How to Build a Cheap Home Gym For the Novice Athlete

You’ve told yourself it’s time. You tell yourself this year is going to be the year. You say that things are going to be different.

You’re finally committed to getting healthy and getting in shape.

If you’re at that point in your life, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s recommended that adults do at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity each week. But what’s the best to go about it? You could go to the gym, but gyms often cost a lot of money and they can be crowded. Rather than feeling motivated to get in shape, you drag yourself to the gym a few times a week simply to justify the cost of your membership.

Rather than getting caught in a vicious cycle of feeling unhealthy and unmotivated, a good alternative might be forgoing gym trips and memberships and building your own home gym instead. No one’s saying you’ve got to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on state-of-the-art equipment, but you may be surprised at just how easily you can create your own home gym.

So where do you start? If you’re wondering how to build a cheap home gym, the first step is figuring out where you’re going to put it in your living space. Ideally, if you’re building a home gym, you’re a homeowner with an extra bedroom, a basement, or even a home office where you can put equipment.

Where you build your home gym is likely going to depend on where you’ve got space. But your best bet is probably your basement, so let’s focus on how to build a cheap home gym in your basement.

What Kind of Basement Do You Have

Since your home gym is going to be in your basement, you need to look at what kind of basement you have and plan accordingly.

An unfinished basement gives you more or less a clean slate to work toward your goal. This is because you don’t have fixtures such as intrusive forms of plumbing or obstacles such as furniture. A finished basement with carpeting, intrusive furniture, and fixtures is likely going to require some cleaning out.

On a positive note, building a home gym may be the perfect excuse to do a dumpster rental for a few days and really clean out your basement. If you’ve got lots of unused knick-knacks, sports equipment, and old camping gear, you may be in line for some major junk removal. You may just be surprised at how big your basement is once you’ve cleared some space.


Now that you’ve got a clean space to work with, let’s get down to business and build your home gym. The first thing you need to install is some kind of flooring. If you’ve already got carpet installed you can leave it in, but if you’re committed to a steady workout schedule, it may not be ideal from a comfort standpoint.

So what options do you have? As you plan out how to build a cheap home gym, you’ve got several options for flooring depending on your preference. You can install rubber mats, which interlock and are built to take stress. You can also put in vinyl panels if you’re looking for something to work out on that will also work as a sort of “regular” basement flooring. Another option is foam tile, which is made for comfort as well as shock resistance.

All of them, of course, have some pros and cons. Rubber can run a little more expensive and might be a costly investment depending on how big a space you’re looking to cover. Foam is cheaper, but also isn’t the best option for supporting heavier equipment. Vinyl is also cheap, but it’s quite as durable as rubber.


With flooring installed, the next big question is what do I put in my home gym? Really, it comes down to what kind of workouts you’re looking to do and how much space you’ve got.

Some popular choices include:

  • Barbells: As you follow your game plan for how to build a cheap home gym, it might be prudent to get yourself a set or two of barbells. If you’re a workout novice who’s not really experienced with weight machines, barbells are a good way to work on flexing your muscles without overdoing it.
  • Elliptical or stair machine: These come in a variety of sizes and are good for cardiovascular workouts.
  • Rowing machines: These are best for core and upper-body workouts and they can usually be folded up to save space.
  • Yoga mats: These are some of your most inexpensive pieces of equipment and they can easily be rolled up and stored away when you’re done.
  • Bench press: These are perfect for building upper body strength and working your core. These can take up a little more space, but they usually are put against a wall and you can store weights right next to it.
  • Treadmills: These are easily one of the most popular workout machines for home use and are great for building endurance. You’ll have to keep an eye on space since a typical treadmill is roughly 64 inches long by 28 inches wide.

Buying Equipment On A Budget

As you can see, there are a number of workout machines and other equipment you can fill a home gym with. But let’s be honest, your basement and your wallet aren’t equipped to handle every single piece of equipment you want, especially if you’re looking to buy brand new pieces.

