Laying hands on the best home gym equipment became a near-impossible feat during the lockdown. But now? You can deck out your home gym and maximize the physical and mental benefits of home workouts, all while avoiding expensive gym membership fees.
It might feel like an extravagance, but home gyms don’t have to cost big money and can save you serious money in the long run. You don’t need tons of space to bank the essentials either, because we’ve done our homework to find versatile and affordable bits of kit with a small footprint to meet most exercise needs.
We’ve broken down our choices for the best home gym equipment into categories like the best adjustable dumbbells, best yoga mats, and best exercise bikes to make things easier on the eye. If you’re a keen spinner, check out the best Peloton shoes, too, and if you want to keep an eye on your progress, the best fitness trackers are worth a look without the hefty price tag, If you’re unsure where to start, we discuss how to build a home gym for under $500 here.
The best home gym equipment right now
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Best exercise bike
The affordable exercise bike from Sunny Health & Fitness has a 49-pound weighted flywheel that can hold a maximum weight of 275 pounds. The leather band resistance system is designed to mimic the feel of a real road. The seat can adjust to four settings and the caged pedals include clips to keep your feet in place. While the bike doesn’t come with a screen, there is a bottle holder and assembly takes about 10 minutes.
We found to be a very solid, sturdy bike, with nice, large toe baskets. And it produced a quiet ride. However, those who are a bit shorter may find the bike a bit uncomfortable. And, because there’s no display or any guided fitness programs, you’ll have to be self-motivated to use it. Overall, though, it’s a great bike for beginners who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on something they might not use again.
Read our full Sunny Health & Fitness exercise bike review.
Recently, our Fitness Editor put some of the most popular treadmills to the test and one stood out from the crowd as a clear winner — the Peloton Tread. Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s a brilliant piece of kit, and the classes are second to none.
The treadmill is much more compact than a number of other popular treadmills on the market — at 173cm long and 84cm wide, the Tread easily fits in a spare bedroom, or gym garage conversion (if you are putting it upstairs, you’ll want to chat to Peloton first, as like all treadmills, this might not be recommended if you live in an older building). It is also super easy to use. The speed and incline wheels on the arms of the treadmill make it easy to pick up the pace, without having to reach out and try and stab at the touchscreen while running.
The thing that really makes the Peloton stand out from a very crowded market is the classes. The large, 23.8 inch HD touchscreen displays your instructor, as well as a leaderboard of other Peloton runners, and makes running on a treadmill the best it can be.
The Peloton Tread won our best treadmill award in the Tom’s Guide Health and Fitness awards due to it’s engaging content — there are hundreds of classes for every level of runner at the swipe of a screen.
See more of our picks for the best treadmills.
Best smart home gym
The Tempo Studio smart home gym isn’t cheap, but it’s a worthwhile investment. If you enjoy game-ifying your weight-training workouts, there’s an awful lot to like about the Tempo Studio.
The Tempo Studio is a large mirror-like device with a screen that displays both live and recorded workouts — much like Mirror, Tonal, and Vault. A few accessories, like dumbbells and a workout mat, are included. What sets the Tempo apart from the competition are 3D motion sensors that analyze your body as you’re exercising and make suggestions to improve your form.
Read our full Tempo Studio review
Best rowing machine
Featuring a snazzy 22-inch touchscreen, 16 challenging resistance levels, and oodles of interactive features to keep you on your toes, the Aviron Impact Series Rower has a lightweight, foldable design that’s accessible to athletes of all ages, sizes, and skill levels. The $25 monthly membership makes for a predictably premium product, but when it comes to upgrading your home gym with an equal balance of work and play, this smart rowing machine is unlikely to disappoint.
We were impressed by how easy the machine was to fold out of the way when it’s not being used, and loved how it felt when in use. Aviron’s dual air and magnetic resistance system is meant to mimic that authentic on-the-water experience, and each stroke felt smooth as butter in my testing. The Whisper Nylon belt — designed to operate under 60 decibels — is noticeably quieter than other rowing machines I’ve used in various gyms. With noise-canceling headphones in, the whooshing sound of each stroke was practically imperceivable.
The downsides? There’s no live classes, yet, and like a lot of home gym equipment these days, the machine requires a monthly membership to be able to use it.
Read our full Aviron Impact Series Rower review.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 are so popular and well-reviewed that they’re out of stock with most retailers. If you’re lucky enough to find a pair online, jump on it. They replace 15 sets of weights and adjust in 2.5-lb increments, with just the simple twist of a dial. No need to remove and add on plates! That makes it incredibly easy to move through your resistance training workout, from tricep curls to chest presses to squats. Plus, you can use the 552 with the Bowflex SelectTech training app to track your progress and get personalized coaching.
One Amazon reviewer wrote, “I’ve been using these for over a year now and they have served me very well.” A Walmart reviewer praised the 552s as “Easy to operate and a pleasure to use. The proper equipment makes for a quality workout. An excellent investment if you want exceptional equipment.”
Read our full Bowflex SelectTech 552 review.
See more of the best adjustable dumbbells.
Best ankle weights
These ankle weights have a lot going for them — the trademarked contour-foam that encircles your ankles when you strap these on makes the All Pro variety among the most comfortable of the styles we tested. The padding keeps the weights away from all seven of your ankle bones, so you don’t feel any rubbing from the 10 iron bars encased in each weight.
If you put the weights on according to the enclosed instructions with the All Pro logo facing front, they have an ingenious little notch right above the heel in the back so they don’t clank into your Achilles tendon while you work out. This is a major bonus if you wear these while doing anything more cardio-centric like aerobics or kickboxing.
