Bank balance? Yeah, that matters. But just as important as your shopping budget is how you apportion it. Gym equipment is often bought not just with good intentions, but also with big intentions. Blowing your entire budget on one big piece of equipment might feel like a bold vote for fitness, but it could also limit your workout options. The best home gym offers a balance of three basic types of activity:
- Cardio or aerobic exercise, such as running, jogging, cycling, rowing, swimming, and other activities that strengthen the heart and lungs
- Strength training, in which weights and/or resistance equipment are used to improve muscle tone and quality
- Stretching, flexibility, and balance exercises that reduce injury risk and improve your range of motion
As Nick explains in our buying guide video, Hayneedle offers numerous options for all three exercise types, allowing you to customize a complete home gym for a healthy, well-rounded workout. As you shop our selection, look for pieces that complement one another, and try to pick at least one item from each of the following three categories.
Equipment that elevates your heart rate and gets your major muscle groups moving is best for cardiovascular exercise. Here are some high-impact, low-impact, and budget-conscious options to consider:
High-impact aerobic exercise refers to activities that get both of your feet off the ground at once. This can put more strain on your knees, ankles, and hips, but the workout is great for muscles, bone strength, fat burning, and more. Treadmills are the most popular choice for high-impact home cardio.
Keeping one foot—or both feet—on the ground is easier on joints and fragile bones, but low impact needn’t mean low intensity. Rowing machines and elliptical trainers are terrific for getting a low-impact, full-body workout. Upright and recumbent exercise bikes are also low-impact favorites.
Step machines (aka steppers) or aerobic step platforms offer excellent cardio benefits at a low cost and impact. Aerobic equipment is a low-cost option for high-impact exercise.
More than just building strength and muscle, strength training equipment helps elevate your metabolism, increase bone strength, and burn fat, among other benefits. There are several different ways to go here as a shopper, depending on your budget.
All-in-one home gyms from Powerline, Body-Solid, Bowflex, and other brands provide most of what you’ll need for serious home strength training. Cost will generally range from $500 to $5,000—a worthwhile investment for convenient workouts without a monthly gym fee.
This category includes bench presses and gym stations, such as power towers or single station machines for biceps/triceps, shoulders/lats, calf raises, etc. Adjustable dumbbells are probably the best single choice in this price range, providing lots of workout options and serious muscle development.
Some of the most effective strength training equipment can be purchased for under $100. Start your search with fitness bands (aka resistance bands), suspension trainers, and kettlebells.
Flexibility and balance equipment is useful for both general exercise and pre-workout stretching, which is especially important for avoiding injury as you ease into a new home gym routine. Developing core strength and improving stability and coordination are just some of the goals of these home fitness devices.
Pilates reformers provide a high-intensity aerobic workout that’s easier on knees and ankles. The initial cost can be high, but this is a great cardio-conscious alternative to strength training stations, offering an extraordinary range of exercise possibilities for muscle endurance and flexibility.
The Swiss ball is to coordination and stability what the bench press is to muscle strength, but at a much lower cost—usually under $30.
Balance trainers are kind of like exercise balls with a flat base. They’re useful for all kinds of fitness routines, including sit-ups and balance exercises. Balance boards, on the other hand, are like one-person teeter-totters—a fun and challenging way to work on your stability.