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In the last year, an overwhelming number of people finally realized what I’ve known for a long time: working out at home rules (thanks, COVID). More than ever, exercise enthusiasts are building gyms right in their own houses. The best home gyms around have barbells, exercise bikes, dumbbells and more.
If you’re looking for a home gym, specifically, for your home gym, there’s a lot on the market. A “home gym” could refer to an all-in-one squat rack, a cable cross machine, an interactive screen and any other piece of equipment that essentially works the majority of your muscle groups. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the multitude of options available, so I put together the list of the pieces I like best.
My Top Pick: Rep PR 1100 Home Gym Power Rack
Best Home Gym for Heavy Lifters: Rogue RML 490-C Power Rack 3.0
Best Value Home Gym: Fray Fitness Functional Trainer
Best Smart Home Gym: Tonal
Best All-in-One Squat Rack: Prime Fitness Prodigy
Best Portable Home Gym: MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Cable Machine
Best Home Gym With Interactive Programming: NordicTrack Fusion CST
Best Home Gym for Beginners: Bowflex Revolution
Good for: People who want a versatile squat rack at a great price
My Favorite Things:
I’m a big fan of the Rep Fitness Power Racks. The PR 1100 is definitely one of the brand’s most basic setups and one of the top best squat racks, but that’s kind of the beauty of it. It’s priced below $300 and gives you a great foundation for the best home gym equipment.
You can easily (and fairly affordably) add the accessories you need without paying for things you won’t use. Rep offers add-ons such as weight storage, a lat/low row attachment, dip bar, and landmine. However, this is a standard rack, so there are a host of other accessories that would likely fit in just fine.
The PR 1100 has a weight rating of 700 pounds, which is more than enough for most of us mere mortals. It’s also fairly compact, with a footprint that’s roughly 4 feet by 4 feet. Of the nearly 400 reviews on Rep Fitness’s website for this rack, the overwhelming majority are five stars.
While most reviewers say the PR 1100 is easy to assemble, there were a few who pointed out that the wrench that Rep sends isn’t great, and using their own tools simplified the setup process. Check out some of the pros and cons of the Rep PR-1100 Power Rack review here.
Good for: Serious lifters who need high weight capacity structures
My Favorite Things:
I can’t talk about power racks without talking about Rogue. Rogue is kind of synonymous with home gyms because one trip to the website is all you need for basically anything you need. I have used the RML-490C a number of times and can attest to its durability and high-quality construction.
Reportedly, this rack can withstand up to 1,200 pounds, which is some seriously heavyweight. I believe it. Let’s start with the 3x3, 11-gauge steel made right here in ‘Merica. That type of steel is ideal for squat racks used at home. 7-gauge steel is super beefy and pretty much unbreakable, but also a little unnecessary (not to mention expensive) for even heavy home lifters. The RML 490C also has a satin finish that keeps it from getting banged up and ugly.
The RML 490C comes with J-cups, a standard pull-up bar, and pin safeties. Also, this is a rack that will truly grow with your lifting. It has countless accessories, including storage options as well as exercise options like a pulley attachment, lat pulldown seat, and Matador.
This is part of the Monster Lite family. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Rogue typically upgrades Monster rack products and that trickles down to Monster Lite. Also, something to keep in mind: To be safe, you should either bold this rack to the ground, or mount it to the wall (which requires an extra purchase). Some reviewers have said that they would have preferred strap safeties as opposed to pins.
Another option for this category would be the Rep Fitness PR 4000. It’s similarly priced and just as good quality, in my opinion. I did compare the Rogue RML 490C and the Rep Fitness PR 4000 if you want to learn more about similarities and differences.
Good for: People who want a cable machine without spending the commercial gym price
My Favorite Things:
The Fray Fitness Functional Trainer gives you some serious bang for your buck. Coming in at under $1,600, this machine is not quite commercial-grade like it claims, but is still one of the most affordable functional trainers. It features 200-pound stacks of weight plates on each side, which is more than enough for most people to do the isolated exercises you do on cable machines. There is also a multi-grip pull-up bar that is a little slick but gets the job done.
