When gyms and fitness studios closed across the country at the start of the pandemic, many people turned to home workouts to burn energy and stay in shape. Some professional workout spaces have now re-opened, but there’s still a renewed interest in snagging some of the best home workout equipment to build a home gym.
But it’s one thing to want to create a home gym, and something else entirely to actually make it happen. And that’s where plenty of people get stuck. “It’s important to accept that you are building a home gym — not a commercial fitness center,” says Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer and founder of PhilanthroFIT in New York City. Meaning, you don’t need to cram your space with everything you can think of. You should just focus on the stuff you need and will actually use on a consistent basis. Otherwise, you run the risk of some of your gear becoming expensive dust-catchers.
To help you choose the best home workout equipment for your preferred type of workout, we spoke to several certified personal trainers, a celebrity fitness instructor, a pair of triathletes and other bonafide exercise experts. Here is some of the best home gym equipment for keeping yourself in top shape.
Best Home Workout Equipment For Total Body Training
TRX ALL-IN-ONE Suspension Training System
As long as you have a solid interior door, a hook screwed into a stud, or a sturdy tree branch, you can execute dozens of different exercises using TRX straps, every one of them tailored to suit your abilities in terms of strength and mobility.
Danielle Hirt, an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and RRCA Certified Running Coach with Formula Running Center says: “TRX straps offer a total body workout for any level. They’re a great foundational piece of equipment because all workouts can be modified. They instability from the top down and allow athletes to create different angles with their body to intensify each exercise. TRX straps are also great for recovery and mobility training, allowing you to use your own body weight to stretch your muscles more than you can on the floor alone.” Jess Glazer, former celebrity personal trainer and physical education instructor adds that she “is also a huge fan of the TRX home suspension system because it allows you to focus on all body parts and a variety of workouts from cardio and plyometrics to strength and stability.”
Best Home Workout Equipment For Running and Walking
NordicTrack T Series Treadmill
If you have the space, a treadmill can be a great piece of cardio equipment to have at home. “Look for durability above all else,” Sklar advises. “Treadmills take a pounding — literally. And they are not cheap. Investing in something with strong reviews on longevity with minimal repair will give you a solid return on investment.” Another important thing to consider, if you like to go fast: Check the machine’s speed capacity. “Checking the maximum MPH will come in handy for the speed demons looking to push the pace,” Sklar says. “Ability to incline and simulate hills is also a great perk, and fairly standard.”
This treadmill from NordicTrack has thousands of five-star reviews, goes at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour, and has an incline of up to 10%. It also features iFit, which streams live trainer-led workouts.
Best Home Workout Equipment For Ballistic Training
Yes4All Vinyl Coated Kettlebells
Plenty of people love ballistic and strength training with kettlebells thanks to the weights’ versatility. While they can be used as free weights, kettlebells can also be easily swung or handled during jumping and explosive exercises. “If you do a lot of movements like planes and snatches, and train with kettlebells more often, you’ll want to look at buying three or four weights of standard,” says Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab.
Another thing to consider: Your floors. Kettlebells are often made of cast iron which, while incredibly durable, can damage floors if handled roughly. Kettlebells from Yes4All run from five to 50 pound weights and feature vinyl coating to help protect your flooring.
Best Low Impact Home Workout Equipment
Nautilus E616 Elliptical
Ellipticals are “good for those with knee, ankle, or back issues that find running uncomfortable or painful,” Sklar says. But, like most workout equipment, there are a lot of options to choose from. Matheny’s advice: Think about what you’ve liked using at the gym, as well as what features you actually used on it. Then, try to get the same one, or something as close to it as possible. The Nautilus E616 Elliptical Trainer uses a fitness club design, boasting dozens of workout programs and levels of resistance. It also features a Bluetooth console to sync your workout data with popular fitness apps.
Best Home Workout Equipment For Stability
Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit
A balance ball can be a surprisingly versatile piece of equipment, Matheny says. You can use one to kick your planks and push-ups up a notch, and also sit on it to work your core while lifting weights. You can even use a balance ball to assist with abdominal exercises. This version from Gaiam is easy to blow up, thanks to an included pump, and equally simple to deflate for compact storage.
