When you think of a home gym, you typically think of free weights, a bench and maybe a power rack or smith machine. For others, you may think of a weight-stack machine.
The truth is, the home gym market has exploded in recent years. Now there’s everything from the Bowflex to the Total Gym, to various types of resistance bands.
Hey, if it allows you to exercise in the comfort of your own home, it’s a home gym!
The best home gym should fit in with your goals as well as fit in the amount of space you have available.
Let’s face it, not everyone has a garage or basement. Sometimes all you may have is a small room or corner.
Have no fear! In this guide, we’ll take a look at all types of home gyms and give you the best choice, regardless of how much space you have!
Let’s get started.
In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:
Quick Answer – Top 14 Best Home Gyms in 2021
- BodyCraft XPress Pro 200lb. Single Stack Gym – Best Overall
- Bowflex Home Gym Series – PR3000 – Best Compact
- Total Gym XLS – Best Bodyweight
- Bowflex Home Gym Series PR1000 – Best Entry-level
- Weider Ultimate Body Works – Best Budget
- Body-Solid GLGS100 Corner Leverage Gym – Seriously Hardcore Machine
- Marcy Multi-Function Steel Home Gym – Best For The Average User
- Bowflex Home Gym Series Xceed – Best Mid-Range Price
- Total Gym 1400 Deluxe – Best For Small Apartment
- BodyBoss 2.0 – Full Portable Home Gym – Best Portable
- Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage – Best For Bodybuilders & Athletes
- Body-Solid Free-Weight Leverage Gym – Best For Extreme, Hardcore Users
- Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym – Best Cable Machine
- TRX ALL-IN-ONE Suspension Training – Best Suspension Trainer
- OYO Personal Gym – Best Technology
Reviews – The Best Home Gyms
1. BodyCraft XPress Pro 200lb. Single Stack Gym (Best Overall)
- Over 120 Available Exercises – No Cable Changes Required
- 400 lb. Double-Up Resistance Feature
- Innovative Adjustable Cable Arms
- Lifetime Warranty
- Challenging & Time Consuming To Put Together
- This Is An Expensive Home Gym
- Options Like A Leg Press Unit Cost Extra
The Bodycraft Xpress Pro is a well designed, well built single stack home gym.
The unit is so well made it’s backed by a lifetime warranty. This is an important consideration, after all, you should want to get years, if not decades, out of your home gym.
There’s more to this machine than the warranty. It has an innovative adjustable cable arm system that can be moved to 11 different starting positions.
The beauty of this design and the intended purpose of it is that it allows you to perform dumbbell-like moves, functional training, core training, sport-specific exercises and rehabilitation work.
The press arms are designed for vertical movements but can be adjusted for regular horizontal-style bench presses, incline presses, and shoulder presses. They can also be reversed to allow seated rows.
They have a unique “double-up feature”, which means the 200 lb. weight stack can be used with a 1:2 ratio, effectively doubling the resistance to 400 lbs.
Another advantage of the BodyCraft XPress Pro is that it’s designed to provide natural, biomechanically correct movements.
The downside to this unit is that it comes in quite a few pieces, and needs to be completely put together.
While the instructions are not hard to follow and the pieces are clearly labeled, assembling this home gym is a time-consuming process. On top of that, it’s a little pricey.
Still, the unique features, double-up resistance, wide range of uses and exceptional build quality make the BodyCraft XPress Pro a great home gym in a single stack all-in-one design.
This is our pick for the best home gym overall.
2. Bowflex Home Gym Series – PR3000 (The Best Compact Home Gym)
- Up To 310 lbs. Of Resistance (With Extra Cost Upgrade)
- Two Sets Of Handles & No Between-Set Cable Changes Needed
- Works The Entire Body With Over 50 Exercises
- Foldable to save space
- Comes With 210 lbs. You Have To Pay Extra For The Upgrade To 310 lbs.
The Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym offers a good range of exercises as well as the ability to upgrade the resistance level.
The PR3000 is about 5 feet long and 7 feet high. It’s small enough to fit almost anywhere. Watch the height though!
As with all Bowflex home gyms, the PR3000 uses flexible polymer “Power Rods” as the resistance. This unit comes with 210 lbs. of Power Rods.
But unlike some of the other Bowflex home gyms on this list (specifically the PR1000), you can upgrade the PR3000 to 310 lbs. You can do that either as a package deal or by buying the Power Rod upgrade separately.
