Helping people see opportunity with regard to space, training options and the outfitting of a home gym is one of my passions.
I love sharing my experience since I live the home gym life every single day, and…
I want to sell you on the value of exercising at home.
Training at home is time-efficient, cost-effective while delivering significant health and fitness results, both with performance and aesthetics.
People have been conditioned to believe owning a gym membership is the “best” way.
But it’s a TIME SUCK. 30-60 minutes traveling to and from a specific location to “do” your workout for the day. This doesn’t include the 15 minutes it takes to get settled into your workout, assuming the equipment you need to use isn’t being used by someone else.
Time is the most precious commodity we have in life. You can take back HOURS daily/weekly/monthly/yearly by transitioning workouts to the home setting.
Save money. Take every dollar you’re throwing at a gym membership and use it to build your own gym set up or add it to your retirement plan. Seriously.
Once identify find a small space suited to workout, begin adding key pieces of equipment gradually. Or don’t. Leverage the power of bodyweight training!
Taking back your time and money is a powerful maneuver.
You can exercise anywhere, anytime using virtually nothing.
Bodyweight training is one of the most potent and functional forms of fitness, yet people are consistently led to believe otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an anti-membership gym fanatic. You won’t see me picketing outside of 24Hour Fitness or Gold’s. Public gym memberships work for a lot of people, but don’t drink all of the Kool-Aid before exploring your options and deciding if a home gym is a superior alternative.
I created and continuously curate this list of exercise equipment to serve as a shopping guide for people who are interested in joining the home gym revolution.
I’ll say it one last time…
Incredible results can be earned working out at home.
Each piece of equipment listed has a brief description, value, how to use it and who it may be best for.
Kettlebells are some of the most versatile training tools in any gym, with exercises like swings, pressing, rows, carrying, lunge and squats can all be performed with kettlebells.
Kettlebells are a phenomenal tool to use for building strength, power, and conditioning.
Turkish Get Ups and kettlebell swings are two of the greatest exercises on the planet.
I have plenty of videos on YouTube demonstrating different ways to perform kettlebell swings and Turkish Get Up variations.
Kettlebell Kings kettlebells exceed industry standards with quality without breaking the bank.
Kettlebell Kings recently listed their products on Amazon, which means you can benefit from FREE 2-day shipping using Amazon Prime. Fitness equipment is often heavy, which means the shipping costs are high. Amazon Prime keeps the shipping costs down with speedy delivery.
Powder-coated kettlebells are my preference because they feel good in your hands, reduce slippage and have a nice look.
Be careful about going cheap with kettlebells. Cheap comes at a price. There’s often a significant difference in design, texture and in rare cases defects in symmetry on low-cost kettlebells.
I’ve had bad experiences with a few surplus kettlebell purchases. The handles were lopsided and off-center (not good), while the actual weight of the kettlebell was found to be several pounds lighter than described.
Avoid glossy finished kettlebells for grip reasons.
Barbells and Plates
I mostly agree and to be honest, I use my barbell for much more than traditional deadlifts, squats, and pressing.
Accessory tools for the barbell such as the landmine trainer open doors to a whole other world of exercises, angles, etc.
Innovative fitness companies are now making opposite end attachments to make pressing, squatting, deadlifts and grappling drills user-friendly.
Traditionally, issues with a complete rack of dumbbells for the home gym were two-fold:
- Expensive for a complete set.
- Require a ton of space.
Space is a commodity for any home gym. Your house is only so big, and you have to live in it for the other 23 hours of the day. Having a rack of dumbbells run the entire length of your basement wall is crazy.
In this situation, PowerBlock Dumbbells are by far the best solution.
Powerblocks are a complete set of dumbbells packed into two units. Year after year, Powerblocks rank best in class for the adjustable dumbbell category.
Sandbags are one of the most under-appreciated pieces of fitness equipment.
Why? Because sandbag training is HARD.
Lifting, carrying, gripping and dragging a sandbag is very similar to battling the awkward/heavy objects we encounter in everyday life.
Each repetition with a sandbag is slightly different because sandbags lack the structure and balance of traditional iron weight. The inner filler bags shift around as the sandbag moves, changing the distribution of weight, creating an unbalanced load that our body must adapt to.
[I avoided buying sandbags for a long time because of durability concerns and perception of a short lifespan for the investment. Past generation sandbags were notorious for rips, tears, leaks and some blowing out completely.]
Next-generation sandbags are made stronger military-grade material, double reinforced stitching, industrial-grade zippers and burst proof double velcro filler bags.
I purchased the Athlete and Strongman Sandbags from Brute Force. I’ve beaten the hell out of both of my sandbags 3-4 days per week for the last 2 years and couldn’t be happier with the durability.
Toss, scoop, slam, rotational and chest press throws are just a few of the notable medicine ball drills to develop upper body power. Few other pieces of equipment that can develop explosive rotational power like rotary medicine ball drills.
Medicine balls have can be integrated into push-ups, wall ball squat to press and various core exercises.
