I’ll work out tomorrow. After work. Monday. During my lunch break. I’ll get up extra early to work off this the drinks and pizza I’m having tonight.
But, will you? I know, more often than not, I won’t stick to my word, and it kills me. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Table of Contents
- Time to be Honest With Yourself
- What Exactly is a Home Gym?
- Benefits of Having a Home Gym
- Basic Components of a Home Gym
- How to Choose the Right Equipment For Your Needs
- Our Top 5 Recommendations for Best Home Gyms 2017
Time to be Honest With Yourself
Did you know that you’re more likely to keep up with your fitness routine with a home gym than with a gym membership?
It’s true. Every New Years comes with resolutions to get back to the gym, make it to that early morning spin class, or finally use your yoga mat that’s been rolled up in a corner somewhere. But the harsh truth is, it just doesn’t really happen, no matter how strong your intentions are. There’s a reason why we make the same resolutions, year after year, after year.
Break the cycle of excuses and regret with your own home gym.
If you’ve never thought about it, just consider this- by making one purchase, you’re more likely to actually work out, and save money, than by paying for that gym membership you’re not using.
Read on to find out if this is an option that would be beneficial for you.
What Exactly is a Home Gym?
Well, it is a smaller and more convenient version of many of the machines you would find at a traditional public gym. Basically, it is taking all the equipment that you use and rolling it into one easy to use machine that you can use in the comfort of your own house.
For a long time, home gyms were perceived as luxuries that only rich folks could afford, but that’s not true anymore. Nowadays they are very affordable and a great way to finally stop those excuses for missing out on your gym sesh.
With home gyms becoming cheaper and more easily available by the day, you really have no excuse for not getting one. These ultimate fitness accessories are now easier to assemble and don’t even take up a lot of space. Many home gyms are light and easy to move, in case you don’t have a spare room or garage to put them permanently.
Benefits of Having a Home Gym
When you think of work out benches, you might believe that they're just about building muscles and lighting weights. This is ONE of their benefits, but they’re so much more than that. They’re an excellent overall health and fitness machine waiting for you to use anytime.
The most obvious advantage of having a home gym is the convenience that it comes with. You have a busy life. Sure you would love to get to the gym as often as you can, but let’s be honest, how realistic is that?
If you’re looking to hit the gym for an hour workout, that’s great. But when you factor in the time it takes to get there, change, shower, and get back. All of a sudden that one hour turns into 2 hours, or longer.
Fits with your schedule
What if you forgot your gym bag? What if you have to stand around waiting for the piece of equipment you want to use? What is your work schedule doesn’t line up with the opening hours of your particular gym?
Having your own home gym eliminates all these issues, and saves you from having to wipe off some other person’s sweat from the machines. Yuck.
But convenience is not the only reason why you need to install a home gym, here are more:
1. Health and fitness
The ultimate goal of any work out is for you to get fit and healthy. This means you’ll want a complete workout. Cardio, weights, and to target all your muscle groups, not just one. You all know not to skip leg day right?
A home gym is designed so you get the workout you need, and want, with one machine. You can think of it as a compact, all in one device. Now, if you’re new to some of the exercises, and don’t know exactly how to use all the functions, don’t worry. Most home gyms come with an exercise and instruction manual with detailed pictures showing you all the exercises you can do.
If you’re a true beginning, do make sure to take some time to watch videos you can easily find on YouTube for proper work out techniques. It is important to know how to use all the gym equipment safely and efficiently; something which most people tend to rely on gym instructors to show them. If you’re not comfortable trying it out on your own at first, get a day pass to a gym and pick up the proper technique there to use at home.
However, if you are fairly well-versed with gym equipment, you can dive right in. Just make sure your home gym meets all your goals (this is discussed in details in later sections).
2. Save time
If you rely on a public gym, you understand just how hectic and time-consuming it is to drive, or walk, back and forth every time you want to go. In most cases, after getting there, you will still need to check in, change, and be social before starting your workout.
Do you have time for all that? Have you ever gone to the gym intending to work out for an hour, but had to wait around for a machine to free up, or gotten distracted chatting to other people?
These small things can really eat up the precious time you have, and in today’s world time is something that you can’t afford to waste. With a home gym, all you need to do is take a few steps to your work out bench when you’re ready, that’s it.
3. Save money
Personal workout gyms aren’t cheap. Let’s just say that now. As a one-time expense, it might seem a little high. BUT a home gym is actually cheaper than paying for a membership in a public gym. You just have to think about the long term. Like a car, there might be a bigger cost at first, but having one is usually way cheaper in the long run than taxis, Uber, or public transport.
Most local gyms charge anything from $60 to $120 per month, with some going as high as $200. When you compare that with the cost of a home gym, some of which are excellent and cost a mere $500 -$1500, you can see that the gym will pay for itself within six months or so. If you choose a good quality home gym that comes with a reliable warranty, you might just find yourself using it for a lifetime.
