Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to Build Your Own Home Gym for Under $500

Our new socially distanced society has affected our daily lives, from where we work to how we stay in shape. As mandates from local and federal governments have forced sweeping closures, many of us are trying to translate our gym routines into home workouts. If you’re struggling to keep up with your fitness goals, it might be worth investing in home gym equipment.

Once you settle into a routine at home, exercising is easy. Your equipment is always there when you need it, it’s not covered in someone else’s sweat, and you can easily customize your workout. There are even apps that will plan workouts for you, providing you with tips and motivation to keep your fitness goals on track.

A home gym doesn’t need to take up a ton of space, either. By choosing multifunctional equipment that you can configure for many different kinds of workouts and that is easily stored away at the end of the session, even apartment-dwellers can enjoy the benefits of pursuing their fitness goals at home.

Weight Bench

weight bench
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A weight bench is an essential part of any home gym because it serves as the central hub for your workouts. Far beyond being a place to work on your bench press, a weight bench is also a great place to do rows, vertical jumps, and aerobic exercises like step-ups. This bench from AmazonBasics is designed with a durable steel tube frame and a comfortable PVC top surface. It weighs 24 pounds and is just 41 inches long, making it easy to store away when not in use.

Dumbbells, 20 Pounds

20 pounds dumbbell set
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You don’t need to store a full weight set in your home in order to have a range of workout options. This set of 20-pound weights is perfect for building strength over time by adding more reps or a high-intensity element, such as a punching exercise.

Kettlebell. 30 Pounds

Image used with permission by copyright holder

For leg exercises like squats (and a few kinds of arm exercises), you’ll need a kettlebell. You don’t want to look like you skipped leg day at the gym, even if that “gym” is actually your home.

Medicine Ball, 15 Pounds

medicine ball
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Medicine balls are popular due to the diverse exercises you can accomplish with them. They’re an excellent supplement to a partner routine, too, if you’re working out with someone else. This 10-pound ball is the perfect size for both upper- and lower-body exercises, though Amazon also sells medicine balls from 4 pounds up to 20 pounds.

Pull-Up Bar

pull up bar
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pull-ups are one of the best full-body workouts you can do in your home. With this affordable workout bar from Sagler, you can instantly turn any doorway into a personal gym in just seconds. Whether you’re doing pull-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, dips, or crunches, a pull-up bar can help make it easy.

Resistance Bands

resistance bands
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Getting fit isn’t just about lifting more weights or running a faster mile — it’s about improving your flexibility so that you can exercise harder without injuring yourself. These resistance bands from Tribe help you get there, with different kinds of colored bands at different resistance levels. Use them while stretching or combine them with an exercise like lateral side steps for an added challenge.

Jump Rope

jump rope
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Jumping rope is an incredible cardio workout perfect for months when it’s too cold to go running outside. The Survival and Cross Jump Rope is touted as a great tool for boxers and MMA fighters thanks to its adjustable length and tangle-free rope. No matter how tall or short, expert or novice you are, this is a great piece of equipment for anyone looking to get in shape.

Step Platform

Image used with permission by copyright holder

You might recognize the exercise platform from ’80s workout videos but it uses go far beyond neon spandex and pilates. Use an exercise platform for fast feet exercises and specific movements like calf raises. This is also a good piece of equipment for anyone who needs to strengthen their knees gently, such as those who’ve suffered a sports injury.

Exercise Mat

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Unless you’re living in a shag-carpeted fantasy, you likely won’t want to lay on your floor during a full workout. A half-inch exercise mat is perfect for stretching as well as yoga practices. While it won’t be the most glamorous object in your home gym, it will likely be the one you’re most thankful to have.

Foam Roller

foam roller
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As you start working out, you’ll soon notice your muscles start to cramp and feel sore the next day. To help yourself stick to your training schedule, use a foam roller to work through any aches and pains as they occur. A long roller like this one is ideal because you can use it on your legs and back no matter how tall you are. Here’s how to use a foam roller.

Looking to further upgrade your fitness? We’ve found the best meal prep containers to help you meet your goals.

Article originally published by Leah Bjornson. Last updated by Nicole Raney.

Nicole Raney
Nicole Raney is the former Managing Editor of The Manual. You can also hear her on older episodes of The Manual Podcast, a…
The Health Benefits of Going Outside Are Critical While Social Distancing
health benefits outside running walking

Shoulder season is almost always unpredictable for outdoor lovers. Throw a public health crisis into the mix, and what are you left with? A bunch of hikers, bikers, climbers, and trail runners clawing the walls, clicking through virtual tours of National Parks, and making dream boards with their old Patagonia catalogs.

If that’s you, good on you for doing your part to flatten the curve. But you’ll be relieved to know that unless you’re actually sick, you can still get outside, even if your area is operating under strict shelter-in-place guidelines. Most of these mandates allow for people to spend time outdoors, as long as they’re not gathering in groups and aren’t infringing on the space of others. You should still practice social distancing by staying six feet away from others at all times.

Read more
How to (Almost) Painlessly Improve Your Running
running road

Running is an enjoyable, exciting way to stay healthy, to help maintain your weight, and to escape a pursuing polar bear, pickpocket, or slowly collapsing building. (Polar bears hit top speed at around 18.5 miles per hour, FYI, so go ahead and sprint at your own top speed if you see one.) But while millions of people take to the sidewalks, trails, and roads for a run each and every day, many of us are doing it wrong.

If you want to improve your running, increasing your speed and endurance and reducing the chance of injury, then you need to take these simple tips to heart. Or you could go get yourself a running coach -- they know all about this stuff, too.
Choose the Right Shoes

Read more
NFL’s Kirk Cousins reveals his secrets for the ideal boating day on the lake
The perfect boat and the perfect hat for the NFL QB
Kirk Cousins driving a boat

Nothing beats a day on the lake. Or the ocean. Or even the pool. But not every day on the lake is the same, and some of those moments on the water call for more than just a summer set or a great summer look. Being by the water is nothing compared to being on the water, feeling the waves and basking in the sun where the closest person is sitting on dry land.
That's where Manitou comes in, with its mission to get people off the sand and spend their time getting wet. And no one is better to help Manitou get people out on Lake Michigan better than hometown hero Kirk Cousins, who teamed up with the brand to bring a new twist on the pontoon boat.
We had the opportunity to sit down with the NFL quarterback to ask him questions about the boats, his day on the lake, and even a little football. When he's not leading a team with his arm, he's spending time with his family on the water, and he gave us a peek into his ideal day on the lake, and one of the items he always wears.

Why Manitou?

Read more