The fitness equipment market size for home gyms has grown steadily over the years as the popularity of at-home workouts has risen—with quite a bump happening during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when commercial gyms shut down. Other industry factors have affected interest in different equipment, whether it be a fitness trend on social media, new workout apps, the rise of a new training methodology like CrossFit, or a highly-anticipated release of a new fitness product (remember the excitement for the REP QuickDraw Adjustable Dumbbells?).
As the new year begins, we’ve taken a look at trends from the past 10 or more years, as well as more recent trends from the past year and since the start of COVID. Our analysis includes data and insights on the trends for 40 pieces of home gym equipment—a combination of strength and cardio—which will help uncover the most popular, fastest-growing and declining home gym equipment trends going into 2024.
Data & Methodology
This study aimed to analyze and compare consumer trends for 40 types of home fitness equipment through the lens of Google Trends data for search queries containing the word “best”, indicating a user’s intent to make an informed purchase decision, from the start of 2011 to the end of 2023.
Each equipment’s trend score was indexed on a scale of 100, allowing for easier direct comparison between products, by conducting the following steps:
- Initial list development: We combined expert insights, Google search volumes, and third-party data to create a list of potential equipment.
- Search term focus: After targeting potential equipment, we concentrated on search terms beginning with “best” to target high commercial intent. We also used third-party tools for volume assessment.
- Term selection and analysis: We identified and analyzed the most popular search variations per equipment, determining the most representative queries via Google Trends.
- Data standardization: Afterward, we identified the highest-average-popularity query across all pieces of equipment to standardize data for a consistent comparative analysis.
- Yearly trend analysis: Instead of monthly averages, we used annual averages to provide a true reflection of the equipment’s overall popularity, all in order to minimize biases connected to the time of year or the influence of shopping holidays.
You can find our breakdown of each of the 40 pieces of fitness equipment over the past year here.
A Bird’s Eye View on Fitness Equipment Trends
The number of Americans searching for home fitness equipment has doubled since 2011, with strength equipment growing twice as fast as cardio. Here’s a quick look at more of our findings from looking at fitness equipment trends over the years.
These key findings help reveal current and long term trends of what home gym users in the United States are looking to buy—through the lens of Google search trends data.
- Americans searching to buy home gym equipment has soared since 2011 with an extreme spike during the COVID pandemic of 82%.
- Despite a drop after the pandemic, interest is still more than double the level of interest in 2011.
Strength’s Potential to Dethrone Cardio Equipment
Throughout the years studied, cardio machines have been the king of fitness equipment queries on Google. However, recent years—particularly those after the pandemic—suggest that strength equipment is growing with interest and over time, may dethrone cardio as the top type of fitness equipment.
- Americans have become fixated on strength training, as search interest for strength equipment has grown at twice the rate of cardio since 2011.
- Americans have helped drive this growth in strength equipment by embracing versatility in particular, as the top five fastest growing trends going into 2024 are all versatile and multi-functional pieces of strength equipment.
- Strength equipment actually dominates the fastest growing trends, accounting for 75% of the top trending equipment from 2019 to 2023, and over the last year.
- Interest in strength equipment remains strong after the pandemic, maintaining pandemic level highs while cardio equipment is in decline—down 34% since its peak during COVID.
- Cardio equipment also accounts for four of the five largest declines out of the top 20 most popular fitness equipment since 2011.
- Most notable is ellipticals; interest in these cardio machines dropped 13% in the past year, with searches at their lowest since 2011.
With all of these data points, the majority of home gym consumers are still interested in treadmills, with the top trend score going to “best treadmill.” Still, with the shifting landscape, strength equipment may overtake treadmills sooner rather than later.
Expert Takes: What’s Driving These Trends?
What’s causing this shift in fitness equipment interest? After our fitness research director Jonathan Weissberg crunched the numbers, and with my experience as an Olympic athlete and weightlifting coach for nearly two decades, we’ve noted the top three factors driving this trend.
- The home fitness consumer base has shifted gradually from older generations to millennials and some Gen Z consumers.
- Fitness habits have flipped with this generational shift as well, as millennials and Gen Z fitness enthusiasts opt for strength training equipment instead of the previous generations’ interest in cardio equipment.
