11 Best (& Creative) Home Gym Setups To Blow Your Mind

Steve Hoyles June 23, 2021

If you are looking for inspiration for your present or future home gym, you came to the right spot. 

With all the equipment options available, it can seem overwhelming to create the perfect home gym space–but after reading this article, it won’t be. 

Below, I went through 11 creative home gym ideas that fit a wide range of spaces and budget with the goal of giving you ideas and inspiration for your home gym. 

I’ll focus on particular aspects of each gym setup that will be important for you to include. These details will often be the difference between your home gym being a success or failure.

You may have given up on your home gym dreams, but before you surrender to Planet Fitness, take the time to read this article for ideas on how you can get creative and build a home gym without much space, money or both!

Why Should You Trust Me

I feel a need to talk about my credibility, because as you’re probably well aware, there is a ton of terrible, cookie cutter content out there on the internet from people not qualified to give it.  

I’m a gym owner, and I’ve been one for over a decade. To ensure my gym has the best equipment, I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching different types of equipment and gym setups, and while I’m not expert on too many things in life–gym equipment is one of them.

life--gym equipment

To save you time and effort, at the bottom of each gym setup, I put equipment recommendations in case you wanted to recreate the gym in your garage or room.  

All of my recommendations have been carefully considered and are equipment that I would use myself. If I wouldn’t add it to my home gym, I wouldn’t recommend you add it to yours.

Setting Up Your Home Gym To Reflect Your Training Goals

The gym has to reflect your training goals. 

A laser focus on what’s important will save you time and money, plus it’ll help you make better equipment decisions. 

We’ve written an article on general home gym advice here, but the article you’re about to read is more about getting creative when you’ve got limited space or budget (or both).

If you aspire to build an elite level CrossFit gym at home, but you only have 500 bucks and 100 square feet of space, you’re going to have to think again. 

Consider every point I make here, think about your usage, your budget and your space. Once you know what you have to spend, take a look at the suggestions. Perhaps even combine a few of the ideas to put together the perfect gym for your needs!


Home Gym SetUp #1: The Simple Home Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: People only interested in strength training

Budget Needed: $1500

Square Footage Required: 100 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, squat rack, plates and bench

The Simple Home Gym Setup

This setup is perfect for anyone who is interested in simple strength training without the need for anything extra.

When it comes to simplicity it doesn’t get much simpler than this–a bar, bench and rack are all you need–and it’s something that could challenge your fitness for years to come. 

To build a setup like this you would be looking at around 1500 bucks–not the cheapest thing in the world, but very affordable–and will pay itself back in gym membership fees in less than 5 years. 

In terms of space, you could get away with an area as small as 10’ x 10’, but anything else is a bonus.

If you’re serious about your training, you’ll need to invest in solid equipment, so the aim here isn’t to go cheap. It’s to go basic and compact, but robust and that is reflected in the equipment suggestions I’ve made.

The plates you would choose depend on your lifting style. I’m a fan of bumpers because they are versatile and padded, so they have less potential to damage my floors. 

If you want a more in-depth guide on plate options, I wrote a guide here on the best bumper plates for your home gym that goes into more than you’ll probably need to know: 

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup

Final Thoughts: If you’re looking for a simple set up that gives you everything you need for a great workout without emptying your pockets, this is the one I’d recommend. The idea here is to keep things simple and effective, so don’t waste money on superfluous items. There’s no need to exceed 1500 bucks here.


Home Gym Setup #2: Small Home Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: People with limited space, but still want to have a gym-like workout

Budget Needed: $1600

Square Footage Required: 70 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, Squat rack, plates and kettlebell

Small Home Gym Setup

If space is at a minimum, you have to think creatively, which is exactly what this set up is all about–maximizing space by getting rid of anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. 

With a simple wall mounted squat rack, a bench, a dumbbell set, and some bumper plates, this gym has everything you need to get a fantastic workout. 

This setup will allow you to do nearly every major lift you can think of–deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, squats, split squats, dumbbell curls, shoulder presses and more. 

The wall mounted squat rack is ideal for this setup–they can be used for pressing and squatting movements and when you’re done they are easily moved out of the way–perfect for maximizing space. 

