How to Build An Apartment Home Gym

Apartment Home Gym How to Maximize a Small Space, December 2021

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Not everyone has the luxury or budget to afford a monthly gym membership or a large home. If you do live in an apartment, you might find it difficult to build yourself a home gym.

I’ve been in this situation before where my apartment home gym simply wasn’t cutting it and I wasn’t able to get the equipment that I needed to get big.

While I could have just sat there and complained, I decided to sit down and come up with a solution to this problem. It might sound easy, but the first step towards coming up with a solution is fully identifying the problem at hand.

It was only then that I was able to build a fully functional apartment home gym that met my needs and allowed me to get some workouts in.

While an apartment home gym will never be able to compete with something a gym could offer you, it’s a great alternative if you aren’t feeling up to travelling and still want to get some work in.

I’m going to be talking to you guys today about how to maximize the space in your apartment home gym so you can find a way to make your situation work.

The Problems With An Apartment Home Gym


Living room decorated with a TV on theleftwall and a couch infront of it with a tablein the middle

Remember when I first said I had to figure out all the problems with my apartment home gym? The first and most obvious one is going to be size.

There is no way I’m going to be able to get large smith machines in there as space in an apartment is already tight.

You generally get the choice of one machine top if you are lucky, and even then it might have to be small.

Another thing to mention is that if your workout requires lots of movement, you are going to have a lot of trouble pulling that off with an apartment home gym.

If you are sharing your apartment with a friend, spouse, or partner, you’re going to have an even harder time finding a way to make your apartment home gym work.

Unless they are passionate about workouts either, they are not going to want a huge portion of their living space dedicated to gym equipment. The problems with an apartment home gym don’t end there either unfortunately.


 Damp room with a redboxing bag in the leftcorner and 3mirrors on the right and a blue ball in front

If you are planning on lifting heavy weights or deadlifting, you are going to run into serious issues.

Even setting large weights down carefully is going to make a ton of noise that your neighbors and landlord is going to hear.

After a few complaints, your landlord is going to come over, see your apartment home gym, and ask you to take it down.

It’s one of the things I hated the most about working out in an apartment as I wasn’t able to be raw and in charge when I was lifting.

The Setting

Living room space with gym equipments

There are spaces that are made for working out, and there are spaces that aren’t made for working out.

You might find yourself getting extremely hot working out in your space and struggling to push yourself to go further.

Ventilation plays a key role at the gym, it’s a reason why you see high ceilings and massive fans above you. It’s a problem that not too many people realize when it comes to an apartment home gym.

It might sound like I’m bashing apartment home gyms, but I’m not. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to recognize the problems that come with an apartment home gym so you can go about remedying them.

I found a way to make apartment home gym workouts work, so I know that you can do the same for yourself.

Before I jump into actual solutions though, I do want to briefly touch on the benefits of having an apartment home gym so you can see that there are some amazing things that come with it.

The Benefits of an Apartment Home Gym


The first and ultimate reason to have an apartment home gym is convenient. Instead of having to drive off to the gym to get a workout in, you can instead take a few steps and start working out right away.

It’s great for those of you who at times might lack motivation to get out of the house.

Cost Effective

This one is a little tricky, as gym equipment is not cheap at all, however if you plan to keep it for a few years, you are going to save some money.

Let’s say the average gym membership costs about $50 a month; that’s $600 on the year. That money however keeps getting spent every month to get you your workouts.

While you are going to be paying higher costs at first with your own apartment home gym equipment, eventually you are going to be saving money provided you take good care of your machines and don’t break them.

How To Make Your Apartment Home Gym Great

Bench-press set up

Now that we understand why you would want to get an apartment home gym, it’s now time to take a look at the many ways that you can make your home gym great.

There are three major areas that I’m going to be addressing when it comes to creating the perfect apartment home gym.

  • Portability
  • Multi-Use
  • Size

When it comes to your apartment home gym, you are going to want things that are portable and can be easily moved around.

Not every day is going to be chest day, so you are going to have to find a way to change your workout routines up.

Having gym equipment that is portable and can easily be moved around will allow you to make changes on the fly to get the most out of your gym equipment.

It’s not all about moving things around though within your apartment home gym. You are also going to want things that can be used in a variety of different ways.

Why have 10 different pieces of equipment when you can have one that can do it all for you?

Finding equipment that has multiple uses will allow you to reduce the amount of equipment you need in your home gym, therefore helping you save space.

Finally, the size of your equipment matters as well. While a smith machine is going to cover a ton of different exercises and is one of the best multi-use things out there, asking you to fit that into your apartment home gym is simply unrealistic.

You have to find things that are going to work with the space that you have.

Now that we’ve covered the basics and I’ve given you a good idea of what I look for and what I prioritize in an apartment home gym, why don’t we move on to talking about some actual products that you can add to instantly improve your apartment home gym.

