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With the New Year right around the corner, you’re probably thinking about your resolutions and fitness goals. And if you’re busy, stressed and already tight on time, getting to the gym on a regular basis can be difficult. Not to mention, if you’re on a tight budget, a gym membership can be quite expensive.
This is where home gyms come in–after all, nothing is more convenient than being able to get a great home workout in the comfort of your garage, basement or living room.
What’s even better? A home gym does not need to be expensive, as most people believe. You can build a well-equipped home gym without breaking the bank, giving you equipment to use when you want more than bodyweight exercises.
In this guide, we’re sharing our top picks for the best pieces of home gym equipment that work with any budget. Before you go on Amazon looking for the cheapest equipment, use this guide to find the perfect mix of quality and budget.
While the NordicTrack EXP71 isn’t cheap at $1,199, it’s a very high-quality treadmill that makes it reasonably priced. It features FlexSelect cushioned that is designed to reduce impact, and includes smart features like a seven-inch HD touchscreen, adjustable incline and built-in iFIT compatibility, which allows you to follow virtual trainer-led workouts that automatically adjust your resistance and incline. As an added benefit, the machine features a 12 percent incline that will help you target your glutes and hamstrings more effectively.
These features are commonly found on commercial-grade treadmills, which can easily cost upwards of $3,500, so we think this price is a fantastic deal for the quality you’re getting.
Sure, you can find cheaper treadmills, but the quality and reviews will tell you if they’re worth the money. Lower-quality treadmills generally break down faster and don’t feel as comfortable to use.
Purchase NordicTrack EXP71
The REP Fitness FB-3000 flat bench was designed for heavy-duty use and can handle up to 700 pounds of total weight. It’s designed to be strong enough for competitive powerlifters to use, which means it can handle even the heaviest wear and tear without damage.
It’s a flat bench that doesn’t adjust, which does provide some limitations to your training, but you’re getting tremendous quality at a great price. Adjustable benches are nice, but cheaper ones often have issues with the adjustment mechanisms breaking–on a budget, a flat bench will likely last longer.
This is the perfect accessory to elevate your home strength training workouts, and at only $149, you won’t find a better deal for such a high-quality bench.
Purchase REP Fitness FB-3000 Flat Bench
For many weightlifters, the biggest limiting factor of home gyms is the ability to squat with heavy weights. After all, traditional power racks can be quite expensive, not to mention they take up a significant amount of space in your gym.
The Titan T-2 Series Squat Stand is compact, easy to adjust and allows you to finally squat with a barbell from the comfort of your home. Many full power racks cost $800-$1500, with features you don’t need… this squat stand allows you to get nearly all of the benefits of a full power rack, for less than half the price.
It’s designed to be easily assembled, and easy to move around from room to room as it doesn’t need to be bolted into the floor.
Purchase Titan T-2 Series Rack
If you’re training with a barbell, you need bumper plates to add resistance as you get stronger, and the Fringe Sport Contrast Plates are the most affordable option on the market.
These plates feature specific features that make them perfect for home use. The virgin rubber is designed to deaden the bounce while minimizing damage to the plate, eliminating any aggressive bouncing that may damage your surroundings in small, tight spaces. These are built to last and designed specifically for garage and home gyms.
The plates are also designed to be thinner, so you can add more weight to each end of the barbell while saving space when not in use.
Anytime you’re buying weight plates, the costs can rise as the materials are expensive, but Fringe Sport provides high-quality bumper plates at a fair cost.
Purchase Fringe Sport Contrast Bumper Plate Pairs
What if you want to tone up your body and get a great workout, but you don’t want to mess around with bulky weights? If that’s you, The DB Method is the perfect solution for your home gym.
This all-in-one machine is designed to provide a total body workout in ten minutes or less, with a single motion that activates and tones the muscles in your chest, shoulders, back, core and glutes.
The DB Method is lightweight, and quickly folds up, where it can be easily stored in a closet, or under a bed. The movement itself is designed to be low-impact and easy on the joints, so you won’t have to worry about irritating nagging injuries.
For an all-in-one machine that targets multiple muscle groups, at a very affordable cost, you can’t beat the DB Method.
Purchase The DB Method
No home gym is complete without a yoga mat—and not just for yoga. After all, if you’re stretching or doing your core work on the ground, the last thing you need is to be sitting on the cold hard cement in your garage, or leaving sweat marks on your home gym flooring.
A yoga mat provides a gentle cushion that’s perfect for any ground-based exercises, it protects your floor from sweat marks and it’s very easy to clean and store between uses.
The GAIAM yoga mat is latex-free, which we love, and comes in several reversible, two-color options, so you can flip the mat over if the mood calls for a new color. They’re textured to keep you from slipping around, and provide a comfortable floor space for your next workout, all for less than $30.
Purchase GAIAM Two-Color Yoga Mat
A rowing machine is a low-impact, effective way to build up endurance while targeting the muscles in your back, arms and core. This pairs nicely with the DB Method, which does a great job targeting your lower body and glutes, while the Sunny Health & Fitness Row-N-Ride targets your upper body.
This machine allows you to perform a compound movement, which means you’re training multiple muscle groups at the same time. When it feels too easy, you can use the included resistance bands to step things up a notch and increase the burn.
The padded handlebars are comfortable, foot grips keep you secure, and it’s easy to fold up and store when you’re not using the machine.
Now, this low-impact machine probably won’t be enough resistance for those looking to build significant muscle, but for a great workout that helps you stay toned and target multiple muscle groups, it’s very effective, and the cost fits almost any budget.
Purchase Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Row-N-Ride
Resistance bands are affordable, versatile and should be part of any good home gym setup. There are countless options on the market, but for the money and quality, it’s hard to beat the BodyBoss Boss Bands.