The plates needed here will depend on the flooring and lifting style. If you’re on a solid ground floor (like a concrete garage) then I’d urge you to buy bumpers. If you’re in the house on a wooden floor, go cast iron because you won’t be dropping them anyway.

Lastly, to complete the setup above, add in a bench and some dumbbells and you’re good to go. If you can afford a solid dumbbell set, I do think it’s a home gym game changer, but if money is tight, in my honest opinion, you could probably get away with not adding dumbbells to save some money. 

Without dumbbells, you can put this setup together for around $1400 and keep space requirements to a minimum. With the dumbbells, you’ll be looking at closer to $2k-3.5k depending on how heavy the dumbbell set is. 

Optional Add-on: While not included in the setup above, I’m a huge fan of kettlebells. Because they take up such little space, are affordable, and add a ton of versatility to your workouts, I think it’s a great idea to add a kettlebell to this setup. 
Further Reading: If you want to learn more about adjustable kettlebells, check out my guide here

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final Thoughts: This setup is perfect for your looking for a compact, but effective way to get great workouts when you have limited pace. While not the cheapest setup, if I was limited on space, this is the one I would go with.


Home Gym Setup #3: Cheap Home Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: People who want exercise variety without breaking the bank

Budget Needed: Around $345

Square Footage Required: 100 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Gym value package, resistance bands, pull up bar, slam balls, jump rope

Cheap home gym setup

If money is tight–or you simply love a good bodyweight style workout–this gym is perfect for you.

What I love about this setup is that it takes up very little space, is very affordable, and you can still get a great workout in. 

While you won’t become Arnold Schwarzaneggar with this one (since it is limited on the types of lifts you can do), you 100% will be able to get into into tremendous shape and have fun doing so. 

To make this gym setup possible, it starts with a TRX, resistance bands, some jump ropes, rings, and a pullup bar.

I personally love slam balls, and think it’s a great addition to this style of workout, so I added that to the mix as well. If you’re looking to improve your cardio, a slam ball between 10-20 pounds is ideal. If you’re like me, and want to increase your strength gains, I’d opt for the 30-40 pound range.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final Thoughts: In terms of overall variety and value, you’ll struggle to beat this setup. It takes up little to no space and offers a diverse range of workout options–all while being very affordable. This workout includes resistance bands, a jump rope, a pullup bar, slam balls, and a TRX–all for under $400–which is fantastic for so much exercise variety.


Home Gym Setup #4: Calisthenics Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: People who focus on bodyweight training

Budget Needed: Around $400

Square Footage Required: 150 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Pull up bars, rings, straps, dip bars, plyo box, parallettes, weighted vest

Calisthenics gym setup

I love calisthenics and it’s an amazing way to get a great workout, challenge your body in crazy ways, and be able to do things you never would have thought were humanly possible (like the “human flag”). 

It’s perfect for bodyweight exercise fans, gymnasts, martial artists, and those people who want to be more functional in their training.

And when it comes to a calisthenics setup, relatively speaking–it’s very cheap! 

By saving on bars, plates, dumbbells, and other traditional equipment, you can spend more on exercise variety options. You can cram in a lot of versatility without sacrificing workout quality or even taking up too much space. 

This gym setup comes with:

  1. Pull-up bar with Olympic gymnastic rings
  2. Ab roller
  3. Dip bars
  4. Wooden parallettes
  5. 3-in-1 wood plyo boxes
  6. Weighted vest
  7. Jump rope
Calisthenics gym setup

Calisthenics workouts can legitimately be awesome, and in many ways is the perfect home gym setup because of how simple they are to perform.

And don’t think these workouts will be easy or not give results–some of the top calisthenics athletes are some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.

With this setup, you’ll be able to do pull-ups, dips, push-up variations, plyometrics, a variety of ab exercises– and who knows, in due time you’ll be able to advanced exercises like the “flag.”

Calisthenics gym setup

Expect to pay around 400 bucks for a great starter set up. You can always add to it, but even for that price you’ll have a great Calisthenics gym.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final Thoughts: There’s no better home workout setup than a calisthenics one. It takes up minimal space, is the most affordable gym setup option there is, and allows for some amazing workouts.