The PR3000 also comes with an attachment that allows you to do squats. This is a huge advantage for a home gym of this type.
Additionally, the PR3000 has a “no-change cable system”. You don’t have to change the cables when you want to switch up your exercises.
It has 2 sets of grip handles. This allows you to move between bench presses and lat pulldowns without having to disconnect and move grip handles.
Speaking of bench presses, this unit does not have a bench like some of the other Bowflex gyms on this list do. However, the PR3000 is unique in that it can fold up.
The Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym is one of Bowflex’s most popular products.
It’s well-built, operates smoothly, and provides two sets of handles so you can change exercises quickly. It also features over 50 exercises and you can use as little as 5 lbs. all the way up to 310 lbs (with the upgrade).
3. Total Gym XLS (Best Bodyweight)
- You Can Do Over 80 Exercises
- Includes Exercise Chart, Training Deck & A Nutrition Program
- Can Handle User Weight Of Up To 400 lbs.
- Includes Squat Stand & Wing Attachment.
- Heavy, May Be Hard To Move For Some Users
Believe it or not, Total Gym has been around for 40+ years.
Best known for their celebrity-endorsed TV commercials, Total Gym has brought the bodyweight home gym machine into the mainstream.
The Total Gym XLS is a well-built, space-saving, easy to store and easy to use machine.
It has a user weight capacity of 400 lbs. and lets you do over 80 exercises for a complete full-body workout.
The Total Gym XLS has some upgrades over older models. It now includes a new cable and pulley system, an improved squat stand, and more comfortable padding on the height-adjustable glide board.
The machine also comes with several accessories such as a leg pull accessory for complete leg work, flexible nylon strap handles; and a wing attachment for arm and back work.
The Total Gym XLS comes with a complete line of workouts and workout tools. It gives you a wall chart that shows 35 exercises. You’ll also have a Total Gym “training deck”, which is a series of cards that show and explain each exercise you can do.
The XLS also provides a nutrition program that includes a meal plan.
With all of these features, it ultimately gives the user a complete system to working out and getting in shape.
4. Bowflex Home Gym Series PR1000 (Best Entry-level)
- 25+ Exercises For A Full Body Workout
- 210 lbs. Of Power Rod Resistance
- Includes A Bench For Flat and Incline Exercises
- The Bench Doubles As A Rowing Machine For Cardio
- Built-In Media Rack
- Does Not Include The Quick Change Cable System
- May Not Work For Very Small Spaces, As The Bench Takes Up Extra Space
While there are several Bowflex models on our list, the popular PR1000 is more of an entry-level unit.
This machine features 210 lbs of adjustable Power Rod resistance, with both an upper and lower pulley system.
You’ll be able to do 25+ exercises with the various attachments included, enough to work the entire body. It’s also a compact machine that works well in small spaces.
One of the nice features of this machine is that it includes a folding bench. This is something that other Bowflex units, such as the PR3000, lack.
The bench converts to a rolling seat so you can do cardio, specifically a rowing exercise. You do have to change the cables to change the exercises, though. That’s the trade-off with a machine like the PR3000, here you get the bench but lose the quick-change cable system.
Another great feature is the built-in media rack that provides 7 trainer-designed workouts.
Overall, if you’re interested in a Bowflex, this is a great unit for you.
While it’s true you can get a good home gym at a better price point, the Bowflex PR1000 brings a lot to the table. It folds up for space-saving storage, it offers an adjustable bench and plenty of Power Rod resistance. You will need to allow about 5 feet for the bench.
5. Weider Ultimate Body Works (Best Budget)
- Provides A Complete Full Body Workout
- Features Up To 50 lbs. Extra Resistance
- Folds For Storage – Space Saving Design
- Not As Stable As Competing Total Gym Models
- Not Well Suited For Taller Individuals
- Not For Serious Exercisers
The Ultimate Body Works is Weider’s answer to the Total Gym. This is an affordable machine that’s based on the same principles as Total Gym. It uses body weight as resistance with a height-adjustable gliding board and pulley system.
You can do 50+ exercises on the Ultimate Body Works, including rowing, various types of presses, arm work, and core exercises.
The Ultimate Body Works has an exclusive feature of additional tension cables at the base, which adds up to an extra 50 lbs. resistance.
Like the Total Gym, this is a good home exercise unit that’s designed to fit in a small space. In fact, it even folds up for easy storage in a closet or under a bed.
