How to Build a Runner’s Home Gym

With the New Year approaching, lots of people refocus on fitness and good health. For Will and I, one of the biggest keys to ongoing fitness is our modest home gym, the newest feature of which is a treadmill. Before we bought the treadmill, however, we had a fully functional home gym that cost us less than a month at a gym and was as convenient as walking down to the basement. With all the end of the year sales underway, now is a perfect time to start constructing your home gym AND set yourself up for a healthier 2016.

Functional, not fancy.

Functional, not fancy.

Space: We’re lucky to have a large basement where we can spread out. Our current set up is about 12 feet by 12 feet but if you have enough space to store the bench, you can condense into about 3 feet when you aren’t actively working out.

Equipment and Key Exercises: 

  • 16″ Step Up Box (optional: you can use your bench instead)
    • Step ups are one of the most effective exercises for runners. Start with either 30 seconds or 10 step ups and focus on tall posture and driving your knees.
  • Flat Bench
    • Tricep Dips
    • Seated Bicep Curls
    • Bench Press
    • Single Arm Row
    • Glute Raises
    • Plank Pushups
    • Bulgarian Split Squat
    • Adductor Thigh Lifts
  • Pull-up Bar 
    • Pull-up/Chin-ups
    • Hanging Pike-ups
  • Yoga Mat
    • All of the core, yoga and flexibility you can think up!
  • Speakers (gotta have tunes!)
  • Dumbbells (5, 10 and 15 pound pairs)
    • Unless you are extremely strong for a runner, these weights should allow you to do almost any exercise. Remember, higher reps, lower weight tend is more endurance focused while heavier weights, lower reps is more strength focused. You should include both over the course of a week.
  • Kettlebell (10 pounds)
    • This is a tool I didn’t entirely appreciate until I found some good kettlebell routines, but I find it irreplaceable for dynamic and rotational strength building. Check out half get ups, woodchopper and two arm swing to see what I mean!
  • Resistance Band
    • Monster walks
  • Foam Roller
  • Exercise Ball (you can use this as a bench for any exercise; added core work!)
    • Crunches
    • Reverse crunches
    • Forward tucks
    • Wall sits
    • Pushups
  • Balance Board

How To Build It Frugally!

  • Craigslist: Great source for things that don’t have joints like metal dumbbells or weight benches. Use caution with equipment like treadmills, exercise bikes or weight machines as they have cables and parts that can make them expensive (or dangerous) space wasters if broken.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore: This store has been golden for us; our weight bench was $10 from here and when we got it, there were tons of others from a local gym that closed. You have to be a bit patient (and have a critical eye), but stores like this are a great place to pick up home gym staples at a low cost.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods or Similar: This is a place where you have to watch your prices, because you can pay a TON for basic items but their Hex Dumbbells are reasonably priced and durable.
  • TJ Maxx/Marshall’s: Much like their hidden wealth of exercise clothes, these stores often have great prices on yoga mats, resistance bands and exercise balls.
  • Your Local Gym or PT Clinic: Gyms and PT clinics generally like to have up to date equipment and replace their items more frequently than the recreational user. Although equipment like treadmills and bikes have a lot of use, they are also commercial quality to begin with and have almost certainly had appropriate maintenance. Similarly, the weights and other exercise equipment are top quality. Ask your club manager to let you know if they are planning on replacing equipment. (This also goes for hotels; worth a quick phone call)

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Runner’s Home Gym

  1. Ryan

    It looks like you have a nice workout space in your basement, but I don’t know if I could handle facing the wall that closely while running on the treadmill. Not that my washer and dryer are all that interesting to look at, but I have mine set up so I am looking across the basement when I run, not directly at the wall 2′ in front of me. For me having a focus point in the “distance” makes it feel a little less confining when running inside. I also have a low ceiling which requires orienting myself so my head is between two of the floor joists to avoid injury, which greatly contributes to my sense of confinement when on the treadmill.

    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Yikes, I would not be okay with it if I had to have my head between two floor joists! I generally read or watch a show on my tablet, so I guess I’m not paying attention to what’s ahead of me if I look up. We’ll see how I feel later in the winter when the treadmill isn’t such a novelty!


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