Having a membership and going to the gym at two completely different things. Sure, you have the membership, you know the schedule of classes you want to go to, and you have all the best intentions in the world to go 2-3 times a week. But, life gets in the way and making it to the gym happens way less often than we want.
The same excuses just don’t work when the gym is right in your house, in the other room, calling you to use it. In fact, you might even work out more than you intended, since you don’t have to deal with all the hassle of driving there, changing, and showering during the middle of the day. Use your gym for 2 hours or just 5 minutes. There is no such thing as too short of a work out, and if you only have 5 minutes, you only have 5 minutes. With a home gym, you can make the most out of your time, with a gym membership, you’d probably still be trying to find parking.
Have you ever skip the gym because you were too embarrassed to go?
Maybe this doesn’t apply to you, but I know it sure does for me. When I was first learning how to use different machines, I didn’t want anyone to see me. I know I was slow, I didn’t have the exact right technique, I couldn’t lift more than 30 pounds. For a lot of different reasons, I just didn’t really look forward to sweating and flaunting my not perfectly in shape self in front of other people. Sound familiar?
The gym fosters a highly competitive environment. People are pushing themselves, wearing lots of makeup, have the trendiest work out clothing, or so on. I came to the gym to work out, for myself, not to show up anyone else or have anyone else judge my fitness level.
When you work out at home, you don’t have to be distracted or put off by any of this. It’s just you, the exercises you want to do, in the clothes you’re comfortable in, and making whatever faces you want to, as you push through that last set.
Everyone is different, and you shouldn’t have to be limited. Unlike public gyms, where machines are basically set for one exercise, with your home gym, you can customize the machine and your workouts to your personal preference.
You can additionally enjoy the atmosphere, music, and temperature that works for you. If you’re into loud music, it gets you pumped up, you can play it throughout your home. For me, I get hot when I work out, and I really like fans or the AC on. I know I work out longer because of it. Set up your space how you want it, and you’ll find yourself using the machine more and more.
Add on the extensions, or adjust the weight as you like, depending on your workout goals. This saves you even more time, since you won’t have to fiddle around switching between someone else’s settings and yours before starting your exercise.
It all comes down to finding the right machine for you, and that starts by knowing what options are available and what to look for when looking for one.
Basic Components of a Home Gym
Nowadays, home gyms come fully customized for personal use. Manufacturers usually assess the various health and fitness needs that customers have and then try to make one package that covers all, or most, of our preferences. But, different people have different goals, so there are still some features that differ from device to device.
As you choose your preferred home gym, make sure it is stocked with most, if not all of these features. If it doesn’t, you can either select a different model, or add the pieces to your unit.
Pull up bar
The pull up bar is your friend, you just have to embrace it. Many people think it’s just for the one move, but there are actually a lot of workout moves you can use the bar for. Think outside the box and use it for basic gymnastic exercises that target your back, abs, biceps and more. An excellent way to stretch your body, shoulders, and back, to loosen the stiffness from sitting all day.
The lat pulldown is an essential part of any home gym. With it, you can do various elbow, shoulder, and scapular exercises that will work multiple groups of muscles in your upper body, helping you in muscle building and strength training. Alternative the pull downs both in front of you and behind your head to target different muscle groups.
Most people usually neglect to work the lower part of their body due to lack of appropriate equipment. But if you choose a home gym with a leg press that won’t be you because this part works your quadriceps, hamstrings, and butt (general thigh area). And it doesn’t even need any special skills, all you have to do is extend your knees against the machine’s resistance. This part is very important because it also offers calf raise workouts alongside leg press exercises.
Different from a leg press, leg extensions also work to strengthen your lower body. Use various exercises to sculpt your inner and outer thighs, quadriceps, hamstrings, and butt. Test some different weight resistance and see what you’re comfortable with. The smooth movements will help isolate and target any problem areas while being easy on your knees.
Feel the burn in your hamstrings with a leg curl section. This feature is the most effective at working out your hamstrings, as well as other muscles that control knee movement. Ideally used for enhancing flexibility, speed, and strength.
Cable exercises are similar to free weight exercises but offer better-controlled motion and the ability to isolate specific muscle groups during exercise. A number of home gyms do not have cables but if you land your hands on one that does, don’t hesitate in purchasing it. The exercises you will increase your range of motion and enable you to enjoy more fluid movements.
Flat bench press
Just like the bench press at the gym, you’ll be able to strengthen your chest and back muscle groups. The flat bench station will help you increase your muscle mass and strength; ideal for those who are interested in strength training or weight loss. Don’t worry about screwing on weights to the bar, just move the pin and you’re ready to go.
