Life happens to all of us: we have to skip the gym or fit in our workouts some other way. It can be difficult, but if you know how to build a living room gym for $500 or less, you can have all the equipment you need to get in a good workout while you watch TV or before the kids get up (or you have to catch an early flight, which is often on my agenda.)
However, for some of us, spending $500 may seem daunting. Here are a few ideas at different price points to build a decent home gym, and you can add on as necessary.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that I receive a small portion of the sales price if you purchase something from one of these links. However, because of my advertising relationship with ProSource, you can save 15 percent when you purchase through these links with the coupon code THEBOXFIT.
If You Have $150 to Build Your Home Gym…
I don’t recommend budgeting less for a living room gym because you’ll want to get a few items for variety’s sake. To get in strength training and HIIT workouts, you’ll need at minimum:
Dumbbells ($9.99 to $42.99 each). You can do a lot with dumbbells: hang clean and jerks, snatches, shoulder presses, triceps extensions, curls, weighted lunges, front squats – the possibilities are endless. You can even lie on the floor and do bench presses.
A Jump Rope ($7.99 to $14.99). One of the best ways to get your heart rate up is to jump rope. It’s compact, it can be done anywhere, and if you’re feeling ambitious, you can work on your double unders. Try tabata jump rope drills; you’ll definitely get in some good cardio.
A Stability Ball ($14.99 to $16.99). In addition to crunches on the stability ball, you can use it in your living room gym for bench presses (seriously!), one-legged squats, roll-outs, and planks. Plus, it’s just plain fun to sit on when you’re done working out and want to watch the end of that movie you put on.
A Yoga Mat ($21.49). No home gym is complete without a yoga mat. Yes, it’s good for yoga and Pilates, but it’s also great for doing pushups, full situps, crunches, and just stretching out after a workout.
The Multi-Grip Pullup Bar ($19.99). Pullups are just one of the exercises you can do with this. You can also do toes to bar or hanging knee raises, as well as take the bar down and use it for triceps dips. I have this exact one, and it doesn’t damage your door frame, so it’s ideal for renters.
Total: $151.44, before the discount.
If You Have $300 to Build Your Home Gym…
Get everything I listed above. Then add:
Kettlebells ($11.29 to $59.99). Like dumbbells, kettlebells are multipurpose gym equipment. In addition to kettlebell swings, you can do goblet squats, cleans and jerks, and snatches. Kettlebells are great for overhead walking lunges, overhead presses, and Turkish get-ups, too. Get a couple in different sizes for the most versatility.
A Plyometric Box ($89.99 to $99.99). Box jumps are the immediate exercise that comes to mind, but you can also use a plyo box for step-ups, to work on pistol and handstand pushup progressions, and to sit on while you do shoulder presses.
Total: $305.41, pre-discount.
If You Have $500 for Your Home Gym…
Yes, get everything listed above. Then you can really play with some new equipment and get items for more specific resistance training and skillwork:
A Resistance Band Set ($84.99). You can do a LOT with resistance bands. They’re great for resistance training exercises like pull-downs if you loop them around your pull-up bar. You can also use them for mobility and warm-ups. They’re also very easy to pack!
An Abmat ($14.99). Abmat situps are one of the best ways to strengthen your core. You can also use the Abmat for handstand pushup practice or progressions to protect your head.
A Foam Roller ($9.99 to $54.99). You can get as basic or as fancy as you want with a foam roller. I recommend one that has a multitude of surfaces so that you can dig in to sore muscles and use it for myofascial release pre- and post-workout.
An Agility Ladder ($10.99). I’m recommending the 8-rung ladder because, when spread out, it still fits well into small living rooms or apartments but provides a fun way to change up cardio workouts or just do agility drills at home.
Total, pre-discount: $436.
To add variety to your workouts, you can get dumbbells in different sizes, or you can focus on recovery with more massage balls and sticks. It’s really up to you how you want to structure your living room gym and what your focus will be. But know that it’s possible to set up a great spot in your living room to get in your workouts, even when life conspires to keep you stuck in the house.