While not intended for serious muscle building, it’s a great unit for anyone who wants to exercise and get in better shape.
The size and versatility of the Ultimate Body Works make it a top contender for a space-saving home gym. Still, it may not have enough to challenge the better versions of the Total Gym.
Read our Weider Ultimate Body Works Review.
6. Body-Solid GLGS100 Corner Leverage Gym (Seriously Hardcore Machine)
- Compact Design That’s Built Tough
- Features 3 Stations For Squats, Shrugs, Pulldown & Presses
- Designed For Strength & Mass Workouts
- No Spotter Needed – Ideal For Training To Failure
- The Bench Is An Extra Cost Option
- The Olympic Plates Are An Extra Cost Option
- This Is A Pricy Machine
The Body Solid GLGS100 is a corner leverage gym that features a compact, space-saving design.
What is a leverage gym? It’s a self-contained home gym that uses pulleys and pivot-point handles that provide a free weight-like feel without the need for a spotter.
If you happen to like training to or beyond failure, you don’t have to hold back for fear of getting stuck in an exercise. The Body Solid GLGS100 is plate loaded and completely safe.
The GLGS100 features 3 stations. It uses heavy-duty steel aircraft grade cables. And it lets you pile on the extra-cost Olympic plates for a great hardcore workout.
You can use the multi-purpose press arms for heavy squats, overhead presses, and shrugs.
The drawback of this machine is that the bench is sold separately. However, if you do purchase the bench, you can do various types of bench presses. There’s also a low row station and a lat pulldown bar.
The GLGS100 has a 600 lb. weight capacity, enough for all but the strongest lifters.
This is a great hardcore gym that is designed for bodybuilders and athletes who want a serious workout with no safety concerns.
Its space-saving design makes it ideal for home use but it’s strong enough for commercial use.
The downside is the cost and the fact the bench is extra. Also, the cost of the Olympic plates will add up quickly.
Still, this is a seriously hardcore machine.
7. Marcy Multi-Function Steel Home Gym (Best For The Average User)
- Dual Action Press Arms Allows Flys & Presses
- Made From 14 Gauge Steel
- Includes Preacher Curl Unit & Leg Unit
- The 150 lb. Stack May Be Too Light For Some Users – You’ll Outgrow It Quickly
The Marcy MWM 988 Home Gym is probably the type of unit most people think of when they want a non-free weight home gym.
This is a single stack unit with multi-grip press arms, a lat pulldown bar, and a seat for vertical chest work.
The chest exercises include a pec deck-style vertical fly, and a vertical bench press. The seat includes a leg extension/leg curl attachment. This allows you to use a preacher curl pad and bar for arm work.
The MWM 988 features a 150 lb. weight stack. So this is not a machine for someone who wants to lift heavy weights and build muscle and strength.
The advantage of this type of machine is that it’s easy to change exercises. You just have to change the pin in the weight stack as needed. This allows you to move quickly from exercise to exercise. It’s well suited to a faster circuit-style of training, or you can train at a normal pace.
The Marcy MWM 988 is made using heavy-duty 14-gauge steel construction. While it’s relatively compact, it isn‘t going to move so you need enough space for a machine like this. You should think about 5 feet in length and over 6 feet in height.
It’s a good choice if you’re new to working out, but make sure you have the room for it.
With only 150 lbs weight stack, you may outgrow it quickly if you have plans to gain size and strength.
Still, the Marcy MWM 988 is a top contender for the best home gym for the average user in a stack style machine.
8. Bowflex Home Gym Series Xceed (Best Mid-Range Price)
- Designed For Strength & Size Training
- Over 65 Exercises
- Features A Multiple Angle Pulley & Cable System For Dumbbell-Like One Or Two Arm Exercises
- Includes A Squat Bar
- Well Built, Compact Design
- Does Not Include The Quick Change Option
- Does Not Include The Aerobic Rowing Option
- Does Not Fold Up To Save Space
The Bowflex Xceed Home Gym is meant for serious mass and strength workouts. It lets the user perform over 65 exercises, so you can easily work your entire body.
This unit comes with 210 lbs. of Power Rod resistance but can be upgraded to 310 lbs. or even 410 lbs. Now that’s some serious weight! It’s built to handle it too, with a heavy-duty steel frame and a seat that can hold a user weight of up to 300 lbs.
The Xceed doesn’t include the no change cable system, so you’ll have to change cables as needed when you change exercises.
