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The Best Home Gym Essentials for 2023

Trying to get fit at home? You’re not alone. Many homeowners aspire to — but may put off — creating a dedicated home gym space. Our Reviews Team is here to help launch your home gym with their recommendations for essential home gym equipment that can fit in any space.

Home Gym Essentials Courtesy Amazon

Any space, big or small, is fit to house the home gym essentials. Indeed, even if you’re a ways away from finishing a basement that’s ventilated, dry, and level enough for an expansive home gym, there’s plenty of nimble, compact equipment on the market. For example, essential home gym items like resistance bands and adjustable dumbbells — especially if you build up your home gym space’s vertical storage — usurp little to no square footage.

From gas to membership fees, commuting to a fancy commercial gym can also put a dent in your finances and free time. So even if the sweat equity and materials required to build out your home gym don’t feel worthwhile in the short term, consider the costs you’ll save long-term. Here to help you navigate the complex field of home gym equipment when the time comes to stock the essentials is our This Old House Reviews Team. These 15 products are vetted and recommended as the best essentials for every home gym:

By clicking on the product links in this article, Mattress Advisor may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader.

Home Gym Essentials - Our Top Picks

Best Treadmill - NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill

NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Sleek console that’s easy to navigate You need a subscription to get full use from the provided monitor, which also can’t be used to watch outside apps like Netflix.
Great speed and include range up to 12 mph and 15%, with -3% decline
It can be moved and folded up when not in use
  • Product Weight: 320 lbs
  • Dimensions: 37.3” W x 79.4” H x 64.5” D
  • Max User Weight: 300 lbs
  • Style: Treadmill

If you’re already familiar with the NordicTrack’s line of Commercial 1750 treadmills, one of the first things you’ll notice about the brand’s 2022 model update is the sleek, minimalistic console design. It’s clear that NordicTrack is taking its cues from competitors like Peloton, and stepping up its aesthetics. That makes it an excellent treadmill to leave in your living room, if it’s doubling as a workout space while you renovate another area. Beyond looking good though, reviewers said that the console has a highly intuitive layout. And unlike some of its competitors, which are often maligned for locking down if you don’t subscribe to a monthly fitness app, the treadmill includes a sharp-looking image of a track to help you keep your pace when freestyle running.

However, if you do enjoy following a fitness leader, i.e., subscription class services, the treadmill is compatible with iFIT. Admittedly, iFIT’s community and online class offerings aren’t as robust as those of Peloton, but NordicTrack has invested heavily in making its proprietary service a worthy competitor.

Best Elliptical - SCHWINN Fitness 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

Pros and Cons of the SCHWINN Fitness 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Magnetic resistance offered in 16 levels is super quiet Solid stride length for compact machine, but may be too short for tall users
Excellent 10-year frame and 2-year parts warranty No incline option available
Includes 13 built-in workout programs to follow
  • Product Weight: 100 lbs
  • Dimensions: 53.8” L x 24” W x 62.5” H
  • Maximum Resistance: 16 Levels of magnetic resistance
  • Max User Weight: 300 lbs
  • Style: Stationary bike

Ellipticals make an excellent addition or substitution for the more traditional cardio offered by a treadmill. Ellipticals are low impact on the joints, making them great for those with sore hips or other aches and pains, and you can still get a substantial burn.

By the standards within the elliptical space, the Schwinn Fitness 411 is a more compact machine, excellent for those whose gym lacks square footage. The catch, however: The elliptical may lack a long enough stride (18 inches), something for those on the taller side to keep in mind. The machine comes with a basic console to keep tabs on your metrics — time, speed, distance, calories, and heart rate. Heart rate can be tracked via a contact handlebar monitor, or wirelessly with a compatible chest strap transmitter.

Best Gym Flooring - AmazonBasics Foam Interlocking Exercise Gym Floor Mat Tiles

AmazonBasics Foam Interlocking Exercise Gym Floor Mat Tiles Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the AmazonBasics Foam Interlocking Exercise Gym Floor Mat Tiles

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Can be easily stacked when not in use, and re-assembled quickly Less durable and less slip-resistant than rubber flooring
Excellent for use under equipment, or as flooring to work out on Might wear down fairly quickly under heavy use
  • Product Weight: 10.6 oz
  • Dimensions: .5” H x 24.7” L x 24.7” W
  • Material: Foam
  • Style: Flooring tiles

Soft, sound-absorbing flooring can save more than just the eardrums of your co-inhabitants — thick, shock-absorbing flooring can also save your kneecaps if you prefer high-impact, HIIT workouts at home. The flooring is as easy as it comes installation-wise (and a walk in the park compared to installing that herringbone floor of your dreams) since you’ll simply lock the foam together like puzzle pieces. The foam pieces also make a great surface to place your equipment atop, helping to absorb any shakes, rattles, and rocks while you’re working up a sweat.