These heavy-duty bands come with clips on each end to attach to a stable surface, handle or anything else you’d like to use. Each set includes two bands, and each band provides up to 30 pounds of resistance, allowing even the strongest users to feel the burn.
These bands can be used to train nearly any muscle on your body, they’re a fantastic tool to warm up and get the blood flowing or provide a good burn at the end of a workout, and at only $24.99, they’re affordable for most budgets.
Purchase BodyBoss Boss Bands
For serious lifters, especially those who train with Olympic lifting or powerlifting, a good barbell is a must-have. After all, you’ll have a hard time finding dumbbells heavy enough to train your squats and deadlifts.
The Rogue Fitness Power Barbell is a commercial-grade, heavy-duty barbell created by one of the most recognizable brands in the fitness industry. The knurling is designed to provide an enhanced grip without being too abrasive, and Rogue’s lifetime warranty means you’ll never have to purchase another barbell again.
This bar is designed for powerlifting, so the bar will remain pretty stiff, rather than bending and bouncing like an Olympic lifting bar would. You’ll need to pick up some weight plates, but once you do, this is the last barbell you’ll ever need.
Purchase Rogue Power Barbell
For anyone who wants to improve their strength, dumbbells are the most versatile training tool you can have. While a barbell is a great way to lift heavier loads, you’re limited, as a barbell is big and bulky.
With dumbbells, you’ll be able to perform any exercise with resistance, making them the perfect tool for your home gym. The hex design of these Amazon Basic Encased Dumbbells eliminates any rolling, so you don’t have to worry about your dumbbells rolling away if you’re doing any floor-based exercises with them.
Now, these are fixed weight dumbbells, which means they’re cheaper and easier to fit into the budget, but you’ll need to buy more of them as you get stronger over time. Keep that in mind as you budget, but if you only need a few lighter dumbbells, buying these individually is much cheaper than buying adjustable dumbbells.
Purchase American Barbell Hex Dumbbells
The most common mistake people make when designing a home gym is assuming that you always need the most expensive pieces of equipment, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Particularly when it comes to weights, like dumbbells, barbells and bumper plates, you can really get away with the cheapest option for your home gym. Keep in mind that high-end gym equipment is usually designed to withstand heavy wear and tear every day, as gym-goers use equipment all day long, and may be rough with it.
Even if you get cheaper weights, they’ll still work just fine, and if you’re not sharing the equipment with hundreds of other people, it won’t wear down as quickly. You have your own workout space, and you can take proper care of your equipment to make it last.
Consider your primary training goals, and start with the essentials. If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness, you’ll probably want to buy a treadmill or rower before you buy weight plates.
If you’re interested in strength, focus on a bench, dumbbells and perhaps a barbell–you may not need cardio equipment.
Think about what you use the most in your workouts, and start there. You certainly don’t need to build a fully-equipped gym with every type of equipment from day one.
If you’re new to working out, and don’t know what equipment you should be looking for you, we’ve got you covered. This section will break down the most useful, versatile pieces of equipment that every good home gym should include.
Dumbbells may be the most versatile piece of equipment, and we recommend everyone pick up a set of dumbbells sooner or later to outfit your home gym.
You can train any muscle in your body, and with as dumbbells generally increase in increments of 5 pounds, you’ll be able to increase the resistance as you grow stronger over time. Whether your goals are building lean muscle, losing fat and toning up or improving your athletic performance, you can get the job done with dumbbells.
While resistance bands don’t offer as much resistance, they’re quite versatile, and a very affordable, useful tool to have. They can be used for strength training, mobility, and warming up before challenging workouts, and they’re easy to store when not in use.
Once you have your dumbbells, you’ll eventually want to pick up a weight bench. While you can train without one, a bench allows you to lie flat on your back or stomach with full arm movement, unlike laying on the floor.
Adjustable dumbbells and a bench are all you need for a full-body workout, regardless of your skill level, and everything else is just a nice bonus to have.
Finally, many people do find value in investing in some type of cardio equipment. Sure, you can always go outside for a walk, hike or run, but if it’s cold or rainy, or you simply don’t feel like it, a piece of cardio equipment at home allows you to break a sweat without leaving your house.
This isn’t essential, but if cardio is your main goal, and you can’t do it outside, investing in a treadmill, elliptical, exercise bike or rowing machine is a great idea.
This will vary greatly depending on how much you’re looking for. A bench and a set of adjustable dumbbells can be acquired for under $500, and provide everything you need for a solid workout.
If you want to expand, and add a squat rack, barbells, bumper plates, cardio equipment, etc… the costs will climb, but you can get the essentials for a very low price.
If money’s really tight, you can pick up a few pieces of equipment for less than $500, and be well on your way. If you want something a little more well-rounded–say, enough equipment to be able to avoid normal gyms entirely, you’ll likely want to budget somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000-$1,500.
With some smart shopping, that budget will get you a bench, dumbbells, squat rack, barbells and even some cardio equipment if you want it.
Having a home gym can be a huge advantage. To begin with, working out at a gym isn’t the only way to get an effective workout in. Having a home gym is not only equally effective, it can also be more efficient. We’ve all had days where we’re overwhelmed and don’t have time to make it to the gym, and a home gym allows you to still stick to your workout plan from home. It’s impossible to beat the convenience of being able to work out in your own home, regardless of the weather or time of day.
For those who love going to the gym, and feel they don’t need one, a home gym is still a valuable investment and a solid back-up plan.
A home gym is a fantastic investment for your health, and with the right pieces of equipment, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to set one up.
Figure out what your goals are, and what kind of training you’ll be doing, and you’re sure to find something in our guide that meets your needs.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Matt is a writer, author, and online fitness coach based out of San Diego, CA.