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Waiting for your turn to use the lat pulldown machine or leg press is (super) annoying. And then the machine finally opens up, and some guy’s sweat is all over the seat and pads. Nice. Home gym equipment gives you that same workout minus the drive, wait, and stranger’s sweat. Win-win.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best of the best, including home gyms large, small, portable, and alternative in design. We also consulted a personal trainer to get insight into what the pros consider when their clients look for a home gym.
Here’s what we considered when picking the all-in-one workout machines on our list:
- Size and footprint. A home gym machine can either take up an entire room or fold up to fit in a closet. You’ll need to make sure you have plenty of space and overhead clearance for it, but we also made sure to include a few compact (and even portable) options in case you’re tight on space.
- Weight and resistance type. Weight plates, weight stack, resistance bands, body weight — different weight and resistance types offer different workouts. Bodyweight systems are gentler on your joints, cable systems let you do more functional exercises, and weight plates tend to lean toward building muscle mass. We included a few from each category.
- Weight/resistance range. “If you want to build muscle mass, make sure the machine has enough weight for you to get stronger and challenge yourself. If you’re more of a beginner or looking to tone, make sure the weight increments on the machine aren’t so large that you’ll have trouble increasing the weight,” says Barrons. For all our picks with weights, we included only models with solid incremental weight options.
- Versatility. Some home gyms have “stations” for different exercises, while others require you to change the configuration of the weights or cables to transform a single station for a different exercise. We looked for versatility (and ease of use) to work as many muscle groups as possible with a single machine.
Best overall home gym
Bowflex has been a major player in the home gym market for years. While this machine doesn’t offer the highest weight options (though you can upgrade to 310 or 410 lbs.), it’s incredibly versatile and easy on your joints, and it offers unique resistance.
To add resistance to your workout, you attach a cable to one of the weighted power bars. The bars come in different weight increments, so you can fine-tune the workout as you get stronger. You can reconfigure the pulleys and cables to do 65+ exercises using an ab training strap, squat bar, and lat bar.
The beauty of this system is that it provides weighted resistance in both directions, working your muscles as they extend and contract. The smooth motion is easier on your joints than the average home gym with weight plates.
Once you learn how to use the system, it’s quick and effective. But figuring out how to move the pulleys to change up the resistance takes some time. The only other issue is that with heavy use, the power rods may start to bend and lose their resistance power, so they may need to be replaced eventually.
Best budget home gym
The Total Gym’s compact design goes easy on your wallet while still challenging every major muscle group. It’s available with 6, 8, or 10 resistance levels — the fewer resistance levels, the lower the price. Using cables, incline, and your body weight, it works your arms, back, abs, and lower body in more than 80 exercises.
It comes with access to Total Gym TV, which means you can watch classic Total Gym DVD workouts and stream from a newer library of videos too. Reviewers say it’s easy to assemble and use and it’s well worth the cash. But some reviewers say it’s really long, so make sure you have enough space to accommodate this bad boy.
Best for beginners
The Goplus Multifunction Home Gym System’s durability, versatility, and price work incredibly well for beginners. It has a 12-pulley system that lets you do rows, lat pulldowns, leg lifts, and butterfly presses, to name just a few of the many exercises. Overall, there are more options for your upper body than your lower body, but the exercises that target the big muscle groups are all there.
This one’s a good option for beginners because the steel tubing will last for years. While it’s not exactly cheap, you get a good deal for a piece of equipment that’s built to last.
The biggest downside on this one is the assembly time. You’re looking at around 3 hours with instructions that reviewers say aren’t exactly the most helpful — and some reviewers say it arrived without all the parts needed to assemble it. Ugh.
Best portable home gym
The Body Boss 2.0 is the ultimate in portable gyms. It includes a series of resistance bands, handles, and bars that fit in a portable base. You can carry it outside, pack it in a suitcase, or just move it to different floors in your house. Now, this (obviously) doesn’t work like a traditional home gym, but could you really pack one of those things in a suitcase? Big nope.
In addition to being portable, it’s effective and works all the major muscle groups. To add resistance, you can shorten the resistance bands or add extra bands. (BTW, many male reviewers say they had to buy extra resistance bands.) With purchase, you also get access to online workouts to show you how to use it.
Best alternative home gym
Again, this one isn’t a traditional home gym, but it can still get your whole body to WERK. 🔥 The TRX’s series of straps, anchors, and carabiners works your entire bod. Even better, suspension trainers like this one require the use of your smaller stabilizing muscles on top of the major muscle groups. Consequently, you’ll be sore in places you didn’t even know existed.
You can anchor it to a door, an installed anchor point, or a tree. It’s also easy to store and pretty dang portable. But it’s def not the same kind of workout you get by lifting weights. You’ll still work hard and build muscle, but if you love maxing out, this probably isn’t the gym for you.
