Home Gym Essentials – A – Z Of Equipment For Working Out At Home

Posted by

Have you ever considered working out at home? It’s a great time saver as you don’t have to travel to the gym. Plus it can help motivation when you just have to walk into the next room to work out. Never have to wait in line to use equipment or get thrown off the treadmill after 30 mins again. It’s possible to fully furnish a home gym for the price of a years gym membership. Meaning you save money in the long run.

Doubts? Well don’t, it’s possible to fit out a home gym with good quality equipment that will provide just as good a work out as you would get at the gym. Equipment that will last for years and be delivered to your door with a minimum of fuss.

Okay so if it’s simple, what do I need? Worry not, this guide is going to cover all of the essentials (and some non essentials) to make the process easier. We will provide details on each piece of equipment, the price range to expect, where to get it easily, and things to look out for. Each piece of equipment will be rated out of 10 for it’s importance, making it easy to tell a nice-to-have from an essential.

Now not everyone will have the same goals. While some are looking to build muscle, others are looking to train for endurance events, some may want to lose weight while others want to strengthen their heart. Therefore for each piece of equipment we will talk about the goals that it is suitable for.

Most home gyms will have a mixture of weights and cardio equipment. The amount of each may be skewed depending on personal goals. However every gym would benefit from having at least one piece of equipment from both camps.

And everyone will have a different budget, so we will make sure that we demonstrate an entry level product as well as mid range and top range for each piece of equipment.

In terms of structure, we will go from A to Z, being first on the list doesn’t mean its most important!

Here we go…



The barbell is a strong metal bar that weight plates are attached to. They often come with a couple of weight plates included but can be bought as just a bar. Some bars have permanently affixed weights on them.

The barbell is a key piece of gym equipment as it facilitates all of the major lifts, squats, dead lift, bench press, shoulder press. If your aim was building muscle and gaining strength this would be an essential. If not it’s still an important piece of equipment as it can be used to build muscle endurance.

It’s important to make sure you have suitable flooring or a gym mat other wise the barbell will damage the floor.

Home gym importance: 8/10

Mirafit 4ft Black Spinlock Barbell Weight Bar from Amazon UK. It’s an entry level product for less then £20 and suitable for attaching any weight plates too.


A set of plates with bar from UK Sport Imports Ltd. Priced at around £75 this a good option to get you started straight away with enough weight to begin with



Another option from UK Sport Imports Ltd, this is the next level of equipment and comes with a more weight plates and quick loading/release system.






Dumbbells are the single most important piece of home gym equipment due to their versatility. A simple weight that is held in either hand, they come at a set weight or as a bar with plates that can be attached to either end. The most popular nowadays are adjustable as they take up less storage space than a set at a number of weights.

Dumbbells allow you to concentrate on and isolate individual muscle or to carry out functional movements working a set of muscles.  Popular uses for dumbbells include the bench press, shoulder press, bicep curl, triceps extension and one arm row. A combination of these work all of the upper body muscles. However dumbbells can be used in a similar way to barbells for a lower body workout with squats, lunges and lifts.

No home gym is worth it’s name unless it includes a set of dumbbells. Obviously they are suitable for those that wish to build strength, but they are also used by endurance athletes. I have never seen a fitness program designed for anyone that didn’t include use of dumbbells.

Home gym importance: 10/10

Elliptical Cross Trainer

Elliptical Cross TrainerThe elliptical cross trainer is a piece of cardio equipment that can be best described as replicating a cross country skiing action.

Feet are placed on two stepping pads and hands grip handles positioned in front of the body. A stepping action propels the feet while a push and pull action drives the handles. It provides a full body work out, but allows you to focus on either arms or legs by varying which of the two you use with most force.

It’s an option if you re deciding to focus on cardio to build endurance or burn calories for weight loss. Compared to other cardio machines such as bikes or treadmills it has the advantage of working the upper body. It’s not as good for overall body work out as a rowing machine though, which is why it doesn’t score higher.

Home gym importance: 4/10

Exercise bike

Exercise BikeExercise bikes probably do not require much by way of explanation. They come in a variety of types, from spinning bikes like the one to the right, recumbent bikes where you sit in a reclined position with feet in front of you, to upright bikes which are the traditional type seen lined up in the gym.

