Small Apartment Home Gym (Design, Setup & How-To Guide)

Home gyms are growing in popularity after the events of the last few years. Being at home, maintaining your workout regimen, and saving money are all major benefits of building your own home gym. 

What if, though, you live in a small home or apartment? There may not be enough space for a full home gym setup. However, there are ways to get a full-body gym set up in limited space, and we will show you how. 

In this apartment home gym guide, we will cover the equipment, concerns, benefits, and costs to help you get an idea of what you need, how to plan and budget your gym, and more.

When you live in a smaller apartment or condo, one of the biggest concerns is required space. But how much space do you actually need? The answer may surprise you. 

For a basic guide, you need to know how much room you require as an individual. You need to be able to stand, raise arms over your head, perform jumping jacks and other height moves, as well as floor work like push-ups, sit-ups, and more. 

As long as you have enough room to stand, jump and move with arms out, you have room for a home gym. The bare minimum space required is about 7 feet by 3 feet, with an 8-foot ceiling. Obviously, more room will increase your potential for equipment additions, but you can do a lot in a small space. Read our guide on home gym layouts and setup to learn more!


How To Set Up A Home Gym In A Small Apartment? (DIY Space Saving Ideas)

Planning, building, and setting up your home gym can be an exciting time. However, if your space is limited, you will need to take extra time in the planning stages.

To help with that, we offer a small apartment home gym setup guide. 

Below you will find inspiration from other small space gym setups, and we will explain why they work and what may be best for you.

Small Apartment Home Gym (Design, Setup & How-To Guide)

Let’s start simple. When you don’t have room inside, consider the outside.

Here we find a simple squat rack with a standard barbell and Olympic weight plates. Because it is outdoors, there is a concern for rust or corrosion, but this can be mitigated with rust-resistant applications.

It can be challenging to use bench exercises on a small patio like this, but with the higher ceiling height, pull-ups and cardio training are easily performed. This patio also has a grounded outlet, so the addition of a treadmill could also be employed. 

indoor living room home gym

Moving back inside, this owner has taken over part of the living room.

Because the living room has a higher per square foot pound rating, it can accommodate higher weights like the squat rack and the free weights. The use of the workout mats is essential to help distribute the weight, dampen sound and offer some floor protection in case weights are dropped. 

When setting up something like this, though, you need a larger room which is why this is found in the living room, where furniture can be moved to accommodate the space requirements. 

bedroom home gym

This owner not only has a cute dog but has also decided to transform the bedroom instead of the living area into their home gym. Luckily this one is on the ground floor, so weight isn't as much of an issue. Because of that, a full weight rack is utilized, along with a Swiss bar, standard barbell, and a folding bench. 

You will also notice the use of the Bowflex SelectTech adjustable dumbbells and rack storage hooks to save space. This smaller townhome turned a small spare room on the first floor into their gym and has made use of exercise tiles for the flooring protection.

diy home gym in a small space

The rack and storage were handmade and are fully mounted for security. This is a great use of storage space to double as the rest and rack while providing ample room for the workouts. 

This owner also plans to include a rowing machine which will most likely double as a workout chair when needed. The important takeaway here, though, is that while space may be at a premium, combining the rack and storage in a space-saving design is one solution if you have DIY talents. 

spare room home gym

For the rest of us, though, your spare room home gym may look something more like this: no handmade racks and storage, but plenty of options. The natural light, overhead light, and mirrors add depth to the space, making it look larger. 

The free weight storage racks accommodate the multiple dumbbells, but a couple of adjustable dumbbells would save even more space here. 

The folding bench and squat rack are the main focus and where most of the workout will take place. But we love the ample room in the front to perform your warm-up and cool down stretches without having to move a lot of items around. 


Potential Problems Of Small Home Gyms In Apartments

As you can imagine, not everything in a small space gym will be a benefit. There are pitfalls and downsides to be aware of. If you know about potential problems ahead of time, you can avoid them or find solutions during construction. Let's learn what the biggest issues are. 

Weight Limits 

One of the biggest drawbacks to small apartment gyms are the weight limits. With the exception of the ground floor units, the higher the floor you are on, the less weight each floor can hold. While all floors will be able to handle the average weights of standard household items (furniture, appliances, etc.), the additional weight for equipment and plates can be too much. 

Causing stress, fractures, and even breaking of the load-bearing framework, you will need to know the maximum weight per square foot of the space. If you are unsure or cannot find out, it is best to keep your equipment near the edges of the room and near the center of the apartment where the load-bearing beams meet. 

