I’ve built out four commercial gyms and home gyms in the past few years. I’ve also helped another dozen or so friends and family build out their home gyms.
Before building out or purchasing any piece of equipment, always ask yourself these three questions:
- How often is this going to get used?
- How long is this going to last before I need to replace it?
- How effective is this at getting people fit?
5 Pieces of Equipment Every Home Gym Needs
Based on this criteria, here are the five things, here are the five pieces of equipment every home gym needs:
- Dumbbells (Rubber Hex).
- Gymnastic Rings (Wood).
- Rower (Concept 2).
- Barbell (The Ohio Bar + Bella Bar).
- Bumper Plates (Hi-Temp + 245-lbs).
I provided hyperlinks to each of these pieces of equipment to make things easier for you. I also would order from Rogue Fitness, their equipment is durable, reliable, and under warranty. I have never had an issue with Rogue’s equipment.
Now, on to a deeper explanation of each of these five pieces of equipment.
An incredible amount of fitness can be achieved just with your own bodyweight (push-up, sit-up, running, jumping, playing sports, etc.), so my first recommendation would be a weighted object.
I prefer dumbbells over barbells (initially) because they take up less storage space and floor space when in use — especially if you’re planning on holding group classes inside your corporate gym.
I also prefer dumbbells over kettlebells simply because they are more comfortable. I suppose you can do the same movements with both, but the kettlebell requires you to rest the “bell” portion on the back of your wrist for front squat, power clean, any horizontal or vertical press, and snatch. The dumbbell doesn’t require any contact except for the hand — which is why I believe they are more comfortable.
And finally, rubber hex dumbbells will last you a lifetime. Don’t buy a steel dumbbell, they will break after a couple years. At my gyms, we even allow athletes to drop the rubber hex dumbbells from overhead as well as take them outside. I have never had a single one break.
Wait, really? Yes. You’re missing out on tremendous fitness gains if you aren’t using the gymnastic rings as part of your weekly training. They serve the same purpose as a pull-up bar, except they have more utility.
For example, I can hang them high and perform pull-ups and muscle-ups. I can lower them to my hips and modify pull-ups by performing ring rows. I can also do I’s, Y’s, and T’s with them. I can then lower them close to the floor and perform dynamic push-ups or TRX exercises.
The versatility of gymnastic rings makes them an obvious choice over a pull-up bar.
Concept 2 Rower
After a strength and calisthenic piece of equipment, you then need some form of cardio. You can only run and do line hops for so long before you start to totally skip out on cardio sessions.
I chose the rower instead of the stationary bike because the rowing machine is full-body. You use your hamstrings, glutes, quads, low back, lats, and biceps when performing a row where a stationary bike uses almost exclusively the quads. You simply get more out of your training sessions using a rower instead of a bike.
You may also consider purchasing an Airdyne, Assault Bike or Rogue Echo Bike. These three bikes are variants of the stationary bike, but also incorporate the use of your upper-body. However, I still would recommend a rower over one of these bikes as the storage of the rower takes up far less space than one of these monster bikes.
Lastly, please purchase the Concept 2 version of the rowers. They last a lifetime and calculate anything you would ever need on the monitors. As an added bonus, you can even sync your phone up to the monitor and save your workouts over time.
There is no better piece of equipment for building strength than a barbell. If weight lifting isn’t a part of your corporate fitness plan, I would strongly encourage it. The power, speed, coordination, agility, accuracy, and balance that this single piece of equipment will develop will enhance your employee’s fitness more than you can imagine.
There are, however, a lot of different barbells on the market. Get them from Rogue; more specifically, get The Ohio Bar for men and The Bella Bar for women.
Wait, there’s a different barbell for men and women? Yes. Women’s barbells are smaller in circumference to better fit the smaller female’s hands, and it’s also 10-lbs lighter.
Also, I have learned that having barbells dedicated to women only actually encourage females to lift more often!
Both of these barbells also have lifetime warranties on them. The maintenance on them is maybe a nice oil cleaning once a year; but even then, they will last you forever. I one time went four years without cleaning some of these barbells and they still work fine today.
Bumper plates follow the barbell purchase — you can’t buy a barbell without weights to put on it. Maybe I should’ve put “Barbell + Bumper Plates” for equipment purchase #4, but they technically are two different pieces of equipment.
First, buy the “hi-temp” bumper plates instead of the “HG” plates. The HG plates may look a little nicer but they do not last as long. Buy the hi-temp bumper plates and you will never have to buy more. They’re made from recycled tires and can withstand just about anything. To put this in perspective, I’ve replaced maybe 50 different HG plates just in the past two years and 0 hi-temp plates.
Also, you want roughly 245-lbs of bumper plates per two barbells. But why 245-lbs?
It’s just a nice number that includes a pair of 45’s, 35’s, 25’s, 10’s, 5’s, and 2.5’s. Plus, you never want to run out of bumper plates (that’s a pet peeve for most gym goers). If you buy 245-lbs for every two barbells that you purchase, I can’t see you running out of weight.
Good luck building out your gym. These recommendations are universal. I would follow the same protocol if I were building out a corporate gym, commercial gym, or my own garage gym.
Now, get to work.