How To: Build a Budget Home Gym

So you want a home gym?

You don’t need much to start a home gym. The basics will be a power rack, an FID (flat, incline, decline) bench, a barbell, olympic weight plates and some mats to protect your floor. Additional equipment can slowly be purchased after. Things like dumbbells, a few kettlebells and a suspension trainer might be good pieces to add as well.

Buying new or used? Both work well. I am going to post up new equipment but I recommend perusing your local craigslist or kijiji ads for used equipment. As long as there is no rust, you should be good to go. Another option is buying equipment from gyms, high schools or community centres that are closing or looking to clear some of their equipment.


1. A Power Rack

A power rack will be the main piece in your gym. With this, you will be able to do pullups, squats, barbell bench press (incline or flat), military press and many many more. The benefits of the power rack is that you will have safeties that will keep you safe when you’re hitting max effort lifts. Something to note for power racks is the weight capacity. Generally, cheaper racks will be able to handle less weight. Less weight usually means 500-800 lbs of weight. So if you’re not squatting over 600-700 lbs, you’re good to go.

A few options:

  1. Northern Lights Iron Factory Power Rack – $198 CAD
  2. AmStaff TP006D Power Rack – $225 CAD
  3. Northern Lights Power Rack – $348 CAD


2. A Bench

Benches can range from flimsy to very sturdy. You get what you pay for here. There are $100 walmart benches that will not hold you and the weight you will be using. Benches are a bit pricier but it will be well worth your while to buy something of higher quality.


  1. York FTS Flat-to-Incline Utility Bench – $279 CAD
  2. X-Series Super Bench – $349 CAD
  3. Xtreme Monkey FID Bench – $369 CAD


3. A Barbell

A barbell can cost $100, $200 or $1000. If you are just starting out, you can get away with spending a bit less in this department. Just make sure you buy from a reputable brand. As with all equipment, there will be a weight capacity for the bar. You’re looking to buy a 7 ft. olympic bar though. This will fit olympic weight plates or bumper plates.


  1. Cap Barbell Olympic Bar – $165 CAD
  2. York 7ft Olympic Bar – $169 CAD
  3. Rogue Ohio Power Bar – $290


4. Olympic Plates

Here is where buying used will work if you’re willing to wait and put in the work. You can also buy bumper plates (rubber/full sized plates) or steel plates. The steel plates will usually be cheaper but bumpers are nice since they are quieter and all of the plates are full size. You can buy these separately but many companies will sell a barbell+plate combo. I will link both. For new steel plates, you’re looking at $0.90 – $1.25 per lb. For bumper plates, it will cost  1.5-2x as much. If you’re buying used, you can get the steel plates for as low as $0.60-0.70 per lb. I would recommend starting off with at least 300 lbs of weights. For budget purposes, I will post the bar + weight bundles. I highly recommend shopping around for weight plates if you’re looking to buy separately though.

Bundle Options:

  1. Northern Lights 300lb Olympic Weight Set – $295 CAD
  2. Northern Lights 310lb Olympic Rubber Set – $325 CAD
  3. Northern Lights 365lb Elite Bumper Plate Set – $498 CAD


5. Mats

Mats are expensive but they will protect the integrity of your floors. Look for heavy duty mats. Fitness stores sell them but you can also find them from horse suppliers – they call them ‘horse stall mats’. If you’re just starting your home gym, chances are you won’t need that many mats. Do not buy the cheap puzzle piece mats unless you want to have deep regrets soon after.


  1. Rubber Flooring (4ft x 6ft x 3/4in) – $49 per sheet

*I only posted one as all of the options out there are similar. Something along these lines will be your best bet though.



Other Equipment

I’ve posted the bare necessities thus far and will continue part two in a separate post. As you’ve probably noticed, this does not include dumbbells ($1.00/lb new), kettlebells, suspension trainers (if needed), collars for the bars, storage racks of any sort, bands, med balls, etc. For the five pieces of equipment I’ve posted, you’re looking at anywhere from $1000-1500 CAD. You can probably knock down this price if you’re able to find good used deals. It really depends on how much work you’re willing to put in.

In conclusion, having a home gym has it’s benefits. Mostly time, comfort and privacy. If these things are important to you, a home gym will be for you. If not, stick to commercial gyms and continue to pay $20-60/month.

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