Yet the Xceed allows for multiple cable and pulley positions. With this piece of equipment, you can do exercises such as lat pulldowns, vertical bench presses, and endless single and dual dumbbell-style work for arms, shoulders, back and chest.
The lat bar allows for multiple back and arm exercises as well as squats and leg extensions/leg curls.
The Bowflex Xceed is a compact design. It doesn’t include a vertical bench, so you won’t need a lot of space for this unit.
However, this unit does not fold for storage, and does not include the aerobic rowing you’ll find on something like the Bowflex PR1000. But it’s a great choice for bodybuilders, athletes and fitness enthusiasts who want to perform serious mass and strength workouts.
Read our Bowflex Xceed Home Gym Review.
9. Total Gym 1400 Deluxe (Best For Small Apartment)
- Comes Fully Assembled
- Works Your Entire Body In a Quick 20 Minute Session
- Folds For Easy Storage
- Features 8 Incline Levels For Progressive Resistance
- Limited Use For Anyone Who Wants To Build Muscle & Increase Strength
- May Feel Wobbly On Some Exercises
The Total Gym 1400 Deluxe is advertised to provide a complete, full-body workout in just 10 to 20 minutes.
The Total Gym is based on body weight and the incline of the bench for resistance. This version offers 8 incline levels to provide increased resistance.
It also provides over 60 exercises. In fact, you can do cardio, strength-type training and stretching moves all on this one machine.
The nice thing about the 1400 Deluxe is that it comes completely assembled. You can literally take it out of the box and go right into your workout. That’s a definite advantage over a home gym that might require hours to put together.
Like the other types of Total Gym, the 1400 Deluxe is a great choice for the home exercisers who want to get in shape but may not have much space available.
It’s also great if you like the idea of a foldable all-in-one unit that can be stored out of the way when it’s not being used.
This unit comes with a workout DVD, an exercise chart, and a nutrition program to provide a complete get-in-shape system. It also includes dip bars, a squat stand, a leg pulley accessory, a multi-function attachment, and has a 250 lb. user weight capacity.
The Total Gym 1400 deluxe is a good choice in a home gym for users who want a compact, bodyweight style exercise machine.
You can get your cardio, stretching, and training done quickly, and then just fold it up and put it in a closet when you’re done. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
10. BodyBoss 2.0 – Full Portable Home Gym (Best Portable)
- This Is The Most Compact Home Gym
- Good Choice Of Attachments For A Complete Workout
- Portable – Work Out Anywhere!
- There May Not Be Enough Resistance For Some Users
- Additional Resistance Bands Are an Extra Cost Option
- The Base May Not Feel Sturdy
Here’s a great choice for the business traveler. The BodyBoss 2.0 is a completely portable home gym that lets you work out anywhere.
The BodyBoss 2.0 is a resistance band gym that includes a specially designed base, cloth-covered bands that go up to 30lbs., a collapsible bar, handles, straps, and a door anchor. This unique portable gym lets you get a complete full-body workout, featuring 300 exercises!
Whether you have limited space, or travel frequently, or prefer to train outdoors, this is a viable alternative. It doesn’t get more compact than this.
The downside to a gym of this type is that the available resistance may not be enough for some users. And it may not provide a smooth, even feel as you execute the exercises.
The other downside is that the BodyBoss 2.0 is a little expensive for a band set, although ultimately you’re buying convenience.
If you need a portable gym that offers a complete workout, this is my favorite home gym for that purpose.
Read our BodyBoss 2.0 Home Gym Review.
11. Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage (Best For Bodybuilders & Athletes)
- All In One Smith Machine-Based Home Gym – Complete Safety While Training
- Space Saving Home Gym For Hardcore Lifters
- Includes An Adjustable Bench
- Maximum Weight You Can Put On The Bar Is Only 300lbs.
- Smith Design Takes The Stabilizer Muscles Out Of Most Compound Exercises
The Marcy Diamond Elite is an all-in-one hardcore machine. It gives you the versatility of a pulley machine, Smith machine, and free weights.
This machine provides a Smith machine, a pec deck station, a dual-function leg developer, high cable crossover, and a low pulley. The Smith machine’s safety stoppers and adjustable catches let you safely push yourself with heavy weights. There’s no need to rely on a spotter.
Like a power rack, this is a durable unit that features all-steel construction. The Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is a good choice for someone who wants to train for mass and strength but does not have the room for separate pieces of equipment. Everything you need is part of the cage.