A shoulder harness is an extra perk that isn’t common in every home gym. The seemingly small equipment is very effective at exercising rotator cuffs, chest, and arms. It is all about working out some of your more strained, but less paid attention to muscles that get stiff from sitting or using a computer for extended periods of time.
If your unit doesn’t come with one, you can always purchase the harness separately. It is a perfect addition if you are interested in resistance and strength exercises.
How to Choose the Right Equipment For Your Needs
The different stations and components of your home gym are important, but they’re not the only things to consider when you’re choosing the right unit for yourself.
Here are a few other important factors keep in mind.
Pick a home gym that lets you do all the exercises you want. You can only do as many exercises, as the unit can support.
So, as you choose your home gym, make sure it has all the equipment that is necessary to offer compound exercises (those that work multiple muscle groups at the same time). The most basic home gym should allow you to do lat pull downs, bench presses, squats, and have some cable, or arm band, exercises at the very least.
While you can always add on additional exercises to the ones you get from your home gym, you want it to make sure your unit offers everything, or pretty much everything, you’re looking for.
Before you settle for a particular home gym, make sure you have enough space for it. The last thing you want is to buy a model and realize that it is too big for your spare room or garage – which will mean that you can’t even assemble it.
So, the first thing to do is check how much space you are willing to spare for the unit itself and then check the dimensions of various models to make sure they fit. Remember to factor in your exercises and the range of motion you need as well. Some activities will require a little more space than others (e.g. if you are planning to incorporate jumping rope into your routines).
How much it cost will always be a factor. Most health and fitness enthusiasts will tell you that you can’t put a price on your health, which is somewhat true, but you can’t ignore the fact that you can only spend as much as you have. While a home gym is certainly a worthy investment, you don’t have to break the bank to get a great unit.
The good thing is that thanks to high competition, nowadays, many high-quality home gyms are very affordable. That said, if you can afford a high-end product then go for it. In most cases, manufacturers pack more features and capabilities in them than in budget-based home gyms. Like we covered before in the article, even though it might seem like you’re spending a sizable amount of money now, home gyms are often much MUCH less than keeping up your gym membership.
Different home gyms usually have different weight limits for how many pounds it can support. The logical thing is to choose a unit whose limit can support the weight of the heaviest person who will be using it. Some units can support weight limits as high as 600 pounds, so this will not be a problem for most users.
Number of users
If you are buying a home gym just for your own use, then you can opt for a single-user unit. But if you are getting one for the whole family, or other people to use, you may want to look into a multi-user unit.
Nowadays manufacturers understand group dynamics, which is why there are gyms that can support as many as three simultaneous users. These units are perfect for couples or small groups. The benefits of having a multi-user home gym are that it reduces the cost of the unit per person, and when you work out with someone it is more fun, and you get more motivation through encouragement or friendly competition.
A gym is a high impact equipment, meaning that it will receive some serious impact as you exercise. This is why you should look at the materials used in its construction and design. Make sure it’s strong enough to support you, and the weight you’ll be lifting.
The best metal for the main frame is steel, because it is very strong and durable. Also try to look for a home gym whose surfaces (especially the ones that you will be lying, sitting, standing, or running on) are well coated so that you don’t slip or get injured during your workouts. Usually, padded benches and rubber footplates offer the best protection.
Make sure that all the parts are well-fitted to avoid accidents and unwanted incidents. If you buy a model that is poorly constructed, a loose part might get loose and land you in serious pain. Take a moment to check customer and expert reviews to see what people are saying about the models you’re looking into.
If you are having trouble choosing the ultimate home gym you can check out our top 5 picks below to an idea where to start, or simply select the one whose features match your needs.
Our Top 5 Recommendations for Best Home Gyms 2017
1. Powertec Fitness Workbench Multi System
Stand-out feature: offers an extensive range of exercises
The Powertec Fitness Workbench is built for virtually any type of home gym exercise, ranging from bench presses to lat pull downs, and everything in-between. Arms, legs, chest, abs, you can do it all with the Powertec. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, or just some basic strength training, you’ll be able to get the results with this unit.
It has a solid construction, which can support up to 500 pounds. This is much more than what most home gyms in the market today offer. It comes with a fully-fledged bench press station with isolateral arms that allows you to either exercise both arms simultaneously, or each one at a time. A large bench is comfortable to sit on and move around to find your perfect position during your exercises. It is sufficiently padded for comfort and ideally placed for proper back support.
In addition to that, the unit has inner leg pull handles that dramatically increase the variety of exercises you can do. It also lets you adjust the weight capacities between different activities. Arm presses and squats can support up to 500 pounds, the lat lever can be increased to 400 pounds, and you can maximize your ab crunch resistance to 100lbs.
One feature that you will definitely love about the Powertec Fitness Workbench is that more than one person can use it at a time. Of course, you don’t have to take advantage of this feature, but the option is always nice.