The heavy-duty Velcro almost all the way across the weights helps keep them securely in place. However, if you have particularly thin ankles, you may still struggle to get these quite as tight as you’d like, which could lead to some shifting of the iron bars.
Speaking of which, the iron bars are removable and allow you to customize the ankle weights. The 5-lb. pair we reviewed (2 ½ lbs. on each ankle), had 10 iron bars in each weight. That means each bar comes in at ¼ lb. You can remove bars if you want to make the weights lighter. The heavier All Pro ankle weights (5-20 lbs.) follow the same principle, but each individual iron bar weighs more. This versatility makes it like you’re getting several weights in one.
Originally created by an occupational therapist, these ankle weights are intelligently designed and heavy on the function. As for the aesthetic, these aren’t horrible looking — they’re just extremely utilitarian in nature. But quite frankly, that’s a good thing — especially if you’re looking for ankle weights you’re really going to use a lot for rehab or functional fitness.
Verdict: If you want a high quality, comfortable ankle weight with good flexibility for a decent price point, you just can’t go wrong with the All Pro brand.
Take a look at our best ankle weights guide here.
Best yoga mat
The Gaiam Premium 2-Color Yoga Mat is perfect for beginner and experienced yogis, as well as anyone looking for a fitness mat to work out at home. The 6mm-thick, PVC surface provides decent cushioning and is textured to be non-slip. The mat is reversible, so you can choose which of the two colors to use on any given day. If your mat doesn’t hold for any reason, Gaiam also offers a lifetime guarantee.
Reviewers on Gaiam’s website were impressed with the quality and “beautiful design” at such an affordable, reasonable cost. One reviewer said, “This is a great mat for a great price. It stays put, the material doesn’t flake off, it’s thick enough but not too thick and my hands and feet don’t slide around. Very comfortable and vibrant colors.” Another said, “This mat has lasted me a few years now and still looks new.”
Check out our picks for the best yoga mats.
Best resistance band
The best resistance bands for full-body fitness are the Bodylastics resistance bands. This kit has it all: in addition to the exercise bands themselves, it comes with a variety of useful attachments, including handles, ankle straps and a door anchor. The durable, anti-snap latex bands range in resistance from 3 to 30 pounds, and can be used together for a total resistance of 404 pounds, depending on which kit you buy. Everything comes in a tidy carrying pouch; the whole package weighs less than 5 pounds total, and it’s easy to toss the kit in a backpack, lickety-split.
The best thing about these bands is the patented anti-snap technology, designed to prevent overstretching and snapping during those more intense workouts; in the case of any nasty snaps, the internal cord prevents that dreaded “whipping” effect across your body or face.
For more, here’s our guide to the best resistance bands for workouts.
Best jump rope
The innovative design and integrated app are what make the Crossrope Get Lean the best jump rope. The Get Lean comes with two interchangeable ropes, weighing 4 and 8 ounces respectively, which click firmly into the handles and allow you to easily diversify your routine. The handles are another big highlight — slim enough to fit in smaller hands, but big enough to get a firm grip.
But beyond the great design, the Crossrope’s biggest plus is the app, available for iOS and Android. You can spend a bit more money for a premium membership ($79.99 annually or $9.99 per month), but there’s plenty of content offered in the free version. You’ll find tutorials, challenge groups, and lots of workout programs using various combinations of ropes.
See more of the best weighted jump ropes.
Best foam roller
The Lululemon Double Roller is the best foam roller on our list, as it’s one of the most versatile foam rollers on the market. Its interlocking design is made up of a softer exterior roller that provides appropriate pressure to overworked muscles in the arms and legs, and a denser interior roller that digs into tougher-to-treat spots in the back.
While plenty of foam rollers can be used on thicker tissues in the hips and lower body, it’s not so often you’re able to find a great roller for the upper body. That’s where the slightly grooved, moderately dense outer roller really shines.
The wavy texture of the inner roller is great for targeting stiff muscles in your back, but it’s also a useful tool to address tense spots in your quadriceps (the muscles in the front of the thigh) and hamstrings (muscles in the back of the thigh).
All in all, its a brilliant two-in-one product that can help you target all the different areas of your body.
See more of the best foam rollers
Best under-desk treadmill
If you’re looking to add movement to your work day, an under-desk treadmill is an easy way to do this. Most will slot easily under a standing desk, and allow you to walk and talk, or type.
During testing, we were impressed with how quiet the Sunny Health and Fitness Asuna Treadpad was to walk on during working hours. At $499, this is also one of the least expensive under-desk treadmills on this list as well, making it our best value walking treadmill.
The Treadpad arrived fully assembled, so was ready to go in minutes, and has a top speed of four miles per hour, which is a walking pace of about a 15-minute mile. This should be fast enough for most people, but like all walking treadmills, it won’t be fast enough for most to jog on. All in all, it’s a brilliant, comfortable walking treadmill that should suit most users.
Check out the best under-desk treadmills here.
How to choose the best home gym equipment
When buying the best home gym equipment, the main factors to consider are the type of workout, size and price.
As far as workouts, if you prefer cardio, you may want to consider an exercise bike or a treadmill. If you want to engage in strength training, dumbbells and kettlebells are popular pieces of home gym equipment. For full body workouts, a rowing machine or elliptical machine target multiple muscle groups and get your heart rate up.
Size is something to think about, as well, since you might not have a lot of space for home gym equipment. Consider machines that fold up and stow away. Resistance bands and ab rollers are two items that are small and portable.
Lastly, price plays a huge role in what kind of home gym equipment you get. Luckily, there are more choices out there, whether you’re on a budget or you can afford to splurge. Cheap items like a yoga mat and a jump rope are versatile and useful in all kinds of workouts.