The Smith bar only holds 300 lbs. But there are short safety catches so you can perform exercises outside the cage, such as free weight squats.
Like most Smith machines, the Diamond Elite uses an Olympic bar and takes only Olympic plates. These types of plates cost a little more than standard plates, but there is a better feel to an Olympic bar.
If there’s a downside to this unit, it’s that the Smith machine takes the secondary stabilizer muscles out of compound exercises like squats and bench presses. This is because the bar slides on rails with adjustable lift points and safety catches. It travels a predetermined, unchangeable path. Since you don’t have to balance and control the bar during the lift, some of the muscles that would normally be worked are left out of the movement.
Whether or not that’s an issue is an individual choice. Regardless, the Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is a good choice of home gym for bodybuilders and athletes.
12. Body-Solid Free-Weight Leverage Gym (Best For Extreme, Hardcore Users)
- Over 40 Exercises & 3 Stations
- Train In Complete Safety
- The Most Hardcore Home Gym On This List
- Commercial Quality – Lifetime Warranty
- It’s So Big And So Heavy, It’s Impractical For All But The Most Hardcore Bodybuilders And Athletes
- Demands A Garage Or Basement – It’s Too Big For Anywhere Else
The Body-Solid Free-Weight Leverage Home Gym is one of the more elaborate home gyms on this list. This is a serious home gym that requires a basement or garage. Yes, it’s that big.
It’s made from 10 and 11 gauge high tensile strength steel and has an electrostatically applied powder coat finish to resist scratches and scrapes. In terms of size and intended use, it is a commercial quality gym. It weighs 630 lbs., it’s 9 feet long and 7 feet tall. Yep, it’s meant for hardcore bodybuilders, powerlifters, and athletes.
The Free-Weight Leverage Gym provides over 40 exercises and has three workout stations. The advantage of a gym like this is that you can train in complete safety and get as close to a free weight feel as possible. If you like to train to or past failure, this is the ultimate home gym for you.
It goes without saying, if you’re serious about your workouts, this home gym is it. It’s a commercial level gym that is built to last. In fact, this is so well built that every piece on this machine has a lifetime warranty.
It also goes without saying, this is not for everyone. The extreme size alone makes it impractical unless you have the room. But it’s priced far less than you might expect.
Overall, this is a great option for extreme users who want the ultimate in quality and function for their home gym.
13. Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym (Best Cable Machine)
- Very Well Built Single Stack Machine
- Features A Lifetime Warranty On Everything
- Two Stations – One Is An Exclusive Pec-Dec Station
- 210 lb. Weight Stack
- May Be Too Pricey For Some Budgets
- Big – Not All Users Will Have Available Space
The Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym is a two-station single stack gym designed for maximum training performance. This machine is so well-built it has a lifetime warranty on everything.
The StrengthTech EXM2500S has a 210 lb. stack and features a separate pec-dec station with its own seat, something you won’t find on any other gym in this price range.
There’s a high, mid, and low pulley, that allows exercises such as lat pulldowns, crunches, tricep extensions, tricep pressdowns, chest presses, rows, and leg abductions. There’s also a leg unit for leg extensions and leg curls.
The Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym is a serious machine. It can be used by bodybuilders, athletes and anyone looking to add muscles and increase strength.
Overall, this is a top contender for a single stack home gym. It’s a little more expensive than some of the other stack style home gyms, and it is bigger. Yet, if you have the room and the budget, you’re getting a high quality, lifetime warrantied machine that you’ll be using for decades to come.
14. TRX ALL-IN-ONE Suspension Training (Best Suspension Trainer)
- Fully Portable Bodyweight-Based Home Gym
- Take It Anywhere – Whether You Travel Or Want To Train Outdoors
- Full 35-Page Workout Guide Included
- Access To The TRX App Free For 6 Months
- No DVD
- TRX App Available At Extra Cost After The Initial 6 Months
The TRX ALL-IN-ONE Suspension Training is another portable home gym that’s ideal for the user that has limited space. It’s also ideal for someone that wants to train outdoors or travels frequently.
Suspension training is based on the type of training gymnasts do. In this case, you anchor the TRX strap to a solid object like a door, beam or post and use your own bodyweight as resistance.
The beauty of this system is TRX can be anchored to any number of objects, even a tree, so you can train anywhere.
