Most of us make an attempt to stay active, whether that’s done by going to a gym or walking around the neighborhood. Of course, having a home gym or workout room offers the best of both worlds – exercising without needing to leave the house.

You might think your house doesn’t have room to set up a home gym, but the space you need could be lying right beneath your feet: in the basement, that is.

With our guide, you can turn almost any basement into a home gym. After all, it only takes finding the right equipment for your fitness goals and the space you have. You can optimize your basement home gym further with some workout-friendly flooring materials, storage solutions and other modifications.

Finished or Unfinished?

Your basement-to-home-gym conversion can go in different directions depending on the state of the basement itself. If the room has been “finished” (carpet, drywall and insulation have been installed), you may need to clear out furniture or fixtures to make room for exercise equipment.

On the other hand, an unfinished basement is more of a clean slate. Unfinished rooms may only require some new flooring materials to become a comfortable home gym.

Tips and Ideas for Turning Your Basement into a Home Gym

With your basement prepared for its transformation, it’s time to take a close look at the core elements you plan to incorporate: flooring, equipment and storage. We’ve gathered together a few suggestions and ideas you can consider as you build your workout space.

Basement Gym Flooring Options

Although you could exercise on bare concrete or a carpeted floor, this isn’t ideal for your comfort or safety. If you’re committed to creating a basement workout room but the room is already finished with carpet or tile, you may want to remove the existing flooring to start.

Below are a few of the most common types of basement gym flooring materials, as well as their estimated costs.

  • Rubber Mats: Rubber is a resilient and versatile material that can stand up to a variety of stresses. It comes in interlocking tiles and roll-able mats that can easily be installed in a variety of rooms. But at $3 to $8 per square foot, it can be more expensive than other options.
  • Foam Tiles: This gym flooring option sports good shock resistance and a comfort factor that makes it well-suited for lower-impact exercises like yoga and Pilates. However, it doesn’t stand up well to heavier equipment like weight benches. Foam tiles can run between $1 to $5 per square foot.
  • Vinyl Panels: Floor panels made of vinyl are a practical choice if you’re looking for a material that can withstand the rigors of home exercise while still looking presentable. Though it lacks the raw durability of rubber, it is easier to clean and maintain than other materials. Vinyl tiles also run between $1 and $5 per square foot.

“Bare concrete or carpet may seem sufficient for your basement gym, and generally it won’t be too bad, but proper flooring will make a huge difference to the look, feel, and functionality of your basement gym. Good rubber flooring is perfect. It feels good under the feet, is easy to keep clean, and looks great. Lots of suppliers sell jigsaw-style interlocking rubber tiles that you can use to surface any size or shape basement gym.”

Eamonn Leaver | Author, TheHomeFitFreak.com

Weight Benches and Lifting Machines Near Dumbbells in Basement Home Gym.

Choosing Gear for Your Home Gym

Possibly the most important factor to consider during your home gym conversion is the equipment you plan to fill the room with. Different machines and tools offer different workouts and health benefits, so think critically about what you hope to accomplish in your basement workout room and what types of equipment you think you’ll use most often.

Below are a few of the most popular staples of the average home gym. See which ones best fit your exercise goals and your intended space.

  • Weight Rack or Bench Press: Good for core/upper body strength. A typical weight bench measures around 48 inches long by 14 inches wide. A weight rack can vary in size depending on the variety of weights you intend to use, but they usually sit against walls to present less of an obstruction.
  • Ab Crunch Bench: Good for abdominal strength and flexibility. Similar dimensions to a bench press.
  • Elliptical or Stair Climber: A popular machine that is useful for full-body cardiovascular exercises. These can vary in size but are typically around six feet long.
  • Treadmill: Popular cardio machine that can help build long-term endurance. The average treadmill measures around 64 inches long by 28 inches wide.
  • Rowing Machine: This machine offers a low-impact but thorough upper-body and core workout by engaging the arms, shoulders and abdominals. Most rowing machines can also be folded up for easier storage.
  • Yoga Mats: A space-saving and relatively inexpensive tool that enables a wide range of relaxing poses and stretches. Yoga mats come in a large variety of sizes, thicknesses, materials and styles.
  • Medicine or Yoga Balls: Although difficult to store, these popular tools can complement a yoga mat or free weights with a suite of stretches and body weight/resistance exercises.
  • Punching Bags: Boxing and kickboxing can be used as high-intensity cardio workouts while engaging the upper body and core. Both heavy bags and speed bags can be mounted from the ceiling or installed on standing bases.
  • Bike or Spin Machine: These machines offer excellent cardiovascular routines and are relatively small, with most models measuring between 35 and 48 inches long.