- Recent economic realities, financial constraints, and smaller living spaces have led this generation of home gym users to make decisions toward compact, versatile strength equipment.
Home Strength & Cardio Equipment Interest Soared Since 2011
Fitness equipment interest has gone through a boom over the last decade and more, as the number of Americans searching to buy home fitness equipment has doubled since 2011. Strength equipment has grown twice as fast as cardio, too.
From 2011 to 2023, consumer search interest in cardiovascular fitness equipment rose 72%, while strength equipment searches boomed with a 170% increase. Still, cardio equipment saw a more significant increase in 2020 from COVID, with a 71% increase compared to strength equipment’s 52% increase. Nevertheless, cardio also had the more significant decrease since the start of the pandemic, with a 34% drop, while strength equipment interest remains at nearly the same levels.
With those major movers in mind, let’s see how the home fitness equipment market has changed, starting with the most recent years.
Fitness Equipment Trends of 2022 to 2023
We took a closer look at the top fitness equipment searches of the past year—40 different pieces of equipment across strength and cardio—to see what exercise equipment fitness enthusiasts wanted to add to their home gyms over the last year. Despite the trending decline of cardio equipment in searches, treadmills remain the top search for fitness equipment in 2023.
Home Gym Equipment Ranked: The Most Popular of 2023
Along with treadmills, here are the most popular searched terms for fitness equipment in 2023:
- Weight bench
Although we’ve mentioned a decline in cardio equipment searches since COVID, overall cardio searches are still much higher than strength equipment.
RELATED: NordicTrack C1250 Treadmill Review
The biggest thing to note, however, is the stark difference in popularity of the top five pieces of gym equipment. The average Google Trends score for the top two terms—treadmill and bench—is more than three times higher than the average of the following three terms—dumbbell, elliptical, and exercise bike. It’s pretty obvious that treadmills have been the most popular cardio equipment, with weight benches taking the top spot for strength equipment.
The Biggest Movers in 2023
The chart above shows the five largest increases and decreases in popularity over the last year. Bumper plates had the most significant fall in rankings, dropping from No. 25 to No. 29 in 2023. On the other hand, functional trainers saw the biggest increase, moving up six positions to the No. 24 spot by the end of 2023. Of the top five increases, all five items were strength equipment.
Despite the fitness industry experiencing an overall upward trend the past few years, 22 out of 40 pieces of equipment are in a downtrend going into 2024. Between 2022 and 2023, the biggest drops were:
- Core sliders, down 33%
- Pull-up bars, down 30%
- Glute ham developers, down 20%
- Rowing machines, down 20%
- Bumper plates, dropping 19%
While the ranks of the top 10 searched pieces of equipment saw little change in positions, we did see that those pieces of fitness equipment did have a decline of interest. Nine of the top 10 pieces of equipment had fewer consumers seeking to buy them in 2023; weight benches saw the only increase, although it was less than 1%.
This makes some sense, as most items in the top 10 are larger, traditional fitness products that should last longer than a year, so you may not have repeat customers immediately. Still, it’s a significant trend. Here are the nine pieces of equipment that had a drop, in order from the largest decline to smallest:
- Rowing machines, down 20%
- Exercise bikes, down 18%
- Ellipticals, down 13%
- Stationary bikes, down 12%
- Kettlebells, down 11%
- Jump ropes, down 8%
- Treadmills, down 5%
- Dumbbells, down 2%
- Barbells, down 1%
Even with this decrease in top search terms, there were quite a few movers in lower positions that tell a story of what American consumers are looking for in their home gym equipment: versatility.
Fastest-Growing Terms: Embracing Versatility in 2023
When ranking our equipment searches by the fastest growing searches, we can really start to see the change in the landscape of home gym fitness equipment. The bulk of the top 10 fastest-growing equipment searches featured equipment that added versatility to their garage gym.
People searched for equipment that maximized the functionality of a home gym while keeping the equipment compact, having as small of a footprint as possible. One of the best pieces of compact exercise equipment happened to be our No. 1 fastest-growing term—weighted vests, which was up in searches over 26% in the past year.
