Build a Home Gym on a Budget (Less Than $1000)

Building a home gym doesn’t have to break the bank. With a few hundred dollars you can have everything you need right at home.

Working out is something that I have always done, ever since I was 15 years old.  When I first started working out, I just did it at home.  As I got older, I started toying with gym memberships.  Once I did that, I thought a gym membership would always be a “bill” that I had in my life (because there was no way I would stop working out).

A cheap gym membership costs $30 a month, which is $360 a year. The first home gym I built cost about that, and it was well worth it.  Working out at home has save me time, money, and frustration.

Related: Get Rich by Living Below Your Means

I work out about three times a week (30 minutes or so, nothing too crazy).  Since I stick to the basics – core exercises with free-weights – basic equipment is all I need.  Here’s what I have.

Olympic weight set

This is probably my favorite piece of equipment because of all the things I am able to do with it.  However, the Olympic weight set is probably the most expensive thing I have, but I use it for two of my most important lifts:  squats and dead-lifts.

It comes with the following:

  • 1-45 pound barbell (with end clips)
  • 2-45 pound plates
  • 2-35 pound plates
  • 2-25 pound plates
  • 2-10 pound plates
  • 4-5 pound plates
  • 2-2.5 pound plates

The weights and the bar total 300 pounds.

This is ideal for squats and dead-lifts, but it can also be used for bench press, barbell rows, overhead press, and even arm workouts.  You can literally design an entire workout program using these weights alone.  What’s great about having this set is you can do all of the core lifts using free-weights, which is a great way to go when looking to build a nice foundation.

Weight plate tree

To hold all the weight plates from the Olympic set, I use a plate tree similar to this one.  These are nice to have.  They keep your weights organized, off the floor and out of the way.  They can even store the smaller dumbbell plates, which I also recommend.

Portable squat stands

Squat racks require more space than what I have available, so I use squat stands instead.  I like squat stands because they’re easy to move around and out of the way.  They can be used for bench press, shoulder press, or squats (obviously).  I use them mostly for squats.

Adjustable dumbbells

One of the easiest things you can do is get some adjustable dumbbells.  You can use these for almost anything.  In fact, you could design an entire workout program using nothing more than these (just like you can with the barbell set).

I use them for incline dumbbell press, dumbbell rows, shoulder raises, and arm workouts.  I actually have two pair of these; it makes it easier that way.

I like the adjustable barbells because you can change the weight easily, and if you have a weight tree, you can keep the weights organized and out of the way.

I don’t have space for a rack of dumbbells ranging from 5 pounds to 100 pounds, but I have plenty of weight plates to accommodate the weight I need.  It is easier to have fixed weight dumbbells, but when you’re cheap like me, adjusting the weight is not that big a deal.

Dumbbell weight plates

To accompany your adjustable dumbbells, you’ll need some dumbbell weight plates.

Depending on what exercise you’re doing, depends on the amount of weight you’ll need.  If I’m doing incline dumbbell press, I will use heavier dumbbells (50-70 pounds).  If I’m doing shoulder workouts or arm workouts, I’ll use something a bit lighter.

Just make sure you buy plenty of weight to accommodate the exercise you plan to do.  I even have some bigger plates that weight 25 pounds a piece.  I got these to make sure I had plenty of weight for any exercise.  Here are the plates that I have:

  • 4-25 pound plates
  • 4-10 pound plates
  • 4-5 pound plates
  • 4-2.5 pound plates

This is plenty of weight for me, but your situation could be different.  I would get whatever makes sense for you.

Adjustable weight bench

The adjustable weight bench is another piece of equipment you’ll want to have in your home gym arsenal.

I mainly use it for incline dumbbell press, but you could also use it to do bench press by using the barbell and squat stands.

I like the portable/adjustable bench because it gives you more versatility.  It’s nice to have one piece of equipment to serve more than one purpose.  This saves space and money, and you can put it wherever you want, or store it away when you’re not using it.

Related: How to Save Money: 8 Simple Tips

Pull-up bar

To save even more space, you can get a pull-up bar that wedges in a doorway.

These are great to have.  Obviously, they take up no space since they wedge in a doorway, but they allow you to do one of the most important exercises ever:  pull-ups.

I use mine for pull-ups, but I also use it for hanging leg raises (a stomach workout).

Pull-ups are a great compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups at once, by using only your body weight.  Pull-ups are one of the best exercises you can do, and a pull-up bar like this one will allow you to do them as often as you want.


Something you don’t want to forget are gloves.  They’re super cheap, and they will keep your hands from getting too tore up, especially if you’re lifting heavier weights.

That’s it

That’s really all you need, and it’s almost identical to the setup that I have at my house.  It cost me about $700 (about 2 years worth of gym memberships).  However, you don’t have to spend that much, nor do you need to buy every piece of equipment.  I suppose everybody’s needs are different, but this is just one example of what you can do at home with minimal equipment.  A set up like this will not only give you a decent home gym, it will also give you everything you need for a decent full-body workout.

You can spend anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars, to a couple thousand dollars on a home gym.  You just want to make sure that you get what you need out of it (something like this gets me by just fine).  Whatever the amount, you’re sure to save money if you buy your own equipment and workout at home.

I’ve been working out at home for several years now, and it has saved me a lot of time, money, and frustration. It could also do the same for you.