It comes to a point in life where driving down to the gym just isn’t as much fun as it once used to be.
Sometimes life gets in the way and you end up being too busy to afford those 30 to 40-minute drives.
And other times, you just bury your head in work, and working out gets pushed to the back burner.
This isn’t to say you have to throw in the towel, sit back and watch the pounds pile up on your body. If you can’t get around to going to the gym, why not bring the gym to you?
I mean, building one in your home…
This, however, comes with its own set of challenges, especially if space is at a premium.
I know, I’ve been there myself.
So in this post, I will take you through some of the best home gym setup ideas on how you can set up a small apartment home gym so you can exercise in the comfort of your home as well as reap all the other benefits – I will get to these in a moment.
If this is something you’ve been contemplating recently, let’s get down to business and help you build a fun, small home gym.
What is a good size for a small home gym?
When I set out to build a gym in my home, I didn’t have much space to go on, and for this mistake, I went in without the right preparation. I wouldn’t want you to make the same mistake and come out the other side frustrated and disappointed.
So yes, before you become too excited and get ahead of yourself with the plans, make sure you have enough space to work with. Don’t worry though, you don’t necessarily need a whole hectare of floor space for a small home gym.
Anything within the range of 150 to 250 square feet should suffice at giving you enough room to fit equipment for cardio for muscle building or weight loss.
Do note, however, that this is far from a set-in-stone rule as far as space. If say 50 or 60 square feet of space is all you can scrape, then you may as well make that work for you.
The only catch is, you will have to go for a very bare-bones setup and be very (and I mean veeery) selective with the type of equipment you choose.
If you are not settling for anything less than a gym with such equipment as a squat power rack, apartment punching bag, leg press machine, or elliptical bike, then you’ll need at least 150 square feet of space.
How do you make a small room into a gym?
Now that you know how much space you will need for the type of gym you want, let’s look at some of the most underused areas in an average home where you can set up a small gym.
As much as an attic often tends to rank high among the most underused spaces in many homes, you might have to make several considerations before checking the box on this one.
Why would I have doubts about setting up a small home gym in the attic? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for lifting.
Unless you trust your attic floor beyond any reasonable doubt, lifting there, or installing heavy equipment like high-end professional treadmills and weights might be a big gamble as far as attic gym safety.
But hey, if you have a solidly built attic, and you won’t be doing any lifting there (like if you’ll be doing nothing more than just bodyweight exercises) then sure.
Got a shed rotting away in your backyard? How about putting it to good use and setting up a small home gym in there? Just like is the case with the attic, you will need to consider a few factors here, too.
Or at least, you might need to do a few improvements like the flooring, ventilation, and lighting to make the conditions favorable for a workout.
Unless you have a spare bedroom on an upper floor (where you might have to consider the strength of the floor), you will have little to worry about when turning it into a workout room.
Only a few improvements here and there, and you should be all set.
Turns out, the garage is one of the spaces in most homes that owners turn into a gym. Even then, however, you might need to make a few adjustments like ventilation, flooring, and lighting.
Some of the challenges that you are likely to run into when turning your basement into a workout room include ventilation, lighting, flooring, and overhead clearance.
If you are setting up a workout room in a basement with a low ceiling, you might be limited as to the height of equipment that you can install in there. I mean the likes of power racks and smith machines in this case.
This brings us to the next bit you need to consider when getting started setting up a home gym in a small room – the height.
What is the best height for a small workout room?
Often overlooked, the overhead clearance is among the most essential boxes you need to check before getting down to business turning any space into a home gym.
Generally, the ideal ceiling height for a compact workout room boils down to the height of the equipment you plan on installing. It sure does depend on whether you will be performing any overhead pressing workouts.
However, besides the attic and basement, most of the other spaces we have discussed above should offer more than sufficient clearance for a convenient home workout space.
With that said, if the space you plan on converting into a workout room has a clearance of 9 feet or thereabouts, then that should be enough for most gym equipment and/or lifting workouts.
Any height lower than 9’ might still work, but that depends on your height – a short person may not need as much clearance as a tall one. And yes, you could be limited as far as the workouts you can perform and the equipment you can install in there.
Workout Room Flooring
With the height taken care of, the next thing you should turn your attention to is the flooring.
This is particularly important if you are setting up your workout room on an upper floor, as you need to muffle the noise. You’re shooting to get in some workout, not piss off everyone else in the house.
Best Flooring Material for a Workout Room
You have several options to go on here;
Rubber – Works great at absorbing impact and reducing noise, best by far thanks to its water-resistant capabilities, cost-efficiency, and durability.
Foam – Almost as great as rubber, but isn’t water resistant and can be unstable for squatting workouts
Turf – Turf is great for high-impact athletic workouts, but is a bit costly and not very ideal for barbells and weightlifting.
Vinyl – Awesome for aesthetics, but it’s not very ideal for free weights or weightlifting, it’s more suitable for yoga or pilates though. It’s also resistant to moisture, mold, and mildew.
So, what should you look for in a workout room flooring?