Best Resistance Bands - Bodylastics Resistance Band Set

Bodylastics Resistance Band Set Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the  Bodylastics Resistance Band Set

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
High-quality feel thanks to heavy-duty components and manufacturing After 90 days, replacement parts will cost $6 a piece
Internal cord adds safety to prevent snapping
  • Product Weight: 3.25 lbs
  • Dimensions: 45” L
  • Maximum Resistance: 96 lbs
  • Style: Tube resistance bands

When used properly, a simple set of resistance bands become an exercise tool as dynamic as a drill/driver. In fact, for less than $50, one set of Bodylastics resistance bands can help hone flexibility, upper and lower body strength, balance, and even cardio — all while taking up very little space in your home gym compared to free weights and set after set of dumbbells (especially if you DIY some creative hanging hangware).

The set of five latex tube bands can be switched out or stacked for up to 96 pounds of weight training resistance. A key aspect of this resistance band brand that earned our trust was its safety feature. That’s nothing scarier than the prospect of 96 pounds of resistance being redirected to your body if a band were to snap back after breaking. So for peace of mind, each band is reinforced with an internal cord — like putting rebar in concrete — making them heavy-duty enough to withstand the pressures of a tight stretch.

Best Adjustable Dumbbells - Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbell

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbell

Pros and Cons of the  Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbell

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Storage stands included with purchase Heavy lifters may need more heft
Metal plates are encased in plastic to reduce noise The plastic components makes the 552 less durable for exercises like dumbbell push-ups
A free year of Bowflex's JRNY app is included with purchase
  • Product Weight: 55.6 lbs (including base)
  • Weight: 2.5 lb increments between 5 lbs and 52.5 lbs
  • Dimensions: 16.9″ L x 8.3″ W x 9″ H
  • Style: Adjustable dumbbell

Adjustable dumbbells are another small but mighty piece of home gym equipment. If you’re unfamiliar with adjustable dumbbells though, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbell’s $400 price tag might look intimidating. However, it’s fairly easy to swallow when you factor in that one set of adjustable dumbbells replaces up to 14 free-standing dumbbell pairs.

Reviewers said they appreciated that modifying the weight is fairly simple, done with a dial turn that clicks into place. The main drawback to this set (other than the large lump sum you’ll pay if you’d rather invest in dumbbells over time) is that they max out at 52.5 pounds — something to be aware of if you’re a heavy lifter.

Best Weight Bench - FLYBIRD Weight Bench

FLYBIRD Weight Bence Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of The FLYBIRD Weight Bench

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Bench can fold to about 30 inches in length for compact storage Shorter lifters might find the bench to be too tall
Excellent value for price No decline options available
Humble one-year warranty
  • Product Weight: 28.5 lbs
  • Dimensions: 34.65″ L x 15.94″ W x 10.63″ H
  • Max User Weight: 800 lbs

The FLYBIRD Adjustable Workout Bench is Amazon’s top-seller among adjustable benches for strength training. The bench’s biggest draw is its value. The bench is a nimble 26.4 pounds, and competitively priced, with a price tag that orbits near $150, depending on the sales at the time. Despite those humble numbers, the bench can handle up to 800 pounds of weight — more than enough for the average home workout.

Best Kettlebells - REP FITNESS Kettlebell

REP FITNESS Kettlebell Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the REP FITNESS Kettlebell 

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Well-balanced bell moves fluidly with the user Some users reported the kettlebells’ coating started flaking off after about 6 months
Easy to grip and doesn’t tear up the hands
  • Product Weight: Between 9 lbs and 53 lbs
  • Dimensions: 12″ L x 9″ W x 3″
  • Style: Kettlebell
  • Material: Cast iron

Kettlebells are a no-nonsense piece of equipment that evoke the shot puts of the first Olympic games. Unlike shot put though, or even the more popular dumbbells, kettlebells gain versatility from having a handle that can fit both hands. That allows you to more easily swing kettlebells for dynamic cardio workouts. REP FITNESS boasts kettlebells with excellent bang for the buck. The lightest cast iron kettlebell is $33 for a 9-pound, and $120 for a 53-pound on the heaviest end, with a solid range of seven kettlebell weights available in between. The color-coded handles follow international kettlebell standards, so you can quickly grab and go the size you seek.

