To help pick the best gear and glean tips on how to build an affordable home gym, we consulted an Avengers-style fitness squad: Hollywood trainer Magnus Lygdback, who creates home gyms for stars like Ben Affleck and Alexander Skarsgård; Cooper Mitchell, editor-in-chief of GarageGymReviews.com; and US MH’s fitness brains, director Ebenezer Samuel and associate fitness editor Brett Williams.
Assuming you don’t have unlimited space or resources, like Dwayne Johnson, you’ll need to figure out what you want. Before you do anything, says Lygdback, ask yourself these three questions: 1. What do you like to do? 2. What does your body need? 3. Do you want to get better at something?
Then use that info to guide how you divide your space and budget. If you like doing bodyweight work and circuits, your biggest costs may be a bench, a pull-up bar and kettlebells. If you like classic strength training, make sure you have enough room for a standard Olympic barbell, which is 2.13m long. At minimum, 0.8 square metres should set you up for everything from deadlifts to broad jumps. Don’t have much space? Technology to the rescue.
These days, there are smarter do-it-all machines that enable you to perform hundreds of exercises. Like all of us, your home gym is a work in progress. After three months, take inventory. Ask those three questions again, and if need be, evict the stuff you’re not using and draft new equipment. It’s your gym! Whatever your space or budget, we have you covered. Get after it!
Forged from 11-gauge steel, Rep’s multi grip bar ($191; repfitness.com) offers a sturdy platform for pull ups and leg raises. Plus, it doubles as an anchor for a TRX 2 ($250; trxtraining. com), which links to an app with hundreds of exercises.
Popularised by CrossFit and military workouts, sandbags are awkward to lift, making them good tools for building functional strength whether you’re doing bear crawl drags, clean and jerks, or farmer’s carries. GoRuck’s sandbags (from $140; goruck.com) are made of rugged Cordura and have padded handles, so they’re marginally easier to hold.
Some trainers say the only weights you need are kettlebells – they’re that versatile. Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat bells (from $75; kettlebellkings.com. au) are cast from one piece of iron, making them extra durable. They’re available in weights from 4-48kg and have a lifetime warranty.
An adjustable bench like the Rep AB-5000 Zero-Gap ($740; repfitness.com) lets you do standard moves like flat presses as well as incline and ab work. It has seven potential back angles and four seat angles so you can target different muscle groups. Even though it’s made of heavy-duty steel, it’s easy to move thanks to its wheels.
A whiteboard is great for listing your workout and noting PRs. The Office Marshal magnetic dry erase board (from $30; amazon.com) is easy to mount and clean and comes in five sizes. The Ikea Kallax ($65; ikea.com) provides sturdy shelving for boxing gear, straps, mobility tools, and more.
Don’t waste money on fancy flooring. Instead, get sheets of 180cm-by-120cm, 2cm thick rubber. They’re made for horse stalls and provide dense padding, ideal if you’re doing box jumps or you drop your weights. Recruit a friend to help you pick them up. They’re heavy!
Few warm-ups get the blood flowing as quickly as a two-minute spin on the devil’s bike. The Schwinn Airdyne AD7 ($1799; gymandfitness.com.au) has a bright LCD display showing calories, watts, distance, speed, RPM and heart rate. Hop on for everything from max-intensity one-minute intervals to 45-minute tempo rides. And thanks to its wheels, you can roll it away to create space. Med balls are great for home gyms because of their versatility. Use them for explosive moves like slams and floor-based ab stuff like Russian twists. A couple of good, grippy med balls are a must. GymNext’s Flex Timer ($279; amazon.com.au) pairs with your smartphone, enabling you to set intervals and display your heart rate.
Onnit’s battle ropes ($220; onnit.com) are made of a flexible but durable nylon-polypropylene blend and have XL end caps, making them easier to grip. Everlast’s Nevatear heavy bag (from $99; rebel.com.au) is made of tough synthetic leather. The Hayabusa T3 boxing gloves ($199; mmafightstore.com.au) have plush padding and are easy to put on and take off.