Rack, bench, barbell, plates, dumbells, dips, pull ups.
Looking to build out your own minimalist home gym, and on a budget? Need quality fitness equipment that gives you that professional gym experience in your own home? This article focuses on building out a small home gym which is geared toward weightlifting and strength training.
The following Bells of Steel home gym came in at just under $3000 Canadian. Considering the quality of the gear, the cost and commitment of a gym membership saved, not having to travel to and from a gym, and never having to wait for a piece of gear, the price is more than reasonable.
If you have spent time in a gym, strength trained, and want to replicate that at home, this article is for you. For those mountain bikers who want a more well-rounded fitness setup to complement your indoor virtual cycling, this is also for you. In fact, that’s exactly my motivation for building this the way I have.
If you’re looking for a bare bones minimalist home gym with nothing but body weight exercises and a couple dumbbells, this article isn’t for you. If you’re looking for the full gym experience at home and space and money aren’t an issue, this article isn’t for you either.
Minimalist Home Gym on a Budget
Background to my Home Gym Setup
I’m not a pro strength trainer, but I’ve worked out my entire life. I’ve used various pieces of equipment, and different exercises, at different stages in my life. I’ve worked out for strength improvement, injury prevention, injury recovery, and just staying functional.
These days, most of my workout exercises are built around dumbbells and barbells, which are the main “bigger pieces” of my minimalist home gym setup.
I’ve found pull ups and dips to be of great value for my shoulders, hence why I bought the dip attachment. Luckily, the residential power rack already comes with a proper pull-up bar.
I do various other bodyweight exercises, in addition to weight-centric ones, but none of them require additional gear and won’t be mentioned.
I also have an indoor cycling setup just beside the gym — my road bike on a smart bike trainer. If you want a cardio setup, I think it’s one of the best ways to go, as it’s low impact and racing people from around the world is really fun.
You could easily swap it out for a spin bike, treadmill, rowing machine, or assault bike, but I’ll leave that up to you.
The footprint of my home gym is 12ft by 16ft, and the bike trainer is in addition to that. But, if I was pressed for space, I could organize my home gym more strategically so I could fit cardio equipment on the gym flooring. The following is my personal bare minimum gym equipment needs, at as good a price as anyone can ask for, which is why I’m calling it the best minimalist home gym setup on a budget!
Residential Power Rack
The Bells of Steel residential power rack is what I built this home gym around. If you use the Bells of Steel Gym Builder you get it, and any other gear purchased at the same time, for 5-10% off. In this package, the power rack comes in at $449! You’re not gonna beat that anywhere.
The rack is solid, well designed, and performs exactly as you’d want it to. It comes with rack cups for your barbell, steel safety pipes, concrete anchors, and a bare steel pull up bar.
It also comes in two heights: standard and short. The short is 6ft and is what I use in my home gym. If you have low ceilings, it’s a great option!
For more detail, check out my Bells of Steel residential power rack review.
Mighty Grip Fat Flat Weight Bench 2.0
The Bells of Steel mighty grip fat flat weight bench, along with all the gear listed on this page (other than the rubber hex dumbbells) were purchased with the home gym builder.
I’d originally wanted the adjustable bench, just so I could put it up when I needed support for upright exercises, but now I’m glad I was “forced” to buy the mighty grip fat flat weight bench.
There’s something to be said for simplicity! The construction is solid, the pad is thick and supportive, and provides a wide, super stable platform and there’s no moving parts to worry about.
When I do shoulder exercises, I just sit upright on this and it forces me to use my core (as opposed to just lifting the back up with an adjustable bench) which is probably better for me anyways.
The one major limitation to my short ceiling is that I can’t do standing military press and I was concerned sitting upright on a bench would be too unstable. But it is no problem — the bench is stable and predictable.
If you want a straight forward weight bench, you really can’t go wrong with this one. But, if you want something adjustable, Bells of Steel sells those benches too.
Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0
The Bells of Steel barenaked powerlifting bar 2.0 was the first piece of gear I unwrapped and what made me think “wow, this is legit.” Given the Bells of Steel pricing, I had assumed the gear would be so-so: not nearly at the level of the professional gyms I was used to, but ok for home gym use.
This barbell blew all of that out of the water.
From how the barbell was wrapped, to its attention to detail, and after using it, this barbell is awesome and I’m sure you’ll find the same.
Some of you may be professional powerlifters and have more to say, but for the majority of people, the barenaked powerlifting bar 2.0 will exceed you expectations for its cost.