Best Yoga/Workout Mat - Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat

Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Excellent budget option You may prefer a longer yoga mat in length
Durable but comfortable materials
  • Dimensions: 72″ L x 24″ W x 0.4″ H
  • Material: Synthetic rubber
  • Style: Yoga mat

After you’ve picked a zen color for the interior walls of your yoga room/home gym, you’ll need a zen yoga mat to ground your practice. Our top pick is the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga mat, a surface so sturdy yet comfortable, you may fall asleep during Shavasana. Plus, more than 25,000 5-star reviewers on Amazon agreed with our assessment.

The mat is a synthetic rubber and is almost akin to a latex mattress in how durable yet bouncy and quick to reform it is. In other words, you get a mat that’s spongy and squishy, but supportive, and easily rolls up despite its ⅖-inch thickness. The thickness and durability of the mat also make it a fine choice as an all-purpose exercise mat, especially for dumbbell and kettlebell workouts where you challenge yourself, and thus, may drop a weight from your grasp after pushing the last rep. All in all, the Gaiam mat’s quality, combined with its accessible price point, make it a no-brainer if you’re in need of a cozy new yoga mat.

Best Rower - Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine

Pros and Cons of the Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Excellent budget rowing option (under $250) with magnetic resistance May lack durability for the long-haul
Foldable design
  • Product Weight: 60.9 lbs
  • Dimensions: 78″ L x 23.2″ W x 19″ H
  • Max User Weight: 250 lb
  • Style: Rower

With the right machine, those seeking rowing-based cardio can leap from the lake to the living room with aplomb. That’s because modern rowing machines are able to recreate the full-body workout provided by pulling an oar through water. The Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine is one of the most affordable rowing machines on the market.

Given its price, the machine has fewer bells and whistles than some of its fancier counterparts, which furnish gorgeous wood builds or monitors with live workout programming. But you get a lot of value from the Sunny machine, thanks to its easy-to-adjust eight levels of magnetic resistance, and you can track your pace on an LCD monitor.

Best Exercise Bike - YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike

YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Excellent budget stationary bike option (under $400) May lack durability for heavy use over the long term
Comes with caged pedals, so no need to buy cycling shoes Some people prefer bikes with clip-in cycling pedals
Solid 35 lb flywheel
Free replacement parts for a year
  • Product Weight: 35 lbs
  • Dimensions: 40.16″ L x 21.65″ W x 46.06″ H
  • Max User Weight: 270 lbs
  • Resistance: Magnetic
  • Style: Stationary bike

Those who loathe running often seek other means to take their cardio to the next level. Cycling offers a fine alternative to pounding a treadmill deck, and YOSUDA offers an affordable alternative to pricier, more recognizable stationary bikes like the Peloton. Despite its low $380 price point though, YOSUDA offers many of the same perks as an $1,445 Peloton, including a heavy, magnetically powered flywheel and belt-driven train, which together make for a whisper-quiet ride. And while the durability of YOSUDA may be more limited than its $1,000+ plus counterparts, the bike is an excellent home gym purchase to dip your toes into cycling if you’re not sure how long your commitment will endure.

Best Home Gym - Total Gym APEX G3

Total Gym APEX G3 Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the Total Gym APEX G3

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Very little “assembly” required out of the box Short 1-year warranty
Allows a full body but low impact workout 300 lb max weight might not be enough for heavy lifting
5 included attachments offer access broader range of exercise types
Folds away for storage
  • Product Weight: 53.2 lbs
  • Dimensions: 93″ L x 16.25″ W x 43.25″ H‎ (unfolded)
  • Max User Weight: 300 lb
  • Style: Adjustable bench

Total Gym’s Apex G3 is one of the most affordable in the “total gym” category, which consists of a pulley system and sliding board (the concept is similar to reformer pilates). Providing resistance is your own body weight, and you can pretty seamlessly go from move to move, performing a broad range of total body exercises using different body positions on the board, resistance levels, and inclines. Plus despite the intimidating-sounding name, the Total Gym APEX G3 is a low-impact workout, safe for sore joints. You can level up or level down by purchasing the pricier APEX G5, or more budget G1, and we happen to like the middle ground of the APEX G3 offers.

