young man working out in garage gym with adjustable dumbbells

Essential Home Gym Equipment for Effective Workouts

You don’t need to invest like a millionaire to make amazing strength and muscle gains from the comfort of your own home.

All you need are a few quality home gym essentials you need for a simple, yet effective and budget-friendly setup. Even if you are a strength training beginner, this does NOT mean skimping on quality. It means investing in a few key pieces of basic home gym equipment.

Must haves for your at-home gym

1. Adjustable Dumbbells

We recommend starting with an adjustable dumbbell set – in particular an expandable set of PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells. Here’s why.

PowerBlock’s expandable, adjustable dumbbells are designed to provide both a compact dumbbell set – replacing many sets of fixed dumbbells – as well as a core weight stack that you can build your whole home gym around.

Why adjustable dumbbells are a home gym essential

A quality pair of adjustable dumbbells over a full set of fixed dumbbells.

  • Adjustable dumbbells are super compact. One pair gives you all the same adjustable weight increments as a fixed dumbbell set while taking up a fraction of the space-with a rack, about the same size as a home mini-fridge. Every square foot matters in a home gym where space is limited.
  • Adjustable dumbbells are MUCH less expensive than a full set of fixed dumbbells. You’ll save at least $1000.
  • PowerBlock expandable dumbbells provide you with the opportunity to increase your weight without investing in a heavier set of dumbbells – so you can gradually increase in manageable increments all the way to 70 or 90 pounds per dumbbell.

We recommend a set of adjustable dumbbells that can potentially go up to heavier weights (e.g. 70-100+ lbs per dumbbell). Lower weight sets may be fine for some lifters, may be fine for some lifters, but you may be surprised how fast you outgrow your weights if you’re serious about strength training.

Why PowerBlock expandable dumbbells are a home gym must have

PowerBlock Elite USA and Pro 100 EXP are adjustable dumbbells that can be paired with a number of attachments to transform your dumbbell into other home gym essentials like barbells, kettlebells and EZ curl bars. By leveraging your dumbbells as your core weight stack, you not only get more bang for your buck — you make the most of your space.

2. Barbell

A barbell is essential for home gym strength training due to its unrivaled capacity for heavy, compound lifts that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Barbells make progressive overload easier, too — helping at-home weightlifters increase resistance and maximize gains with more consistency. Squats, bench presses, deadlifts, rows, overhead presses, curls, lunges, hip thrusts and shrugs are all different exercises that can be done with a barbell.

Speaking of different exercises — did you know that both PowerBlock’s Elite USA Straight Bar and Pro Series Straight Bar are 28mm with knurled handles that offer a better grip for those moves and more when paired with Elite USA adjustable dumbbells? Because they do.

On its own, there’s no doubting the barbell as a basic and necessary part of any home gym setup, beginner or otherwise. When paired with a set of adjustable dumbells, it becomes even more essential. The two combined provide a well-rounded strength training solution that allows for more comprehensive workouts featuring both compound lifts and isolated exercises.

Not to mention the fact that these two pieces of equipment together can replace a large (and expensive) collection of fixed-weight barbells and weight plates. The result? Saving on space and reducing both the cost of initial investment and need for additional storage.

3. Weight Plates

To maximize space, we recommend starting out by using your adjustable dumbbells as the primary weight stack for your home gym. We know that weight plates are familiar and sometimes it’s hard to adjust to a new setup. Here’s the thing, though — adjustable dumbbells as your core weight stack can give you everything weight plates can and more. Plus:

  • They save space. Instead of a bulky rack of weight plates, a single set of adjustable dumbbells saves on valuable space, making them essential for home gym setups.
  • It’s so much easier to change weights. Instead of having to manually load and unload weight plates, you can adjust weights in seconds with the change of a pin.
  • They’re versatile. You can perform full-body workouts with a single set of adjustable dumbbells that can easily accommodate versatile exercises with varying weight needs.

4. Adjustable Bench

The next piece of equipment you’ll need for your home gym is an adjustable weight bench.

PowerBlock offers two options that are great for home gyms, depending on the type of lifting you plan to do.

The Sport Bench accommodates most people with a height of 16.5”, weight limit of 550 pounds and four adjustable incline positions from flat to military position. It’s perfect for a home gym because it’s easily adjustable and has wheels on the legs so you can move it aside easily. You can also add on (or bundle!) attachments such as the Dip Attachment, Chin-up Attachment and Ab Attachment to build out a sweet strength building station.

If you’re likely to quickly outgrow the 550 pound weight capacity, and plan to hit the bench with regularity, the PowerBench brings commercial-grade 14-gauge steel and a 1000 pound weight limit to your home gym. It features five angles, from flat through military, built in wheels and is 16.75 inches in height.

5. Flooring

Gym flooring protects your floor against damage from dropping weights and moving your equipment around. Likewise, it protects your equipment against damage from the bare floor.

Flooring is arguably the first thing you should get when setting up your home gym. It can be a major hassle to install if you already have all of your equipment in place.

The biggest advice here is to avoid lightweight foam tiles. These are cheap, but they’re not effective. They offer no real protection and they’ll slide all over the place. They also don’t provide a solid foundation to stand on; they’re foam, so they will compress under load.

Instead, look for thick rubber mats. It may be a little unorthodox, horse stall mats, which are 4 ft x 6 ft and ¾” thick, work great. You can get stall mats at your local feed store or farm store (e.g. Tractor Supply Co.)

Get enough mats to cover your equipment area as well as any extra space that you’ll be exercising on. You may need to cut some of the rubber mats to fit your space tightly, so pick up a utility knife if you don’t have one already.

Tips for Saving

Here are a few final tips that can save you a nice chunk of change when you’re shopping for your home gym equipment:

  • Prioritize the items you need most: You may not be able to afford all your home gym essentials. No need to worry, you can buy the most important pieces of equipment first, then start saving to get the rest. If you start with flooring and a set of adjustable dumbbells, you can carve out your gym space and start building strength while you save for a bar, bench and other attachments.
  • Buy everything at one retailer: If you’re buying everything new and at the same time, try getting most if not all of your equipment from the same place. This can save you a lot on shipping costs and you might even get a discount when you bundle items together.

Start Building!

Now you know how to build a basic but highly functional home gym that you can enjoy for many years to come. The only thing left for you to do is shop around, find the pieces you want, and then pull the trigger.

You won’t regret it. Building a home gym is one of the best investments you can make for yourself!