I really like that there is substantial adjustability to the machine. The pulleys slide up and down and also swivel, allowing you to do a full range of exercises. The guide rods in the plate stacks are high quality and keep the plate motion smooth.
This is not a compact cable machine and would require a large space. Once installed, the 910-pound machine will be difficult to move due to the industrial-grade steel and almost 8-foot height of the machine.
I don’t believe this functional trainer would stand up to commercial use due to the plastic versus steel pulleys. I still think this is a great value for the price. As long as you aren’t running an actual gym out of your guest room, you probably won’t notice the difference.
If you’ve been eyeing a functional trainer but can’t swallow a $6,000 price tag, I believe that this is your best option. And be sure to see the best budget home gym equipment here.
Read my full Fray Fitness Functional Trainer review.
Good for: People who want to experience guided workouts and cutting edge technology
My Favorite Things:
The Tonal is a technology-driven home gym that I believe is just the start of an electronic boom in gym equipment. It’s a wall-mounted screen with cable arms attached. As you exercise, a personal trainer puts you through a guided workout where you can see how the exercises should be performed.
One unique feature is that the machine provides auto-powered weight suggestions, which can take the guesswork out of strength and resistance training. You’ll initially take the full-body strength assessment to help the Tonal set the correct weight for you on each exercise, though you have the option to turn the feature off and manually input your own data.
The price tag is just under $3,500. There is a $49 per month app membership, the first year of which is folded into the purchase price. At just over 4 feet height-wise and as a wall-mounted workout machine, the Tonal itself doesn’t take up a lot of room and could potentially be great for small spaces. However, you need more than 7 feet around your machine in order to use the cables. There are specific requirements regarding installing the Tonal, so the company sends professionals to deliver and install the equipment.
Keep in mind the Tonal has a maximum total resistance of 200 pounds and the provided bench isn’t high quality. However, I believe we will see tweaks and upgrades on this product in the future and I’m excited to see how Tonal innovates next.
Read my full Tonal Smart Home Gym review.
Good for: People who want a versatile strength training rack and don’t mind the premium price tag
My Favorite Things:
The Prime Fitness Prodigy combines a squat rack with a functional trainer to create a 530-pound home gym. It’s versatile for both upper and lower body workouts, and a great option if you don’t mind the premium price tag of close to $5,000.
I appreciate the multi-use features the almost-8-foot-tall Prime Fitness Prodigy offers. Although there are other power racks in a similar price range, this wins for its ability to be both a heavy-duty rack and a cable machine all in one. I like that you’re able to change the pulley system from a 2:1 ratio to a 4:1 ratio. My favorite accessory is the pull-up bar, whose handles swivel smoothly an entire 360 degrees even when weighted.
There isn’t much to hate about the Prime Fitness Prodigy. However, if I had to gripe about something other than the price, it would be the J-cups that hold your barbell when it is racked. The J-cups have a powder-coated bar instead of a shelf. The bar grinds on the barbell and could cause premature wear to the knurling.
Good for: People who travel frequently and want to bring their compact home gym on-the-go
My Favorite Things:
The MAXPRO Smart Connect Portable Cable Machine is a compact home gym that can be taken wherever you go. It weighs just 9 pounds and is less than 2 feet wide. But it packs a lot in that little space: for under $1,000, you get concentric cables with 50 resistance settings of up to 300 pounds. You can mount it to the wall or even put it under your feet.
However, one of the reasons the MAXPRO is so affordable is because there are a lot of accessories you have to buy separately. If you want to mount your MAXPRO, you have to additionally purchase the wall track for a few hundred dollars. Without the wall mount, you won’t be able to do as many upper body exercises. The foldable bench is also sold separately.
The MAXPRO has Bluetooth connecting capabilities that sync with an app that can be added to your phone or tablet. The app provides free workouts and tracks your overall progress. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the additional accessories I mentioned above, you might be limited in the exercises you can do that the app prepares for you.
If the pulley system appears choppy, MAXPRO states that they have a break-in period before they are smooth. Also, reviewers report that if you don’t use the wall mount, the resistance levels don’t always stay in alignment since you have to literally step on the workout machine to have it stay in place.