Best Cable Machine - Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer

Pros and Cons of the Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Heavy-duty steel construction Requires extensive assembly
Included Smith machine May not be those on a tight budget, with base price of $5,000
Multiple pulley options The Smith machine bar could be a hindrance to doing some exercises for taller people
Comes with 10 accessories Basement or garage gyms may lack the clearance for machine’s 88” max height
  • Product Weight: 825 lbs
  • Dimensions: 89″ L x 61″ W x 88” H
  • Maximum Resistance: 165 lbs
  • Style: Power rack/cable machine/Smith machine

Purchasing a piece of exercise equipment like the Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer is a steep investment: $5,799 for a model with an adjustable bench, to be exact. However, if you’re able to procure such a sophisticated cable machine, you’ll be truly bringing the commercial gym experience home.

The “functional trainer” in the name — and one reason the machine is so pricey — is to convey that the machine is a cable pulley system, power rack, and Smith machine all-in-one. The cable system gives you an infinite lineup of resistance exercises, and the Smith machine aspect is a bar that attaches to a rail system for safer weightlifting. With the type of Olympic bar included too, there’s no need to buy additional weight plates — the bar is loaded by the cable pulley weight stacks.

Based on the length of the cables (i.e. the machine’s 2:1 resistance ratio), the weight stacks can reach 165 pounds of resistance (82.5 per pulley), and have center drilled holes with magnetic weight pins. Heavy lifters have an option to add an additional 50 pounds to each stack. With such a sturdy, heavy-duty steel constructed machine, you can also do your chin-ups and pull-ups on the bar without having to deface a doorway. For the FT2’s high price, home gym users do get the reassurance of a lifetime warranty (which is not given to commercial gyms).

Best Jump Rope - XYLsports Jump Rope

XYLsports Jump Rope Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the XYLsports Jump Rope

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Uber-affordable and lightweight Not the best for speed work
Lifetime warranty and money-back guarantee Comfy foam handles, but they will be prone to wear-and-tear
  • Dimensions: 9’2” adjustable rope, 5.3” foam grips
  • Material: PVC
  • Style: Jump rope

Like resistance bands, jump ropes are another slinky, slender tool that can deliver massive results when used correctly. Less than $10, the XYLSports Jump Rope is an excellent introductory tool for those new to incorporating jump rope into their workout routine. The rope is adjustable to your height and can accommodate children.

Best Foam Roller - TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons of the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Cute color options available Beginners to foam rolling may find the foam too intense for their comfort
Affordable way to get key physical therapy
  • Product Weight: 1.3 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13″ L x 5.5″ W x 5.5″ H
  • Style: Foam roller

For some athletes, foam rolling is an essential inclusion in the recovery routine, and for good reason. Whether you need deep muscle release or a quick soft tissue massage on the fly, foam rollers like the TriggerPoint GRID are your friend.

Reviewers like that the GRID’s foam build is sturdy without being too punishing on tender muscles. One tester on our team noted that there was zero evidence of wear and tear after one year of regular use. Plus, if your home gym is mostly open shelving, TriggerPoint offers eight attractive color choices that you can choose from to complement your home gym aesthetic.

Best Pull-Up Bar - Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar

Pros and Cons of the Perfect Fitness  Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Cost-effective way to work upper body Can potentially smudge the door frame
Easy to mount
  • Product Weight: 7.7 lbs
  • Dimensions: 23.3″ L x 4.5″ W x 7.8″ H
  • Weight Capacity: 660 lb.
  • Style: Pull-up bar

Quirks in your home gym space, like having to drill into brick versus studs, can make mounting equipment more of a headache. That’s one of the reasons the Reviews Team loves hardware-free pull-up bars, including this budget-friendly space-saving pull-up bar from Perfect Fitness. The pull-up bar is a great way to get killer biceps without usurping tons of floor space with a power rack, barbells, and bumper plates. The lack of hardware also means that if you don’t have a dedicated gym space, you can easily stow away the bar when it’s not needed.

What Makes a Machine Good for a Home Gym?