One trend on social media—particularly on TikTok—that would have contributed to the rise of weighted vests is rucking. Rucking is a simple concept of walking or jogging with a weight vest or while carrying a sandbag. It’s become fairly common to see runners rucking through cities, a concept that was unheard of just a few years ago.
Along with the best weighted vests, the other top versatile pieces of equipment that grew quickly in 2023 were cable machines (No. 2), functional trainers (No.3), the TRX training system (No. 4), landmine attachments (No. 5), wrist weights (No. 6), and medicine balls (No. 8). The wrist weights and medicine balls are also commonly used for rucking and weighted carries as well.
The only traditional equipment terms to crack the top 10 fastest-growing searches were assault bikes at No.7, lat-pulldown machines in the No. 9 spot, and stair steppers at No. 10. This definitely shows a bit of a shift to versatile gym equipment in just the last year.
Pre- & Post-COVID Impact: Trends From 2019 to 2023
Now that we’ve explored fitness trends over the last year, we can start to look at a larger length of time to see how fitness has been impacted over the last decade or more. However, before we go all the way back, we have to talk about the bump in fitness equipment searches and trends that occurred during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We all remember it. At the beginning of 2020, to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus, several businesses were shut down, including commercial gyms. As a response, there was a boom in home gym equipment searches, as people needed to find a way to accomplish their fitness goals at home while in quarantine.
This had a pretty significant impact on the home gym industry, with a very significant increase on the year, followed by a slight decline over the couple of years following the pandemic.
The COVID Impact on Cardio and Strength Equipment
From the chart above, you can see how gyms closing during the pandemic had an immediate impact on the amount of searches for home gym equipment, followed by the post-pandemic decline—although it’s interesting to see that strength training equipment has nearly maintained the same level of interest.
After gyms were closed due to the pandemic, there was a 71% increase in searches for fitness equipment from 2019 to 2020. In particular, cardio equipment saw the largest increase, up 85% in 2020, while strength equipment had a more modest spike of a 52% increase.
However, if we fast-forward to today, strength equipment has seen the smallest decrease of only 4%, still well above pre-2020 numbers and very similar to the pandemic numbers. By contrast, overall fitness equipment has dropped 22% since 2020, with cardio equipment dropping 34%.
Despite the decrease, it’s important to note that the fitness equipment trends in 2023 are still higher than those of 2019, so fitness equipment is still seeing a marked increase since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Search interest is holding a steady pace, with 2023 searches still up 33% from 2019.
That said, strength equipment’s growth has outpaced cardio equipment since 2019. Strength equipment as a whole is 47% higher than its interest in 2019, while cardio equipment has grown only 22% during the same time period. Nevertheless, even with the growth rates, cardio is still earning 62% more searches than strength-based equipment in 2023.
Biggest Movers Post-Pandemic
Did any fitness equipment or product type benefit from the surge in home gym equipment during the pandemic? Yes, they did, and the majority of it was strength training equipment, taking eight of the top 10 spots for fastest-growing terms—and taking all of the top five spots, too.
“Best pull-up bar” benefited the most from the surge in 2020, with a wild 600% growth since 2019, growing three times the rate of the second fastest-growing product, cable machines.
Not every piece of fitness equipment experienced the same level of growth; however, some even saw a decline since the pandemic. In particular, glute ham developers searches have decreased 43% since 2019, and ellipticals dropped 19% in the same time period. Speaking on the trend of versatility and a small footprint in fitness equipment, these are both large and bulky pieces of equipment that don’t offer as much versatility as other fitness products, which could be a factor in the decline.
Long-Term Fitness Equipment Trends from 2011 to 2023
Let’s take another step back and look at the past several years now, and how they’ve impacted and molded home gym equipment trends. We’ll be looking at the difference in searches and popularity since 2011, spanning just over a decade of searches in the home gym space.
The biggest news to report since 2011 is that fitness equipment as a whole has had an increase in interest, and a dramatic one at that—double the interest in 2023 than the interest in 2011. Many people in the last 13 years have wanted to get involved in physical activity at home.
Most Popular Equipment from 2011 to 2023
Nothing has changed on the top of the leaderboard for most popular fitness equipment. The top-trending piece of equipment over the past year—treadmills—is also the top-trending piece of equipment since 2011. “Bench” also reclaims its No. 2 position, and ellipticals overtake the third most sought-after product in the last year—dumbbells—when you account for the past 13 years.
