If you have the available space, home gyms are a convenient and cost-effective way to stay in shape. But you don’t need an entire basement or floor of your home dedicated to exercise equipment. Let’s take a look at the best overall exercise equipment for home use based on two key factors: most effective equipment and available space.
We’ll look at a the most important categories of equipment for each factor along with a specific product recommendation. But first, let’s look at the benefits of a home gym.
Benefits of a Home Gym
Are you on the fence about turning your garage or room of your home into a gym? Here are the benefits of a home gym:
Variety: With the equipment I recommend, you will be able to target every muscle group with a variety of different training systems. For example, you can perform hypertrophy, CrossFit, or sports performance workouts. You can literally cycle training systems every month, and you’ll never get bored with your workouts.
Safety: Given the current situation with the coronavirus, public gyms have all shut down. If you have a garage or basement gym, you don’t have to worry about germs, illness, or the gym closing for months at a time.
Cost-Effective and Convenient: If you paid upfront for the entire year at your local gym, you’re understandably frustrated about losing out on money due to the shutdown. A home gym can pay for itself within a couple of years, based on current gym prices, and you’ll always have a place to work out where you set the gym hours.
Best Exercise Equipment for Maximum Space
An empty garage or basement is the holy grail of home gym set ups, especially if you purchased the home you plan on staying in for years to come. A basement or garage gym usually has durable flooring, so you don’t have to worry about scuffing or damaging surfaces like wood or tile. It offers you privacy and a chance to turn your music up. Most importantly, a garage or basement gym has the space for plenty of equipment.
1. Home Gym Equipment for Garages and Basements
If you have a large basement or garage, I highly recommend getting a modern cable machine. This pulley-based home gym machine allows you to maximize movements in the transverse or rotational plane of motion, which is one of the most neglected.
A company by the name of Body Solid produces a functional training center which is, in my opinion, one of the best in the industry. It comes with 20 independent height adjustments allowing you to target every muscle from head to toe with limitless range of motion. Its quite an investment, but worth every penny if you are serious about training at home.
By itself, it’s enough machine for a home gym and will satisfy 95% of gym-goers (is that a word?). However, it may disappoint a small demographic of people – serious bodybuilders and powerlifters. As a matter of fact, this demographic tends to avoid cable workouts altogether.
Here is the bottom line: if you prefer cables, this machine is all you will ever need. But if free weight training is an important aspect of your workout regime, you may want to also consider the next category. These two categories together constitute a true, complete home gym.
- Vertical carriage system fiberglass reinforced nylon pulleys and locking, universal attachment connections
- 11-gauge, 2 in. x 4 in. oval tubing with electrostatically applied powder coat finish
- Precision-fitted frame components
- 4.8 mm diameter spun steel aircraft cables rated to over 2,500 lbs.
- 20 independent height adjustments and 180 degree cable positioning
Three Angle Bench with Squat Rack Attachment
A bench is a fitness staple. I’d recommend going one step further and buying one that allows for all three angles of movement: decline, flat, and incline.Due to the current situation, allot of fitness products (especially benches for some reason) are completely sold out. I had allot of trouble finding a decent bench to review. The one shown below isn’t the greatest, but it will get the job done. Its made by a company called Adking and meets all of the criteria I was looking for: durable construction, adjustable, and compact. The only problem is that it comes with a preacher curl attachment which might get in the way. I can’t tell for certain as I’v never owned it, but if this turns out to be false, the attachment is a big pro.
I’ll try to update this article once I find a better alternative. Here is an overview of the Adking bench:
- ✪1). This weight benchs is the ultimate in all round free weight and benchs workouts.
- ✪2). This benchs offers high quality steel and paint work and has rubber feet to keep the metal frame from damaging flooring and to keep the benchs in place.
- ✪3). Easy adjustment of back rest and seat. Adopt to most squat racks, cages and Smith Machines.
- ✪4). This benchs is made to take as much as you can give it and is the ultimate benchs for a complete workout! Solid, compact and effective.
- ✪5). Weight Benchs is unmatched in its class and will give you solid and intense workouts for many years to come!
UPDATE: One of the highest rated bench on Amazon (Fitness Reality 100 Super Max) is finally back in stock! It can support up to 800 lbs. (which tells us that the construction is excellent) and doesn’t include any unnecessary attachments. Its slightly more expensive then the Adking, but well worth the money.
- Included Components: bench, manual
- Sport Type: Fitness & Yoga
If you have the room, you should also invest in a squat rack cage. But if you don’t have the space, most modern benches now have a squat rack attachment. The product shown bellow is a great example of what I mean:If you think about it, this product (along with a bench and weights) allows you perform every single barbell exercise there is. If you want squat, simply remove the barbell catch (or lower it so that it functions as a safety bar). Shoulder day? Lower the barbell shelf, adjust the bench to 90 degrees, and bang out some military presses.
Unless you can seriously afford a cable machine and have the space, skip it. You’re better off spending that money on a solid squat rack. If you want to learn more about squat racks, I highly suggest checking out this article that we published last year. As for a specific product recommendation, go with the Lifeline C1 Pro Power, and if you need a cheaper and more compact option, go with the EFGS Adjustable Squat Rack.
The only thing left is a barbell and some weight plates!
