Best Home Gym You’ll Ever Need, and for Under a Hundred Bucks

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If you want to be financially independent, and no longer have to work, you’ll need to save at least 25 times your annual living expenses. For a great blog post explaining the logic behind this rule, I highly recommend this one from Mr. Money Mustache.

Now, if you’re a person of modest means, like me, you’ll really have to work on the expense side of the financial independence equation. For instance, if your annual living expenses are $50,000, you’ll have to save $1.25 million in order to achieve financial independence. If you can cut your expenses down to $37,500, you’ll need $937,500. If you can cut your expenses even further to $25,000, you’ll need $625,000.

One expense I wanted to economize on was a gym membership. Gyms are great. And I’m really intrigued with the CrossFit gyms that are popping up all over the place. But I would rather put the money it would cost to join a gym into my 401K. Financial independence is more important to me than having six-pack abs. So I gave myself a challenge: come up with a cheap way to stress my muscles two or three times a week.

I began my quest by researching bodyweight exercises. I figured if my gym was going to be cheap, it wasn’t going to have much if any equipment. Eventually one of my clicks brought me to an article on gymnastic rings. Apparently gymnastic rings are big in the CrossFit community. And even more importantly, I was happy to discover, they’re not expensive. So let’s see. The cool people of CrossFit love rings. Check. Rings don’t cost much. Check again. Hallelujah! I found the answer to my challenge.

Here, then, is how I set up my home gym.

Best home gym you'll ever need

Best home gym you’ll ever need

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equipment

  1. A pair of EXF gymnastic rings from Amazon ($74.95).
  2. Scrap 2x4s (maybe $3.00)

Set Up

  1. I attached the ring straps to a ceiling joist in my garage. I put towels between the joist and the straps to reduce friction and keep the straps from fraying.
  2. I built a removal jam out of scrap 2x4s to support the joist. I think the joist can handle my weight, but I’m not taking any chances. Bringing down the garage roof would negate the frugality of my home gym.

Accessories

  1. One pound of chalk costs about $11 on Amazon. It will last a lifetime. And it will come in handy. When your hands get sweaty, it will be impossible to hold the rings. Chalk solves that problem.
chalk



Helps when your hands get sweaty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workout

  1. Pull ups
  2. Dips
  3. Split squats

I designed my workout to be simple. I wanted to stress my upper and lower body with the fewest number of exercises possible. These three exercises fit the bill.

I do my ring workout three times a week. A workout usually lasts about twenty minutes.

Final Thoughts

My cheap home gym (less than $100) isn’t for everybody. If you want to bench press 500 lbs or prepare for an MMA cage match, ring training isn’t for you. But if you’re a normal person, and an aspiring groovy freakin freedomist, ring training is worth a look. It will get you stronger and fitter and it won’t interfere with your quest for financial independence.

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8 Comments

    • Mr. Groovy

      Rings are phenomenal. But they’re not very conducive to apartment living. A great substitute is the humble kettlebell. And like you pointed out, you can get all the kettlebells you need (one or two) for under a hundred bucks. And an alternative to kettlebells is bodyweight workouts. No equipment required. I’m trying to do a single pistol squat, and it’s kicking my arse! Much harder than ring muscle-ups. Thanks for stopping by, Julie. Always appreciate your input.

  1. Glad you found a solution that works for you! I would say it depends on your personal goals. I bought a modestly priced treadmill with a great warranty 11 years ago. Got a free motor when it died before the warranty expired. That baby has helped me climb mountains…Like training for my first full marathon (as a single parent with 3 kids, when running for free outside isn’t an option). Crossing the finish line was one of the most proud moments of my life…And the treadmill was an investment worth making (for me).

    • Mr. Groovy

      Very impressive. I ran a half-marathon once and it nearly killed me. And great point about crafting a solution that fits your personal needs and goals. A treadmill is a great option for many, especially in the north where winters can make running outdoors impossible. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. Any more marathons in your future?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Karl. Sorry for the late response. No, the support isn’t nailed to the joist. I just screwed two 2x4s together and made their combined length a few inches longer than the distance between the bottom of the joist and the garage floor. I then just wedge the support between the joist and the floor before I start my workout. Works like a charm. Also, I think the ring-hanger would work as well. It spreads your weight over two joists and allows you to adjust the width between rings. Excellent accessory. Thanks for the link. And good luck with your ring workouts. This past fall I made it to 9 muscle-ups in a row. Wasn’t able to do 10. Hopefully, I’ll get 10 before the summer. Cheers, my friend.

  2. Rings are great. I bought a generic TRX on Amazon for around $70. My goals are to keep my joints healthy and my pants size at a 36″ waste.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Best of luck with the rings, Dave. Such simple equipment, yet very, very challenging. I worked my way up to 19 pull ups, 9 muscle ups, and 1 half-assed iron cross. Since my rings are in the garage, I haven’t done any muscle ups or iron crosses in a while. It was just too cold. My goal is to start up again with those exercises this week. And I hear you about the pants size. 36″ waste is my threshold too. As long as my waste is smaller than that, I’m good. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Let me know what your ring workout is when you get a chance. Cheers.