Best Home Gym Equipment For Strength Training
Flybird Adjustable Dumbbells
Glazer calls these adjustable dumbbells “great at home equipment because they don’t take up a lot of space and can be used for almost any type of strength workout.” Each dumbbell can be adjusted to weigh as little as five pounds or as much as 25 pounds, with myriad incremental options between the minimum and maximum. Flybirds adjustable dumbbell effectively eliminates the need for five sets of dumbbells, saving you space and actually saving money overall.
Best Home Gym Equipment For Open Water Swimming
Orca Sleeveless Wetsuit
With many pools around the country closed and people practicing social distancing, open water swimming has seen major growth in 2020. Dan Cox, triathlete (and former contestant on The Bachelorette), describes the benefits of the total body workout open water swimming allows along with the mental and emotional benefits by saying: “The closest example I can give is for runners: Running on a treadmill versus running outside, there is no comparison. I would highly recommend anyone who swims, is looking to get more comfortable in open water, is tired of doing laps or doesn’t have a pool available to find an ocean, bay or lake and jump in.”
Andrew Starykowicz, a multi-time IronMan competition winner, seconds those notions, saying: “Swimming in open water sets the mind and body free. An Orca sleeveless wetsuit provides a little thermal boost and safety from marine life. That, accompanied with a little extra buoyancy and durable neoprene, make this suit my daily pick for the open water.”
Best Home Gym Equipment For Balance Training
Synergee Sliders Gliding Discs
Gliding discs like these can be used on carpeted or hard surfaces and can help with core training, strength training, and balance training, which enhances core and muscle strength in and of itself. Danielle Hirt advises gliding disc users to “activate your core by incorporating these lightweight discs into your routine. By adding a balance challenge you can increase the intensity of your workout without adding impact.” Inexpensive and compact, gliding discs are worth consideration even for only occasional use, and they can be tucked away pretty much anywhere.
Best Home Gym Equipment For Yoga, Calisthenics and Aerobics
Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm
With nothing more than your body and a yoga mat, you can execute hundreds of exercises, from planks and push ups to lunges and crunches to yoga poses, safely and comfortably. Jess Glazer encourages exercise using your own body as the gear, saying: “I personally believe that you can have incredibly effective workouts at home with your own body weight. Being a competitive gymnast my entire life, I know the importance, power, and function our bodies have on their own.” These mats are durable and will be a welcome addition even after studios reopen.
Best Home Gym Equipment For Lower Body Training
Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Bands
Resistance bands let you challenge yourself as much (or as little) as you want. For an easier workout, go with less resistance. For a harder workout, switch to a heavier-duty band. And to take it up even more, double the bands. “Resistance bands, sometimes referred to as ‘booty bands,’ are great for targeting the muscles in the glutes and hips that are underdeveloped from sitting at a desk all day,” says Danielle Hirt, adding that “they can also be used to strengthen the upper body when anchored to another point of contact such as a door or under your foot.”
Best Home Workout Equipment For Endurance Training
Peloton Exercise Bike
You can get much lower priced bikes than the Peloton, but you can’t get the same customized motivational experience as you will when you subscribe to instructor-led remote training sessions via the bike’s huge screen. Danielle Hirt recommends the Peloton because it makes “a great addition to change up your cardio exercise. Cycling offers a low impact option while still strengthening your heart, lungs and muscles.” With this bike, a coach “can lead you through a recovery ride, Tabata style HIIT workout or hill ride; you will never get bored.”
Best Home Workout Equipment For Core Training
PELLOR Fitness Sandbag
“One piece of equipment that I like that not a lot of people use are sandbags,” says R.J. Cincotta, director of fitness with Orange Theory Fitness Long Island and a 15-year veteran of the professional training and fitness world. “They can be filled with multiple bags of sand so you customize your weight, and they can be used to accentuate so many moves. You can do squats, you can do lots of core work, you can even lay on a bench and do a bench press with a sandbag.”