I use the barbell mainly for leg/ lower body exercises, bench press, and military press. These are all fantastic, functional, compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. If you’re building a minimalist home gym, I believe it is a critical piece. A barbell’s great, even if that’s all you’re lifting/ you use light weight.
Crumb Bumper Plates
I chose the Bells of Steel crumb bumper plates because I wanted something I could drop if needed, didn’t have to baby, and we cheaper than full-on professional grade rubber powerlifting plates (which Bells of Steel sells too!).
These crumb bumper plates are made to be durable and affordable. They are well-constructed, like all the other Bells of Steel gear.
There are different grades of rubber weight plates, and one of the main differences is “bounciness.” This comes into play if you’re dropping the barbell from a height (eg. when doing snatches or other overhead exercises).
I don’t do those exercises, and I’m not going to pretend to know anything about them, but if you do, then the crumb bumper plates likely aren’t for you, and you’re gonna wanna go for Bells of Steel higher grade/ professional rubber plates.
But for the majority of you, looking to build out a simple home gym and don’t expect to drop the barbell from a height, the crumb bumper plates will more than meet your needs. If you don’t plan on doing any floor-based barbell exercises, then consider the steel weight plates.
5 - 50lb Rubber Hex Dumbbell Set
The Bells of Steel 5 – 50lb rubber hex dumbbell set is a no-nonsense, high quality dumbbell set that will meet all your dumbbell needs (up to 50lb).
This set comes in at $1000. Which might seem expensive on its own, but is comparable across industry standards. I’ve read that weightlifting gear like this costs this much because of the higher shipping costs. I looked at other dumbbell sets from other companies, but it just made sense for me to buy these from Bells of Steel, as I’d just bought the complete home gym setup.
In fact, the rubber hex dumbbell set addition was last minute when I went to pickup my home gym, as they’d just come back in stock. The Bells of Steel staff were extremely helpful prioritizing my updated order and I was matched with the rubber hex dumbbell set minutes after ordering.
The nice thing about the hex shape are the flat sides — if you do any exercises that require you to anchor on the dumbbell, it won’t roll away on you. Plus, they are easier to store. With round dumbbells, I often have to chase them around when I put them down!
I can’t fault these on anything, and if you need a dumbbell set for your minimalist home gym, these are a great option. The exercises you can do with dumbbells are virtually limitless and considering the tiny amount of room they take (especially if you put them on a rack) it makes them almost essential stock for a minimalist home gym.
Side note: Bells of Steel does sell a 55 – 80lb rubber hex dumbbell set. Their residential dumbbell rack is $200.
Y Dip Attachment
The Bells of Steel Y dip attachment is a simple, solid, dip attachment for your residential power rack.
Connect it together with the two supplied bolts and you’re good to go! Dips have always been a great shoulder/ chest exercise and I find it to be one of the most functional exercises for pushing. It brings in a balance element because your body is dangling in the air.
One note: since this attaches to one side of the power rack, it does introduce a tipping risk. If your rack is bolted down this isn’t an issue. But, if your power rack is free-standing like mine, you need to balance that force.
I simply put some crumb bumper plates on the plate holder opposite my Y dip attachment, and that keeps everything stable. For reference, I’m 220lbs.
The Bells of Steel y dip attachment easily slides in and out of your rack, so you can store it when you’re not using it.
Interlocking Puzzle Rubber Flooring Gym Mat
The base for this entire minimalist home gym setup is on the Bells of Steel interlocking puzzle rubber flooring mat. I use 12 of them in my budget home gym, and they cost $35/ each (and they’re cheaper if you buy them with the gym builder).
They are low-profile, sticky, and simple. These don’t provide any cushioning, so if that is important to you, you may want to try a different option. But if you just need something grippy and durable to put your minimalist home gym on and protect your floor, the interlocking puzzle rubber flooring gym mat will do the trick.
I’ve been on rubber flooring at professional gyms that isn’t as tacky as this. Once again, for the price, I was expecting something slippery and cheap made of low-grade rubber.
Instead, these haven’t slid, are extremely dense and durable, and interlock perfectly. Exactly what you need for your budget home gym.
There are certainly an endless variety of home gym setups, and everyone needs something different.
But, if you want a minimalist home gym setup on a budget, using higher quality gear that doesn’t break the bank, then I believe this Bells of Steel setup is one of your best options out there.
The bare minimum — for me — when it comes to strength training is a rack, barbell, rubber plates, pull ups, dips, dumbbells, and a bench. This setup gets you all of this, in a well-designed package from a company committed to customer service, for under $3000. It’s tough to beat that!
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