A heavy-duty, professional-grade machine. Revered for its smooth ride. Suitable for exercisers of all levels.
Expensive, but its high quality and versatility may save you money in the long run.
Work out with over 330 lbs. of resistance and numerous upper and lower body strength training exercises with this durable system that is also affordable.
Some concerns with the lower body pulley system having too much resistance. Time-consuming to put together.
A well-built gym that's ideal for both beginners and moderate users thanks to the 60 exercises it offers. Fairly easy to put together.
On the higher end of the price scale, plus you have to pay even more if you want to upgrade the 210 lbs. of resistance it provides.
Compact, versatile, and durable. Geared toward moderate exercisers.
Not a machine for die-hard exercisers who want to bulk up through serious lifting.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A home gym can motivate you to workout by saving you the trip to a public gym. While most home gyms offer a variety of uses and exercises, they vary greatly in their weights and number of functions.
Any home gym offers a variety of workouts, but you should have an idea of what your workout routine consists of to make sure the machine you select meets your needs. If multiple people will be using the gym, look for a model that is easy to adjust for different heights. Some models use plate weights, a weight stack, or a resistance system, though not all home gyms include weights. You should also think about where you will put your gym and how much space is available.
To learn more about the varieties of home gyms available, continue reading. Or, if you are ready to make a purchase, consider our top recommended models.
First, let's learn a bit more about home gyms and why you might want to own one.
A home gym is a single piece of fitness equipment that can take on the role of several exercise machines at once. Essentially, it should provide everything you need to meet your fitness goals in a single machine.
The Marcy Diamond Elite Smith system comes with smooth, linear bearings and quality leather accents. The machine sports a heavy-duty, tubular steel frame with a seven-degree slant designed to accommodate the natural movements of the upper and lower body. Options to hold both traditional and Olympic weight plates provide users with a well-rounded workout. Many consumers praise the smoothness and quality of the machine's linear bearings.
Many people find it easier to motivate themselves to exercise if their fitness equipment is just a few paces away.
If you don't like the atmosphere in gyms – for instance, if you find them too competitive or feel like people judge you – you may feel more comfortable working out at home.
A home gym can help you establish healthy exercise habits.
While a home gym does require a large purchase upfront, you'll save money over the years on gym memberships – especially if several members of your household use the home gym.
If you're short on free time, it takes fewer of your precious minutes to exercise at home than it does to go to the gym.
The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym is a cardio- and weight-oriented machine with anywhere from 5 to 210+ pounds of resistance and over 30 unique strength exercises. A few users we surveyed felt the machine's maximum weight was too low, but the majority found it to be suitable for their needs. Several users noted that ordering the Bowflex exercise book along with this machine provided an even wider range of beneficial home exercises and workout ideas.
Think about what kind of weights or resistance levels you require. If you know how much weight you can lift or press right now, that's a good place to start. But also consider that, with regular use, you may need more weight or resistance as time goes on. A home gym that can expand to accommodate your growing needs is ideal.
We recommend a home gym that allows you to increase the levels of resistance or add heavier weights to the stack as you get stronger and need more of a challenge.
Your home gym shouldn't be a one-trick pony; the best home gyms are versatile machines that can work a variety of muscle groups.
Make sure your chosen machine has a range of exercises to work the arms, legs, chest, and abdomen.
While most home gyms focus on strength training, some have cardio equipment, too.
One of the major problems people come across when considering a home gym is size. Home gyms aren’t usually small, and if you don’t have a dedicated room or garage space where you can put it, space could be an issue.
All is not lost, however, as some modern home gyms can be folded up and tucked away when not in use.
If space is an issue, look for a compact home gym that folds up and tucks away when not in use.
A good home gym should be adjustable to suit people of different heights and body types.
This is especially important if more than one member of your household plans to use the gym.
The Marcy Diamond Elite Smith System with Linear Bearings works well for those who are interested in both upper and lower body fitness. Unlike some machines that cater only to the upper body, this machine features a dual-action leg developer with multiple oversized roller pads and a row/curl bar for a variety of exercises.
Once you get into the habit of exercising regularly, it will become second nature. Decide how often you want to exercise. Every other day? Twice per week? Establishing a routine can help you reach your goals.
Don't be discouraged if working out on the home gym seems hard at first. Your muscles will get sore, so make sure to give yourself a day or two to of rest between workouts.
Try to keep the room in which you set up your home gym neat and organized. People are more inclined to exercise in a nice-looking environment than a messy one.
Learn how to properly perform all the exercises on your home gym before you start practicing regularly. If in doubt, check the instruction manual or search for videos online.
Always warm up before a workout and cool down afterward to avoid injuring your muscles.
Some users find it more convenient and cost-effective to buy a home gym with strength training equipment and a separate piece of cardio equipment, like an exercise bike.
Avoid using a home gym that wobbles or feels as though it might tip over when you use it.
Home gyms can be a challenge to assemble. If you’re a new home gym owner, we encourage you to enlist a friend to help with assembly. Alternatively, you could pay a professional to assemble the gym for you.
If you choose to place your home gym in an unheated space like a garage, use space heaters to warm the area in the colder months. This will reduce the shock of the cold air on your warm body.
Personalize your gym space by adding a music system, entertainment unit, lighting, or any other such accessories that will pump you up for exercising.
Rubber mats on the floor of a home gym are essential to keep the coldness of the floor from seeping into your legs when exercising. Yoga mats or children’s play area foam blocks work as well.
Some gyms manufacturers sell add-ons that you can buy separately to expand the number of exercises you can perform.
If you suffer from joint pain, make sure any cardio components of your home gym are designed for low-impact exercise.
Home gyms aren't cheap, but they're a great investment, as you save money on gym memberships over the years. Besides, can you really put a price on your health and fitness?
Basic home gyms start in this price range. These models have fewer exercises that users can perform than high-end models, and they may feel less sturdy and durable.
The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym folds for easy storage and generally suits people of most heights and sizes. At least one user noted that this home gym fits nicely into a compact space, such as a spare bedroom. Several owners have lauded the extensions on the sides for adding additional weights.
Gyms in this price range have a wide enough variety of exercises for most home users.
High-end home gyms can be found in this price range. Models at the top of the range are only necessary for people who take fitness extremely seriously, such as professional and semi-professional athletes. Closer to the $1,000 mark, you'll find some excellent, highly durable models that are terrific for non-professionals.
Q. Are home gyms just for weight training, or can you do cardio with them, too?
A. Many home gyms are used solely for weight training, but some do have a piece of cardio equipment as well. This is usually a rowing machine, but you may find other options out there.
Q. Should a person who only wants to tone their muscles buy a different home gym than a person who wants to get ripped?
A. Maybe. It's definitely wise to consider your fitness goals before you purchase a home gym. If you want to tone up without bulking up, look for a machine with light weights or low resistance so you can do a high number of reps. If you want to build extreme muscle, look for a machine with high resistance or heavy weights, as well as the ability to add more weight or resistance as you get stronger.
Q. How safe are home gyms?
A. Home gyms are generally safe as long as you don't have any health conditions that put you at risk during strenuous exercise. One safety concern we would like to mention, however, is that some lightweight home gyms aren't as stable as one might like them to be. Since home gyms have heavy weights and moving parts that little fingers could get trapped in, never allow young children to be in a room with a home gym unsupervised.
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