There are 7 fundamental moves that are the foundation of this system. They are referred to as: Push, Pull, Plank, Squat, Lunge, Hinge & Rotate. As you work with these moves, you can learn more and more exercises.
The TRX Suspension Training system comes with a workout booklet, two types of anchors, the strap and a travel bag. There are also two online workouts available.
A downside is that there is no DVD included. There is an app that the user is given free access to for 6 months. After that, it’s available at extra cost.
Overall, this is a top contender in a portable home gym. It’s a unique concept that gives users something different. Not to mention, it’s also a different take on bodyweight resistance than a home gym like the Total Gym provides.
15. OYO Personal Gym (Best Technology)
- Compact Portable Design
- Allows The User To Train Anywhere
- Works Opposing Muscle Groups, Creating A 2-In-1 Effect
- Over The Top, Gimmicky Hype Takes Away From The Seriousness Of This Unit
- Only Offers 25 lbs. Total Resistance
- Portable, But Offers Little Else
Here’s a unique approach to a portable home gym concept. The OYO Personal Gym is a little like the resistance band concept, except this uses a “ NASA Spiraflex” technology that replaces traditional weights.
The videos that promote this unit are gimmicky, with someone haphazardly performing standard dumbbell curls and grabbing their arm as if in pain, then it shows the OYO Personal Gym and – wow, you can do the exercise perfectly. This type of gimmicky, misleading advertising does little more than bring into question the validity of this unit.
However, the OYO Personal Gym is a portable exercise unit that can be taken anywhere. It’s basically a bendable handle with a center section that can hold up to 25lbs. of resistance. Of course, despite the over-the-top advertising, this is not a serious, hardcore home gym.
It’s mainly designed for frequent travelers, or perhaps as a casual option for someone that wants to exercise but is not so serious about it that they want to spend a lot of money.
The company advertises that this unit provides resistance to opposing muscle groups, thereby allowing the user to build muscle faster. While this device probably works well when the user is traveling or someplace where they can’t train on something more traditional, our general feeling about the OYO Personal Gym is that it’s not really a serious muscle building device.
Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Home Gym?
Types Of Home Gyms
Let’s take a look at the different types of home gyms:
Weight Stack Style Home Gym
This is probably the most popular type of all-in-one home gym. These units use a single weight stack that’s anywhere from 100 to 300 lbs depending on the brands and options purchased. They are a good choice for smaller workout areas.
Yet, they still require a space big enough to allow about 5 feet length and at least 6 feet height. They usually allow a good range of exercises and let the user work their entire body with minimal changes between exercises.
There are more elaborate units with two or even three stations, and more than one weight stack, but at that point you’d need a basement or garage to hold it due to the size of a unit like that.
These units are good for most trainers. But they’re not the best choice for someone who wants to build serious size and strength.
Bowflex-Style Resistance Rod Home Gym
Bowflex is the first and best-known example of a resistance rod-style home gym. This is basically the same concept as the single stack gym except the stack has been replaced with specially designed resistance rods.
They provide good resistance and are well built. But they do have one disadvantage. Due to how the rods move when you perform an exercise, the weight feels lighter at the beginning of the movement and heavier as you go through the range of motion. This means uneven resistance as you go through the exercise.
Other than that, they are a well designed alternative choice for anyone considering a single stack home gym.
Smith Machine Combo Home Gym
This is a machine that emphasizes safety. The bar is attached to rails and the machine has multiple safety catches along the path of resistance. You can train relatively heavy with a Smith Machine.
They are a good choice for anyone who wants the feel of using free weights without risk of injuries.
The downside is that the resistance path does not change.
As stated in our review, because of how the Smith is designed, the stabilizer muscles required to balance the bar in compound exercises are taken out of the movement. Still, the Smith is a good choice for working out at home in complete safety.
Leverage Style Home Gym
This is a multi-exercise machine that uses Olympic weight plates for resistance. The use of lever arms creates a very smooth motion and is considered the closest thing to free weights.
The Lever arms have built-in safety stops so users can train to or beyond failure without a spotter. When you’re done with your set, you just set the lever down.
Lever gyms have two awesome advantages.
First of all, you can lift heavy. They are not limited by the weight of a weight stack. If you want more weight, just add more plates. That means they are a great home gym option for bodybuilders and athletes.
Secondly, you have a high level of safety. This means you can lift as heavy as you want and if you like to push your sets to or past failure, you can.
