Home Gym Equipment For Skinny Guys: The Essentials To Build Muscle

essential home gym equipment for skinny guys

Are you looking to invest in a home set-up, but completely lost in the market?! Then you need to read this post! Because today, I will be sharing my essential list of home gym equipment for skinny guys to build muscle!

To create a home gym ideal for muscle-building goals, you need to invest in a rack, barbell, weight plates, an adjustable weight bench, dumbbells, a pull up/dip station, floor matting, and mirrors. These essentials will provide enough exercises for long-term muscle gains.

I have personally used a commercial gym for the majority of my lifting journey.

But with the recent pandemic restrictions, a home gym is no doubt an ever-so attractive alternative!

In fact, I have already cleared out the garage, done my research, and ready to commit!

And I know many of you will be in a similar position as me.

So I would like to share my research and personal opinion with you today.

Let’s go!

i cleared out my garage for home gym equipment!

Why Setup A Home Gym As a Skinny Guy?

If you are a skinny dude on this page, you probably are already intent on setting your own home gym.

But setting up your own home gym is a big endeavour.

First of all is the money. A (proper) home gym is expensive, no matter how carefully you budget!

Second of all is the time. Not only will you need to choose the right equipment, but also set it up.

That being said, investing your time and effort into a home gym can also be one of the greatest things you ever do.

Don’t just take my word for it.

I tracked down a post on Reddit.

In this post, people who currently have a home gym were asked the classic question:

“Was it worth it?”

Having filtered out all the jokes and sarcastic comments, here are the results:

pie chart to show the results of a poll "was your home gym worth it"

As you can see the poll came out 100% positive.

Out of 20 people who answered, 15 gave a resounding “YES”.

And the remaining 5 people gave answers along the lines of “Yes but be careful”.

Next, I will explore the pros and cons of investing in a home gym for skinny guys.

Pros And Cons Of A Home Gym For A Skinny Guy

So what makes a home gym so great? And what are the pitfalls to watch out for?

Cost-effectiveHigh startup cost
Reduced travel timeNo human spotter
Open 24/7Lack of atmosphere
Forced to keep training simple
Better hygiene
No waiting for equipment
Build confidence at home
Pros And Cons Of A Home Gym

The main advantages of a home gym for skinny guys are:

  • Long-term cost-effectiveness- use the money saved from gym membership to buy high-quality whole foods to bulk up!
  • Reduced travel time- use the time and energy saved from gym commutes to train harder at home!
  • Open 24/7- training consistency is key to building muscle. A home gym mitigates the disaster of gym closures!
  • Simplicity- a simple home barbell setup will force you to perform simple compound exercises. And these are best for building muscle!
  • Hygiene- you don’t need to share the same equipment as all the other sweaty meatheads!
  • No waiting- no need to wait for the other meatheads to finish before you can start training. And no more meatheads breathing down your neck, waiting for you to finish with the equipment!
  • Build confidence- prevent gym anxiety from preventing you from training and gaining muscle!

The main disadvantages of a home gym for skinny guys are:

  • High startup cost- home gym equipment can be pricey, especially when bought brand new.
  • No spotters- you will have to find a training partner to safely push yourself to total failure (which is good for muscle growth).
  • Motivation- home gyms can lack atmosphere and this can encourage you to put off your training.

Overall, the advantages of investing in a home gym far outweigh the disadvantages.

Next, I will explain what skinny guys require from their gym equipment to build muscle at home.

What Type Of Home Gym Equipment Do You Need As A Skinny Guy?

If you are currently skinny, then it’s reasonable to assume you are also looking to gain muscle mass.

If building muscle is your goal, then you will have to choose your equipment carefully.

With such a plethora of equipment on the market, what should you invest in?

What types of equipment are essential for getting you results?

And which ones are nice to have, but ultimately unnecessary?

I have made a list of essential home gym equipment you should invest in as a skinny guy (see below).

But first, let’s establish the criteria required for a piece of equipment to be deemed “essential”.

When investing in your home gym setup, the equipment should:

  • Allow for high-intensity resistance training- lifting weights will facilitate muscle growth, but only if those weights are heavy enough! Lifting light weights will do very little in helping you gain muscle mass.
  • Enable compound movements to be performed safely and effectively- compound lifts are the bread and butter of muscle building. They are essential to get big!
  • Cheap as possible to get the job done effectively- unless you are a direct descendant of Richie Rich, you are likely to have a limited budget.
  • Be space efficient- unless you own an MTV Cribs Manor House, you are also likely to have limited space to set up your home gym.

