Gear Guy

Expert-tested, editor-approved

Can I Build a Home Gym for Less Than $450?

Absolutely. You just need to get creative.

One of the keys to building a home gym is making sure you have enough variety that your workouts will not get stale. (masta4650/istock)
Photo: masta4650/istock crossfit

Absolutely. You just need to get creative.


Definitely. I built the following gym for $425 and use it year-round to stay fit for kayaking, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing. The key: Use gear you already have to make the most of your space, and look for multiuse tools to keep workouts interesting.  

TRX HOME ($200)


This is the home gym rat’s do-it-all exercise tool. The variety it offers keeps workouts from getting stale, and nearly every exercise forces you to engage your core, which is key for almost every outdoor sport.

Harbinger HumanX Competition X4 Speed Rope ($25)

It’s worth the $25 for a jump rope with great swing weight, fast swivels, and a solid grip. The more efficiently the rope works, the more fun jumping rope will be. 

Harbinger Ribbed 5/8-Inch Durafoam Mat ($45) 


In an effort to boost my manliness, I exercised on the concrete floor for about a week before realizing that it wasn’t making me tougher, just less likely to do crunches. A nice plush mat like the Harbinger Durafoam will save your elbows, knees, and vertebrae from a punishing hard floor. It rolls up and stores easily once your workout is complete. 

Harbinger HumanX AbX ($30)


I learned to love ab mats during a brief but fiery relationship with CrossFit. The added support helps me increase the number of situps I can do during short, high-intensity intervals.

Perfect Pushup ($20)

(Perfect Fitness)

For years, I thought this was an unnecessary piece of gear—you already have hands for pushups, right? Then a friend of mine who’s a pro kayaker explained how adding rotation to pushups strengthens rotator cuffs and builds a tougher defense against shoulder injuries. I’ve already noticed a significant improvement.

Seconds Pro App ($5)


It’s easy to set up interval training programs with this app. I program my workout before heading to the garage, then go into autopilot while the app tells me what exercise to do and how long to do it. There is a free version, but spring for the $5 app for a better display. 

JBL Charge 2 ($120) 


Your smartphone’s speaker is hardly adequate when it comes to blasting pump-up music. The Bluetooth Charge 2 has a massive range, and the 12-hour battery means I have to charge it just once per week. It has some of the crispest sound I’ve heard from a portable speaker, and it even charges my iPhone while I work out.