Building a Home Gym in Singapore

A convenient grind? Or a waste of space?

My very own home gym.

In the light of the Covid-19 crisis, many of us have realised the benefits of having a home gym, or at least a few pieces of workout equipment which can provide you with a decent workout experience. Thankfully, I have a home gym set-up in my modest 4-room HDB flat which has proved to have been a great investment for this circuit breaker.

In this article, I’ll be sharing my first hand experience on the pro and cons of having a home gym, where you can purchase your equipment as well as recommending the some effective and value for money set ups to fit your goals.

Photo from Hoyles Fitness

In countries like the United States, home gyms are popular and can be just as well-equipped as some commercial gyms. This is due to two main factors. A lot of high grade and popular equipment manufacturers such as Rogue or EliteFTS are based in the US which reduces shipping costs by a huge amount. Also, there is an abundance of cheap(er) spaces. For example, many houses have garages which can be converted into a home gym.

Photo from Asiaone

THE PROS & CONS OF A HOME GYM

In Singapore however, our situation is very different. Most of us stay in HDB flats and equipment has to be shipped from overseas. So what are some reasons you should invest in a home gym then? Here are some pros I’ve found after a year with my home gym:

  1. In the long-run, it is usually cheaper to have a home gym. My set-up set me back about 3000 SGD. This would be around 2 – 4 years of membership costs at a gym such as Anytime Fitness or Fitness First. Providing you keep your set up for a few years at least, it can be worth your while.
  2. It is a lot more comfortable and private at home. For example, you can play any music or wear anything you want without judgement from others (except for your spouse).
  3. It’s much easier to get the family involved in training as it is more convenient for everyone to train together. This can also allow you to save even more on gym memberships. It can also help maintain consistency and adherence if the family enjoys training together.
  4. In times like these where most avenues to train are closed (including fitness corners), home gyms are invaluable if you want to have effective training sessions.
Having a coach guide you along can be very beneficial

On the other hand, home gyms are not as popular or mainstream in Singapore. And I personally still prefer to train at my commercial gym workplace (Capital Tower Fitness First). Some cons I’ve found in my experience include:

  1. Unless you have a lot of space and more money to splurge on, a commercial gym will always have more equipment then you can fit into your room. Personally I’d love to have some cardio equipment such as the assault bike or rower which unfortunately would take up too much space.
  2. There can be a chance of disturbing your neighbours should you do heavy compound or power movements. Building on this point, I try not to train circuits early in the morning or late at night as I’m afraid to disturb my neighbours downstairs (especially if I’m doing a lot of jumps/burpees).
  3. It might not always be convenient to train at home if you leave home very early or come home very late as you might be too tired. (Also partly due to point 2)
  4. You have to deal with your own maintenance and cleanliness of equipment unlike commercial gyms where you don’t have to worry about equipment being damaged or spoilt.
  5. It can be at times harder to find motivation to train at home. There are definitely different vibes from working out at home compared to at the gym. Sometimes the bed is more inviting than the squat rack.
  6. Some people enjoy the camaraderie of training partners found in the gym which can makes training more fun and enjoyable.
  7. If you are not sure of how to train, many commercial gyms provide classes where you can follow a trainer’s instruction and coaching.

Now that you have some idea of the pros and cons of having your own gym at home, next is to get your equipment needs sorted.

The pull up bar can be a great piece of equipment for your home

GETTING YOUR EQUIPMENT

If you’ve been convinced to get your own gym set up, then it’s time to figure our where to buy your equipment! I bought all my equipment from DirectHomeGym as they had the cheapest equipment I could find and had everything I wanted. The downside was that it was a pre-order (hence the cheap price) and I had to wait about 1 month for delivery. The staff delivered it to my home and assisted in setting up (for a small fee, but worth it!) my squat rack and rubber mats. Service was good and I had no complaints. This is not a sponsored post, just shouting out a good bunch!

Decathlon is also a great place to get your equipment. They have a large variety of affordable pieces of equipment. The plus side is that you’ll be able to head down to their store to test them out any equipment before purchasing them. I’d recommend Decathlon should you only want smaller pieces of equipment like bands, pull-up bars and kettlebells.

WHAT SHOULD YOU GET?

What you purchase should be dependent on your goals. I’ll share with you my equipment setups which I feel is in the moderate price range as well as suitable for a myriad of goals from Building Muscle, Training for Strength or just Getting Fitter.

Strength & Hypertrophy

If you’re mainly trying to train for strength and hypertrophy it will be highly recommended to get a:

  • (Heavy Duty) Power Rack with Dip/Pull Up Bar attachment – $600
  • Heavy Duty Adjustable Bench – $265
  • Olympic Barbell – $139
  • Olympic Dumbbell Handles (1 pair) – $52
  • 10kg Bumper Plates x2 – $41.50 ea
  • 20kg Bumper Plates x2 – $83 ea
  • 5kg Chrome Plates x4 – $13.50 ea
  • 2.5kg Chrome Plates x2 – $6.75 ea
  • Custom Rubber 9mm Mats – $44 each (I utilised 10 pieces worth)

Total: ~$1372.50+ (Excluding installation)

This will allow you to perform all your dumbbell and barbell exercises. I’ll suggest getting all bumper plates should you be able to afford it as the chrome plates can be quite loud when you’re stacking them onto the barbell.

Functional Fitness

If you’re not interested in moving heavy weight and are just trying to get fit (Check out my FITTER Program!), you probably don’t need the power rack and bench. Here are some very versatile pieces of equipment which can help you get really fit:

  • Dip Bar Stands – $78
  • Push Up Handles – $7
  • Pull Up Bar – $70
  • Suspension Trainer – $38
  • Mat – $10
  • Kettlebells (10kg, 16kg, 20kg) – $41, 60, 75
  • Resistance Bands (Light, Med, Heavy) – $9, 14, 18

Total: ~$300 +

This set-up takes up much lesser space although I’ll highly recommend getting a pull up bar which allows you to screw into the wall. This is much safer than the version which requires you to twist and extends till it fits the gap between the wall (I had one once and it broke and the fall was pretty painful). This also then gives you a secure place to attach your suspension trainer and bands too! Of course if you are not able to do pull-ups nor plan to, the dip bar stand and suspension trainer will be enough.

Check out 50 different exercises you can do with a kettlebell!

Bonus: My recommendation for the most value for money piece of equipment would be the Kettlebell as they would allow you to do most movements with from Pushing, Pulling, Squatting, Hinging, Lunging and even Rotating.

Mat Fraser, fittest man on earth has a great set up though

CONCLUSION

Personally, I still prefer to train at a commercial gym as I can train with a higher intensity and more focus. I also enjoy utilising the many different equipment available. On the other hand, a home gym has been perfect for my wife who only has the early mornings to train. This is also because I coach her whenever I can, making sure she has a program to follow and is competent in exercise techniques.

So if you’re still on the fence, you should try asking yourself these three important questions:

  • Do you know how to train on your own?
  • Which is more convenient for you?
  • Which can you be more consistent with?

Because even if you have a great home set up but don’t train with it, it’ll just be for naught! It can be a good and affordable idea to get a Functional Fitness set-up for home, and also have a gym membership. This would probably have worked the best for most of us at this time.

Whichever choice you pick, keep training hard guys and let’s continue building our stronger tomorrow.

Author: Leon Tan, CSCS

I'm a certified Fitness Coach with a degree in Sports Science. I am passionate in Health, Fitness and helping people become a better version of ourselves.

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