How to Get An Efficient Workout with Minimal Space and Equipment1



Quite often I get asked what someone might buy to install in their home gym and my answer its always it depends.  But it's an easy question to answer.  The most important thing is...

What kind of space do you have?  

The Living Room Workout Space

The smallest space I can think of is the 'living room workout space' or your typical 5x5 space.  Within that area you can't have a lot of equipment, but you want to get as much stuff done as you can.

Some great options are:

  1.  Kettlebells
  2. Adjustable dumbbells
  3. A physioball / yoga matt
  4. Mini bands
  5. A TRX (if you have a hard point to attach it too)

These items will keep your overall storage space small.  All while keeping the amount of exercises that you can do for a full body workout.

The Workout Room

Now, if you're going to go all out and outfit an entire room or 10x10 bit of space into a workout, you can get a bit more into the weeds with equipment.

The necessary options:

  1.  A half rack with a pull station (that way you can save space and do more in your space)
  2. A nice adjustable bench.  One with a decline option is best.  Spend some extra dollars on getting a good bench.
  3. A barbell set with enough weight to accommodate your lifting needs.  Most complete sets will come with about 2 x 45s, 2 x 25s, 2 x 10s, 2 x 5s.  You really don't need the 35s.  No one uses them, so why bother.  If you are looking to lift heavier though, you can always add in a couple extra 45s and a couple extra 10s to accommodate your extra lifting needs quite easily.
  4. As usual, adjustable dumbbells or kettlebells are always a good option here.
  5. TRX strap (definitely) for those necessary pulling exercises.

The Garage Gym

You can really get crazy here with your garage gym setup.  The sky is really the limit here, so we're just going into what to get for a really awesome workout experience.

The Full Monty:

  1.  Full power rack (don't skimp here, get a mid range rack for $600-1500) and then get to work.
  2. A full barbell set is going to be definitely needed here.
  3. A fully adjustable bench.
  4. A cable stack with two separate stacks. These are better than the single stacks in my opinion, because you can use them during supersets and have an easier transition between exercises.
  5. A glute ham raises for developing your posterior chain musculature.  And you can even use it for abs!
  6. Some pieces of high intensity cardio equipment (ie. rower, assault bike, step mill, etc).  If you're into that sort of thing.  But wait it's cardio so you definitely need to be interested in that sort of thing.

Space, Space, Space

Well, that's the list of necessary equipment for the space you have.  Remember, there's always a way to workout, there's simply finding the way and having the motivation to get it done!

Now go get 'er done!


Jess Howland

Jesse "Captain Smash" Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold's Gym. He's a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.