Best Portable Home Gyms

Updated October 2020
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons

Buying guide for best portable home gyms

Going to the gym isn’t for everyone. Cost, travel time, and social settings may not be compatible with your life, and for those who travel often, a gym membership may not be convenient. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an intense, diverse workout at home or wherever you are. 

With the right portable home gym, you can get the personalized workout you want while saving space and time. The term “portable home gym” is an umbrella term that encompasses resistance training devices and apparatuses that are small and lightweight while still offering a complete workout. Most consist of a central component and resistance bands that you can use to perform a host of effective exercises. 

In this guide, we outline what to look for and expect from various portable home gyms on the market. In addition, we offer tips on how to maximize your workout so you can stay fit and healthy, no matter where you are.

A workout program is an ideal way to track and monitor your fitness journey and keep your exercises varied and challenging.

Key considerations

How portable home gyms work

Portable home gyms forgo weights and heavy machinery, focusing instead on resistance training with bands, springs, and other simple devices. Resistance training forces your muscles to work against a weight, which in turn tones and strengthens the muscles. While the resistance you use at the gym might be a bulky, heavy machine, it might be a wall, door frame, or even your own body weight at home.

A common resistance band exercise involves doing curls by attaching one end securely to a doorknob and holding the other end in your hand, securing it to your feet, or wrapping it around your forearm or ankle. Resistance bands come in different levels of tension, too. Some are more forgiving, while others are more demanding.

Components

In addition to resistance bands or straps, many portable home gyms have a platform or bar.

Platform: Some portable home gyms have an exercise platform to which you connect the bands. On this platform, you may also perform curls, squats, or step exercises. Often, the platform is foldable.

Bar: A portable home gym may include a bar to which the straps connect. This durable bar may be collapsible or telescopic to allow for easy storage and travel. In conjunction with straps, the bar can be used for a variety of exercises. It may have a toggle to increase or decrease resistance.

More complex portable home gyms include a platform and a bar to allow for a greater number of possible exercises.

Benefits

Fitness: Resistance training offers a chance to improve strength, enhance muscle definition, and strengthen bone. A person’s flexibility and balance also benefit. Because extra control is required when using bands at home (as opposed to using a machine at the gym), stabilizing muscles are also engaged. 

Convenience: Portable home gyms and bands are relatively small and easy to store and pack for travel. With a portable home gym, you can formulate a workout schedule that fits your life.

Drawbacks

Learning curve: Learning how to perform an effective and safe workout with a portable home gym may take time. Using resistance bands forces you to focus on your motion more than you would with a gym weight machine

Plateaus: Some portable gym users may encounter a workout plateau, where the body has adapted to the stress of the workout. At this point, you may need to diversify and intensify your workout to notice a difference. 

Quality matters: It’s important to seek out high-quality resistance bands that maintain durability. A cheaper product could wear down over time.

Exercises

Portable home gyms offer a seemingly endless variety of exercises. The placement, grip, and motion of the resistance can be slightly altered to achieve different results. Curls, pull-downs, pull-ups, and flexes are among the many options. 

There are also exercises you can incorporate into your workout that don’t require any accessories, like push-ups, sit-ups, and planks.

Caution
With so many possible exercises, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with a home gym. Start simple, and move to more complex motions and exercises only when ready.
STAFF
BestReviews

Features

Travel bag

With an emphasis on portability, some companies include a travel bag with the purchase of a portable home gym. This is useful for when you’re on the go, and it can also help you keep your fitness gear in one spot.

Number of bands

A portable home gym may come with any number of bands, depending on the exercises promoted. While extra bands may offer more variety in your fitness journey, it may become tedious to regularly switch out bands for specific exercises, especially when alternating between upper- and lower-body workouts. Note that with some home gyms, you can toggle the resistance of the bands on a bar or other part of the device instead of switching out bands.

Door anchor

A portable home gym set may include a door anchor, which makes connecting to a door frame simple and safe. A stable connection is highly important when attaching to a fixture.

