A home gym is great if you want a strength training routine without relying on a commercial gym membership. The most basic home gym is just a set of free weights, a pullup bar and a jump rope. Investing in a more substantial multi-gym for at-home workouts makes sense if you’ve already been training for a while and want to take it to the next level.
What is the best home gym?
The best home gym for you varies based on your personal fitness goals and how much space you have available. To select our top picks for the best home gyms, we considered quality, durability and price. We excluded multi-gyms with poor reviews and gave preference to ones that allow for more versatile workouts at home.
Most people get a home gym because they're a convenient and effective way to build muscle at home. Resistance exercises and lifting weights are good for isolating and working different muscle groups to quickly develop muscular size and strength. Gaining or toning muscles and burning fat are essential components of overall health and fitness. Additional home gym benefits include:
Better workouts: Home gyms make it easier to structure your workout routine with alternating set and rep schemes. Some people find that exposing muscles to diverse and varied stimuli helps break a fitness plateau.
Convenient versatility: Home gyms are designed to fit a variety of lifestyles. It’s easy to be strategic about your fitness routine with a gym in your garage, basement or spare room. You can completely customize your setup to match your needs and goals.
Saves time and money: Everything you need is already at home, and you never have to wait to use your favorite workout equipment. Plus, there’s no monthly membership fee with a home gym. Even the most expensive multi-functional home gyms usually pay for themselves within a few years.
More privacy: Some people feel motivated by the social atmosphere or a gym; others prefer to sweat in private. Home gyms are perfect for athletes who focus better without distractions — plus, you make your own rules about music.
What to look for in a home gym
First of all, why do you want a home gym? For building muscle, look for a weight-based home gym (stack or weight plates) that lets you use as much weight as you need. For toning fat, look for resistance-based home gyms that utilize rods and bands. For weight loss, you should focus on cardio just as much as strength training.
Next, think about your budget and space constraints. Depending on your training level, your home gym price can range from around $200 to $2,000. Since home gym costs can get expensive, it’s essential to have a budget in mind before you start shopping. If you have a limited amount of space for your home gym, it’s smart to put together a floor plan with the equipment laid out.
If you have room, you can supplement your home gym with free weights, medicine and stability balls, resistance bands, yoga mats, jump ropes and other types of smaller equipment and workout accessories. As you shop, look for home gyms with after-sales service warranties that include gym maintenance.
What to look for
Power rack or squat stand
Barbell and weight plates
What to avoid
Uncoated metal that can rust
Limited resistance levels
No weights included
Buying an extended warranty
Best home gym overall Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S
The Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S home gym is our top pick overall because it comes with a wide variety of features, such as a lat bar, a straight bar, a utility strap, abs and triceps straps, a leg developer and an upgraded 210-pound steel weight stack. Three pulleys allow for virtually unlimited exercises, including lat pulldowns, crunches, tricep extensions and pressdowns, mid rows and leg abductions. The EXM2500S also includes an extra-thick DuraFirm pad and a separate Pec-Fly station with its own seat. The tallest point is 83 inches high. It's 7 feet long and 4 feet wide.
The Bowflex Xceed Home Gym has a great price for all that you get — power rod resistance, pulley system, ab training bar, squat bar, lat bar and an adjustable quick-release seat with high-density foam cushion. You can do more than 65 exercises to build your chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, legs and glutes at home. The Bowflex Xceed is about 95 inches long, 38 inches wide and 84 inches high.
The Lx Free Power Tower is a multi-function home gym with a bar for training arm, chest, back and shoulder muscles. This home gym is great for targeted ab crunches and comes with a stable outer base, multi-grip pullup bar and thick, high-quality cushions. The height is adjustable (74.8 to 88.5 inches), and it's easy to install.
The Valor Fitness BD-62 makes it easy to build muscle at home, even for those with limited space. The wall-mount cable station has an adjustable dual-pulley system and strap handles for lateral and bilateral at-home workouts. The double bar track provides stability and makes the plates glide smoothly. The Valor Fitness BD-62 is about 80 inches tall and must be mounted to a wall. When assembled, it extends approximately 26 inches from the wall.