Mostly, you need to consider the following;
- Ease of installation
- Resistance to water and moisture
- Shock absorption
Workout Room Lighting
You might not have to worry much about lighting if you’re converting one of the rooms in your house into a home gym.
However, if you’re setting up your workout room in the shed, in the basement, or a garage, then you may have to make a few fixes here and there.
I’d say dig getting all the natural lighting you can.
This will help prevent using artificial lighting during the day, which might otherwise lead to soaring temperatures in the room and electricity bills.
Also, LED lights make for a perfect choice here, since they are energy-efficient, they’re quite bright, and don’t cause a lot of heat during use.
Workout Room Ventilation
The level of work (and budget) you need to put in for the ideal ventilation depends on several factors; how well is the room ventilated, to begin with, the climate in your area, and the time you’ll be working out.
For instance, if you’re turning a garage or basement into a home gym, you may have to do some renovations to allow for better airflow or install a fan or air conditioning unit.
However, if you live in an area with a cold climate and/or you’ll only be working out at night when temperatures are low, then such changes might not be particularly necessary.
What Should I Have in a Small Home Gym?
Now that you have everything figured out, it’s time to bring in the equipment and make your small workout room start looking like…well, a workout room.
Best Small Workout Room Equipment
Seriously, there are a ton of options and ideas to choose from, so much so, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Trust me, I found that situation when picking equipment for my small basement gym.
And yes, the fact that you’re tight on space doesn’t make selecting the perfect fit any easier. Don’t get caught up in a similar dilemma, here are some perfect fits that you can go for that will enable you to enjoy varying workouts, without sacrificing space.
It’s by far the one versatile option that gives you the best of both worlds as far as getting in different workouts and saving on space. The good thing is that these come in different shapes, designs, and sizes.
What you need to do here is check to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Whether you go with a rather compact option like the gorilla bow, or a monstrous machine like the Marcy home gym 988 or 990, make sure you’re getting the best value.
What makes home gyms such awesome choices is that you can do different workout 7 days a week, such as doing shoulder exercises after chest day, or pairing biceps and triceps on next day. The options are endless!
Adjustable dumbbells also make for perfect workout equipment for such small spaces. Unlike fixed dumbbells (which you may have to build a dumbbell rack for), adjustable models are ideal in that you can use the same set for different workouts and strength levels.
And no, you don’t have to splurge on these either, depending on where you buy your dumbbells, there are some very cool yet affordable sets out there.
Again, a great pick for saving on both money and space.
A foldable bench
If you are fond of doing such workouts as the bench press, you will be hard-pressed to settle for a home gym without a bench.
Thankfully, with a foldable, small weight bench for apartment, you don’t have to compromise on space or give up on your favorite workout. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
For those who prefer working out on their bench with a barbell, I’d say go for a short barbell, the type of weights you go for is your call.
Other handy workout equipment
The list of workout equipment that you can add to a small workout room is virtually endless, it's all down to the floor plan, floor space, and the equipment you throw in there. Besides the ones I have mentioned above, you can also throw the following in there.
Benefits of a small home workout Room
So, is a small home workout room worth all the hassle? The short answer is, Yes, it is! The long answer… well, it depends – on how close your nearest gym or fitness center is, or how much time you have on your hands.
Having read this far, however, it’s clear that you don’t have the luxury of these two. So let’s go ahead and see some of the benefits that you stand to get with turning that underused room into a small home gym.
It saves you money
It might not look like it, but the cost of setting up a home gym can be a fraction of the money you have to fork up every month to work out at your local gym.
I know, I know. It still doesn’t add up, but when you factor in the gym fees you have to foot every month, and the cost of fuel to and from, and compound that year over year, you’ll see the contrast.
It Offers a Great Deal of Privacy
If you are not quite comfortable working out in a public gym with all the prying eyes of strangers, a workout room in your own home is a great way out.
Hey, who doesn’t hate being judged by every other gym bro if they do an exercise wrong, have trouble using equipment, not mastering the perfect form, or not looking as fit as everyone else thinks they should?
You don’t have to feel nervous, anxious, and intimidated in the gym again, now, do you?
The reality of just how convenient a home gym can get hit hard in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most local gyms and fitness centers closed down, and even the ones that remained open, still the issue of one’s health loomed large.
Small as it might be, a workout room allows you to exercise at any time that’s convenient for you and saves you such surprises. You don’t have to worry about driving to your gym past 10 only to find they’re closed.
There’s a bucket list of cool benefits that you can get with a small home gym;
- Besides these, you also get to enjoy the following;
- Increased home resale value
- You can enjoy workouts with the whole family
- For new moms, you don’t have to spend more on childcare
To Wrap It Up…
Whether you’re uncomfortable with working out alongside strangers, or you don’t have the time to make it to the gym before they close, or you only want a little more convenience, turning an underused space into a workout room can make life a whole lot easier for you.
Sure, you will have to bear some upfront costs from potential renovations and improvements, and buying equipment. But trust me, you will save a whole lot more down the road.
After all, you don’t have to buy everything on day one; you can add them over time – one piece of equipment at a time.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 18 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page