Minimal Lifting Equipment Suggestions

In 2019 we moved to Houston and tried to get rid of as much “unnecessary” stuff as possible before we got here. The question, which eventually became a running joke, was “do I want to unpack this in Houston?” Sadly, one of the things that was donated (thankfully to a good cause) in a moment of panic not long before the packing and loading started was my weight bench with 45lb bar and a set of adjustable hand weights. I thought I wouldn’t want to unpack it in Houston and assumed I would be able to find a nice little neighborhood gym here in the “big city”. Let’s just say that didn’t work out as planned.

We don’t have a basement and are going to be downsizing at retirement in the next 5-6 years, so I don’t want to/can’t invest in a whole big squat-rack setup at this point and my husband is not enthusiastic about weightlifting, so there’s that…

My question is what would you all recommend for a small set of weights that can live in the corner of a guest room? I wanted to try Coach Chad’s strength training for cyclists easiest plan for women and will be working toward being able to someday bench press about 45lbs (20kg), squat 59lbs (27kg), military press 25lbs (11kg) - just to give you all an idea of the scope of what I will need. I really kind of want a little bench, but am not sure I can justify the space and expense - unless you all think it’s a good idea :sweat_smile:

I’m pretty sure I saw some recommendations for some things a couple of weeks ago, but now can’t seem to find the thread they were in.


By no means is this a direct answer, but you may find some good ideas in the following topics. You may have already seen them, but I just want to cover the bases of what’s already here.


If I was to go bare minimum, an incline/decline bench and a set of adjustable dumbbells will get you through a huge number of compound and isolation exercises.


Sounds like you need a gym membership!

I guess you could get adjustable dumbbells and an exercise ball.

You could do chest press on it and sit for military (or just stand).

Squat is the tricky one to do without a bar. You could ditch the squat and opt for the deadlift and just use a kettle bell to save space

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The most bang for the buck and space efficient piece of gym equipment I own and regularly use is a kettlebell

Dialled health have a decent KB only plan too if you need guidance or inspiration


For your needs and the relatively low weight goals, I would just get two of those adjustable dumbbells (the kind where you screw on additional 5-10lb plates). They are less expensive and will last forever, and are easily adjustable and sortable. Then I would just get a Swiss ball (as a bench), or an actual basic bench (no rack needed since you’re using dumbbells). Or you can even get a couple of those step platforms and stack them together for a make-shift bench (you’ll want to lay a towel on top).

That’s pretty basic, but with a bench and two dumbbells you can work nearly any muscles. You will have to slightly adjust your strength goals for dumbbells vs the barbell version of exercises, but that’s not difficult.

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You can do a lot with bands and weights. Right now I kick things off with the 12 minute Foundation routine, then move into some band work for core and opening up chest, then weights.

For bands I use these and they live in a drawer:

for Face Pulls, Pallof Press, and some other stuff.

and these keep it company in the drawer:

black one is for band pull apart, the pink/red wide/short one goes around ankles/knees for hydrant and skate and standing banded hip flexion, and the big green one I’ve been using for some ankle plantar flexion work.

Lots of stuff you can do with those. Also floor moves like push ups, dead bug, 7 way hips, lunges, etc.

And then:

Goblet squats, kettlebell swings, Turkish get ups, dumbbell/kettlebell step ups, farmers walk, bent over row, overhead press, etc.

I go to the gym for barbells, sleds, balls, etc. You can conserve space by getting adjustable dumbbells.

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I have a 15kg bar that’s also a little shorter than the full Olympic that makes easier to move around and use indoors. Being just the bar you could just lean it in the corner.

Then if you ever want to go heavier you can just buy weight rather than replace the dumbbells.

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You can do all the strength work you want with a couple of kettlebells. 2 or 3 can be enough but you might burn through a few more as you get stronger and more experienced.


Kettlebells are fantastic IMHO. I started with 1 kettlebell, and now have a 15lb, 25lb, 35lb, and 44lb. At the gym, if all the benches are taken and I’m waiting on barbell work, I’ll use heavier kettlebells at the gym.

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Wow! You all are awesome! This gives me plenty to think about- thank you all so much! I’ll pop back in and let you know what I come up with. I do kind of want a bench again… My birthday is coming up, so maybe? On the other hand, I may be asking for a power meter, so who knows whether a bench and weights would be in the cards too :face_with_hand_over_mouth:. Probably not. But on the other hand, if I calculate out how much a gym membership is, this would be cheaper in the long run.

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Adjustable dumbbells and a bench.

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I have PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells what go up to 50lbs, bowflex adjustable kettlebell which goes up to 40lbs, some resistance bands, and a Reebok bench which folds up fairly compact. It’s plenty for my needs


I second the idea of resistance bands. Nothing takes up less space.

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A “landmine” set up is probably the most versatile bang-for-your-buck option possible – both in the sense of exercise selection and ability to progressively load each movement. You’d want:

(1) Barbell
(1) or more 45 lbs plate(s)
(1) or more 25 lbs plate(s)
(1) or 10 lbs plate(s)
A way to protect your wall/floor. This could be a specific landmine tool (cheap like this), or it could be as simple as stuffing a towel into the corner of the wall, like the following photo depicts

Either way, a landmine set up will allow you to Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Push, and Pull, and do these in both Bilateral and Unilateral variations. And, it allows you to significantly load up each movement over time (whereas bands and TRX straps can only be progressed so far).

Also, if you are interested, here is a brief ebook I wrote on the topic of training with limited resources: “How to Maintain While Training From Home: A Guide for Creating Adaptation with Limited Resources”.

Hope this helps!


Got to agree, 2 or 3 different weight bells, and a plan :+1:


I highly recommend gymnastics rings, very cheap at around 25 euro/dollar, very compact and easy to travel with and the only equipment you need for a complete upper body workout (gymnastics rings are also much more versatile than the expensive trx bands, just try doing a muscle up in trx🤣)

For legs I have a pair of adjustable dumbbells and do single legged exercises (pistol squads, singles legged deadlifts, Bulgarian split squads, lunges etc)

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I have 5 pairs of kettlebells that got from 10-50 pounds, a set of resistance bands and an adjustable bench. I like doing single leg squat variations
( Bulgarian split squat, single leg squats, step ups and lateral step ups) that helps load the leg without needing a barbell. Same goes for deadlifts, single leg deadlifts with 100# is spicy. Ifykyk
Check out TRX suspension trainer, that looks great for someone with minimal space too.

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I definitely hate Bulgarian split squats but they are so effective


Again, wow! Thanks everyone! It was really fun to look up all of the different things people have. I had never heard of the hex bar or the landmine, so that was good to see. I appreciated the photos too - always good to see what things look like. And special thanks to @ryan_faer for the e-book. I will read through that before I decide on anything. Also the ideas about TRX straps (which I hadn’t heard of) and resistance bands (which I have and need to try harder with) are good for me to think about again. You all are the best!