Two Barbells (Olympic / Thick Grip)
An Olympic barbell is a must as it’s standard in most commercial gyms. I’d also recommend splurging on a second barbell and purchasing a thick grip barbell. With a wider bar handle, these barbells are designed to make exercises more challenging by forcing your grip to work harder. Alternatively, you can purchase thick bar grips that you can attack to the barbell.
Set of Weight Plates
No barbell is complete without weight plates. I recommend buying a full set that goes beyond your current strength capability.
Now we have a squat rack, barbell, and plates. These three categories of equipment will allow you to effectively target every muscle in your body. In fact, this is what I used to train for years. Eventually, I decided to invest in a barbell set in order to make home gym complete.
No home gym is complete without a full set of dumbbells. Dumbbells are arguably the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment as they can be used for all training goals including endurance, muscle growth, strength, and power. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing dumbbells that stop at your current strength level. Remember, this is a long-term investment and you should plan on getting stronger, so buy at least twenty pounds above what you’re currently using. You have two options to choose from.
Option A: Purchase a pair of dumbbells for each weight you need.
Or a set as shown in the following picture. This option is good for those who have the space and money for it. Its the most expensive option, but its convenient as everything you need is in front of you and you don’t need to fiddle with anything. You simply pick up the weight you need, complete the exercise, and rack it back.
If this sounds appealing to you, I would suggest going with the CAP Barbell 150-lb Rubber Hex Dumbbell Weight Set. I love CAP and usually get all of my home-gym equipment directly from them. The set comes with a pair of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 lbs dumbbells and a sturdy steel rack. That should give you a good range of weights to start with, and you could always purchase additional pairs as you get stronger.
Option B: Purchase an adjustable dumbbell set
Think of an adjustable dumbbell as a mini barbell that you can load plates on! This will save you allot of space as you can simply stack the plates in a corner or under your bed. The downside is that you have to reassemble the dumbbell each time you want to change the weight.
If you like the space-saving aspect of an adjustable dumbbell, but don’t want to waste time fiddling with it, check out the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells. It has a pretty nifty mechanism that allows for rapid weight change (up to 52.5 lbs!), but is quite expensive.
A regular adjustable dumbbell set is more cost efficient. For instance, consider the Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells (pictured to the right). For the half the price of the CAP dumbbell set, and 1/3 the price of the Bowflex set, you get a weight range of 2.5 – 52.5 lbs. (Note: pick the “105lb pair” option if you want this weight range)
A dumbbell that can be adjusted up to 50lbs is great as it is heavy enough (for most beginners) to target all of the major muscle groups. You wont be limited to curls and could do exercises such a chest and shoulder press (although you would need a bench for this, more on this next), triceps extension, one arm dumbbell row, and so much more.
You might not care about what the garage or basement floor looks like, but floor pads help to protect the base of your equipment. It’s also makes floor-based exercises more comfortable.
Exercise Equipment for Large Rooms
The following home gym equipment is ideal for a room in your home that is the size of a traditional home office. You’ll have more than enough equipment to hit every muscle group without feeling like the room is cramped. Here are my home gym ideas for fitness equipment that I found ideal when living in all of my apartments.
2. Home Gym Equipment for a Room in Your Home
Three-Angle Bench: This is going to be your most important piece of equipment as it allows you to perform dozens of exercises, targeting both your upper body and lower body. Go with the the Fitness Reality 100 Super Max.
Barbell with Weight Set: Assuming you’re buying the bench, be sure to get yourself one high-quality barbell with an appropriate weight set as well. I’d highly recommend getting a few floor pads as well to catch any falling weight plates.
Pull-Up Bar: You can’t go wrong with a removable pull-up bar for upper body workouts.
Set of Dumbbells or A Pair of Adjustable Dumbbells: A set of dumbbells would be ideal, but if the room doesn’t have the space, you can buy a pair of adjustable dumbbells. I have the 1090s from BowFlex, a single dumbbell that changes weight by turning the dial pad. Check out the section above titled “Full set of dumbbells” for more recommendations.
Exercise Equipment for Small Spaces
Let’s say you’re working with minimal space; I’m talking about a part of a room in your home. Or maybe you’re constantly traveling, so you only have a modest hotel room to work with. No worries, there’s plenty of equipment you can use that’s space efficient and travel friendly.
The following is budget saver exercise equipment that will easily pay for itself within a year or two. I recommend this home gym equipment for its convenience since all of it can be stored underneath a bed, and most of it can be taken on the road. It’s also ideal for those just starting out and want to develop a foundation of fitness before potentially going into a gym.
Pull-Up Bar: This will probably be the bread and butter of your workouts. A removable pull-up bar lets you target your entire upper body including core.
Adjustable Dumbbells: These need a fraction of space in the room, making them an ideal purchase. I highly recommend buying adjustable dumbbells from a reputable brand to ensure long-term quality. For example, the BowFlex 1090s or PowerBlocks are great choices.
TRX Straps: If you don’t have the budget or space for dumbbells, TRX bands are your best bet. Easy and quick to install, TRX bands use your bodyweight as the source of resistance.
Resistance Bands: Ideal for beginners and travelers, resistance bands provide one hell of a workout, especially when you focus on extended time under tension. I recommend purchasing a set with a range of resistance. These bands can be used to target each muscle group with plenty of exercises.
What Would You Say is the Best Overall Exercise Equipment for Home Use?
Do you have your own home gym set up? Which pieces of home gym equipment does it include? Tell us and the other readers about it in the comments below!