8 Essential pieces of equipment to start building your home gym

October 08, 2020 5 min read

So you’ve decided to build your own home gym. Don’t know where to start? Here’s the order we suggest for acquiring new equipment and why.

First we need to consider the equipment that every living person on the planet has access to: a floor. We can get a lot of good training just with access to a spot on the ground. Push-ups, squats, burpees, core exercises, and running can all be done with no equipment and will absolutely develop your legs, chest, arms, and abs. The only limitation is with training your back.

Pull-up Bar

The pull-up bar should always be the starting point of building any home gym. It opens up the ability to really develop those back muscles and also gives you new options for bodyweight exercises overall. Sure, there are some unconventional exercises you can do on the floor to train your back, but nothing beats a pull-up. Even when weights are involved, the pull-up is the king of back and bicep training.

For those still working towards their first pull-up, a set of exercise bands will enable you to work that motion in the meantime. These open up even more options in conjunction with the bar as well, like banded rows.

Dip Bars

Dips are an important exercise for chest and tricep development. Unlike a pushup where your feet support some of your bodyweight, a dip allows you to use your entire body weight for greater overload of your muscles. You’re also performing a vertical motion doing these which target your lower chest. Similar to a tricep pushdown, you will also add further tricep development with these. For more adventurous athletes, they also open up the possibilities for interesting calisthenics based exercises such as the planche.

Free Weights

Next up you’ll want to build your collection of dumbbells and/or kettlebells. Training with weights allows you more capacity to overload your muscles for increased growth potential. You will be able to do a whole host of workouts with these like weight squats, presses, curls, swings, carries and flyes just to name a few.

It’s best to have both on hand, but some may want to start off with just one type. Whichever you select will depend on what you want to focus on with your training. Dumbbells are more suited towards exercises that isolate specific muscles. If you are looking more towards bodybuilding, this is a good place to start. Kettlebells are better for metabolic conditioning exercise like kettlebell swings and snatches. This is for athletes focused on full-body training and functional fitness.

Olympic Barbell and Plates

Your first barbell should absolutely be a full sized olympic barbell as it gives you the most range of possible exercises starting out. At this point you will unlock what is considered the king of lifts: the deadlift. It is crowned as such because it utilizes the most muscles in your body to perform, and provides the best development for the glutes and hamstrings. This benefits everyone that can safely perform it. It increases explosiveness in athletes, rounds out the physique of bodybuilders, and improves posture for everybody.

Besides the deadlift, you can get a lot out of just a barbell and plates. The barbell row is an amazing addition to the pull-up for developing your back and lats. The power clean provides excellent functional fitness gains. You will also be able to perform front squats and military presses with however much weight you can clean.

Power Rack/ Squat Rack

This will be the centerpiece of your home gym. With a rig, you will be able to perform the back squat to further overload your legs and really develop those quads. Racking your barbell means you’ll also be able to perform barbell curls and presses without having to power clean it up. With a bench, you’ll be able to bench press which covers the big three major lifts.

Most racks, like what we offer at Divert Fitness, have a modular design. They often come with a pull-up bar which eliminates the need to buy a separate one. You can also find dip bar attachments for most racks that are less expensive than standalone dip bars. The variety of upgrades for a power rack are vast, from spotter arms to pulley systems. Power racks can really be tuned to your training needs, and are the best long term investment you can make for your fitness.


It’s best to get a bench with an adjustable back angle. This allows you to perform incline workouts in addition to your standard flat bench press. The bench press gives you the best chest and tricep development due to its potential for overload, which will translate to any other chest exercises you do.

The benefits of a good bench extend to what you can do with your dumbbells as well. Seated shoulder presses, incline curls, dumbbell rows, chest flyes, and skullcrushers are some of the options a bench provides. These exercises are excellent for isolating specific muscles. You can also perform dragon flags on a bench to really shred your abs.

Running Shoes

This isn’t actually gym equipment, but is a part of training that is just as important. Most people hate doing cardio, and I get it. A lot of it can be utterly boring and grueling. However, cardiovascular health is crucial to overall fitness. Cardio typically burns more calories than strength training in a given amount of time. The increased heart rate and blood flow tend to have a greater positive impact on mood and energy levels. In the long run, it strengthens your resistance to heart related diseases. Boosting your overall endurance means you can train harder and longer in the gym before fatiguing as well.

Some people have the misconception that cardio kills your muscle gains. Excessive low intensity cardio actually can have a negative impact on hypertrophy. This is not the case with shorter high intensity cardio though. High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to have the best effect on fat loss with no negative impact on strength gains.

So strap on your shoes and go run, hike, or do whatever you find fun. Cardio doesn’t have to be boring. If you are into activities like swimming, biking, mma, or playing sports, you can find enjoyment from your cardio training.

Recovery Tools

Optimizing recovery is just as important as your physical training for your fitness and growth. Your muscles don’t actually grow from exercise. Your workouts provide the stimulus for growth by creating tears in your muscles. Your body then responds during the recovery phase by sending proteins to rebuild and grow the damaged tissue.

Myofascial release tools help to break up tightness in your muscle tissue. This allows your body to heal quicker, and can be combined with stretching for optimal recovery. This means you will be able to hit your next training session sooner with less fatigue. A massage gun is an amazing tool for this application, as are foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and theracanes. Incorporating some of these in your training will ensure you don’t have a gap in your overall fitness potential.

Once you have these essential items, you will have enough to perform every exercise you fundamentally need. From there you can build even further with upgrades and extra machines based on your own specific needs. Check out the collection at Divert fitness to get your gym start today.

Jack Jiang
Jack Jiang

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