Check out my other article to learn more about compound movements!

Next, I will reveal the results of a Reddit poll which asked members what pieces of home gym equipment are considered “essential”.

8 Pieces Of Home Gym Equipment Every Skinny Guy Needs

There are certain types of equipment that every skinny guy needs in his arsenal (see the below list).

Having spent the previous 2 years transforming myself from a 130lb skinny guy to 170 pounds and jacked, I have a fair idea of the basic essentials you will need to gain muscle.

But don’t just take my word for it!

I have tracked down another Reddit poll in which people were asked what equipment they deemed “essential”

And here are the 8 pieces of gym equipment every skinny guy needs in their home set up!

pie chart to show the results of a poll "which home gym equipment is essential?"

1. Build Muscle Safely And Effectively With A Barbell Rack.

A barbell rack should form the pillar of your home gym.

It will allow you to safely perform two of the most important exercises to build muscle as a skinny guy- the bench press and squat.

A barbell rack serves multiple purposes:

  • Allows you to efficiently load your barbell with weight plates- prevents your weight plates from scraping the ground.
  • Serves as holding storage for your barbell- a good rack will have pins that allow you to store your weight plates.
  • Provides safe leverage to unload a barbell for exercises- squats and bench presses require you to unload a barbell from an elevated position. This can’t be done safely if your barbell is on the floor!
  • Spot you during heavy lifts- spotter arms on the rack will prevent a fully loaded barbell from falling if you accidentally exceed your capacity to lift a weight. This can be a lifesaver!
comparison diagram to show the cost effectiveness and functionality of a squat stand, half rack, and power rack.

Furthermore, barbell racks come in different forms:(1)

  • Squat stands– cheapest with basic functionality.
  • Half rack– good balance in price and functionality.
  • Full power cage– expensive but offers full functionality.

As a skinny beginner, I would recommend investing in a half rack.

These racks can be found relatively cheaply (especially second-hand). And they also provide you with most of the features you will need now, and well into the future:

  • Plate storage pins- to hold your weight plates.
  • Cage base- provides stability.
  • Small footprint- saves space.
  • Rack- to load your barbell.
  • Spotter arms- to safely lift heavy.

If you can’t invest in a half rack, then I would advise getting a squat stand at the bare minimum.

Although these are less stable and have fewer safety features, they will at least allow you to perform squats and bench presses.

Just take extra care- you don’t want the stand to topple over with a fully-loaded barbell!

2. A Barbell Allows You To Perform 90% Of Exercises.

Goes without saying, but a barbell rack will be pretty useless without a barbell!

Don’t underestimate the simplicity of the barbell.

It will allow you to perform 90% of the compound exercises which should be the staple for every skinny guy’s muscle-building program.

These are the:

  • Bench press variations- for a bigger chest.
  • Overhead press- for larger shoulders.
  • Bent over row variations- for a wider back.
  • Squat variations- for powerful legs.
  • Deadlift variations- whole body strength.

When choosing a barbell, make sure it will be able to handle a heavy load.

You don’t want to invest in a barbell, only to find that half a year in, you need to get a new one because you are lifting more weight than you expected!

diagram to show the specifications of the ideal olympic sized barbell

I would recommend an Olympic-sized barbell.

These are standard at 7 feet long and weigh 20kg alone.

Olympic-sized bars are able to handle loads of up to 500-1000+ pounds. And this is more than you will probably ever need.(2)

Furthermore, the sleeves (end-parts where the weight plates slide onto) are also long enough to accommodate all the weight plates you will need now and in the future.

Most barbells nowadays are made from heavy-duty steel. With the more expensive ones coated in materials like cerakote.

Unless you expect the barbell to be battered by extreme weather conditions (rain, humidity, sunshine), then the cheaper chrome and black oxide-coated finishes will suffice.(3)

One final factor you should consider is the knurling.

This refers to the etching made onto the bar for improved grip.

Volcano knurling is the most expensive. It will provide superior comfort. But is not essential.

If you are on a budget, keep to mountain/diamond knurling!

3. Hit Muscles At Different Angles With An Adjustable Bench.

A rack and barbell are incomplete without a weight bench.