Good for: People who want an interactive experience that includes both strength and cardio in one home gym machine
My Favorite Things:
The NordicTrack Fusion CST is my pick for best with interactive programming due to the included touchscreen tablet that provides on-demand classes. The price is just under $3,000, which includes a free year of iFit (the on-demand fitness classes).
iFit not only utilizes the included cables but also incorporates cardio-based moves like burpees and jump squats to get your heart rate up. The interactive part of this home gym makes it easy to follow along for a full-body workout. iFit has a multitude of on-demand classes with various instructors with new videos added daily.
At over 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide, you’ll want to have a permanent or semi-permanent space for the 378-pound Fusion CST. This machine has four cables at two different heights for exercises.
The warranty on this machine is only a year for the labor, parts, and included tablet. Although I appreciate the free year of iFit, the machine isn’t complex enough without the classes if you decide not to continue with it after the trial is over. iFit costs a flat rate of $396 a year for a family membership or $39 monthly. There is only up to 100 pounds of resistance, but it could still be a good option for those new to resistance training or simply needing a lower-impact workout. You can also take a look at NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill review here.
Good for: People who want a total body workout with one piece of equipment
My Favorite Things:
The Bowflex Revolution Home Gym is easy to use and great for people of all fitness levels. With 220 pounds of resistance coming from the attached cable machine, you can perform a variety of upper body exercises such as seated lat rows, tricep extensions, and chest presses. The attached leg press station works your lower body with the included 300 pounds but has the option to upgrade up to 600 pounds (which is impressive for a non-commercial home gym). Also, see Bowflex HVT in-depth review, which is designed for cardio, strength training, etc.
The 10-year frame warranty for the Revolution makes the just-under $3,000 price tag a little more palatable. In order to get the most out of this home gym, plan to have at least 9 feet of space so you’re able to comfortably use both the cable machine and the leg developer section.
Unless you’re willing to pay an extra $299 for assembly, you’ll have to put it together yourself, which reviewers have reported to be a tough job. You’ll ideally need an extra set of hands if you choose to forgo paying for assembly. Although not impossible to move by any standard, keep in mind that the assembled weight of the Revolution is 336 pounds, so be sure to assemble it in the spot you intend to put it. I don’t love that accessories like the tricep rope, hand grips and more resistance plates are sold separately. There is no option to bundle these items for a discount, either.
Working out and being fit isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle. For those who are serious about working out or even just enjoy it casually to stay in shape, there is a multitude of benefits to owning a home gym.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider purchasing a home gym:
A home gym – or functional trainer, power rack, virtual trainer, etc. – is a great way to take your workouts from bodyweight movements into loaded movements. Kettlebells, free weights, and resistance bands are great, but you can fold all the benefits of these into one piece when purchasing a home gym. You can always look to get some ideas of the best budget home gym setups and add some of the best weightlifting belts, best exercise bikes, best CrossFit equipment, best adjustable dumbbells, and much more.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for exercise equipment like a weight bench, foam rollers, and yoga mats. There is, for sure. But if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, a home gym might be it.
I created Garage Gym Reviews to help people like you use their money wisely to buy fitness equipment that I stand behind. I do the dirty work testing machines to find you your best fit. To determine the best home gym for your fitness goals, consider the following:
Before purchasing anything, I recommend mapping out how much you’re willing to spend total on home gym equipment. Maybe you’re willing to put in some money now and more later in the year. Whatever the scenario is for you, make sure you have a clear understanding of what is in your price range so you’re able to pick the best budget home gym for you.
Home gym equipment isn’t cheap, and prices can start at $600 and go up to thousands of dollars. I recommend looking at financing options when available if it isn't realistic for you to pay thousands of dollars in one go. Home gyms like the Tonal (among others) offer financing at under $150 per month. See the ultimate $1,000 budget home gym here.