Our detailed guide on second floor home gyms can help you determine how much weight your space will hold.

Noise 

Noise is another concern that can cause many apartment dwellers to work out at a commercial gym. Constant impact with weight stacks, dropping weights, jumping, and using the equipment can get noisy. 

Shared walls and floors with units below you will be the most disrupted by your workouts. You can avoid this by using quiet equipment and non-metal plates. You can also exercise during normal waking hours to minimize the complaint opportunities.

Vibrations 

With movement comes vibration, and that vibration can transfer from one area to another. If your home gym is located in a room that shares a wall with a neighbor, for example, your equipment vibrations can shake the walls and even knock photos or items from the walls next door.

To avoid angry neighbors, you want to minimize vibrations by utilizing workout mats under your equipment and avoid using the shared wall for weight or equipment storage. 

Regulations 

Some apartment and condo complexes may have limits and regulations against setting up home gyms or heavy equipment. Usually, for the reasons outlined above, if you fall under this restriction, there may not be much you can do. 

You want to read through your rental agreement or lease carefully to ensure you have the right to add or build gym equipment in the apartment. Otherwise, your best bet may be to use the shared gym at your complex. 

Space 

Obviously in smaller apartments, space is the number one concern. While there are ways around this (see below), using the right equipment, planning your gym layout properly, and taking your time to expand and grow will be the best combatants of the space situation. Since available space is everything when building a home gym, we put together a thorough home gym size guide.


What Kind Of Home Gym Equipment Is Ideal For Small Apartments?

When looking to start building your own home gym, there are certain parts, pieces, and equipment setups that will work well and others that won’t. Your choices will depend on several aspects, including how much space you have and the type of gym you wish to construct.

Knowing the limits based on your current setup and future needs will help you get started on the right foot. Let’s find out more about the specific equipment perfect for smaller spaces. 

Free Weights 

Free weights are a staple in any home gym, regardless of size. They are readily available, have multiple uses, and are generally affordable. In a small home gym, though, they may be the primary focus of your setup. 

With free weights, you can use dumbbells for most movements, even mimicking a straight bar bench press. You can also use straight bars and curl bars with weight plates that all mount on racks for out-of-the-way storage. 

With selectable weight dumbbells, you can save even more space by essentially combining multiple weights into a single unit. They are available in dumbbell and kettlebell forms as well. 

See Also - Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells For Home Gyms

Portable Training Gear 

Portable training gear is also a worthy investment. By design, portable items are made to be compact, easy to store, and use without taking up much space. The list of these includes weight vests, ankle and wrist weights, resistance bands, workout balls (medicine and exercise balls), and more.

Portable designs are generally meant to be packed and taken with you on trips, used in hotels, or on the go. However, with limited home gym space, they fill the gap between a full-sized home gym and not having the right equipment for the routines you wish to complete. 

Cardio Machines 

While you still need to concern yourself with weight limits and noise or vibrations, cardio machines are an excellent low-impact solution for many home gyms. Folding treadmills and elliptical machines are a great way to increase heart rate and get a decent workout without taking up valuable living space.

If you decide to go the machine workout route, there are plenty of options to choose from. With folding options and models designed for portability and storage, you can get high-quality equipment that remains out of the way when not in use. 

If you need a foldable cardio machine, jump over to our guide on the best treadmills for apartments. 

All In One Home Gym Machines 

All-inclusive systems typically have everything you need for a full-body workout. Whether a full rack system or a cable and pulley machine, you can use weight stacks, free weights, full bars, and even Olympic plates. 

The best part is that these systems typically come in various sizes to fit different situations. You can even find designs built to be placed in corners, so they are useful but out of the way when you aren’t working out. 

Of course, with an all-in-one solution, you have extra weight, higher initial costs, and more noise or vibration. This also means there is more assembly and high levels of routine maintenance. However, with the right system, sized to match your apartment space and the right floor mats, care and maintenance routines, you can get the most out of these setups compared to the other options. 


5 Recommended Home Gym Items For Condos/Apartments

When space is a concern, and you need to be limited on your equipment, there are several pieces designed to help. Below we outline some of the most recommended home gym equipment standards that work well in small spaces. 

1. Folding Weight Bench 

Weight benches allow you to perform multiple exercises with both free weights and cable weights. In addition, you can use the bench as a rest, chair, laying for bench presses, and more. In small spaces, though, you need a compact bench that can still offer full functionality. This is where folding weight benches come into play. 

Models like the TUSY adjustable weight bench are ideal for small spaces. It has a smaller footprint of 55-inches long when fully extended. It also features 7 different backrest positions and 4 seat positions. 