The Bodycraft Galena Pro home gym is ideal for chest presses, leg extensions, leg curls, lat pulls and more. Its space-saving design includes a dual-function pec deck and low pulley station, and the 150-pound weight stack translates to 300 pounds of resistance for building muscles. The Bodycraft Galena Pro is about 82 inches tall and 72 inches wide.
Best home gym for bodybuilding Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine
This Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine is a total body training system with linear bearing. Great for bodybuilding, this home gym utilizes aircraft cable with a tensile strength of up to 2,000 pounds. Marcy Smith Cage Workout machines include multifunctional press arms, a dual-action leg developer and an Olympic free-weight rack. Combined leg and arm stations are ideal for strengthening different muscle groups. This multi-gym is about 95 inches tall and 79 inches wide with an 86-inch depth.
Best home gym for weight loss Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench
The Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench is a universal home gym for total body workouts. The system includes a ribbed squat seat, a wing attachment to tone arms, leg pull accessories and two ankle cuffs. This is a great home gym for weight loss because it comes with an exercise chart and meal planning guide. This Total Gym XLS is about 90 inches tall and 44 inches wide.
The Marcy MWM-990 is a multifunctional home gym station for total body training. This is a great multi-gym for beginners because the weight stack is adjustable according to your skill level. Its ergonomically designed seats are upholstered to reduce tension and impact. The system also includes a leg developer, a removable curl pad and dual-action press arms for chest presses and vertical butterfly exercises to develop your biceps, triceps and pectorals. The Marcy MWM-990 is 79 inches tall, 36 inches wide and 68 inches long.
The Bowflex Blaze might not be ideal for competitive bodybuilding, but it’s great for people who want to do low-impact strength training without going to a commercial gym. This home gym features standard power rod resistance, a squat bar, an angled lat bar for shoulder muscles, pulley cables and triple-function hand grip or ankle cuffs. Plus, the Blaze comes with a sliding seat rail for aerobic rowing and leg presses. It is about 85 inches tall, 83 inches long and 38 inches wide.
You need a combination of workout equipment and accessories for a home gym. A multifunctional gym gives you the best bang for your buck. You can also assemble your own home gym with individual pieces of equipment: dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, plates, benches, resistance bands, a pullup bar and a squat safety rack.
How much does a home gym cost?
Home gyms generally cost between $200 and $2,000 or more. Beginners and light exercisers should be able to find a home gym for less than $500. Intermediate and advanced trainers should look for home gyms in the $500 to $1,500 range. Home gyms that cost more than $1,500 have extra features to benefit professional bodybuilders and athletes.
Home gym vs. gym membership — which is better?
A home gym can be better than a gym membership, but only if you have the right equipment and use it regularly. With a home gym, you can strength train whenever you want, and it’s harder to make excuses to skip a day. The upfront cost of a home gym can be substantial, but you could save money in the long run instead of paying for a gym membership. On the other hand, a commercial gym might have a better selection of exercise equipment, and some people are motivated by the social atmosphere.
What is the best exercise machine for bad knees?
The best exercise machines for bad knees allow you to do low-impact movements for strength training, like resistance bands. Swim spas, elliptical machines and treadmills are also popular among people with bad knees to do cardiovascular exercises.
How often should gym equipment be serviced?
Keep your equipment clean by wiping it down after each use with gym wipes or sports cleaning spray. You should also perform preventative maintenance twice a year to extend the life of your equipment. Your home gym manual should have more details about maintaining your equipment correctly.
Bottom line: Is a home gym worth it?
Think of a home gym as an investment in yourself. If fitness is your hobby or passion, a home gym could be a smart component of your long-term health maintenance plan. A home gym is worth it for serious strength trainers who want the convenience of having top-notch exercise equipment in their garage, basement or spare room.
As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.