Exercise bikes are really good for carrying out high intensity interval training as it is easy to cycle at varying levels of intensity. This makes then a very good option for those looking to lose weight. A high intensity session or a longer more moderately paced ride are great calorie burners.

Exercise bikes are also very good for recovering tired legs from either weight lifting or long endurance events. A short cycle will stretch and get blood flowing to the muscles, speeding up recovery times. As cardio machines go I would rate them second only to rowing machines in suitableness for a home gym.

Home gym importance: 7/10



The function of a mat is a very simple but important one. To protect the floor from damage from exercise equipment and make you more comfortable when you work out.

It is also possible to get sheets that you lay across the floor and interlink to create almost another flooring. Made from thick, robust rubber it is a more permanent than a mat and wont slip out of place. However it’s a more expensive option.

If the room you are going to work out in has a wooden floor then one of these is essential as it will be uncomfortable and damage easily. If the room is carpeted they are not as necessary but I would still recommend them.

Home gym importance: 9/10


Kettlebells are a very often underrated piece of exercise equipment. As is obvious from the picture to the right they differ most from other weight equipment by having the handle directly attached, and the handle not being at the centre of gravity.

They come in a large range of weights up to around 50kg, beginners though would want to use 8kg, 12kg or 16kg.

They are suitable for functional, compound movements, like swings and lunges. The off-centre weight distribution as a result of the handle position means more muscles are engaged to balance them.

Very effective for people who are looking to carry out high intensity interval training.

Ideal for those who take part in combat sports. Many kettlebell exercises train ballistic movements which replicate throwing punches and kicks.

Anything you can do with dumbbells can pretty much be done with kettlebells. The reason that they do not score as highly is simply that hey are trickier to use than dumbbells and also do not come in adjustable form as dumbbells do.

Home gym importance: 6/10

Medicine Ball

Medicine BallsMedicine balls come in a variety of weights, usually between 4kg and 12kg. They are used for functional strength training and exercises that utilise them are often dynamic, working chains of muscles in sequence.

They are used a lot in training the abs and core with rotations and twists as well as weighting sit ups ans squats to make them more challenging.

Medicine balls should be considered as a nice to have rather than an essential in a home gym. The exercises that use medicine balls can be replicated with kettlebells and in some cases dumbbells or weight plates.

Home gym importance: 2/10


Working out in front of mirrorNot just used for admiring yourself! Mirrors enable you to watch how you are performing exercises to ensure you are using correct form.

This is why the weights area in gyms are always flanked by mirrors. It’s not because gym goers are all vain…

Picking up on poor form can help prevent injury. It can also ensure that exercises are performed to their optimum. Resulting in superior gains. This makes a mirror in your home gym very important.

Home gym importance: 9/10

Plyometric Boxes

Box jump

Plyometric training is also know as “jump training”, with the aim of making muscles use maximum force in short intervals of time. The goal is to increase power (speed/strength), so is useful for combat athletes or those relying on sprinting.

A plyometric box is simply a strong box that allows you to jump or step onto it. They can be simple fixed size boxes or adjustable.

This piece of equipment lends itself to targeted specific training and so is not an essential. But if you are aiming for power it’s a real nice to have. Because they are less general training tools they do not score highly. However if you are a sprinter or martial artist add an extra 5 points to the score given here.

Home gym importance: 3/10

Power Rack/Cage

If you are planning on lifting a barbell then a cage or rack is an essential piece of equipment. It is used to place the weighted barbell into before and after exercises such as squats and bench presses.

It’s there for safety in the absence of a spotter (training partner), reducing the risk that the bar drops on you or you are crushed if you can not complete a lift.

Do not lift a barbell without one.

It allows you to set the weight at a certain height before positioning yourself beneath it to lift.

As you should lift a barbell without one the rating is the same as that of a barbell.


Home gym importance: 8/10

Pull Up Bar

Wall mounted pull up bar

The pull up bar is the most functional of all upper body equipment. They come in a variety of types from simple bars that attach to a door frame, wall mounted bars such as the one above to pull up stations (frames that sit on the floor).

