach to (1) necessary equipment, and (2) the space that equipment will require in your home gym.

Keep it simple: Your most important need in a home gym is… SPACE.
Matthew Hall analyzed mainsite WODs over a period of 18 months for the CrossFit Journal and came to some surprising conclusions about what equipment is truly necessary to do most WODs in your home gym:

The most important idea to take away from the data: it costs close to $4,000 to completely outfit a CrossFit home gym, but 80 percent of exercises can be completed by spending about $1,500. Most of that total goes to CrossFit staples such as a bar and weights. They cost less than $1 per use. Less expensive items such as rings and medicine balls are used frequently. Buying them adds to the percentage of the program that can be completed. A jump rope is used infrequently but costs just $13. Buy one.

Hall’s analysis chart below highlights the frequency distribution of various pieces of equipment used in WODs. Kettlebells and dumbbells, which are typically part of home gym setups, are used in a surprisingly small percentage of WODs, and reasonable substitutes abound for equipment that is infrequently called-for (e.g., running for rowing):

image

Blair Morrison takes a “less-is-more” approach to home gym building and lays out a series of helpful checklists as to what a home gym does and does not need:

5 things a home gym needs:

  1. space (see next section)
  2. a pullup bar (“the quintessential upper body strength builder”)
  3. a sandbag (“better, more versatile, and costs less” than a barbell)
  4. barbell and bumpers (“Barbells are necessary if you intend to build real strength. You can only get so far before you have to deadlift and squat to improve.”)
  5. rubber flooring and a rack (“Without someplace to rack your bar you can’t do heavy squats. If you can’t do heavy squats you can’t get strong. … I’m simply referring to some way to load a secure bar at shoulder height. Portable metal racks, cinder blocks, whatever.”)

5 things a home gym does NOT need:

  1. a treadmill
  2. a bench (“It is good for one exercise and otherwise it is always in the way.”)
  3. plyo boxes (“These things just don’t get used enough to justify the inevitable headache they create. They are space vacuums and shin destroyers.”)
  4. a platform (“The rubber flooring will serve as your platform if you don’t have the time or space to build a proper wooden one.”)
  5. medicine balls (“They wind up all over the place—stacked on weights, in corners, or right out in the open—and second, the vast majority of CrossFitters only use them for one exercise—wallball.”)

And don’t forget the ipod or stereo system. You have to rock good tunes while you work out!

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