Coronavirus has struck and that means many aspects of our daily lives have come to a grinding halt. That includes working out at the gym, with facilities around the country closing their doors – right when looking after our physical health is more important than ever. Fortunately, with the best home gym equipment, you don’t need to lose any of your gainz!
With a few smart purchases, you can create a fully-functioning home gym that is every bit as effective as any health club. With a few of the items below, you’ll be able to continue gaining strength, burning fat, building muscle, and increasing your health and fitness. You might even find you bust a few plateaus and discover some new training styles. Plus, you’ll never need to queue for the bench press again!
Here is our list of the best home gym equipment to see you through strange times.
Best home gym equipment
Best home gym equipment on a budget
If you’re looking to build your home gym on a budget, the following purchases will give you everything you need to get started with.
With a few exceptions (lats and biceps predominantly), you can work nearly every single muscle group using nothing but your own body. But whether you’re strengthening your core and your mobility with a yoga session, or training for advanced calisthenics moves like the planche, you’re going to want somewhere to practice. These colorful yoga mats will catch your sweat, pad your knees, and make sure you don’t slip!
This doorway pull up bar doesn’t require any drilling or holes in your doorframe. That makes it suitable for the house-proud, and for those that don’t own their properties. A pointer though: wrap towels around the arms where they touch the wooden trim to prevent marks from forming!
Once in place, a pull up bar like this will let you work your upper body with pull ups and chin ups, as well as to perform a range of other movements such as hanging leg raises. Combined with push ups and other ground-based calisthenics, that’s enough for a total-body workout.
But of course, choosing from some of the other best home gym equipment below will help you get better results more easily.
Push-up stands allow you to slightly increase the range of motion during push-ups. This means that you can dip your chest below the point where it would be touching the ground, helping to stimulate more growth in the pecs. Moreover, push up stands like these will also allow you to try positions like the frog stand and l-sit while maintaining a more comfortable neutral wrist position. This is great for those that are just getting started with calisthenics. And well… this would seem like as good a time as any to give bodyweight training a try!
A medicine ball will add light resistance to your bodyweight training, while also creating an opportunity for some more ballistic movements. It’s ideal for those that want to mix up their at-home training and tone their abs in the process.
A set of light vinyl dumbbells is useful for those looking to tone up with boxercise and light resistance training. These are colorful, affordable, and small enough to pack away easily. We’ll get to the more heavy-duty options later!
Don’t waste your money on expensive TRX! Gymnastic rings offer all the benefits and more for a fraction of the price. These will hang on any pull up bar, opening up a world of potential exercises from moves like bodyweight rows, and ring pull ups, to advanced gymnastic training like RTO push ups, ring dips and even muscle ups! Just make sure you take things slow, as this can be a shock to the bicep tendons when you’re starting out.
If it’s cardiovasular fitness you’re looking for, then there’s nothing to stop you going out for a run. Find a wide-open space and keep your distance from other people, and you can do this even while self-isolating.
But if you want a convenient and affordable stay-at-home option, then a skipping rope is up there with the best home gym equipment you can buy.
If you’re used to throwing 150KG barbells around your gym, then a resistance band on its own isn’t going to offer you enough of a challenge to stimulate any real strength gains. For those looking to tone up though, this is a great choice. Plus, these bands can be used for improving mobility, and can even be used in conjunction with heavier weights to increase the challenge.
Best mid-range home gym equipment
These adjustable dumbbells include the bars, collars, and 40lbs worth of plates. The perk is that you can easily add more weight as your strength progresses (up to 200lbs), making these suitable for anyone.
A set of medium-heavy dumbbells are definitely some of the best home gym equipment and will open up a huge array of potential moves. You can target specific muscle groups with isolation exercises like curls, or you can use compound options like shoulder presses and dumbbell presses (though you’ll need a bench for the latter).
A basic exercise bench will open up a huge number of possibilities in addition to your dumbbells; from the aforementioned dumbbell presses, to moves like the dumbbell row or tricep kick-back. This is a no-frills option that is easy on the wallet. Whatever the case, a flat bench is up there with dumbbells as quintessentially the best home gym equipment.
If you want to take your bodyweight training to the next level, then a pair of dip bars can provide a full-body workout in a single package. You can use dip bars for dips of course – a great exercise for the triceps, pecs, and shoulders – but you’ll also be able to use them for more advanced moves like tuck planche presses, or bodyweight rows! Just make sure to build up to those advanced moves slowly if you aren’t used to them.