Best functional trainer
Functional trainers offer many of the same movements as a traditional home gym but with some extra variations in how you work your muscles. This type of machine works like a cable press — you can adjust heights and weights to use muscles in different ways. The HCI Fitness PTX Gym can do this in a compact package.
This gym, including the bench, folds down for easy storage. Plus, more than one person can use it at once. It holds a total of 220 lbs. of weight plates, which is definitely enough to challenge almost anyone.
The downside: the high price. It’s the definition of a splurge, but it’s also built to last a long time.
Best multistation gym
When you think of a full home gym, this is the kind of machine that probably pops into your head. This monster machine includes 6 exercise stations and a 210-lb. weight stack. You can do everything from lat pulldowns to rows to shoulder presses to deltoid raises.
It’s got a traditional look and will feel familiar if you’re used to using the heavy-duty weight machines at the gym. We also like that more than one person can use it at once. 👯♀️👯♂️
But you’ll have to pay a high price for that pro-gym feel, and this behemoth weighs in at 578 lbs.
Best home gym with leg press
A separate leg press station, like that on the Powerline P2X Home Gym, gives you the chance to isolate your thighs, glutes, and calf muscles in a way leg extensions can’t. You can expand the 160-lb. stack with additional weights that are sold separately. This machine’s pulley system offers consistent resistance through the full range of motion, making your muscles work twice as hard.
Additional accessories include a lat bar, a low row bar, and an abdominal harness. But the company offers a few more sold separately if you want to expand the set.
The Powerline gives you a lot of everything, but it also eats up floor space and your hard-earned cash money with its high price.
Best for small spaces
This upgraded version of the Total Gym uses your body weight in a full range of motion to target everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. And it folds in half for storage in a closet or a corner of the room. It’s one of the most comprehensive workouts you can get in such a compact package.
You can sculpt your muscles with this bad boy and improve your flexibility, since many of the moves incorporate Pilates principles and movements. Using your body weight as your resistance also makes for a super low impact workout and helps strengthen your stabilizer muscles. It includes a nutrition plan and a special wing attachment to expand the range of motion.
This machine does well with functional exercises and building strength, but it doesn’t isolate muscle groups the way a traditional machine would. But reviewers love it and also thank Chuck Norris for endorsing it.
Best Smith machine
The Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine combines several types of home gyms in one. First, it includes a Smith bar, which acts as an artificial spotter when you’re lifting alone. You can use the Smith bar for squats and bench presses, but the other accessories let you use it as a standard home gym.
This machine uses removable weight plates to add or reduce weight rather than a stack, so you can add as much weight as you’d like within the cable’s 1,000-lb. limit. There are also weight catches to help you maintain safe form with each exercise.
A machine this size is pricey, and the assembly isn’t easy-breezy. Some reviewers say it takes about 6 hours to put together.
“Home gym systems are great because they will work with whatever your [fitness] goal is,” says Barrons.
These all-in-one machines can be used by one person who wants variety or a whole household of folks with different fitness goals. Their versatility is their strength. Some of the larger, more expensive machines can replace going to a pro gym altogether, offering resistance training, HIIT, supersets, or whatever kind of workout you’re doing.
The drawbacks are definitely their price and size. These machines usually cost more than $300, with the larger, comprehensive machines priced at well over $1,000. That’s a sizable investment. But for some people, it’s well worth it. In the long run, you’ll save money on a gym membership and the gas it would take to get there. Plus, no more sharing with sweaty strangers.
Some machines are large enough that you’ll need significant dedicated space. There are a few compact machines that def offer a good workout, but remember that it may not be identical to a workout on a traditional machine.
- Space. Your available space may seriously limit your options. Barron says, “…even just a single cable machine stack is plenty to get started.” From there, she says, you can add attachments to expand your options and slowly invest in a more comprehensive set of accessories if you don’t have the cash for everything up front.
- Budget. Budget models start at around $300. If you’re willing to work with an alternative home gym like a suspension system or bodyweight machine, you can find something for less. But if you’re looking for a full-body weight machine, prices will start around $700 and go up to more than $1,500.
- Fitness goals. Are you bodybuilding, looking to gain more muscle mass, or focusing on elongating and strengthening your muscles? Each of these goals can benefit from a different kind of workout and machine. Examine your goals and look for a machine that will help you accomplish them.
If you want to save money on a gym membership and sculpt your bod at home, a home gym can be an amazing investment.
A variety of home gym machines are available to support different fitness pursuits, so it’s totally possible to find one that works within your budget, space, and goals. Once you find the one that’s right for you, it’s time to get to WERK.