A Minimalist Home Gym: 6 Exercise Equipment and 10 Workouts

By Don

April 8, 2022

Blog

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Home Gym

Home gyms vary in size, equipment, toys, and costs. But they do not need to be elaborate to be effective. 

In fact, if you build your routine entirely with bodyweight, you don’t need to build much of a home gym at all!

But if you want to add other methods to your exercise routine beyond bodyweight, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars into recreating your local gym at home. Trying to mimic your local gym in your garage will create both an “analysis-by-paralysis” equipment evaluation, as well as cost you far more than a monthly gym membership would.

Having an effective home gym adds immense value to your body-stewardship system. There are several benefits, including:

  • Saving on time commuting to a gym
  • Saving on annual fees and monthly payments for a gym membership
  • Investing in equipment you can use for years
  • Familiarizing your kids with exercise equipment, instruction, and providing them with resources they can eventually use
  • Providing more flexibility on when you can workout

But where should you start?

Minimalist Approach at First

When creating a home gym, it’s always best to start small. Start with a simple space, simple equipment, and a simple plan. Over time, your equipment and space may grow, but there’s no need to rush into building an elaborate space before you use it consistently.

Starting with this mindset first will remove obstacles (limited space, money, resources, etc…) that would have otherwise prevented you from getting started.

And we all know that one person that has an untouched treadmill hanging around in his garage that makes regular but unsuccessful visits to yard sales each year…

So instead of buying that treadmill that’s going to collect dust in two years, what should you buy? Or put another way, what exercise methods should you do?

Should you be a barbell bro?

A TRX band guy?

A squat-rack dweller?

A resistance bander?

A free-weight-only purist?

A kettlebell man?

Exercise methods tend to be a matter of preference. But if you’re looking to save on both space and money, I have 6 equipment recommendations on how to start constructing your home gym.

This list is a minimalist starting point. Some of this equipment you may already have, and others you may not. This equipment will only take up a few square feet in your home, it can be placed anywhere, it can be packed up easily, and won’t cost you much more than *$160.

None of the following links are affiliate links, just suggestions to point you in the right direction. Let’s get started!

6 Equipment for a Minimalist Home Gym 

1. A Kettlebell

If you want to move beyond bodyweight and into some form of weight training, adding a kettlebell to your home gym is, in my view, the most effective piece of home gym equipment you can invest in. Kettlebell movements are a blend of the powerful Olympic barbell lifts with the portable functionality of a dumbbell. In that sense, you get the benefits of both without the hassles of either. It is the ultimate versatile weight training tool.

Kettlebells are not space suckers like barbells and are far more portable. The key kettlebell movements like a snatch, clean, or get-up typically have a higher learning curve than dumbbell movements, but these movements engage your full body which improves efficiency in the time you spend exercising.

The kettlebell requires only a few square inches of space, and it can go with you anywhere. You can take it to the park, to your backyard, on vacation, or even for a walk. You will need and want to scale up in weight over time, but kettlebells are hardy pieces of metal that with proper care will last for years.

My one, and personally experienced, disclaimer here is that kettlebells can add up quickly with their cost. One easily turns into two, and two easily turns into six. From personal experience, I started with four, and now there are eleven in my garage! But even with eleven, they all fit within a relatively tiny space. And you don’t need eleven to start. You just need one.

I recommend one 16kg KB to start (16kg for men, 12kg for women), and I have found Lifeline to be a blend of both quality and affordability when compared to other brands. A 16kg Lifeline KB will cost ~$60. As your strength increases, increase your weight. Go to 20k, then to 24kg, and beyond, and buy one of each to start. 

2. Pull-Up Bar

The Pull-Up Bar ranks #2 behind the kettlebell because there are other pull-up alternatives for you that you might not be taking advantage of. You can do inverted rows, a close cousin of the pull-up, on the side of your kitchen table (if sturdy). Your local park probably has monkey bars that you can do pull-ups on. Or, you could use the top of a door (if sturdy). Seriously. Check this out.

But, if you don’t want to use your table, monkey bars, or the top of your door, you could invest in a simple pull-up bar that can be mounted on top of a door frame. I have used several variations of these types of pull-up bars over the years, and you can find different options at a retail price of ~$20.

The pull-up strengthens the muscles in your back, biceps, core, and forearms, and is one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do. Adding a convenient way to do pull-ups to your home will be a welcome option for your home gym routine.

