Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
No costly memberships, no sweaty strangers, no stressing to get there before it closes—it’s no big surprise that people with home gyms were 73 percent more likely to be active than those without one. But if you’re wondering how to build a home gym or feeling daunted by the task, here’s the good news: You don’t need a ton of equipment at home to get into great shape.
Runners can get a great full-body strength workout that will reduce injury risk and boost running performance with simple, inexpensive equipment that fits in a closet. Sure, more equipment gives you more options, but there’s nothing stopping you from adding items as you go. We polled 10 top trainers for the must-have home gym equipment worth investing in.
How to Build a Home Gym With 10 Pieces of Essential Equipment
Fancy? No. But dumbbells were voted the single most essential tool for working out at home. There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do with them. The hex-shaped Perform Better Rubber Encased Dumbbells won’t roll away, get slippery when you sweat, or destroy your floor. Get at least two pairs (one light, one heavy) to cover your exercise bases. BUY NOW
Bodyweight exercises cover every basic movement—except pulling. Nothing trains you better than the classic pull-up and chin-up. You can find a number of at-home, removable options—like this one from Perfect Fitness—that easily attach to a doorway (and comes down scuff-free) so you can do upper-body work anytime. BUY NOW
RELATED: Trail Runners Shouldn’t Skip Arm Day
Soothe sore muscles and loosen tight fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles) for improved recovery, better performance, and a more lithe look. There are endless options, but I like having a full-length roller (like OPTP Black Axis Firm Foam Roller) and a smaller, more portable option (like Trigger Point Grid Mini).
These discs increase the friction of almost any surface—turning your hardwood floor, carpet, or tile into a skating rink. The result: Your muscles are under constant tension during every exercise, which boosts the effectiveness. We like Valslides, which come with a pair of Valslide booties to use on hardwood, tile, and linoleum floors. BUY NOW
It’s a great tool for core exercises and can also substitute for a bench in some exercises to increase the difficulty and up the core activation. The Gymnic Classic Plus Exercise Ball is just one of numerous choices.; we like it because it’s practically burst-proof, and it’s free of latex so it won’t smell or irritate your skin. BUY NOW
Gyms love the TRX, which uses your body weight to change the resistance of any move. Now there are plenty of at-home versions, including the TRX GO Suspension Trainer System. Setup is simple—just flip over a door or around a (sturdy) stair banister—and it packs into a small bag so you can stash it when you’re not using it. BUY NOW
Big ones (like Perform Better Superbands) can make bodyweight squats extra challenging or help with assisted chinups, while smaller bands (like GoFit Power Loops 3-pack from gofit.net) are one of my favorite tools for waking up the underworked muscles in your hips and butt.
It can be used in the same way as dumbbells, but because of its unique shape, it’s even more versatile. The First Place Neoprene Coated Kettlebells are traditional cast iron balls with a color-coded, neoprene encasement that helps protect your floors and reduce noise in a home gym. You can also find adjustable kettlebells like the Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weight Kettlebell that allow you to choose the exact weight you need for different exercises (and makes it easy to share with numerous people in one household).
For just a few bucks you can have a portable, calorie-incinerating tool that’s perfect for picking up your heart rate during a warmup, or spiking your calorie-burn totals during your workout at home or anywhere. BUY NOW
Bench, step, or box
Adjustable benches add variety to free-weight training; a basic cardio step or box can be a great starting point for beginners, while FLYBIRD Adjustable Bench is a great investment for runners looking to step up their strength training.