Adjustable Dumbbells

If you plan on working with free weights, I’m not going to beat around the bush here. These are absolutely mandatory for your home gym, and I'd suggest the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells.

While you can get yourself a dumbbell rack, that still takes up a lot of space in the room, and you will find yourself needing heavier dumbbells as you workout more and more.

Having a pair of adjustable dumbbells allows you to customize the weight that you are doing so you can use it for just about every exercise.

Shoulder shrugs? Not a problem. Bicep curls? Easy peasy. When looking for adjustable dumbbells, you want to look for a set that is durable, and allows for a large degree of customization.

I’ve seen some adjustable dumbbells go up to about 90lbs, while most seem to reach up to about 50-60lbs.

You aren’t going to be crushing your personal best bench press at the gym with these adjustable dumbbells, but you are going to be getting a solid workout that is going to help you out.

For an apartment home gym, these will definitely help you cut down on all the clutter and will make it so you only ever need two dumbbells to get the job done.

A Foldable FID Bench

The benches at the gym are known as FID benches and they stand for flat, incline, and decline.

These benches, like the Rogue Fold Up Utility Bench, are great as you are able to use them at a variety of different angles and in a variety of different positions to get your workout done.

What is the problem with these FID benches? They are quite long and will definitely have trouble fitting in your apartment home gym if space is an issue.

Fortunately, there are plenty of foldable FID benches that can collapse and easily be stored in a closet when you are done with your workout.

This way you can wake up in the morning, pull out the bench, crush your sets, and then fold it back up.

If you are ever looking for larger pieces of equipment, having the ability to collapse it and fold it up is essential for an apartment home gym. 

Body Weight Exercises

When it comes to working out in an apartment home gym, nothing beats body weight exercises.

All you need to accomplish this is a yoga mat or some kind of mat that you can use for groundwork to reduce pain. Here are some of my favorite body weight exercises if you are tight on space.

  • Pushups
  • Sit-Ups
  • Burpees
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Shadow Boxing
  • Planks
  • Lunges

There are definitely more body weight exercises that you can do at home, I just thought I would give you a list of some of the ones I regularly do.

If you have low ceilings or are tall, things like burpees and jumping jacks might be a little difficult for you to do, so plan ahead so you don’t end up smacking your head on the ceiling.

Some of the best workouts that you can do require little to no equipment, so take advantage of your body and what it has to offer.

A Pull-Up Bar

A pull-up bar is one of my favorite things to get for an apartment home gym as it takes up no space and can easily be put on any door.

The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar and Portable Gym System is a great example of the simplicity and versatility they provide.

Simply stick it to the top of the door, close the door, and you now have a great place where you can do pull-ups.

These things are incredibly versatile and you can use them in many different ways to get the workout that you are looking for.

While you might be a little worried at first about the bar supporting you, you’ll quickly learn that these things can withstand a lot of weight and will easily be able to support you without damaging your home.

I honestly think the large majority of apartment home gyms I’ve seen have this, so you should definitely add it if you don’t.

An All-In-One Gym

Some people don’t like having a ton of different pieces of equipment lying around their home and instead want one machine that can help them accomplish their fitness goals.

The Bowflex MaxTrainer M6 is a good, affordable all-in-one gym system that can provide robust workouts in a confined space. 

In fact, Bowflex makes plenty of all-in-one gym equipment.

These are specifically designed for a home gym so they are made to be as small as possible while delivering a large array of exercises and resistances.

I do warn you however, that these can get quite expensive so unless you are looking to take working out seriously, I would steer clear of an all in one home gym.

If you are ready to work however, you can definitely get a great versatile apartment home gym with something like this.

Foldable Cardio Equipment

When you think of stationary bikes and treadmills, you’re probably imagining these large machines just sitting in your apartment taking up all the space.

While this would be true a few years ago, manufacturers such as Rogue, with their Rogue Air AssaultBike, have started to make cardio equipment that folds up and can easily be stored.

Please don’t think you are going to be able to make these things extremely compact and store them away without a problem however.

Bikes and treadmills still generally have screens and important pieces of equipment that cannot be bent.

That being said however, if you can reduce their size footprint by about 50% in your apartment home gym, you are going to have a ton more room for mobility and other exercises.

If you want to a save a little extra money, the Rogue Echo Bike is a similar model to the Rogue Air Bike, minus a few features.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to building a great apartment home gym, it is about recognizing the space that you have in front of you, and how you can exploit it to achieve your goals.

It’s never going to be the same experience as lifting heavy weights at a gym, but it can come pretty close if you find the right equipment. 

As I stated earlier, it’s about finding equipment that is portable, can be easily stored, and can be used for a variety of different things.

If you keep all of these things in mind when creating your apartment home gym, you are going to make great use of the space in front of you.

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

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