3. Headphones

Chances are you already have a pair of headphones you can use. Listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook is a great way to add more value to the time spent exercising. I tend to listen to music while exercising, as music acts as a motivating agent for me during my workout. You can check out some of the songs on my workout playlist by checking out the Layman’s Fitness Spotify page.

I recommend investing in a pair of wireless headphones so you don’t have to worry about tangled cords interfering with your movements. I have used the same pair of Mpow Flame headphones for the last several years, and their retail price is only $25.

4. Foam Roller

A foam roller is a tool that helps with your flexibility training. It can be used both to warm up your muscles before a workout and can be used in recovery as a part of your cool-down. Having one will help bookend your workouts with an effective warm-up and recovery tool. 

I would recommend purchasing one that is at least 18″ in length, and you can find one for this size on Amazon for ~$15.

5. Mat

If you want to create a home gym in a garage, having a mat will make a difference for your feet and your back. If you noticed, I haven’t recommended buying shoes. That was intentional; if you want to work out at home with a combination of bodyweight and kettlebell movements, shoes in my opinion are optional.

You can find a variety of mats, but for my last two home gyms, I have purchased some variations of this type of mat, which will cost you ~$25. If you regularly sweep this mat before and after your workout, you’ll find that these types of mats can last longer than the reviews indicate.

6. Jump Rope

A jump rope, like the kettlebell, only takes a few square inches of storage, it can be taken with you anywhere, and it provides an effective workout. The jump rope will help you improve and train your cardiovascular fitness, and you can find one for ~$8 on Amazon.

You can incorporate 30-60 second intervals of jump roping into your home gym routine to start. If you’re barefoot, you will soften the impact and wear on your feet by jumping on top of your mat.

10 Workouts with the Minimalist Equipment

You do not need complex equipment to create effective workouts. These next 10 workouts only use one kettlebell, mat, and the occasional jump rope

All of these workouts are linked to the Layman’s Fitness YouTube Channel which contains instructional videos for the workouts:

  1. Home Gym Workout 20
    • Complete 10 rounds
      • 5 KB Goblet Squats (slow tempo)
      • 10 Body Squats (fast tempo)
      • 50 Jump Ropes
  2. Home Gym Workout 18
    • Complete as many rounds as possible within 15 minutes.
      • 20 KB Swings
      • 10 KB Around the Worlds (both directions)
      • 5 KB Clean & Presses (both sides)
  3. Home Gym Workout 17
    • Perform 5 sets of 6 reps of each exercise
      • KB Floor Press (6 reps each side)
      • KB Pull-Through Push-Ups (6 reps each side)
      • Plank-Ups
  4. Home Gym Workout 16
    • Complete as many rounds as possible within 15 minutes.
      • 10 One Hand KB Swings (each arm)
      • 3 KB Clean & Lunges (each leg)
      • 2 KB Half Get-Ups (each side)
  5. Home Gym Workout 15
      • Complete 200 KB Swings
      • 5 Burpees every minute on the minute
      • Start by doing 5 burpees, and then start the KB swings. Every minute complete another set of 5 burpees and repeat until you have finished the 200 KB swings. 
  6. Home Gym Workout 14
    • Complete 8 Rounds
      • 10 KB Push-Up Touches
      • 5 KB Romanian Deadlifts (each side)
      • 10 KB Swings
      • 5 KB Sit-Up to Presses
  7. Home Gym Workout 13
    • Complete as many rounds as possible within 12 minutes
      • 10 OH KB Swings
      • 6 KB Pull-Through Push-Ups
      • 50 Jump Ropes
  8. Home Gym Workout 12
    • Complete 10 Rounds
      • 10 KB Goblet Squats
      • 10 KB one hand rows (each side)
      • 10 Burpees
  9. Home Gym Workout 11
    • Complete as many rounds as possible within 12 minutes
      • 10 KB Swings
      • 5 Lateral Crawl Burpees
      • 10 V-Ups
  10. Home Gym Core/Ab Workout
    • Complete 3 rounds
      • 5 KB Side Bends (each side)
      • 5 KB Sit & Presses
      • 20 Mountain Climbers

Use these workouts as both guides and starting points for utilizing minimal equipment to build an effective body-stewardship system. 

Start with a simple space, simple equipment, and a simple plan. But get started! 

*The *$160 figure reflects product prices as of April 8, 2022.

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