Together, this trio of equipment will allow you to perform all the compound exercises mentioned previously.

The foam padding on a weight bench will allow you to sit and rest more comfortably on the bench.

And this will allow you to push on heavier weights.

diagram to show the specifications of the ideal weight bench

When choosing a bench, you should pick one that is adjustable.

Adjustable benches consist of 2 components- the backrest and the seat.

And both components should be able to be set at an incline or decline.

Incline settings should range from 0° (flat) to 90° (up and straight). This will allow you to do exercises such as the:

  • Flat bench press.
  • Incline bench press.
  • Dumbbell fly.
  • Incline dumbbell fly.
  • Sitting overhead press.

Decline settings should g up to -30°, putting your body on a downward slope. This will allow you to do exercises such as the:

  • Weighted sit-up.
  • Decline bench press.
  • Decline fly.

As you can see, the simple feature of an adjustable angle allows you to perform a range of exercises that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to perform.

And when you perform these exercises, you will hit your muscles at different angles, which is important to build a balanced pysique.

If your budget allows, then you can also choose a bench that has wheels and is foldable (for storage).

That being said, both are luxury features and not essential to have.

4. Weight Plates Give You The Power To Overload!

Having a 20kg barbell is all good to start building muscle.

And in fact, you may not even need any weight plates if you have a low starting strength.

But if you are serious about building muscle (and I hope you are!), then you will need to invest in weight plates.

They will allow you to push harder as your muscles adapt to your training (aka progressive overload!)

Read my other article to find out how much weight you should be loading onto your barbell!

When you invest in weight plates, consider the following factors:

  • Core material- most are made from an iron core these days as opposed to concrete.
  • Encasing material- higher-end plates are encased with rubber or urethane.
  • Finishing- machined plates offer superior quality over cast iron plates but are more expensive.
  • Shape- plates can be round or 8/12-sided.
  • Handles- some plates have hollowed segments that serve as handles.
comparison diagram to show the specifications of the ideal weight plate set

Olympic plates are by far the best for weightlifting. The weight is standardized (compared to cheaper plates where actual weights can fluctuate), they are thin (allowing for more weight plates to be loaded), and the overall build quality is better.

The next best thing is iron plates encased in urethane.

The urethane shell will not only protect your equipment/flooring/walls but are also much easier to grip. And this can prevent a lot of injuries!

Additionally, urethane does not smell (which can be a common disadvantage of rubber-encased plates).

Handles are a luxury, not a necessity.

In terms of shape- always go for a round plate if budget permits.

Round plates offer superior balance during floor exercises like the deadlift. And they are more maneuverable than the flat-sided variants.

As a skinny beginner- invest up to 150kg total (20 kg, 10 kg, 5kg) and buy more when required.

5. Dumbbells Are The Cherry On Top.

Dumbbells are more of a highly recommended accessory than a necessity.

In the first half-year of my weight-gain journey, I used barbells exclusively.

And this was enough for me to gain just over 10 pounds of lean muscle.

But dumbbells do have their place in a home gym:

  • Add variety- this helps with long-term motivation.
  • Flexible range of movement- to target lagging muscles with isolation exercises.
  • Require more stability to use- will help your muscles get stronger and bigger.

Examples of exercises you can do with dumbbells include:

  • Bicep curls.
  • Tricep extensions.
  • Chest flys.
  • Reverse back flys.
  • Lateral raises.
  • Weighted dips and pull-ups (held between the legs).
  • Weighted crunches.
diagram to show the specifications of the ideal dumbbell set

Unless you have a lot of space and a large budget, stick with an adjustable dumbbell set.

Adjustable dumbbells come with bar and bumper plates. Simply change the weight as required.

In comparison, fixed dumbbells need to be bought as a set that includes all the different weights.

This is costly and requires significant storage space.

For the same reason as with barbell plates, I would always recommend urethane-coated dumbbells over cast iron (less damaging and safer).

However, the concerns are slightly less applicable to dumbbells (which are smaller than barbell plates).

So if your budget is dwindling, by all means, go for the cheaper cast iron dumbbells.

As a skinny beginner- invest in up to 50kg total (25kg of each dumbbell). This will do you nicely in the long term.

If your budget permits, then power blocks are a great piece of kit.

