How to Build a Home Gym on a Budget

Is it possible to get a gym-like experience at home on a budget? If you are one of many health-conscious people out there who, looking to cut back on costs, reluctantly canceled your gym membership, yes, there is a way to build a home gym on a budget.

First, let’s talk about the economics of paying for a gym membership and then we will dive into how to create that at home. 

The costs of a gym membership

In my area, it’s not uncommon for a gym membership to cost around $35-$45/month for an individual membership and somewhere around $55/month for a family membership. According to other’s research, the average US gym membership is about $50/month. [source] 

Let’s assume that average is a good statistic for where you’re at as well. Over a year, this means you would spend $600 to attend your local gym. Many gyms also have a sign-on cost (an unethical rip-off over nothing, in my opinion) of around $50.

So, let’s assume it costs you $650 to have a gym membership for your first year.

What about gas, though?

According to 2017 statistics, the average gym-goer travels 4 miles to get to their gym. [source] 

We’ll assume that you’re paying $3/gallon in gas all year long and that you have a car that gets 30mpg. That means you’d spend $0.86 each round trip to the gym. Let’s also assume you go to the gym 3x/week. Now, each week costs you $2.40 in gas to get to and back from the gym. During the year (52 weeks), we’ll say you take two weeks off from the gym: one week for a vacation at the beach, another week for Christmas with your family. So, you’d have 50 weeks of gym travel, equaling $120/year in gas to go to the gym.

Add that to the yearly costs, and you’re looking at $770 for your first year at the gym.

So, how can I get a home gym on a budget?

You can save a ton of money by working out at home rather than working out at a gym. The catch here, though, is you have to have the discipline to work out at home. Too many people end up buying the gear they need only to let it collect dust in the corner of a room in their basement.

Self-discipline is necessary for at-home exercise equipment to be of any benefit to you. For those who have that discipline, here is a list of equipment I believe will give you the most bang for your buck for far less than $770.

Before investing in any of the following, be sure to check your local online marketplaces. You may be able to cut the costs of building your home gym on a budget even further.

A 20-30 lb. Kettlebell ($40)

A kettlebell opens up entirely new worlds when it comes to working out. Goblet squats, pistol squats, overhead squats, single-leg deadlifts, shoulder presses, kettlebell swings, floor presses, Turkish get-ups, and suitcase carries are just some of the options that a kettlebell will open up to you.

I typically recommend 20 lbs as a starting weight for females and 30 lbs as a starting weight for males. If you’re on the stronger side, you’re going to want to consider picking up a 40+ lb. kettlebell. There’s a bit of variety here, but a 30 lbs kettlebell costs roughly $40.

Below is a list of FREE workouts to help you get the “swing” of things:

Gymnastic rings ($30)

You will need something to hang these from, but these are one of my favorite pieces of gym equipment ever. There are very few other pieces of gym equipment out there that give you as many possibilities as gymnastic rings.

Ring rows, ring pushups, ring dips, pikes, Supermans, ring squats, assisted lunges, pull-aparts, bicep curls – all of these are options with an inexpensive set of gymnastic rings.

You don’t have to be a gymnast to use these! Never fear, below are a few links to FREE gymnastic ring workouts:

A set of mini-bands ($18)

Perform Better is my favorite brand to use for these, and I’ve used them extensively with my personal training clients. I can do a host of glute workouts with banded bridges, clams, side steps, squats, fire hydrants, monster walks, and hip abductions with my minibands.

For the upper body, I mainly use them for triceps kickbacks and a limited range-of-motion band pull-apart. There are endless FREE resources on the internet for miniband workouts. Here are a few to consider:

A quality jump rope ($8)

I steer clear of the weighted versions, preferring a high-quality traditional jump-rope instead. These take up little to no space and can give you a killer cardio workout in minimal time. If you use them inside, the only catch here is that you will need to have the ceiling space to get a full swing. For the most part, I use mine outside. If you are prepared and can handle colder weather, you can do it outside. A jump rope is an excellent piece of gym equipment to have.

Want to get jumping and skipping? Here are some fun and fantastic FREE jump rope workouts:

(Optional) A stationary bicycle ($200-500)

Stationary cardio equipment is where the price of your at-home gym can fluctuate. There are several routes one can go with these. While rowing machines are an incredibly popular option, I would argue that the stationary bicycle and treadmill appeal to much of the population. I think the bicycle makes the most sense. If you have the money and desire to opt for a stationary bike, these can make an excellent addition to your at-home gym. 