Parallettes don’t offer the same variety of pulling movements as dip stands, but they’re superior if you have less space, or if you want to do some inversion training (handstands) as they provide more clearance from the ceiling. There are cheaper options available, but this set will provide you with a stable base, which is really what you need when you’re putting all your weight on your hands! This is a perfect example of some of the best home gym equipment that many people never consider!
A pair of kettlebells are the perfect replacement for a full gym. That’s because kettlebells lend themselves very well to big compound movements that utilize the whole body in a functional manner – like the one arm clean and press, the Turkish getup, and the farmers’ walk. Or grab two heavy kettlebells in the rack position and get squatting! This is the closest thing you’ll get to squatting in a rack without spending significantly more, and by shifting the load forward, it will vary the challenge.
The kettlebell swing meanwhile is a ballistic exercise that can build explosive power throughout the posterior chain, while also offering a form of resistance cardio. In plain English? A set of 50 kettlebell swings with a weight you find challenging will melt fat off your bones and build big powerful legs! And that’s just for starters. I recommend picking up a pair of these Yes4All kettlebells which offer the full gamut of size options, along with any of Pavel Tsatsouline’s books on the subject.
The clubbell is the lesser-known cousins of the kettlebell. This is a large iron club that uses an uneven weight distribution to create leverage. In short, depending on where you hold it, it will feel much heavier than it is. Like the kettlebell, it’s easy to build up momentum that you must fight to remain stable: ideal for building extremely functional strength. The club is also perfect for ballistic swinging movements, especially those that build stability and mobility in the shoulders. Try the gamma cast for an amazing upper-body move you can use anywhere!
Adding a weighted vest to any bodyweight movement will significantly increase the challenge. You can then take it off to use a reverse-pyramid approach to your strength training, or make it a drop-set.
For those more interested in toning and burning fat, simply wearing a weighted vest during low-intensity cardio work will do wonders for increasing your metabolism and burning more calories!
I’m not sure what a “barbell bar” is (surely that’s just a barbell?), but this item shows you don’t need to spend a fortune on a full weight barbell. This bar has a 250lb capacity, which is more than enough to practice some squats in your garden, or even to practice Olympic lifts.
If you need more weight (or the lack of rack is an issue), then try using a technique called “accommodating resistance.” That means you’re accelerating and exploding through the movement to generate even more force and make up for the lower amount of resistance.
Of course, you’ll need to add the weight separately, which does increase the price somewhat. But as with your adjustable dumbbells, you can invest in these over time.
Best high-end home gym equipment
If you have the cash, then you could always invest in the real-deal and get yourself a proper, rackable, Olympic bar. Now all you need is somewhere to stand it.
You don’t get the pins, so be careful not to drop it; but if you’re looking for somewhere to hold your barbell while squatting, this free-standing rack is an affordable choice. The adjustable height also makes it suitable for bench presses, rack pulls, and more.
Or why not go the whole hog and get yourself a power cage? Now there’s nothing to stop you from carrying out your entire workout as you normally would! Position the bench under here for some bench presses, or do some squats. You can even use it for pull ups!
An adjustable weight bench is definitely preferable to a flat one if you can afford it. This will let you perfect incline and decline presses, as well as supporting your back during seated shoulder presses, making it one of the best home gym equipment purchases. This option also has the benefit of being foldable, meaning you can tuck it away if you’re pressed for space.
Pull up bars that fit in your doorway get the job done. But if you’re a calisthenics athlete looking to do muscle-ups and other explosive movements, you need something with more stability and space. Take your workout outside then by mounting this to your wall. For bonus points, why not attach a rope and climbing it?
Hitting the heavy bag is one of the best full-body workouts, and also lets you practice mobility by delivering kicks. Bob gives you the added pleasure of venting steam by hitting something with a face! Call him Cory Corona. And because it’s free-standing, you won’t need to drill holes in your wall.
Whether you prefer HIIT or steady-state cardio, spinning is a low-impact and convenient option to enjoy at home. This bike won’t take up too much space and offers a smooth riding experience.
If you’re conscious of space, then these adjustable dumbbells let you easily swap between weights without needing an entire dumbbell rack. They’re a little less versatile owing to their all-in-one nature, and can sometimes rattle during compound movements, but they look extremely smart and they offer a lot of potential if you’re training at home for the first time.
That’s it for our look at some of the best home gym equipment to help you stay fit while stuck indoors. Now get out there and get healthy!