So what can you do? Your best move is to shop around. The truth is that new equipment is expensive and if you’re looking to get all brand-new stuff, you’re probably better off getting a gym membership instead. So rather than weighing down your wallet, here are some ways to shop around:

  • Craigslist: You can easily find folks in your area who are selling equipment for cheap and you can find some great deals while saving some big bucks.
  • Social media: These days, there are any number of “Buy, Sell, Trade” pages on Facebook where you just might find some perfect pieces for your gym. Folks might be moving or might be ready to move on from equipment they aren’t using, so you can swoop in and snag it. You might also find listings where equipment is free as long as you come to pick it up.
  • Clearance: Not everything has to be secondhand. You can also check the ads of your local sporting goods stores to see what kind of deals are available. If a company is coming out with a new model of a particular piece of equipment, you might be able to snag the old model (which still works for your needs) off the clearance rack for much less.
  • Holiday deals: Most stores offer deals on workout equipment right around New Years, so if your goal of getting in shape coincides with your goal of building a home gym, you can likely score some good equipment with affordable deals.
  • Combo machines: Another way to save space and money is to look at getting combo machines. If you’ve seen commercials for equipment like the BowFlex on TV, these pieces work out the whole body, which helps you save money instead of buying specific equipment for each part of the body. Again, look for sales and deals where you can.

Make The Space Yours

Ultimately, your home gym is your space, so rather than trying to keep up with Joneses, it’s best to embrace it as yours and really make it your own. There’s no set playbook on how to build a cheap home gym, but you can turn it into your own space where you can feel comfortable and meet your fitness goals.

Want to put up some tropical wallpaper that evokes a comforting vibe? Go ahead.

Need a heating and cooling system to keep yourself comfortable during workouts? Contact a local contractor for HVAC installation.

Want to motivational workout posters for inspiration? Nothing wrong with that! Visual reminders are a great way to reach your goal. Many people also invest in local electrical services to help you install a speaker system to listen to music or watch tv while you work out. Do whatever is going to keep you motivated.

Creating your own space is important, but you need to be realistic about it as well. You may want a fully outfitted basement gym to do all manner of workouts. But if you’re starting on a budget, it’s best to start small; find a few pieces of equipment you know you’re absolutely going to use frequently and keep building as you go.

Even as your home gym grows, it’s important that you get equipment that you are going to use. If rowing machines or ab machines aren’t really your thing, don’t feel obligated to get them just because someone you know has them. Find pieces that fit workouts you want to do and add them to your gym as you’re able. The last thing you want is to be posting equipment for sale because you spent lots of money on pieces you don’t use.

Storing Your Stuff

Much like the equipment you use for property maintenance, like lawnmowers and weedwhackers, you need to have space to store your gym equipment. Even if you’ve got a spacious basement, that space can get crowded pretty quickly with all your workout stuff. Part of how to build a cheap home gym is also knowing how to keep it orderly.

Again, there’s no one right way to do this, so you’ve got a lot of options for storage. You can install shelves or hooks on your walls to store lighter equipment; you can use storage bins to hold hand weights, accessories or towels; you can even designate a specific corner of your basement as the exercise gear corner and keep all of your equipment there that’s not in use.

Above all, as you plan for how to build a cheap home gym, you’ve got to have space to move around. It’s one thing to clean all your junk out to build a gym, but when you’re building a gym, you can’t just have machines and other equipment on top of one another. If you’re having some trouble visualizing how to build a cheap home gym, consult a basement contractor to help you make the most of the space.

Finding a Routine

Now that you’ve got all your equipment in place and plenty of space, you need to get down to the business of working out. After all, that’s why you inquired about how to build a cheap home gym to begin with.

The key is starting small and staying motivated as you gradually work out longer and more intensely. Staying motivated can be difficult, but remember what your goals are and stick to them. Say, for example, that your goal is to get in better shape for the summer. As you’re going through your morning or afternoon workouts, think about how good you’re going to feel being in shape and feeling more comfortable about the way you look when summer comes.

Having goals is fantastic, but you also want to be realistic with them. Your goal might be to transform your body by summer, but if you’re starting in April, it’s probably not going to happen. Instead, focus on goals you can achieve over a six-month period or even a year. With different workouts available online and through apps, you don’t have to do the exact same workout every day and you can find plenty that are already programmed.

In Conclusion

As you look a plan on how to build a cheap home gym in your basement, remember it’s all about what you’re comfortable with. Whether your home gym is several pieces of sophisticated equipment or a few mats and some dumbbells, it doesn’t matter.

By establishing your base of operations in your basement, you won’t have to worry about the garage door constantly opening, even if it’s been recently fixed. In your basement, you can spread out, create a place that’s comfortable and ultimately get to work on getting in shape and getting healthier. Outfit it with the right materials, contact a contractor if necessary, and hang up window blinds and curtains to make the space more comfortable.

Remember, a plan for how to build a cheap home gym doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy all the latest and greatest equipment. Instead, you can shop around, look for people selling used equipment and even try to score some free equipment if you can find it. By getting pieces designed for workouts you want to do, you’ll feel more motivated to work and be making better use of your money in the process.

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