Home Gym Setup #5: Minimalist Home Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: People interested in lifting only

Budget Needed: Around $1500

Square Footage Required: 150 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, squat rack, plates, kettlebell and a bench

Minimalist home gym setup

If you like your training to be a little less country club and a lot more spartan, you’ve got to go old school. 

There’s no need for fancy, just a solid rack, bar, bench and plates. If you want variety, throw in a heavy kettlebell too. It’s the perfect gym for someone looking to build a home powerlifting gym without going overboard with equipment.

When it comes to minimalist home gyms, the idea is to go for quality and variety over quantity. If you buy the right rack, you can use it for all of your squatting, pressing and a good deal of your pulling movements. 

Buying an all-round barbell, a solid bench, a small rack, a plate set and a kettlebell gives you a huge variety of workout options and will keep the cost down. You could even expand it later down the line with a few dumbbells, a suspension trainer or maybe an EZ bar, but they’re not important at the start.

You probably won’t be doing olympic weightlifting or CrossFit in here, so you could save some money by buying iron plates rather than bumpers.

With quality over quantity, you’ll still only be paying around $1300 for a home gym that’ll do everything you need it to.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final thoughts: A minimalist set up doesn’t mean you buy poor quality equipment–I’d urge you to go for something that will stand up to heavy use. This setup will do exactly that, meaning you’ll never be let down by your equipment.


Home Gym Setup #6: Power Rack Home Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: Weightlifters and powerlifters who take their training very seriously

Budget Needed: Around $2500-3000

Square Footage Required: 150 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, squat rack, plates, kettlebell and a bench

Power rack home gym setup

If you’re a serious powerlifter or bodybuilder, this is the setup you’ll want. 

I’m going to make a couple of assumptions here:

  1. You want a great power rack so don’t mind spending the money. It’s the focal point of the gym after all.
  2. You want some versatility to do some accessory work.

I’ve put that out there at the beginning because there’s thousands of racks out there, but some just don’t reach the standards required. The market has been flooded with cheap equipment and frankly, I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I recommended a lot of it. 

If you’re serious about lifting (and this type of gym suggests you would be), don’t buy cheap–instead, buy quality. 

This setup includes a power rack, some bars and a good set of plates, whether that’s for powerlifting, weightlifting or a mixture. I default to colored bumpers in situations like these (serious weight training often leads to competition, so best training with comp plates), but pick for your sport.

You don’t need a huge amount of space here, but if you want to do some olympic weightlifting, you’re going to need some good clearance around the bar and overhead, so this type of gym will need around 150 square feet of space (15’x10’ or so). 

It’s only suitable for ground floor rooms with a solid concrete floor–you can’t build a gym like this upstairs on wooden floors, unless you want a barbell to crash through the floor and into the kitchen!

Although this gym isn’t cheap, it’s high quality and provides you with incredible workout variety. While I don’t recommend this one for your average fitness enthusiast–I think it’s the ideal choice for serious lifters.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final thoughts: This is a great set up for people who want to train properly. The equipment I’ve recommended here is excellent, so it won’t be cheap, but it will stand up to anything you can throw at it though!


Home Gym Setup #6: Crossfit Home Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: CrossFitters who prefer to train at home

Budget Needed: Around $2000

Square Footage Required: 500 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, squat rack, plates, kettlebell and a cardio option

Crossfit Home Gym Setup

How do you create a gym for CrossFit? By its very nature, it’s training for the unknown and the unknowable!

What you have to do is focus on what you know to be important–a suitable barbell, great bumper plates, a cardio option and versatile accessories. 

You can really go down the rabbit hole with a CrossFit gym, so you have to maximise your space and budget. The suggestions here are for a basic, minimum set up and it’ll cost you in the $2000 ballpark. This will be a great start for a home CrossFit gym and will give you endless workout variety.

As long as you have various strength options, a cardio option and accessory items to give you extra workout variety, like a fitness sandbag, a pullup bar, and a plyo box or two, you should be good to go. You want to be certain that you can move most of the fitness challenges CrossFit can throw at you!

You absolutely have to have bumper plates and you should pick a weightlifting or CrossFit specific barbell (Rogue are your go-to here). 