If you decide you want to add a stationary bicycle, I recommend looking for a quality brand. I’m a fan of Nautilus, Precor, Schwinn, and Life Fitness. These are well-known and respected brands. However, those can be quite pricey. There are several less expensive versions out there for around $200. Some of the cheaper versions don’t seem to hold up to heavy use as well as the quality brands do, but they get the job done. And again, a lot of cardio equipment is sitting in the basement of others gathering dust. You may be able to get high-quality gear at second-hand prices.

The final cost of a home gym on a budget

Without the optional cardio equipment added, an at-home gym costs all of $96.

That’s a one-time investment in gym equipment that will last you for a very long time. Compared to going to the gym for a year, working out at home with the above equipment can save you $674. Talk about a home gym on a budget!

And don’t forget that you’re not limited to what this equipment alone can offer you. You still have a wide variety of bodyweight exercises you can perform. Pushups, squats, bench dips, and bridges are just some of the options available to you. I’ve found no better book than Mark Lauren’s You Are Your Own Gym for those wanting to use their own bodyweight as a form of strength training. With the knowledge in that book combined with the above equipment, you have every thing you need to get that gym-like experience on a budget. 

Are you ready to flex those money saving muscles?

It’s common knowledge that being fit and working out has many benefits, including managing stress. And, if you want to be fully prepared for what life may throw at you, being fit is one thing you shouldn’t slack on.

What are your thoughts on fitness at home? Are there other economical options you would add to your at-home workouts? Do you have anything to share about how working out at home saved you money? What are your tips for building a home gym on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Build a Home Gym on a Budget
Aden Tate

Aden Tate

About the Author Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to PewPewTactical.com, SurvivalBlog.com, SHTFBlog.com, ApartmentPrepper.com, HomesteadAndPrepper.com, and PrepperPress.com. Along with being a freelance writer he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American at Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

7 thoughts on “How to Build a Home Gym on a Budget”

  1. In the past couple of years, I’ve purchased several different weights of dumbbells and some resistance bands, and I’ve followed Caroline Girvan’s completely free Epic workouts on YouTube. It’s amazing what I’ve been able to do to get in better shape on a low budget and at my home. I highly recommend checking her out!

  2. Okay, so I agree with this. I keep my gym membership ($40 a month) because I do NOT get the same workout at home. When I go to the gym, my mind is only on getting the work done. I have dogs and cats at home and there’s far too many distractions to get a real workout.
    When we had Covid shutdowns at my gym, I bought kettlebells that have screwed handles so you can add plates and adjust the weight you put on them.
    I still have them, and the handles double as pushup handles. I also bought an adjustable pull up bar that I can do chins, rows and pushups on. All of that was about 3 months worth of gym membership payments.

    I still prefer going to the gym, but I got great workouts at home. Great article.

  3. I’ve built a pretty good gym in my home – partly from stuff I’ve bought on Craigslist, partly from stuff I found on Amazon, and partly things from the used sporting goods store. You can also make quite a bit of equipment if you are creative, and anything you buy new is usually cheaper if you self assemble.

    I’ve lost 100 pounds and gained some muscle with this strategy so I know it works!

    1. Was going to mention the sources you cited. Our local church thrift store almost always has kettle balls, hand weights, jump ropes and hula hoops. Seems our older population has good intentions but no follow thru.

  4. One of the ultimate frugalite types of people with virtually zero budget and almost no exercise equipment or any room for it … are prison inmates. Some have figured out under those extreme conditions how to keep their stamina and muscle strength up. Run this search on Amazon in the books category:

    Convict Conditioning books

    That will pull up two volumes by Paul Wade … plus a number of others on the same topic. Some even include cheap Kindle versions. Virtually all print versions are well past the 6-months-past-publication date so they are fair game for free inter-library loans. We are on a frugalite roll here in multiple ways.

    That way you can take advantage of much hard-won experience without having to wear those oh-so-fashionable striped prison uniforms.

    –Lewis

    1. Love it! I happen to know there are also some websites that have free articles about prison workouts. One in particular is really good but you can find it easily enough with a search – for free.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Elsewhere

Related Posts

8 Delicious Ways to Eat Yogurt

Yogurt is budget-friendly, incredibly versatile, and easy to work into your menus. Savory or sweet, there’s a yogurt idea out there for everyone!

Malcare WordPress Security