Treadmills and benches still have an overwhelming interest since 2011; they’re over 2.5 times higher than the next three highest pieces of equipment—ellipticals, exercise bikes, and dumbbells.
We can see the trends towards versatile equipment by looking at how popularity has shifted since 2011. Four out of the five biggest positive rank changes between 2011 and 2023 are also fastest-growing equipment over the past year: cable machines, functional trainers, weighted vests, and landmine attachments.
The lower rank changes include glute ham developers, as well as dip stations and power towers. Part of this shift can probably be explained with the shift to more versatile equipment. With the innovation of power rack attachments, you can do dips and pull-ups where you squat, eliminating the need for a dedicated dip station in your home gym.
When we look at the fastest growing searches for pieces of equipment over the past 13 years, we can tell a lot has changed since 2011. The lat-pulldown machine moved the most in this timeframe, increasing its average Google trend score by a staggering 1300%. Eight of the 10 fastest-growing searches also are strength equipment, foreshadowing the strong growth in coming years.
The elliptical is the only piece of equipment out of the pieces surveyed that trended downwards from 2011 to 2023, with a 31% decrease in consumer search interest.
Between 2011 and 2023, we’ve seen an incredible increase in fitness equipment interest, with 30 out of the 40 pieces at least doubling their search interest between 2011 and 2023. Out of the 10 pieces that didn’t double their search volume, six were cardio pieces, and four were pieces of strength equipment.
Strength Equipment vs Cardio Equipment
While cardio equipment has dominated the past 13 years over strength equipment, the growth of popularity in strength equipment tells us that the future may be trending towards it.
Overall, cardio takes up six of the top 10 positions of the most popular equipment from 2011 to 2023. Additionally, the No.1 ranked “treadmill” has a substantial lead over the rest of the search terms. Additionally, the top 10 cardio machines averaged a Google Trend Score of 9.0, while the top strength equipment averaged a score of 6.3.
However, looking at the growth of search terms, strength equipment dominates this category, having eight of the top 10 fastest-growing growing trend scores from the 40 pieces of equipment we analyzed.
Even with the growth and popularity of strength equipment, the top 10 pieces of cardio equipment have an average search volume that’s 35% higher than the top 10 pieces of strength equipment since 2011.
Since 2011, searches for fitness equipment are up 108%. It’s clear that consumers are continuing to look more and more to outfit their own home gym with the best home gym machines and fitness equipment. Interest spiked in 2020 due to the pandemic and inevitably came back down, but that decrease is leveling out. Strength equipment, in particular, is maintaining much of the growth it experienced from the pandemic.
Looking at fitness and wellness trends, whether it be the past year or the past decade, the true king of equipment searches remained the same: the treadmill. It’s ranked as the most popular piece of equipment for 10 out of the last 13 years.
Although treadmills will continue to rank high, strength equipment may be coming for that top spot, slowly but surely. Strength equipment has been outpacing cardio equipment in growth steadily; still, cardio captures a higher volume of searches.
What do we expect in 2024? It’s hard to tell what impact the year will have on us, whether it be new equipment releases, fitness apps, training methodologies and advancements, or a social media trend. However, looking over the past year and beyond, we can expect to see strength equipment searches continue to close the gap on cardio equipment in this competitive landscape. Will it catch up this year? Only time will tell.
Fair Use Statement
If you have any questions about the information mentioned above, or are interested in an interview, please feel free to get in touch with Jonathan Weissberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), the fitness research director at Garage Gym Reviews. You are welcome to use any of the findings, data, and graphs from this report, but we do ask that you please provide a link back to our study to cite the original data source.
Source of Truth Chart
What’s better for you and your fitness goals? We’ll look at the similarities and differences in our comparison of mass gainer vs whey protein. Read more
If you're expecting, you want the best for you and baby. That's why we're curated a list of the best protein powder for pregnancy, with a dietitian's stamp of approval. Read more
In this NordicTrack E 5.7 elliptical review, learn if this discontinued starter model is worth the money if you happen to see it at a garage sale one day. Read more