These are adjustable dumbbells that can weigh over 50kg per dumbbell in 2.5kg increments.(5)

Though pricey, PowerBlocks offer superior space-saving, convenience, and weight-load.

6. Get A Power Tower To Do Pull Ups And Dips.

If you are wondering- a power tower is an all-in-one pull-up/dip station.

A power tower will allow you to perform mass-building exercises which cannot be done with barbells.

These include:

  • Pull-ups and chin-ups- for a wider back.
  • Tricep dips- for chiseled arms.
  • Leg raises- for defined lower abdominals.

Along with the barbell compound exercises, these are amazing exercises for skinny guys to build muscle. Especially when you hold a dumbbell between the legs for weighted variations of an exercise.

diagram to show the requirement for a power tower if pull up and dip function is not present on rack

How essential a power tower depends on which barbell rack you opt for.

If you go for a half rack or full power cage, they will usually have a built-in pull up bar and dip accessory

However, if you go for a simple squat stand, you may want to consider investing in a power tower to perform the exercises above.

Your other alternative would be to buy the pull up bar and dip bar separately. You can get doorway pull up bars that slot within a doorway arch.

But buying your pull up and dip bars separately usually costs almost as much as the power tower.

Besides, the power tower allows you more room to perform your pull ups when compared to doorway pull up bars (which are no good for wide-arm pull ups).

Check out my other article to learn how to do your first pull up!

7. Choose The Right Floor Mats To Complete Your Setup.

You may be surprised at the number of people who recommend floor mats for a home gym.

In fact, almost as many people recommend suitable flooring as they do dumbbells!

When you think about it, it makes sense.

After investing so much money in your home equipment, you will want to look after it!

Floor mats serve multiple purposes:

  • Protection- prevents your free weights from damaging the ground and the ground from damaging your free weights.
  • Sound- floor exercises such as deadlifts can be extremely loud when the barbell hits the ground.
  • Slip proofing- you don’t want you nor your racks to be slipping about when being used!
diagram to show the specifications of the ideal floor matting for a home gym

When choosing mats, go for rubber.

Additionally, check for compression on the mat.

A good floor mat for a gym will give very little compression underfoot but compress under impact (such as a falling barbell).(6)

This will prevent you from becoming unbalanced as you lift your weights. But will also prevent falling weights from damaging your floor.

For a cheaper alternative- you can also try sheets of plywood.

These are not as effective as rubber mats, but are still better than no floor protection at all!

8. Mirrors Are Vital For Checking Your Form!

For the inexperienced, gym mirrors may seem like a vanity tool.

But far from it.

They also have various practical functions:

  • Posture- compound exercises require a great deal of technique. Watching yourself as you perform a movement will help you perfect your form.
  • Bent back- many exercises place a high load on the lower back (especially the deadlift). It’s essential to maintain a straight back at all times. And having a mirror will ensure you know when you aren’t doing so!
  • Unbalanced lifting- as a beginner, one side of your body may naturally be stronger than the other side (commonly seen in the bench press where the barbell tilts to one side as your lift). And there’s no better way to identify this than by visual cues!
  • Lifting speed- lifting slow and controlled will be the best way to gain muscle. Use a mirror to check you are lifting correctly!

When choosing a mirror, you don’t have to go expensive.

diagram to show the specifications of the ideal home gym mirror

Acrylic mirrors are cheaper than glass mirrors.

But make sure the mirror is thick (at least 2mm).

This will prevent it from bending (which can be made worse in hot environments).

A mirror is no good if it’s like one of those from Whacky Charlie’s House Of Mirrors!

Read my other article for a step-by-step guide to lifting weights for muscle growth!


That’s today’s post finished!

I have shared with you my list of essential home gym equipment for skinny guys to build muscle.

There is a lot of home gym equipment on the market. And this can make choosing the right equipment a major headache.

But as you can see, once you distill the list to bare essentials, it doesn’t seem so complicated!

All you need to build serious muscle from a home gym is:

  • Rack, barbell, and bench as your basic setup for compound exercises.
  • Weight plates for your barbell to overload your muscles.
  • Dumbbells to target isolated muscles.
  • Pull up/dip station (if your rack doesn’t have one built-in).
  • Floor matting for safety and protection.
  • Mirrors to check form.

This list will allow you to gain serious muscle at home. And will last you for the majority of your lifting lifetime!

What equipment do you use that’s not on my list?

Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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