With a little creativity, you can build your own home gym with just a few pieces of fitness equipment. Experts say investing in individual equipment makes more sense financially than spending thousands on a home gym. Here are the basics on setting up a home workout space without spending more than a few hundred dollars.
If you decide to go this route, experts recommend starting your gym with the following equipment:
Dumbbells. If you only buy one thing for your home gym, it should be a good pair of dumbbells. Consumer Reports recommends at least two pairs so your workout remains challenging. Check out our report to find the best dumbbells for you.
Weight bench. Although not a necessity, a weight bench will help you get the most out of your dumbbells, since it will provide a stable surface and allow you to move in a greater range of motion, especially when lifting heavy weights. Look for a padded bench and expect to spend $50 to $100. Used benches go for much less on eBay and Craigslist.
Exercise mat. A good exercise mat will protect your floors and keep your hands from slipping when doing push-ups or yoga work. Our report on yoga mats can help you find one to fit your needs.
Exercise ball. Exercise balls are great for core work. You can also use a ball instead of a weight bench for dumbbell exercises. The Valeo Body Ball gets good reviews for less than $15.
Pull-up bar. Pull-ups work a number of muscle groups, so there's really no substitute for a good pull-up bar. Luckily, they cost less than $30 and can be installed in a doorway in a few minutes.
As Ben Popken at Consumerist.com points out, scouring sites like Craigslist for used fitness equipment is a great way to get a good price, especially during the earlier months of the year. "Most people's New Year's Resolutions are dead by February, so now is a good time to start looking as people start to offload the equipment they bought hoping to get in shape," he writes. Popken was able to score a weight bench with dumbbells for less than $200, along with several pieces of cardio equipment for just over $600.
If you rather purchase a machine than individual pieces of equipment, the ConsumerSearch report on home gyms details the best buys. Serious bodybuilders can spend thousands on a heavy-duty home gym, but we found some good alternatives for less than $1,000, including the Body-Solid EXM1500S.