Training guide

Many portable home gyms come with a training guide or exercise manual to help you get acquainted with all the potential workouts. While understanding the possibilities is important, some of the workouts may not be tailored to your lifestyle or goals.

Expert Tip
Make sure you take time to rest and recover. Allowing your body to restore and rejuvenate is just as important as exercising.
STAFF
BestReviews

Accessories

Yoga mat: Manduka Pro Yoga Mat
A quality yoga mat is a great place to stretch and perform resistance exercises. We recommend this quality mat from Manduka that you can also use for meditation and core exercises.

Water bottle: Thermos Nissan Intak Hydration Bottle
Always stay hydrated, especially after working out. This ergonomically designed bottle from Thermos is easy to use, features capacity markings, and comes in a variety of colors.

Balance ball: Black Mountain Stability Ball
A balance, yoga, or stability ball is a useful device to incorporate into your home workout routine that targets core strength, balance, and flexibility. We like this durable and comfortable option from Black Mountain.

Gym bag: Under Armour Undeniable Duffle
A gym bag is a savvy investment when you’re on the go, especially when you need to carry your bands, sneakers, towels, and other accessories. This durable option from Under Armour is spacious and boasts a comfortable shoulder strap.

"Store your home gym in a cool, dry place, preferably in a durable bag for protection. "
STAFF
BestReviews

Portable home gym prices

Inexpensive: Portable home gyms under $50 consist of various resistance bands and likely a simple bar to use in conjunction with the exercises.

Mid-range: For between $50 and $100, you’ll find a wide range of portable gyms that use a variety of resistance bands in tandem with a bar or platform.

Expensive: For over $100, you’ll find the most durable and elaborate portable home gym devices. These heavier-duty devices are designed for variety and usually feature a complex bar, platform, or both.

Tips

  • Be sure to stretch. It’s imperative to stretch before and after your workout to avoid injury and keep your muscles in good working condition.

  • Practice motions. Home gyms don’t control your movements to target specific muscles like weight machines do. Make sure you perform every exercise correctly and gently to avoid injury.

  • Keep your workout diverse. You don’t want to focus too much on a specific muscle to the exclusion of others. Diversifying your workout keeps your entire body involved and also makes the exercise more interesting and exciting.

  • Wipe down regularly. Sweat and bacteria can build up on your equipment, so wipe down and clean your gear regularly. 

Portable home gyms offer some cardio, but you may need to incorporate more exercises to get a full helping. If you can’t run, consider high steps, bicycle kicks, or even jumping jacks.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best workout?
A. The best workout is one that is balanced, progressive, and moderated. There is no specific workout or activity that is demonstrably better than another. However, we offer a few tips to keep in mind.

  • It’s wise to exercise both sides or your body as well as opposing muscles so strength develops equally. For example, pair a triceps exercise with a biceps exercise to stay even. 

  • Exercise is not just good for your physical health; working out can be mentally and emotionally stimulating as well, offering you a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration.

  • Exercise can be scheduled to help you get up in the morning, break up your work day, or calm you at night. The best workout is the one that caters to your lifestyle and brings you joy and health.

 
Q. Are portable home gyms safe?
A. Portable home gyms may not be as intuitive as weight machines, which directly guide you on how to perform certain exercises. As such, it’s important to read the instructions on how to use your home gym. 

Resistance training bands do not offer the same stabilization that machines do. The bands can offer a more comprehensive workout, but they can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Use caution, and take care to perform the exercise safely and deliberately for maximum effectiveness. Sprains, strains, and other injuries can be common if you fail to focus on form.
 

Q. How often should I work out, and at what intensity?
A. Most fitness enthusiasts subscribe to the idea of progressive overload, where users gradually increase frequency and intensity during workouts. That means slowly upping reps, sets, and resistances, as well as the duration of time you hold certain positions. Consider using a fitness tracker so you can monitor your progress over time and adjust your workout accordingly. 

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey

Our Top Picks