Building a home gym? These 3 equipment swaps will make it way cheaper

It doesn't have to cost the earth to have your own pain cave. Do these three equipment swaps to save a truckload of cash

Shot of a muscular man doing sideways planks at home
(Image credit: Gewtty Images)

Building a home gym can be an expensive endeavour, especially when the cost of living is rising significantly. You won't be thinking about kitting out your pain cave with a weight bench and an exercise bike when you don't have enough money to buy bread, for example. Fear not, though, as you can have your home gym cake and eat it, too, with the blow swaps.

As in, get fit at home while not spending loads of money on home gym equipment.

We aren't saying you shouldn't treat yourself to a new set of adjustable dumbbells or a smart rowing machine if you can. There are also cheap treadmills available for those on a tight budget. However, there are even better savings to be made by swapping out certain popular equipment for their inexpensive counterparts.

Ready to grow your biceps without breaking the bank? Here is how.

Athletic person using resistance bands in front of a yellow background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Swap dumbbells for resistance bands

We are huge fans of the best dumbbells here on T3. They are the most versatile pieces of home gym equipment, and if you can afford it, you should invest in getting a pair as you can perform essentially all exercises you can think of with them.

That said, acquiring a good spread of hex dumbbells can set you back financially, big time. Adjustable dumbbells are a better investment and are more space-saving but buying those require a significant initial investment.

If you really haven't got any money, we recommend getting a decent set of resistance bands instead. Resistance bands are the most underrated home gym equipment, and much like dumbbells, you can perform all sorts of workouts using only a set of bands.

They take up very little space, and you can buy a whole set of bands with different resistance levels for dirt cheap. We recommend buying bands that come with handles for general workout purposes as they will cause less chafing.

two people working out in a home gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Swap the barbell for a pull-up bar

Another firm favourite of ours is the mighty barbell. You can't claim you have a proper home gym until you have at least one barbell and some weight plates. Compound movements are best performed using barbells, too, and you won't be able to build muscle without using compound exercises.

Interestingly, though, there are bodyweight equivalent exercises to most big barbell movements. Instead of bench press, you can do push-ups (zero equipment required) and doing air squats are a brilliant way to build lower strength. Can you swap out deadlifts, though?

Well, you can (sort of)! All you need is a pull-up bar and some persistence. Pull-ups will build arm strength and can do wonders to your lats. They really are one of the best compound exercises you can do. If you find them too hard to do, try using resistance bands at the beginning to make it easier to do pull-ups.

Athletic person using a TRX suspnsion trainer in their home

(Image credit: TRX)

3. Swap the multi-gym for a suspension trainer set

Probably the most expensive equipment you can get is a multi-gym, at least when it comes to equipment you can use to build muscle. Multi-gyms are not only costly but take up loads of space, too. When misused, multi-gyms can also reduce the range of motion of exercises, resulting in you seeing gains later (or never).

Instead, buy a suspension trainer. Like resistance bands, suspension trainers are massively underrated, yet they are super effective in utilising your bodyweight to keep fit. All you need is a point to hang them from – most of them come with a door anchor – and you're ready to go.

One significant advantage of suspension trainers is that you can do "pull" exercises with them, such as inverted rows and biceps curls. While push workouts are easy to perform without equipment (push-ups, squats, etc.), pull exercises often require the presence of home weights.

Not if you have a suspension trainer! Even better, most suspension trainers, like the amazing TRX HOME2, come in a carry case and can be stored in the smallest of spaces, or you can shove it in your gym bag and head down to a park and exercise there. The possibilities are endless.

For the best home gym equipment deals, check out the best prices below!

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.