This seems obvious, but figure out what types of exercises you want to do. Don’t buy a piece of workout equipment that you know deep down you won’t like using in the long run. Home gyms come in many forms: a basic power tower, cable resistance machines, benches with dumbbells, plate stack resistance functional trainers, squat racks to use with power or Olympic bars. You can also find machines that offer a lot of versatility because they combine one or all of these things. See best squat racks and best Olympic barbells here.
Some people are looking to build lower body strength while others want to develop all the muscle groups equally with a full-body workout. Before purchasing a home gym, research how many pounds of resistance the machine has and if it has the capability to hold more.
If you’re a more seasoned workout enthusiast, chances are you know exactly how much weight you need to build muscle. I recommend factoring in how much you want for lower body exercises, because that’s likely a bigger number. If you are newer to weightlifting, you are likely okay with the standard 100 to 200 pounds of resistance that most quality machines provide.
I recommend determining where you want to put your home gym before purchasing anything. I’m obviously partial to putting equipment in my garage, but you’ll need to decide what room or space is best for you. Consider the dimensions and weight of the machine when deciding where it will live.
Some home gyms are hundreds of pounds and extremely difficult to move. Others have wheels for easy storage or are wall-mounted and would need professional help to relocate. Are you willing to sacrifice some space for a larger home gym, or is it a non-negotiable that the machine is easily moveable?
If you have a partner or family, chances are you’ll want to consult with them on the type of equipment they’d like to use. This is also a good time to ask about specific needs so everyone is able to use the machine.
Here are some things to consider for the comfort of everyone using the home gym:
In order to get the most out of your home gym, consider if the piece of fitness equipment you are purchasing has accessories or extras that would enhance your workout. If you want to bench press, you will need a bench. If you want to do lat pull downs, you will need a straight or curved bar.
Things to look for:
Don’t sweat being new to working out with a home gym, because many machines now come with fitness programming that will guide you through a variety of workouts with instructors. As mentioned above, these memberships usually cost money, which is something to keep in mind. The guided workout experience can be an easier way to exercise since there is no need to plan in advance.
You may be able to find cheap home gyms on Amazon but be careful about very low-priced equipment. These are often cheaply made and not a good use of your money. A quality home gym can vary greatly in price depending on what equipment you choose to include and your budget. On the low end, expect to pay $600-$1000 for a durable, multi-use larger piece of equipment.
I believe home gyms can be a great option for everyone and anyone, regardless of your fitness level. Having your own home gym eliminates a lot of excuses (not enough time, don’t want to drive, etc.) since it’s so convenient. My advice is to invest in equipment you feel sure you will use for years to come to get your best home workout.
Additionally, you can find a number of machines that come with guided programming so you know how to do leg extensions or properly use a squat stand. Although most home gyms are primarily focused on strength, you can always purchase an affordable best exercise bike or rowing machine to complement your workouts with cardio.
Think of it this way: you don’t have to leave your house to work out. This means you can comfortably wear your old shorts from high school with the hole in the butt and blast whatever music tickles your fancy. You won’t have to wait for someone to stop hogging the squat rack. Instead, you can focus on getting a great workout in the comfort of your own home.
The cost upfront of a home gym can be daunting to some but the equipment pays for itself in the long run since you aren't shelling out a monthly fee for a gym membership.
Adjustable dumbbells are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can add to your home gym. Over the past eight years, I’ve acquired and reviewed 17 of the most popular options and believe the Powerblock Elite Series are the best adjustable dumbbells for most people. There is no one better suited to give an opinion on the best adjustable dumbbells than me, Coop. I have used and reviewed more gym equipment, including adjustable dumbbells, than anyone in the world. As I write this, I’m currently staring at eight sets of adjustable dumbbells, which don’t include all of the others I currently have in my garage gym or my training studio. It’s not enough to just own them, though, as I actually use them for the bench, rows, curls, and more every day and get feedback from the home gym community the world over. In addition to that, I recommend the dumbbells that are actually the best adjustable dumbbells for most people, not the ones that make Garage Gym Reviews the most money, as you’ll see elsewhere. I am confident in that and you can be confident that when you choose our recommendations, you’ll be satisfied with your weight training when you use them. RELATED: My picks for the best kettlebells Read More
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