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Health & Relationships

How to make a cheap home gym

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Gym memberships are expensive – but we can help you get the same thing, except cheaper and in your house. Allow us to give you some great cheap home gym ideas...

woman doing home workout on sofa

Credit: Prostock-studio – Shutterstock

The UK's average gym membership hits a whopping £40 a month, which works out at £480 per year. Although that could be a great investment if you're using the most expensive equipment daily, you can create a pretty good imitation of a lot of the machines at home.

The gym can also be a nerve-wracking place while exercising from home gives some certainty. Not only can you exercise without feeling self-conscious (as many do), but you're also not spending hundreds of pounds per year on fitness.

With that in mind, we're here to show you how to stop spending money unnecessarily. Instead, you can save money on the cost of an annual gym membership without missing out on exercise or good-quality equipment.

If a home gym isn't for you, check out how to get a cheaper gym membership.

Cheap home gym ideas

We found the best cheap gym equipment for your home gym:

  1. Invest in kettlebells or dumbbells

    woman holding a weight and squatting down in gym

    Credit: Maridav – Shutterstock

    Cost: About £15 – £25 per kettlebell/dumbbell

    Buying home gym equipment is the basis of this guide, and we've whittled down a small list of items you may want to invest in for your home gym.

    First of all, we suggest purchasing your own kettlebells or dumbbells – Amazon has some great options.

    Kettlebells and dumbbells can be used in very similar ways and are super versatile. What's more, they can also form the basis of so many different exercises and activities, including home workouts for your chest, legs and arms. Once you've got some, you may find you won't have to purchase much else!

    If you're wondering what exercises to do, or how to do them, YouTube and Google are your friends. You can find so many different instruction videos and guides online, so the world is your oyster. And with that in mind...

  2. Free online fitness classes

    Cost: Free

    If you need some motivation to do a home workout, it may be worth using online classes to exercise with others.

    Online fitness classes are particularly helpful if you like to feel as though you're in a group, and who can say no when it's free? And if it still doesn't feel quite right, complete the class with a housemate or video call friends at the same time – then you can be social while working out.

    If you're not sure where to find these online classes, we suggest taking a look at YouTube and searching 'free yoga class' or 'free Peloton class' – there are plenty out there.

  3. Door frame pull-ups

    man pulls himself up in gym on pull up bar

    Credit: Blanscape – Shutterstock

    Cost: About £20 - £40

    If you want to build your upper body strength, pull-ups are a great way to do this. Pull-up bars are an absolute staple of any home gym.

    The bar fits onto a door frame (at the top) and you can use it to pull yourself up. Depending on the type of pull-up bar you get, you may be able to work a range of muscles and try different exercises.

    We suggest having a look online for ways to challenge yourself using this piece of equipment. We found a great one at Argos.

    Pull-ups will mainly work your lats (back), but also your biceps secondarily. You can also change your grip to have your palms facing you and do chin-ups, to focus on the bicep more.

    Just remember that, while most door frames should be able to handle a pull-up bar without a problem (and without any damage), you may want to check the condition before attaching your equipment.

    The last thing you want is to find out midway through a pull-up that the door frame is rotting, as not only could the damage cost you some of your tenancy deposit, but the fall could injure you too.

  4. Set yourself fitness challenges

    Cost: Free

    Sometimes a bit of competition is all it takes to motivate you to start a workout.

    We've found that apps like Strava or Nike Run Club are great if you're able to connect with your friends. Seeing other people posting their workouts can really inspire you to leave the house, and runs are always more fun outside than on a treadmill.

    In the case of Strava, there's also the option to join challenges, meaning you get a (virtual) medal achievement when you complete a 5km run, for example.

    The app will also tell you how quickly you've completed certain 'segments' (stretches of road that other Strava users have given a name to). After each run or cycle, it'll tell you if you've beaten your record for a given segment – believe us when we say you'll become very competitive with yourself, very quickly.