Pull ups work all of the muscles in the upper body, especially the back. Changing the form of the exercise can put more focus on chest, arms and shoulders however.

You can use a simple door frame based bar to achieve 90% of what you can on the more expensive wall mounted or frame forms. A door frame bar is perfect for the home gym.

Given you can pick one up for under £20 it’s the best value piece of gear out there.

Home gym importance: 10/10

Punch Bag

You may be wonder what on earth a punch bag is doing on this list?

Punch bags are a brilliant cardio work out. Striking a bag for an extended period of time will really get your heart racing and lungs gasping for air.

Great for cardiovascular endurance they also help you develop power and muscular endurance. Plus there is no better way to relive stress and frustration than hitting a punch bag. They can be a lot of fun.

The reason that they do not score more highly is that they are not to everyone’s taste. Which is a shame as they are a really good bit of kit. If you’re a combat sports enthusiast add 6 points to the score and if you think you would enjoy a punch bag add 3 points.

Home gym importance: 4/10

Rowing Machine

This is in my opinion the best piece of cardio equipment out there. For the simple reason that it works the upper and lower body at the same time. It’s also great for your cardiovascular system.

It can be used on low resistance as a classic steady state cardio machine, can be revved up to give a high intensity work out, and even build muscle when used at maximum resistance.

Good for a warm up before exercise or cool down afterwards you would use it every time you worked out. It is a good way to recover from injury due to the low impact of the movement, with body weight supported.

If you had to pick one piece of cardio equipment this should be your top pick. The only reason it doesn’t score 10/10 is that you can do cardio training with no equipment should you wish, i.e. go for a run.

Home gym importance: 9/10

Storage (For Weights)

Great when you have set up you gym in a small room as it keeps equipment off of the floor. Storage racks can also prevent damage to the floor from putting weights down too quickly or leaving them sat in place for an extended period of time.

Plus if you are a neat freak it keeps the place looking tidy!

If you have a power rack/cage then this will have a place to store weight plates. If you have adjustable dumbbells you may not need a rack but if you have a number of dumbbells or kettlebells its a good investment.

Still this is not an essential piece of equipment, and if you are on a budget buying training equipment rather than storage equipment is a better bet.

Home gym importance: 4/10


TreadmillMany people have a treadmill at home because they are incredibly easy to use. Press a couple of buttons and the belt starts moving at a pace you comfortable with.

However as a home gym comes with financial cost and often limited space it is hard to justify giving this a high importance score. Simply because anything you can do on the treadmill you can do by putting on a pair of running shoes and leaving the house.

Compared to other cardio machines they do not give the full body workout of a rowing machine or cross trainer, nor are they as suitable to interval training than an exercise bike.

Where this become a more important piece of kit is when you do not want to leave the house. For instance if you have small children and you exercise when they are in bed.

Home gym importance: 2/10

Weight Bench

A weight bench is a key piece of equipment when using dumbbells. Many dumbbell exercises are based on a weight bench, for instance bench presses and bent over rows.

It”s still possible to do bicep curls and shoulder presses while standing. But to get best results you would sit on a bench as that would isolate the muscles more by stopping you using momentum from the rest of your body to complete lifts.

Weight benches are also used for barbell exercises too, and slip under a weight rack or cage.

They are not at the top end of expense for home gym equipment and are essential for a lot of exercises. The only reason that they do not get maximum score is that not everyone will want to do weight exercises and not every dumbbell or barbell exercise is reliant on one. However my advice is buy one!

Home gym importance: 9/10

Weight Plates

These are the metal plates that fit either end of a barbell. They can also be used on their own as weight for functional exercises, replacing a medicine ball or kettlebell if there isn’t one to hand.

Starting at 1.25kg they move up through 2.5kg, 5kg, 10kg, 20kg and in rare cases 50kg. Although 50kg plates are for very strong experienced weight lifters and are not really for use at home.

It’s not important to get a full set of all of the weights. If you are starting out two 5kgs and six 10kgs will keep you challenged for some time. Once you are ready to lift more start buying 20kgs.

A barbell is useless without them, plus they can be substituted for other weights in a number of exercises so they have to score the same as a barbell.

Home gym importance: 8/10


Leave a Reply