How to assemble a beginner’s home gym for $50

The Home Gym. It used to be the bane of my existence and something I wanted no part of. Then I realized that time, money, and general desire to go to a depressingly sterile and indoor gym (the only kind I can afford) were all lacking. With help from Amazon, Target, and free things on the Interwebs, I put together a perfect beginner’s home gym without breaking the bank. And it all fits comfortably in one corner of my 500 square foot apartment!

Welcome to the Gun Show

You can guess which handweights I started with....and which ones I can actually use.
You can guess which weights I started with….and which ones I can actually use.

Hint: when you’re picking weights out at Target, don’t bring home the ones you can barely do a bicep curl with in hopes of “killing it one day with these babies,” as I may or may not have told my boyfriend.

It’s hard to follow along with workout routines – or even do much on your own – when your weights are too heavy. Swallow your pride, and get ones that are appropriately challenging. Fortunately, Target has tons of size options that are all affordable. You can make sure you’re getting the right size by busting out some moves in the aisle at Target.

Smallish hand weights are easy to store (and carry in from the car) and highly versatile. They are certainly not limited to just arm workouts! You can do a ton of different exercises with them, and even if you have a few different weights they don’t take up too much room.

Channel Your Inner Yogi

My yoga mat (more on FREE at home yoga later) doubles as an exercise mat, which is helpful for a little bit of extra padding and traction, especially if you have hardwood floors.

I have this one, which I got for cheap on Amazon. My boyfriend’s mat has a bit more cushion, but it was also way more expensive, so I just use a towel or fold the mat a few times if I’m getting uncomfortable.

Looks fly AND is cheap? Sign me up.
Looks fly AND is cheap? Sign me up.

Hidden bonus: If you don’t feel like putting on shoes, you can just workout in your favorite socks since they stick to the yoga mat instead of sliding around the hardwood floor.

Stretch Baby Stretch

If you are prone to injury as I am, you may already have a few resistance bands laying around the house. The possibilities for these are also endless – you can use them for stretching and full body strength training. This website has exercises for every part of your body.

The red and blue are Therabands, which seem to be cheaper on Amazon. Make sure you know what to search for!
The red and blue are Therabands, which seem to be cheaper than Flexbands. Make sure you know what to search for!

I’ve found it easy to adapt to all of those exercises even though I just have the plain bands without handles. They are cheaper, plus you can ball them up and store them really easily in tiny spaces. Start with an easy resistance (usually the red one) and move up from there. I bought the green one on Amazon for seven bucks and scored the other two for only $4 at my physical therapist’s office. Amazon has a set of all three types for only $11.

Good Programming

The key to getting your butt off the couch? Find stuff you like. I am too lazy to come up with my own routine, so I follow Tone It Up’s free workout schedule. I love them, but I legitimately loathe several of the workouts. So I just don’t do them. Try it all, but figure out what you like and what makes you feel good.

Pinterest is also a treasure trove of alarmingly difficult workouts. My Strength Training board is a great place to start. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

Pump Up the Jams

Spotify has an awesome cardio playlist that for the most part avoids awful techno/dubstep/whatever the youth are calling it these days. Whether it’s angry rock, aggressively sexual rap lyrics, or the most bubble gum pop princess music out there, crank up whatever gets you going.

Total Cost

  1. Hand weights: $20.50
  2. Yoga mat: $20
  3. Resistance bands (3-pack): $11
  4. Workouts: FREE online

TOTAL: $51.50

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