When creating a home gym, it’s easy to get distracted by all the different possibilities. There are just so many different pieces of gym equipment out there. But what do you actually need? Here’s everything you need to create a complete home gym and nothing more.


Something everyone needs is a set of dumbbells. They are very versatile and almost everyone will use them at some point in a workout. Dumbbells can be used for so many exercises that listing them would be like writing a whole book.

Dumbbell style

Dumbbells come in two main styles;

Fixed dumbbells are a handle with a fixed weight so you can’t change it. If you’ve been in any commercial gym, you’ll have seen this type of dumbbell.
For home use, adjustable dumbbells are more popular. These consist of a similar handle as fixed ones but it’s possible to change the weights at the end of the handle.

Adjustable dumbbells

There are two types of adjustable dumbbells.
Screw collar

The selectorized type is more expensive but much easier and quicker to use. They work by returning them to the base station and turning a knob.
The type with the screw on collar is much cheaper but it takes longer to change the weights sine you have to screw off the collar, find the right weights, put them on and then screw the collar back on.


If you want to progress to heavier weights and bigger muscles, a barbell is the way to go. Most body and power –building workouts will utilize a barbell for a large amount of exercises.

All the lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench, overhead press and many more require a barbell. Where the dumbbell is usually the first thing new gym-goers grab, the barbell is what you’ll be using a whole lot when you get a bit more experienced.

Ideal size of barbells

For general home gym use, an Olympic barbell with a diameter of 25-28mm is the best option. Full sized Olympic barbells are 7’2 long but, if you’re not practicing for an official competition and you don’t lift extremely heavy, you can get away with a bar that is a bit shorter.

Women’s Olympic barbells are a few inches shorter at 79.14” which could help you fit it in a compact home gym. These barbells always fit on a power rack.


A power rack or cage can be used for so many lifts and exercises it’s something that anyone who’s serious about lifting can’t afford not to have. In a commercial gym you might be able to avoid the power rack because they’ve got many machines that can replace the movements you’d otherwise perform in or around the rack.

Weight plates

Of course a power cage and barbell aren’t of much use without any weight plates. After the power rack and dumbbell this is the last part you need to use them properly. Without weights, the barbell and power rack are pretty useless. Sure, you can use the barbell without weights but it won’t take long before that will be too light to do anything for you.

Types of weight plates

There are three different types;

Bumper plates. These are made out of rubber and can be dropped from overhead without problems. They’re very sturdy and are used in official weightlifting competitions.
Cast iron plates. These are made out of cast iron as the name already suggests. These are the cheapest and strong but also noisy when dropped and can damage the floor.
Rubberized plates. This version has a metal core but a rubber casing outside. These are in the middle price wise.

Barbell collars

Barbell collars clamp on the barbell sleeves to keep the weight plates on. So you put on the weight plates you need and then clamp on the collars. That means the plates don’t go anywhere.
It’s not necessary or even wanted on every lift but many lifts will be a bit safer with these things in place. A simple pair of spring clips will do the job although you can go much fancier for a bit extra clamping strength and ease of use.


The bench is not a piece of gym equipment that directly makes you stronger. Many people who are looking at creating their own personal gym already have quite a bit of experience in commercial gyms so for those people it’s pretty obvious why. Others are new to this whole working out thing and might not be too sure why you need a bench.


Kettlebells provide enough variability and added value that they earn a spot on this list. Sure you can have an awesome and complete workout with the items listed above but kettlebells are an awesome tool that allows you to switch things up a little bit.
It’s also possible to have a complete workout just with a few different weights of kettlebells.
They’re a great way to warm up since you can pick a light weight and go through a full range of motion without straining your muscles too much. Many kettlebell exercises are full body movements which use a lot of different muscles.

Gym Flooring

Flooring is an often overlooked part of home gyms. I’d say it’s an essential part however. It’s also important to get it in before anything else. It’s more difficult to put in after everything else since you’ll likely have to take out most of the things

Cardio machine

No matter what kind of workout routine you’ve got, some kind of cardio is good for everyone. While there are plenty of ways to get your cardio workout done without equipment or kettlebells but most people still prefer to have some kind of machine. There are good reasons
to get a cardio machine;

Low impact
Easy monitoring of progression
You can see exactly how well you did/are doing
Easier to be consistent in your workouts.

Types of cardio machines

There are a few popular options for cardio machines at home;

Stationary bike
Recumbent bike
Elliptical trainter
Rowing machine


Mirrors are a piece of equipment that you almost never touch. Mirrors are not only for gym bros to appreciate their own physique all the time. It’s good to see your progress and find motivation in that. Motivation is always necessary to be able to keep going with your workout schedule so if seeing your progress helps that, that’s awesome.


Do you like this checklist and want to see more? visit the Checklist everything. This website will give some sample checklists and checklists that you can have as samples to create your own list. Every checklist on this website is printable as PDF.

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