The durability of medicine balls has improved dramatically, especially with the soft medicine ball option becoming more popular. On impact, these medicine balls will only rebound a few inches. Weight options span from 5lbs-30lbs, but most people will find the most value in a 10lb, 15lb or 20lb ball.
This j/fit medicine ball from Amazon is a great option.
Suspension trainers are the most portable piece of exercise equipment on the market, leveraging bodyweight, angles, and body position to challenge your body with multi-planar movement. Suspension Trainers are incredible to pack along when traveling.
5 years ago, TRX and LifeLine owned the suspension trainer market. Today, there are several other options, though I do feel TRX and Jungle Gym are front-runners for quality, features and training education.
* The Monkii Bars are designed to be packable and light for traveling.
Gymnastics rings build upper body strength like few other pieces of equipment.
It’s downright humbling.
Muscle-ups, dips, push-ups, upper body pulling variations and German Hangs are just a few exercises.
Training programs like Global Bodyweight Training have taken high-level gymnastics training and created a simple instructional path to build upper body strength for ANYONE.
The simplest of ring-based drills can turn anyone into a believer.
Best part? Gymnastics rings are affordable.
Stretch Resistance Bands
Shoulder pre-hab, core training, hip strengthening, variable resistance training drills, and warm-up activation drills are all great exercises to use with a pair of resistance bands.
Mini stretch bands are fantastic for building strong hips.
Large stretch bands work great for assisting exercises such as chin-ups/pull-ups or increasing the load for push-ups and squats.
Many advanced gymnastics exercises can be made more palatable for beginner/intermediate levels by using resistance bands for assistance.
Bodylastics Stretch Bands are tube-based resistance bands that come with both door and velcro anchor point attachments, along with handles for performing various strength and rehabilitation drills. I’ve owned these for years, they are durable and worth the money.
Relieve Body Aches and Pains
Traveling, sitting and exercising can leave your body a complete mess.
Workout hard, recover harder.
Taking care of your body before and after the workout is vital for long-term participation in fitness.
If you’re working out on a regular basis, aches and pains will come and go.
10-15 minutes of self soft-tissue work most days of the week will help keep things working as they should and keep nagging dull pain to a minimum.
We forget that training hard is a traumatic experience for the body. We are essentially breaking it down to build it up.
Fitness Trackers/Heart Rate Monitors
Assessing pre-workout readiness to train or intra-workout efforts, perception is not always reality.
Measuring heart rate upon waking is a great way to find out if today should be a training day or a rest day.
Tracking heart rate during steady-state exercise or high-intensity interval training will give you valuable feedback on effort, rest periods, time to recovery, distance covered, speed, etc.
Progressive loading is critical to making ongoing gains in the gym, and a weighted vest is a simple piece of equipment used to add load without having to hold onto weights, keeping the increase in load very natural.
There a million exercise a weighted vest could be used on.
Squats, chin-ups, pull-ups, horizontal pulling exercises, push-ups, lunges, burpees, crawling exercises, and long-distance walking are examples of exercises that work extremely well with the addition of a weighted vest.
Airbikes are a slam-dunk piece of cardio equipment, and one of the “Cardio Triad” best cardio conditioning tools known to man. a slam dunk training apparatus.
Airbikes are a low-impact, high reward cardio-conditioning tool. Whether you ride for recovery or performance, the workout variations are limitless.
Current generation airbikes have vastly improved designs, material composition, and workout tracking technology.
In other words, they are extremely durable and track workout efforts accurately.
4 years ago, I bought a Concept2 Rower and quickly realized how effective rowing is, and why rowers are consistently ranked as one of the best pieces of cardio equipment.
Concept 2’s Model D (and Model E) rowers are a go-to for collegiate and professional rowing programs so you can bet they are built to be abused.
Concept 2 Rower Model D
The SkiErg is essentially a rower flipped on end. The motion of SkiErg is what caught my eye initially. It’s upper body dominant while sparing the legs.
Most of the cardio machines in a gym require a large contribution from the legs, so being able to condition without further exhausting the lower body is pretty badass.
SkiErg can be used with traditional two-arm or alternating classic ski stroke technique, or, work a huge list of variations I’ve been playing around with (see above).
You cannot and should not train to exhaustion every day. Your body needs time to rest, recover and regenerate.
On days when you crave movement but want to avoid high heart rates and resistance, Yoga is a perfect solution.
Personally, I don’t practice Yoga for the spiritual side of it.
I enjoy yoga for the time where it’s just my body, breath, and the mat… nothing else.
Every other stress is shut off and pushed aside for those minutes. It’s my time.
Yoga is a great way to shove aside the distractions and craziness of life to recharge/reset the body and mind.
30-60 minutes of simple yoga training several days per week is a game-changer for many people.
If you’re hurting for cash, you can do yoga without a mat… however… I suggest you get a mat when you’re able to.
Staying strict with your rest periods might be a lesson in how much time can be wasted in the gym. When the timer sounds, work commences.
The GymBoss interval timer is the simplest interval timer available, I’ve used it for years. Set your work, rest periods, rounds, alarm volume/length and start your workout.