Finding the home gym essentials can be a tricky challenge depending on the space. Some of us are lucky enough to have expansive, tall basements, but most home gym users will be operating within some degree of square footage scarcity. That means you’ll need to pay special attention to the height and depth dimensions of any workout equipment before clicking “buy.” But there are several other factors to weigh as well as you build up a comprehensive wellness routine. Here are some of the most important:

Budget: Try to come up with a rough budget for your home gym before you start purchasing equipment. The good news is if your routine can mostly rely on body weight, you won’t have to blow your budget on the pricier line items for home gyms, like power racks. Also, keep in mind that budget and value are intertwined. For example, if your resistance bands were bought for a bargain but snap on their 20th use, you’ve not truly made a cost-effective choice. For cardio equipment on a budget, think about which components you’re willing to sacrifice. If you already subscribe to the Peloton app for $13 a month, you can simply use an iPad or other screen with a budget bike, like the Yosuda, versus paying $39 a month to use the Peloton app integrated with a Peloton bike.

Exercise Style: Exercise style is hugely important as you consider flooring (for example: how quiet is your subflooring), types of machines you’ll buy, and who else in your household. For example, a HIIT workout can be quite hard on the joints and noisy. You’ll want to make sure you have adequately cushioned flooring, and recovery devices for post-workouts, like a foam roller. For cardio that needs to be done compactly, check out machine options, like ellipticals, treadmills, stationary bikes, and rowers. Many of those cardio options can offer a full-body workout as well. If powerlifting is your style, make sure you have the right equipment to push yourself while staying safe.

Weight Load: If you’re on the heavier side, or plan to use heavy weights, be sure the equipment has a high-enough rated weight capacity. A weight bench with a weight capacity of 250 pounds, for instance, won’t leave much wiggle room for a big-time bench press.

Space: If a home gym space is out of sight, out of mind, the look of your equipment may not be much to consider. However, some equipment might be in your purview, so make sure it isn’t an eyesore. On the other hand, some equipment can be out when in use, and easily stowed away when not. Look for folding options if you need equipment that’s versatile with the space.

Versatility: Speaking of versatility, a lot of equipment can have multiple functions in one. There are ellipticals that double as recumbent stationary bikes, power racks with full cable pulley systems, and cardio equipment with swiveling monitors that allow you to follow a HIIT workout. Again, versatile equipment is an excellent way to save space.

Additional Accessories: A heart rate monitor is one of the most important accessories to stay safe, especially if your physician has strict recommendations to stay heart-healthy. Some of the most key additional accessories for a successful home gym include fans, a solid water bottle, a device to watch or listen to motivating music or other content, and headphones or speakers. Some machines come fully loaded with everything you need, like Bluetooth-enabled speakers, while other machines are a more old-school, analog style.

FAQ About the Best Home Gym Machines

What is the most complete home gym?

There’s no right answer, as all you may need is open space for HIIT cardio workouts. If you’re interested in building strength beyond body weight though, key items for a complete home gym include some kind of weight system — free weights, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. — and a weight bench. For non-HIIT cardio, you’ll also want any variety of cardio machine: Rower, treadmill, elliptical, or bike.

What is the most useful Gym Equipment?

Often, the simplest equipment, like resistance bands, can be the most useful. You can take them anywhere, yet they’ll challenge your body and build strength when used correctly. Any gym equipment that builds strength will be most useful if you’re seeking to change the composition of your body. Burning calories isn’t meaningless, but ultimately, walking can be just as effective.

What machine works the most muscles?

Arguably, a cable machine works the “most” muscles, but resistance bands can achieve the same effect. A cable machine, however, will add much more resistance than a band can. Some cardio machines when used correctly, like rowers, can also provide a full-body workout.

How much should you invest in a home gym?

How much to spend is an age-old question, and again, it depends. Our reviewers prefer longevity to bargain buys that won’t last. On the other hand, if you’re dipping your toes into a new type of exercise, that may be the perfect time to spend less and sacrifice durability. You can always upgrade later.

Is it better to have a home gym or go to the gym?

It’s a matter of personal preference, but often, the biggest problem with gym memberships is that people simply don’t use them. But without the deterrence of a commute or monthly membership, you may find a home gym to be a better fit.

Which rooms are best for home gyms?

If you’re limited on square footage, find a room with enough floor space to easily double as a home gym, and go for equipment that’s nimble and compact. A basement that is only partially finished can also make a fine home gym. Just be sure it’s well ventilated, and moisture is under control, lest you risk damaging your equipment. A similar investment can prepare a garage to work as a home gym space. Wherever you are, make sure the flooring is cushioned, or those squats will be wearing on your knees while burning your glutes.

Summary of Our Top Picks for the Best Home Gym Essentials