Cardio-wise, the standard is a rowing machine or Echo bike and both are great options. If the budget is tight, avoid the cardio options and do sprints outside!

Further Reading: If you want to learn more about home cardio equipment options, check out my review on the best air bikes

A CrossFit gym needs a solid floor, so only build yourself a CrossFit gym on a concrete floor, with floor protection on top to prevent damaging your bumper plates. Further reading: Check out the article I wrote on the best crossfit workout equipment ideas for your home gym.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final thoughts: The great thing about a CrossFit gym is that anything goes–and this setup (5 items suggested above) will give you the variety and creativity in your workouts to keep you fit and engaged with workouts that never have a dull moment.


Home Gym Setup #7: Shipping Container Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: People who want a home gym but don’t have a garage

Budget Needed: Around $1300

Square Footage Required: 100 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, folding squat rack, plates, kettlebell

Shipping container gym setup

I would like to start by saying that I’m a huge fan of shipping containers in general since they take what would be “trash” and turn them into awesome homes, or in this case–a gym. 

Shipping containers make great gyms. They’re ideal for those with limited inside room but plenty of outside space. Another benefit is they’re weather-proof–wind, rain, sun, and snow won’t affect this gym. 

Unlike some of the other gym options, you won’t be as limited as space here (although you don’t have a ton so we can’t go way overboard). 

To start, this gym has the basics– a bench press, some plates, and dumbbells. 

For squatting and benching, I’d point you in the direction of squat stands–they can be easily moved and still provide everything you need for squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. 

If you’re happy to spend the extra, a wall mounted rack that can be folded away does a similar job while taking up less space–but it will cost you a bit more. 

What I love about this gym, is that it also has some extra variety, like a bosu ball (the blue half “ball” in the top left corner), a lat pulldown, and a plyo box. 

This adds a ton of variety, allowing you to hit muscles and perform workouts most gyms aren’t able to.

If it was me, I probably would avoid the lat pulldown machine since they are close to $3k for a solid one and don’t think they are essential, but if you can afford it, it is an awesome addition to your workout routine.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final thoughts: If you have a shipping container and some space, and are thinking of some ways to create your ideal gym setup, this gym is ideal. It has everything you could possibly want in a home gym–squat rack, plates, a barbell, dumbbells, a plyo box, among others–all for less than $1500.


Home Gym Setup #8: Bedroom Gym Setup

Who It’s Best For: Teenagers or college students with only a bedroom to use

Budget Needed: Around $1100

Square Footage Required: 70 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, squat rack, iron plates

Bedroom Gym Setup

Because space is at a premium, a bedroom gym can be quite a tricky set up to navigate.

And as you see in the image above, this setup is simple–and it should be. 

I consider this a positive. Here’s why. 

You’re going to laugh at me here, but I love when options are limited because then there are less decisions to make and you can maximize what options you do have.

With this setup, you’ll only be able to get an adjustable weight bench, a squat rack, and some plates. There’s no room for much else, and quite frankly, nothing else is really needed. 

There’s no point in buying bumper plates because you won’t be able to drop them. And when it comes to bars, you don’t need to buy anything special because you’re not going to be breaking new world records here. 

Both of these “downgrades” in quality will save you some money. 

Being one of the most affordable gyms on our list, this setup will cost you a little over $1k. 

And hey, how many people can get up in the morning and literally walk 2 feet to get a workout in?

So what types of workouts can you expect to have here?

You’ll be able to do most of your compound lifts–squats, bench press, rows, lunges, RDLs, curls, shoulder presses, and more. 

Depending on how strong you are, you’ll most likely be sticking to lighter weights and higher reps–which can still provide some great workouts and solid gains.

There is one add-on that I think could make this an even better setup that’s not included in the image above. 

And that’s the TRX.

I think adding a TRX here would allow for some fantastic variety, takes up little space, and would fit perfectly into the setup.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final thoughts: If you are looking to build the world’s greatest bedroom home gym, you’re welcome. This one is simple, effective, and won’t empty your pockets. If I was building a bedroom home gym, this is the one I would be building.


