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Expert Shopper Sports & Fitness

How to build a home gym with both affordable and high-end equipment

Expertly reviewed by Judd Nesmith

If you take advantage of it, a gym membership is a great value. However, about half the people who start a new gym membership quit within six months. Many of these people drop their membership because they do not have enough time to get to the gym to make it feel like a good value.

Setting up a gym in your home eliminates the travel time. Even if you can only find 20 spare minutes three days per week, with the right equipment and attitude, that's enough time to positively impact your overall health. And once you get into the routine, you may find the elevated mood you experience pushes you to exercise even more than you thought you would, helping you maintain a healthy weight while building strength and endurance.

Using a home gym makes it easier to improve your overall health in a more economic and time-saving manner than going to the gym each day.

In this video

Judd NeSmith, BestReviews fitness expert, joins Gary Gelfand to talk about what you need to build a home gym. He offers two options: one for people who do not want to spend a lot of money and one for people who want the best.

Home gym equipment for the budget-minded individual

These five items are the essentials needed for a home gym. 

Yoga mat

The first thing you need is a dedicated and comfortable place to workout. You can quickly and easily do that by using a yoga mat. The right one will be long enough to fit your whole body when you are in a prone position. The thicker the mat is, the better it will help cushion your joints from impact. It also provides a barrier that keeps sweat from getting on your floor.

Balance ball

A balance ball is an excellent piece of workout equipment. Since you need to use additional muscles to keep yourself stable, it lets you elevate the intensity level of common exercises by engaging your core muscles. “This fit ball will really help you target core muscles effectively,” NeSmith said. A balance ball is also known as an exercise ball, a stability ball or a yoga ball. To turn sitting still into a workout, some people use this ball instead of a chair. It is important to get a burst-proof model for safety. 

Exercise sliders

Like a balance ball, exercise sliders add instability to your workout. This means you have to work harder and engage your core when doing basic exercises, such as pushups. “They’re great for hamstring and glute exercises also,” NeSmith said. “Just a very portable piece of equipment, very lightweight.” It is important to make sure the sliders you are buying are suitable for the type of floor that you have. There are different exercise sliders for carpeted and hard floors.

Suspension trainer 

One of the most popular options for individuals looking to get a great whole-body workout is a suspension trainer. This set of equipment fits in a small bag and can be used anywhere. You can anchor a suspension trainer over a door, around a tree or even to the ceiling. “It is just a wonderful way to target the entire body with just body-weight exercise,” NeSmith said. 

Dumbbell set with 3-, 5- and 10-pound weights

Many individuals focus on cardio and forget weight training. It is essential, especially as you age, to do resistance training, as this helps fight off degenerative conditions and diseases, such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Purchasing a small set of dumbbells is a great way to incorporate at-home strength training into your exercise routine.

Additional equipment for a high-end home gym

If you want the best home gym possible, you will need all the essential items along with the following high-end pieces of equipment.

Adjustable dumbbells

While a regular set of dumbbells is essential, if you want to take your weight training to the next level, adjustable dumbbells are the way to go. Typically, these versatile items let you workout with 5 to 50 pounds using just a twist of a dial. They can be expensive, however, which is why they are considered a high-end home gym option.

A stationary bike, a treadmill or a rowing machine (or all three)

While you can jump rope and do other cardio exercises, if you want the best home gym possible, you need a stationary bike, a treadmill or a rowing machine. Any or all of these items provide a great cardio workout, making them a must-have for serious fitness enthusiasts. 

Shop this segment

Gaiam Essentials Yoga Mat

This classic yoga mat is a great all-around mat that can be used for yoga, pilates and other types of floor exercises. The mat comes with a carrying strap to make it easy to store and transport.

Sold by Amazon

Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit

The Gaiam anti-burst balance ball kit comes with an air pump and a workout program. The medium size is best for people who are roughly 5 foot 6 inches to 5 foot 11 inches tall.

Sold by Amazon

Elite Sportz Core Sliders

These 7-inch core sliders let you perform a high-intensity low-impact workout. They have a dual-sided design that allows them to work on any type of floor.

Sold by Amazon

TRX GO Suspension Trainer System

This training system comes with the TRX GO rope, indoor and outdoor anchors and a mesh carrying bag. It is a total-body training system that has been safety tested for up to 700 pounds.

Sold by Amazon

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Bowflex's adjustable dumbbells are easy to operate and let you workout with anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds. Purchase includes a one-year JRNY membership, which gives you access to Bowflex's online workouts.

Sold by Dick's Sporting Goods and  Amazon

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Get a great cardio workout with this model that the company notes has been the bestselling rowing machine worldwide for more than 40 years. With this machine, you can achieve a low-impact workout that burns a lot of calories, and when you’re finished, separate it into two pieces for easy storage. 

Sold by Amazon

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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