Total Gym-Style Bodyweight Home Gym
This is a very popular mass-market home gym, thanks in part to the celebrity-endorsed TV commercials. This type of machine uses a height-adjustable padded board that glides on rollers. The resistance is determined by your body weight and the incline level of the board. You can do a wide variety of exercises on a machine like this.
Also, this is a compact, space-saving unit that can usually be folded and stored under a bed or in a closet. For these reasons, this type of home gym is ideal for the average individual who just wants to get in shape.
Resistance Band Home Gym
These are just resistance bands that sometimes come with a collapsible bar, handles and perhaps a base. They’re the perfect solution for frequent travelers and someone who doesn’t have enough room.
The bands come in different thicknesses of different resistance levels. And they can usually be anchored to a door for high pulley-type exercises.
The only real advantage of this type of equipment is that they allow the frequent travelers to workout anywhere they want. Since not every hotel has an on-site gym, a resistance band home gym makes sense.
Choosing the Right Home Gym
As you can see, there are quite a few choices when it comes to a home gym. Your choice depends on your budget, how much space you have, and your goals.
What do you plan to use a home gym for?
It’s not merely so you can “work out at home”. This is the most important question because your goals determine what kind of equipment you need.
Are you a bodybuilder? If you are, then a Total Gym is not for you. I’d suggest a leverage gym or Smith combo unit.
Do you just want to get in shape? A single stack gym is a good choice.
Do you live in a small apartment, just want to get in shape and don’t have the room for a single stack? A Total Gym or a resistance band setup may be the way to go. You must define your goals before you shop.
Otherwise, you may end up with a home gym that fails to meet your intended purpose. The point is, you should buy a unit that supports your training goals.
Of course, the amount of space you have determines how big of a home gym you can buy. You may find you have to make compromises based on lack of space.
If your exercise area can be devoted solely to a home gym, like a small room, garage, or basement, then you don’t have to worry. You’re only limited by how much you want to spend.
If you don‘t have the space for, say, a multi-station single stack machine like the Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S, but want that kind of unit, you may have to settle for a smaller one-station type of stack machine.
How much can you spend?
Even if you’ve made your choice and have the room you need, it comes down to whether or not you can afford it.
Our review guide has provided a lot of options in a good home gym. We’ve tried to give more than one suggestion for different types of training goals. We’re certain there’s a home gym that will fit your needs in this guide.
To Wrap Up
You’ve seen gyms of every type on our list, from the bodyweight approach of Total Gyms to the portability of resistance bands, to various Bowflex machines with their exclusive Power Rods.
There’s also leverage gyms, single stack machines, and a Smith Machine-based all-in-one design.
So, what’s the best home gym?
Well, that depends on your goals. If you’re looking for the most extreme, most hardcore home gym available, and have the space for it, then the Body Solid Free Weight Leverage Gym, all 9 feet and 630 lbs. of it, is the best home gym for you.
On the other hand, if you need a compact, portable unit that fits the lifestyle of a frequent traveler, the BodyBoss 2.0 is ideal. Not only does it give you resistance bands, the collapsible bar lets you do squats, plus there’s a door anchor for high pulley-type exercises.
If you’re a hardcore bodybuilder or athlete who can’t quite swing owning the massive Body Solid Free Weight Leverage Gym, then the Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is the best home gym for you. This is a well designed, self-contained unit that allows you to train in complete safety. You can work your whole body with this unit and if you want to, execute free weight movements outside the cage by using the safety catches.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to use a bodyweight style machine, the Total Gym XLS is our top pick for that purpose. It’s compact and can be easily stored when not in use. It includes nice extras like 7 trainer-designed workouts, a training card deck that explains each exercise, and a suggested nutrition program. And it allows you to do over 80 exercises. It’s a complete system.
If you’re looking for a single stack style unit that can fit in a small space, then the BodyCraft XPress Pro Home Gym is for you. In fact, this is our pick for the best home gym overall.
The double resistance feature takes it up to 400 lbs of resistance, which makes it a good choice for strength and size training. Plus, the exclusive pulley arms along with the well-designed press arms give it outstanding versatility.
A machine like this can be used by anyone for any purpose. In fact, it’s designed for functional core training, sports-specific workouts, and rehabilitation exercises, and any type of training you’d like to do.
As you can see, there’s a lot of great choices in a home gym. Use our guide to help you decide but ultimately, the choice is yours.