Home Gym Setup #9: Home Gym Shed

Who It’s Best For: People who want a home gym but don’t have much spare room inside

Budget Needed: Around $2000

Square Footage Required: 150 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, squat rack, iron plates, echo bike

Home Gym Shed

A home gym shed has some of the limitations that a bedroom set up has, in that you can’t go dropping big weights on the wooden floor. To preserve the integrity of the shed floor, you’d be better off going for lighter weight equipment and shying away from the heavy racks and rigs in favor of a more simple setup. 

This setup has only 5 pieces of equipment–a wall mounted squat rack, a bench, plates, some bands, and a bike. 

I love the wall mounted squat racks here–they can provide an excellent workout and take up little space. 

A cardio option works well here too. 

A shed is the perfect place for a bike, since it won’t take up a huge amount of room and is lighter than a heavy plate set. 

I’d recommend protecting the floor so you can add some workout variety, like deadlifts, to your routine. 

If you want to learn more about flooring options, check out the article I wrote on home gym flooring ideas.

And then lastly, getting some high quality bands can be a nice way to add some variety–like band walks, bicep band curls, or shoulder pull-aparts. 

This setup is all about going simple, going varied and going for equipment that doesn’t need much storage space. For around 1800 dollars, you’ll be able to build a very good shed gym that will really push your fitness.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final thoughts: A shed gym will tick many boxes for the home exerciser. It’s not a place for weightlifting or powerlifting, but you can really get after it in the shed if you know what you’re buying.


Home Gym Setup #10: Garden Home Gym

Who It’s Best For: CrossFitters and those looking to take calisthenics to the next level

Budget Needed: Around $3000

Square Footage Required: Minimum 200 Sq. Feet

What Equipment You’ll Need: Barbell, outdoor rack, plates, rope, rings

Garden Home Gym

If you’re lucky enough to have the weather to build a garden set up, I’m envious, because this setup is AMAZING!

Your major consideration with equipment being left outdoors is weather proofing. Although you’ll no doubt have a place to store your accessories (bars, kettlebells and the like), you’ll need to make sure your rig is suited to outdoor use. 

If you follow the advice here, you’ll be buying a perfect outdoor rig for CrossFitters, gymnasts and functional fitness guys. Bear in mind an outdoor gym is a specialist set up, so don’t try to cut corners with cheaper rigs.

If you follow the advice here, I’ll show you how to easily recreate the above gymCrossFitters, And to be clear, an outdoor gym is a specialist set up, so don’t try to cut corners with cheaper rigs–trust me, you’ll regret it later. 

The biggest advantage of this setup is that there is infinite vertical space, so we’ll want to go as big as we can with the rig, especially height-wise. The extra height available in an outdoor gym shouldn’t be wasted because it’s not an opportunity at most indoor home gyms. 

Add some ropes and some rings, bars, and plates, and you’ll have an unbelievable setup–for around $3k. 

While expensive, I can’t imagine a more incredible, unique home gym that one like this. 

One final thing with outdoor gyms, and I think it’s an important consideration.  

Things can either get stolen or wear and tear because of the exposure to the elements. Barbell coatings can chip, and you don’t want them to rust because they were left exposed to the elements.

As a result, this setup will most likely require a lockable container to protect the plates and barbells from being stolen and to keep them dry.

My Gym Equipment Recommendations For You To Recreate This Home Gym Setup:

Final thoughts: An outdoor gym is an opportunity to build a home gym with unlimited vertical space, so take advantage of it with the ropes and rings. Use it to climb, use it to challenge yourself, and use it to take your fitness to the next level. There’s no better training than outdoors in the sunshine, so if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere sunny, and you have the space and budget, this is a dream home gym.


Wrapping It Up: A Home Gym Is Always Possible

The purpose of this article is to show you that a home gym is always possible in some format; whether you live in a college dorm or a huge mansion, there’s always a way.

Use some of these ideas, maybe even combine a few ideas to build a home gym setup to suit you and your needs. You’re only limited by your creativity when it comes to home gyms–even small spaces and budgets can go a long way if you follow these ideas!

Comment on the post with your pictures–we’d love to see what you’ve created!

Steve Hoyles

Steve is a Personal Trainer, Weightlifting Coach, and Gym Owner. He has written about fitness for over a decade. He lives with his girlfriend Rachel and their two sons.

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