Choosing the right home gym equipment doesn’t have to be a complicated task, but in truth - it can be as complicated or as simple as you choose to make it.
It’s all about your budget and space...you can have anything from a fully-fledged home gym within the confines of your living space or a simple set-up to accommodate all of your basic needs.
It doesn’t matter what kind of space you’re looking to utilize or precisely what you choose to buy, but one element you can’t skimp on is quality.
Sadly, the fitness industry likes to capitalize on the fact that thousands upon thousands of people would prefer to stay home and train. As such, they develop equipment that has been “specially” designed for home use.
Theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with this, except that MOST of this equipment features a dire build quality and incredibly limited functionality.
Every item on our list should be at least light commercial grade to ensure you have workout equipment that’ll stand the test of time whilst being genuinely safe for you to use in the process. You’ll see an array of equipment that you CAN’T do without.
No matter how big or small your space is, these six items you must use as your home gym foundation if you’re serious about achieving results.
#1 A Bench / Rack Combo
With these two items, you’ve got everything at your disposal to perform any barbell exercise you can think of.
If you got absolutely nothing else to cater to your resistance training needs, this combination alone (in conjunction with a bar and weight set) would provide everything you need to cover any area of your body.
Ideally, your bench will adjust to the incline, flat, and decline settings so that you can cover the upper body from any angle of your choosing, and the safety catches on the rack will stick out prominently to allow you to “drop” the bar into them should you need to.
Quality matters here, as most of your “big” lifts, will be done within the confines of this rack. This means it has to be able to take a maximum weight comparable to your capabilities.
The same goes for the bench, too - ensure it is rated to accommodate any maximum lift you may be performing.
#2 A Good Quality Bar And Weight Set
Typically, most one-inch bar and weight sets will be fine for home use, but they’ll only take you so far. Eventually, you’re simply going to outgrow them.
This is why you should begin with the future in mind and buy a great quality Olympic bar and plates to go with it. Make sure they’re rubber coated so that should you drop them, you won’t damage your flooring or walls.
One of the best aspects of a well-made Olympic bar and weight set is that they’ll last for years - they’re not going to see the kind of use that they would in a commercial gym, meaning you won’t be taking anywhere near as much “life” out of them with your workouts.
They’ll also cater to you if you’re a total newbie to resistance training or a seasoned lifter needing a high-caliber weight set to cater to their needs.
Remember, you’re going to be that seasoned lifter one day, too, if you aren’t at the moment, so skip having to buy a more advanced set later down the line by getting one that’ll see you through every step of your transformation NOW.
#3 A Cardio Machine Of Your Preference
Cardio is massively important for our overall health and fitness - it’s one of the best ways to improve energy levels, fight off obesity, and improve every aspect of our health.
As such, you need to perform at least a little aerobic/anaerobic exercise, and how you choose to do it is totally up to you.
You’ve got to choose treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines, rowing machines, or even something a little more unique, like a Stairmaster.
It doesn’t matter which tool you have at your disposal to perform this training what matters is that you have at least ONE.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when buying home cardio equipment is buying into the whole “designed for home use” thing we discussed earlier, which nearly always ends in disaster.
These machines just aren’t built to withstand the test of time. They inevitably break and aren’t particularly comfortable to use or even safe. All these elements can affect your willpower when trying your best to improve your body.
The better the quality, the better the machine will be for you. Try to get something designed for at least light commercial use that will last for years, so you don’t have to spend money on maintenance. What you spend now, you’ll save in the long run, and that’s well worth it.
When you’ve got the above three items, you’ve technically got everything you need to deem your array of equipment “complete.”
Dumbbells add a unique element to your training that barbells can’t quite compare to in terms of stability optimization.
The type of dumbbells you need purely depends on your ability - most people could get away with a set that goes up to 40 lbs., whereas others will need a 100 lb. max set due to their experience level.
How you choose this is entirely up to you, but you have several options, including rubber-coated dumbbells, solid iron dumbbells, and even adjustable dumbbells.
We think a set of adjustable dumbbells going up to 90 lbs. It is the best choice for a home gym because you’re likely to be short on space, and they provide a space AND cost-efficient solution to your every need.
Some people, however, prefer to have a full rack of weights before them so that they can pick up what they need when they need it without making adjustments. The latter option is more expensive, but it’s about personal preference…
#5 A Cable Machine
This could be seen as a “luxury” addition, but integrating a cable machine is a very cost-effective solution to what COULD be a huge problem depending on your level of training experience.
Performing isolation exercises without a vast array of machinery will be tough unless you have a gym membership. Though dumbbells can help with resistance training, they can’t take you “all the way.”
A cable machine offers a plethora of exercises, all in one single, relatively small unit that can easily slot into the corner of a room.
The world is your oyster with a cable machine, as you can buy as many attachments as you need to target pretty much any area of your body.
Most cable machines also feature a pull-up bar (you can even anchor suspension training units to this bar should you enjoy this training format), meaning you have a perfectly well-rounded piece of training apparatus at your disposal.
It has to be said that not all cable machines are created equal. If you’re the kind of person that needs one in the first place, then it’s likely that you’re going to want every cable attachment possible to maximize the muscular “possibilities” on offer to you.
Not only that, but you’re going to want to replicate (as best you can) any of the machine based exercises you could perform in a gym.
With that in mind, opt for the advanced weight stack option on any cable machine you buy. Otherwise, you’ll probably be left wanting when it arrives.
It simply won’t cater to the needs of truly advanced lifters, and if you aren’t at that level yet - consider that one day you will be. Plan ahead.
#6 A Combined Leg Press / Hack Squat
Training legs at home is SERIOUSLY hard, but it’s vital. No ifs, no buts. Leg day has to become a prominent part of your training regimen if you want to make decent progress.
With the right cable machine attachments, you can replicate leg curls and extensions to isolate the legs (plus your rack/bar will allow you to perform squats and straight-legged deadlifts) but to make some serious leg “evolution” take place, you need something to hammer the legs super hard.
A combined leg press and hack squat will cater to your every leg-based need by providing two different positions for you to train your lower body with, both of which can be used in a variety of different (changing your leg position makes all the difference) manners to target every muscle in the area from the calves to the quads.
If you’ve got the resources spare, add one of these to your arsenal, and you won’t be disappointed. You might need some spare plates to go with it (in fact, this will be a must), but when you have every item on this list, you’re not going to be left wanting for anything when it comes time to train.
These six items should be seen as a basic “foundation” (especially the first three) for you to build your home gym on - depending on space and resources, any added machine/accessory imaginable would only help to further emphasize the benefit they have to offer.
Head to workouthealthy.com if you want to view all of the above items and get more detailed information about their functionality before deciding which ones will suit your space.