Best of all, it also comes equipped with a preacher curl attachment, leg curl bars, and hooks for your resistance bands—full functionality of a weight bench plus the added space-saving design for multiple exercises.  

2. Adjustable Dumbbells 

Adjustable dumbbells are affordable and compact in design. With several brands and models to choose from, you can have your pick of various weight ranges that allow a single dumbbell to replace several. 

They will save you storage space and make your weight selection and workouts smoother and faster. Take the Bowflex SelectTech 552, for example. This adjustable weight dumbbell ranges from 5 to 52.5 pounds and stores everything in a 15 x 9 inch area. Read our complete review of the Bowflex SelectTech 552.

While the initial price may seem a bit high, when compared to buying individual dumbbells that, combined, will take up to 10 times the space, it costs much less. On average, an adjustable dumbbell can save you up to 30% compared to buying individual dumbbells. 

3. Door Or Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar 

Pull-ups are one of the more essential workout routine exercises, and they target a lot of muscle groups, including shoulders, back, and core muscles. In a small apartment, you may find it difficult to perform a pull-up without the use of a compact wall or door-mounted model. 

The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym door mount option is one such example. This model slides over the door frame and will allow you to perform a variety of pull-ups, chin-ups, and wide-grip pull-ups without fuss. You can even attach your resistance bands to the multi-gym for different angle exercises. 

4. Smaller Than Usual Barbell 

Barbells come in many sizes, styles, and shapes. A standard barbell, Olympic barbell, and Hex bar are the more common commercial gym-style bars. However, they typically are very large, bulky, and long. 

In a small apartment or condo, you may not have the room width to accommodate a full-size bar and will need a compact model. Ones like the Rogue Fitness C-60B are compact, durable, and still meet standard requirements. 

The Rogue Fitness C-60B is only 59-inches long, weighs 25 pounds, and has a weight rating of over 300 pounds. The distance between the collars is only 44 inches, which prevents it from being racked on a standard barbell rack.

Related Article - Barbell Cost Guide For Different Sizes

5. Folding Squat Rack

Squat racks can be useful for many reasons, squats notwithstanding. However, with a bench, the rack can also hold the barbells for performing bench exercises, seated exercises, and catch the barbells if they fall. 

However, finding one to accommodate a small apartment can be a challenge. Wall-mounted options are great if you have a wall big enough and stud beams strong enough. Ideally, though, you are using a non-standard barbell (as mentioned above) and will need a rack system that can accommodate. 

The best option is a squat stand. Freestanding, easy to store, and can be placed close together to fit smaller barbells. 


Small Apartment Home Gym FAQs

Is it safe to have a home gym in an apartment? 

It is perfectly safe to have a home gym in any home, including a small apartment or condo. With the smaller units, though, you need to concern yourself with structural safety and weight limits more than other homes. You can ask the property owner or city for specifications to ensure your equipment stays below safety thresholds.  

How do you store weights in a small apartment? 

Storage is one of the main concerns for smaller spaces, and the answer lies in wall and rack storage. You can mount a wall rack to a stud that will support the weight of multiple weight plates. Dumbbells, kettlebells, and workout balls can easily fit on racks designed to hold them, many of which are compact and easy to keep in the corner of the room or closet. 

Can I put a squat rack in my apartment? 

The answer will depend significantly on the ceiling height and room dimensions for the rack. A folding rack or a smaller squat stand may be the most viable option. However, if you have the space and can easily maneuver the weights, seats, or benches as well as you, then there is no reason a squat rack won't work. The main problem will be with sound, vibration, and your neighbors. Lifting weights causes a lot of noise and vibration, which can be highly disrupting. 

How much weight can you put in an apartment? 

This will be determined by several factors, including where the apartment is built, how many floors it has, and when it was constructed. Current standards require about 30 pounds per square foot for sleeping rooms and 40 pounds per square foot of support in non-sleeping rooms. However, your city or state requirements may be different, and it is best to call the city planning office or building inspection department of the local city hall to find out for sure. 


Conclusion

Apartment living is a cost-effective and simple solution for many of us, and it shouldn't hinder our ability to have a home gym. However, there are several consideration factors that homeowners don’t have to worry about. 

Once you have considered your neighbors, sound and vibration levels, weight distribution, and equipment type you prefer, you may come to the conclusion it isn’t worth it. On the other hand, small apartments can still function as a home gym with the right setup, proper planning, and equipment purchases. Compact designs, folding or portable models, and weight sets are ideal for smaller home situations.