Save Space with Combination Machines

If you find that your basement gym area is short on space, consider using combination exercise machines that engage the entire body. This removes the need to stock multiple machines or types of equipment that each only engage one part of the body. It can also save you time by requiring only one full-body workout routine rather than several targeted ones.

The downside is that full-body workout machines such as the Bowflex and similar products tend to be more expensive than specifically targeted machines. Carefully consider the costs and benefits of full-body exercise equipment when planning your home gym.

  • Bowflex Max Trainer Series: This machine is known for packing intense, full-body cardio workouts into relatively short periods of time, saving time as well as space. Newer versions come with app support, Bluetooth connectivity, USB charging ports and other features, and can cost between $1,000 and $2,800.
  • NuStep Recumbent Cross Trainer: These machines involve a combination of rowing and biking motions from a seated position, offering full-body workouts to people of all fitness levels. Their average cost is usually around $2,500 to $5,000.
  • CardioGym: Though these machines are fairly expensive at an average cost of $5,900, they offer a great deal of functionality into one package, including options for both strength and cardio training.

“Go with equipment that gives you bang-for-buck in terms of number of exercise options. Multi-gyms and other cable weight machines can be appealing due to their effectiveness and ease of use, however they are often limited in the exercises you can realistically do on them. A much better option, that can be as or less expensive and take up as much or less room, is a barbell, set of weight plates, and a squat rack. The number of exercises you can do with this set up is virtually limitless.”

Eamonn Leaver | Author, TheHomeFitFreak.com

Clear Space for Equipment

After you’ve chosen the equipment you want to use, it’s time to begin your home gym conversion in earnest by clearing space for your gear. Measure the room carefully to see what you can fit and start decluttering the room as needed.

  • Donate Unwanted Items: If there’s clutter of unused junk in your basement getting in the way of a home gym conversion, consider putting together a box of items to take to a local charity. Be sure to check ahead of time what your local charity will accept before attempting to drop off your items.
  • Toss Any Junk: If there are electronics, appliances, furniture or other bulky things in your basement that are broken or cannot be donated, consider putting them out to the curb. For large-scale decluttering projects, a dumpster rental can be a convenient and affordable way to clear out lots of old junk at time.
  • Relocate Things You Want: If you don’t want to get rid of the things in your basement, try finding space for them in other parts of the house. It may also be worth dividing the room so that a portion of the space is dedicated to gym equipment while the rest can still be used as living space.
  • Find a New Storage Space: A major step of decluttering is finding a new “home” for loose objects. If your basement is taking on a new role as a home exercise room, you’ll likely come across items – like holiday decorations or winter coats – you’ll want to hang onto but can’t keep in other rooms. Consider packing these items up and storing them in your attic instead.

“You must measure up the space you have accurately, and purchase equipment based on these measurements. This is especially relevant if you have a small basement. Also be aware that exercise equipment has a certain footprint, but this is usually not how much actual room you’ll need for it. Pretty much all exercise equipment will have a ‘functional footprint’, which is the total space you need to effectively use the equipment. This will generally include at least a few feet in front of, behind, or beside the equipment (or all of the above).”

Eamonn Leaver | Author, TheHomeFitFreak.com

Elliptical and Treadmill Machines on Hardwood Floor in Basement Home Gym.

Storage Ideas for Your Basement Home Gym

Depending on your equipment of choice, you’ll want to set aside some space for storage. Below are a few ideas you can look into to create storage solutions in your new home gym.

  • Weight Racks: If you’re interested in strength training with free weights or dumbells, a weight rack against the wall is almost essential for keeping these weights organized and out of the way when not in use.
  • Wall Storage: Shelves and simple hooks on the wall can be used to keep jump ropes, yoga mats, headbands and other fitness accessories organized between workouts.
  • Tupperware Bins: If a closet isn’t available nearby, a simple Tupperware tub can hold weights, kettlebells, rolled-up yoga mats and other exercise accessories. It can also keep post-workout towels clean and dry until you need them.
  • Designated Corners: Some equipment doesn’t fold up or stack neatly for easy storage. Exercise gear like medicine balls may need a designated corner of the room to take up when not being used.

“Clever and efficient storage is also extremely important for basement gyms where space is at a premium. Weight plate trees, dumbbell and medicine ball racks, and gun racks for barbells will all help get your equipment off the ground and save you space. Plus, they make any basement home gym neat and tidy, which has the psychological effect of making you want to be down there and helps you stick to your exercise goals.”

Eamonn Leaver | Author, TheHomeFitFreak.com

Keep Exploring New Ideas

Once you’re finished, you can enjoy your new fully-equipped workout room all from the comfort of your home. But remember not to get too tied down – don’t be afraid to explore new configurations and move the room around if you feel like changing up your routine.

Not finished with your basement renovation? Read our basement finishing guide for ways you can complement your new home gym.