The unit can support up to three simultaneous users; which makes it perfect for couples, families, and friends. With this great home gym, you don’t need a gym membership to stay healthy or fit.
2. Body-Solid EXM 3000 Home Gym
Stand-out feature: for those who want to take weight training to a new level
When it comes to fitness equipment, there are very few brands that can offer the same quality that Body-Solid offers. With the EXM 3000, you can do the same exact exercises that you would find in a professional fitness center (including bench press, shoulder press, and mid-row exercises among many others), but at the comfort of your home.
This multi-station home gym measures 73″ x 91″ x 83″, which should comfortably fit in most home setups. It features an adjustable Perfect Pec™ station with a range of limiters. That means you can vary the intensity of your workouts to suit your desired goals. Its leg press station is one of the most efficient in the market today. With a 2:1 ratio, it ensures that your workouts are as intense as you need them to be. The two 210-pound stack weights add plenty of quality and options to your resistance training.
The unit is not just about the quality of performance; its construction is solid too. The main frame is made using steel for maximum strength, rigidity, sturdiness, and durability. The benches are covered with DuraFirm™ pads for comfort, and the footplate is rubber-coated so that you don’t get injured while working out by slipping or losing your stance.
The EXM 3000 is a multi-user unit that allows up to three people to exercise at the same time. You can use it for virtually any home gym exercises, but it is especially ideal for building muscles and losing weight
3. Bowflex Xtreme Se Home Gym
Stand-out feature: most compact and portable unit on this list
The Xtreme SE home gym from Bowflex is a wonderfully compact, yet versatile, unit that will offer you a range of exercises that you need to stay fit and healthy. If you have any reservations about getting a home gym because of limited space, this could be the unit for you. You can fold it up completely to fit in a corner, keeping it out of sight, and out of your way when you’re not using it.
But that is not its only advantage; the home gym is designed with top-notch technology that emulates free weight training. Free weight training is one of the best strength and resistance exercises you can do. The Xtreme SE offers a default weight resistance of 210 pounds, but if you want a challenge, you can upgrade it to 310lbs and even 410lbs. Its strong and steady construction supports up to 60 plus exercises that include lat pull downs, shoulder presses, squats, and everything in-between.
From a general perspective, this equipment is perfect for strength training, muscle building, and weight loss. In fact, most buyers are shocked at how much weight they have lost when using this unit. With proper choice of exercises, you really don’t need to visit a fitness center to cut weight and maintain a new, lean shape.
4. Stamina X Fortress Power Tower
Manufacturer: Stamina Inc.
Stand-out feature: perfect for upper body workouts
This unit from Stamina Inc. earns a spot on our top 5 list because of its versatility and ability to exercise multiple muscle groups at the same time, especially the abs, and upper body. With it, you can do lats, pull-ups, guided sit-ups, knee raises, and a variety of extension exercises.
It is fitted with an adjustable plyo-box that will help you do a variety of plyometric exercises, ranging from step-ups to, leg squats and many others. The idea is to exert maximum force in short time intervals, to increase your power and speed. You can adjust the box from 16 to 24 inches depending how much of a challenge you want. There is also a non-slip surface to do jumping exercises.
While most of the praises this home gym receives might be due to its ability to work your upper body, it doesn’t neglect the lower parts.
It is 159 pounds and 87.1 x 21.1 x 6.5 inches in dimensions, and has a steel frame that can support up to 250lbs. Robust, sturdy, and comfortable, the Stamina X has fitted padded hand grips and foam that make the push-up and pull-up stations easy on your hands.
This unit is a must have regardless of the type of exercise you want to do. It is perfect for weight loss, strength training, weight training, or simply keeping fit.
5. Body-Solid G10b
Stand-out feature: amazing construction and design
There are a lot of models on the market today, but the Body-Solid G10B really stands out.
First of all, it is bi-angular – meaning that when you are doing weight training, the unit will offer resistance from two different directions. According to the manufacturer, that ability increases the efficiency of your workout by up to 25% because of the added resistance.
Additionally, the gym comes with two 210-pound stacks of weights and pull-down as well as pressing apparatus that offer lots of motions.
The design and construction are pretty impressive too. The main frame is made by the Durafirm brand; the same company that makes commercial and high-end fitness equipment you’ve seen before. The well-padded workout station offers lumbar support that offers comfort and security during your workout.
Although the unit offers over 50 exercises, you can increase your range of workouts by purchasing a separate leg press attachment.
The only downside of this gym is that it uses rubber stoppers between weight plates (rather than springs) and they tend to wear out faster than springs. Just make sure to take a look at them periodically to ensure safety and maintenance. Other than that, the gym is a great unit. It comes with a detailed user and assembly manual for a simple DIY set up.