If I had to list the reasons people (including myself) miss workouts, almost none of them would have to do with how hard the workout is, or a lack of motivation.
The #1 reason people miss workouts, in my experience, is because the gym sucks.
Just getting to the gym is a task that makes working out harder. Even when you are on your way to the gym, a number of situations routinely pop-up to ruin your workout:
- I didn’t bring my gym clothes to work today.
- Traffic is backed up and I’m short on time.
- The thought of showering at the gym makes me shudder.
If our gym isn’t convenient and we’re not feeling it that day, we’ll use any of the above excuses (and many more) to skip the workout entirely.
To eliminate these possible excuses, I set up a home gym.
Knowing all I have to do is stumble out of bed, walk down a flight of stairs, and turn on the lights to my home gym removes a lot of pain from the process.
If you’ve never considered setting up a home gym, read on – I’m going to explain why home gyms are awesome and show you the budget-friendly equipment you need.
You Don’t Need a Mansion for a Home Gym
I live in Hong Kong, a country where residential space is tight and everything is tiny.
Yet I somehow negotiated with my wife to give me a spare bedroom for my squat rack. (I’m sure I’ll have to pay the piper for that one later, but for now, I’ll take it!)
My point is: you don’t need a lot of space to set up a home gym.
With minimal financial investment in a few key pieces of equipment, you can quickly and easily transform any room (spare bedroom, bonus room, garage, etc.) into a workout space.
When you can be warmed up and ready to lift 10 minutes after your alarm goes off, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without the convenience of a home gym.
You Don’t Need a Lot of Expensive Equipment
A squat rack and bench setup is all you need once you have the space picked out, and the squat rack should really be the only expensive investment.
You have a lot of options depending on your price point here. I’m going to break my recommendation into two sections:
- An affordable, high quality setup.
- An insane DIY setup that only the most frugal people will love.
(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with these companies.)
Picking The Perfect Squat Rack
The squat rack is the basis of any good set of gym equipment. To do most of the major compound lifts (which is really all you need to do), a squat rack is absolutely critical.
1. The More Expensive, But More Reliable Squat Rack
When I bought my rack seven years ago in Hong Kong, I paid extra to get a Hammer Strength Half Rack because there were no other equipment distributors available.
If I were to do it again, I definitely would not spend as much.
If your space is smaller, I recommend the Vulcan Racks System from Ironmind for its affordable cost and compact design (which is ideal for home use).
If I had to pick one, I’d go with the Vulcan Racks III System because it seems custom made for the Hack Your Fitness protocol. Here’s the description from the website:
The sultan of squat racks, with its compact design and easy breakdown, are ready for serious workouts at home. Proven for almost 25 years and more than strong enough for 1,000-lb. squats, Vulcan Racks are the top choice for rock-solid squat racks and the no-excuses workouts that go with them.
Vulcan Racks are perfect for:
- presses and jerks from the rack
- good mornings
- wrist roller work
Whatever rack you get needs a spotting pin so you can drop the bar without injuring yourself.
2. Build Your Own Squat Rack
You can pay under $200, and spend days throwing tantrums while you try to figure out power tools, you can build your own squat rack.
I’m not going to dive too deep into this one, manual labor isn’t really my thing, and the guys over at Garage Gym Reviews have a complete guide:
Besides the rack and barbell with weights, you’ll need a bench for the bench press.
Here’s a Squat Rack for Larger Spaces
If you live in a larger home and have the space for a proper rack, check out Rogue Fitness.
Their company is geared towards CrossFit athletes primarily, and while I am not a CrossFit athlete, any gear built to handle high intensity CrossFit workouts must be durable.
There are tons of different options available from simple squat stands or half racks, all the way up to full rigs and wall mounted racks for those who have the money to spend.
If I were to move into a larger house that could fit a proper rack, I’d go for something like the Rogue S-2 Squat Stand. Here’s what the website says about this choice:
“… well suited to small home gyms and large-scale weight training facilities, alike, with easy transitions from squats to bench, floor press to pull-ups, and anything in-between.”
If you buy your rack from Rogue, get your barbell and weights from them, too.
Something simple like the Econ Bar and Plate Set will do just fine.