    But whatever app you use, the main reason to download them is to get yourself outside and into the fresh air – it's such an easy way to do self-care.

  5. Use fitness apps

    woman working out at home with an app gym

    Credit: fiskez – Shutterstock

    Cost: Varies

    On top of setting yourself challenges via apps like Strava and Nike, we suggest using other apps to fully immerse yourself in a 'gym environment' at home.

    We recommend SHREDDY or SWEAT particularly, as they give you workouts to do whether you're working out from home or in the gym.

    There are sometimes monthly costs to apps like these, or you can choose to pay annually (which often comes at a discount). If you're unsure whether it's your cup of tea, start with a monthly subscription. That way, you're wasting less money if you don't like or stick to using it.

    And, of course, you may also be able to find similar apps for free.

  6. Make DIY gym equipment

    Cost: Free

    Using homemade gym equipment is one of the cheapest ways to build your home gym. You can usually do it with stuff you've already got lying around the house.

    In the past, we've used empty milk bottles and filled them with sand. This has the added benefit that the bottle already has a handle to help you lift it. But you don't have to use sand – you can also use water, rice, pebbles or whatever is in abundance.

    If you're looking for something a little heavier, try filling a backpack or duffel bag with books, magazines, cans of food or anything else you can find!

    In fact, if you're after a super heavy weight, you could even fill the bag with the milk bottle weights we mentioned earlier.

  7. Utilise what you already have

    work out equiptment

    Credit: fiskez – Shutterstock

    Cost: Free

    A budget home gym that costs about £50 is never going to fully mimic a proper gym with thousands of pounds worth of equipment. But, you can narrow the gap by fully utilising things that are already in your house.

    For example, you could turn your sofa or bed into a bench (propping pillows up if you need them), or use a coffee table as a platform for doing tricep dips.

    Walls may not seem that useful in the grand scheme of things, but we've used them for strength training. Handstands are a great way to gain bodyweight strength in your core, as well as your arms, and walls are ideal to lean onto for balance.

    Triceps dips will work your triceps (obviously), while handstands are great for your core and shoulders. You can also use the side of your bed/sofa for incline or decline press-ups to work on your chest, shoulders, triceps and core.

    If you've not done handstands before, take a look at YouTube for some help – it may be a new way for you to exercise.

  8. Designate a space for your workouts

    If you're lucky enough to have some kind of space in your home, we suggest utilising it for workouts.

    Whether it's a spare room, garage or a space you have outdoors, creating the right space for yourself is vital to boosting your motivation when you want to work out.

    If you're able to decorate your space, consider putting up some mirrors. Not only does this make the space feel bigger, but it also allows you to see your workouts.

    We'd also recommend adding posters, motivational quotes, good lighting, a speaker and whatever else you may have lying around – whatever it takes to feel as though it's your space for workouts. Typo has a great range of all of the above.

    After all, mental health is just as important as physical health.

  9. Get cheap workout equipment accessories

    blue yoga mat being rolled up by woman

    Credit: Maridav – Shutterstock

    Cost: About £10 for resistance bands, about £4 for skipping rope, about £13 for exercise mat

    To complete your cheap home gym, there are a few accessories we'd suggest getting to enhance and switch up your workouts.

    Using resistance bands can enhance your squat routine and build up muscles in your legs, while a skipping rope will help you improve your cardio levels without needing to leave the space you're in.

    For some workouts, you may also need a yoga or exercise mat. These are incredibly versatile as they aid with stretching and floor workouts and help with comfort when you're on your feet.

If these home gym ideas aren't your cup of tea, check out these cheap ways to go to the gym instead.

Lauren Nash

WRITTEN BY Lauren Nash

Lauren is a deals and discounts expert, and the Digital Marketing Manager at Save the Student. She is passionate about saving money and has appeared on Channel 5 documentaries sharing her money-saving tips. Lauren's work is centred around securing the best exclusive deals for Save the Student and working with great student brands.
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