These days, the best home gyms are a vital purchase for people who want to stay fit at home and give the actual gym a large swerve. It’s understandable given the ongoing pandemic, but even before that, having to contend with other sweaty gym-goers hogging all the weights benches was never fun. Home gyms are the perfect solution as they are essentially full body workout machines that enable you to train your body either using a system of weights or, in the case of more compact home gyms, your own bodyweight, and luckily there’s plenty to pick from.
The cheapest home gyms cost a few hundred dollars, while the top all-in-one gym machines cost thousands. So picking one for yourself depends on how serious you are about staying fit at home and how often you’re likely to use it. After all, there’s no point spending a huge sum on one of the best home gyms if you’d prefer working out using one of the best elliptical machines or treadmills more often. That said, the WHO now recommends all adults aged 18-64 to undertake at least two weight training sessions a week, so you can’t skip out on weights altogether.
Some multi-gyms use a system of weights, including body weight and pulleys, so that while you’re pulling and pushing different handles, you’re still using the same weight source. In our guide to the best home gyms you’ll find compact multi-gyms, designed for smaller homes, as well as home gym setups for one or more users to work out with simultaneously. It’s worth keeping in mind that larger gym machines need a lot of space, leading many people to set them up in their garage instead of in the home.
While home cardio machines such as the best exercise bikes or even a bike trainer for off-season training are ideal for intense cardio workouts, the best home gyms are focused on helping you build muscle strength and definition. Let’s take a look at the top-rated models now, focusing on key picks from the world’s biggest home workout equipment brands including Bowflex, TRX, Total Gym, and Marcy.
6 best home gyms
1. Total Gym FIT: Best home gym for full body workouts
The Total Gym FIT is a bit different from a lot of the machines featured in our best home gyms guide. How? It uses a glideboard, which means it's able to create resistance through using your bodyweight.
This is a good thing as it means the system is much more compact, plus it's light enough to easily fold away and store when not in use, minus weight plates, of course. The Total Gym FIT weighs just 66lbs, and unfolded it measures 93(L) x 18.5(W) x 44.5(H)". The maximum user weight is great too at 450lbs, which is around 150lbs more than most other home multi-gyms.
Being a glideboard design means it can also be used for a host of exercises - over 85, in fact, so you'll get a very comprehensive, full body workout with the Total Gym FIT home gym.
While all the home gyms we've included here can help tone and strengthen your muscles, the FIT also provides unique cross-training exercises designed to improve your cardiovascular health.
The Total Gym FIT is one of the more expensive home gym systems around, but it comes with a lifetime frame warranty and two-year guarantee on parts.
- Read our Total Gym FIT review
2. Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE: Best home gym for expandable resistance
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym is a relatively compact and lightweight home gym that does away with weights in favor of torsion based resistance up to 210lbs. You can expand this resistance (at an additional cost) to 410lbs.
The Xtreme 2 SE uses power rods that work like a bow under torsion to offer 210lbs of weight broken down into increments. This makes it easy to swap between exercises, with over 70 different upper body, lower body and core exercises available.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym weighs 185lbs, which is heavy enough to keep it safely grounded during more intense weights-based workouts, but not so heavy that you and a buddy can't move it around at home if needs be. While the maximum user weight isn't as high as the Total Gym offering, the Xtreme 2 SE supports up to 300lbs and is designed for one person to exercise at a time.
Again, this is one of the most expensive models in our best home gyms guide, especially with the expanded resistance, preacher curl and ab attachments. That said, it's also one of the top home multi-gyms that will grow with you. How come? You can expand the resistance from 210lbs to a whopping 410lbs, making this a good investment for long-term weight training at home.
- Read our Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review
3. Marcy MWM-988: Best home gym for beginners
The Marcy MWM-988 Multifunction Home Gym is an affordable way to get a full multi-station weight based training system in your home. Because of the price and the instructional materials you get with this home multi-gym, we'd also recommend it to beginners who need more hand-holding when starting out.
The MWM-988 is a sturdy, 14-gauge steel gym designed to offer 36 different exercises. These focus on key areas including lower and upper body, core and more. In terms of design, for the lower price it's surprisingly sturdy, durable and well put together. It's a shame that the padded seat can't be adjusted for height, but the maximum user weight is on par with the Bowflex home gym at 300lbs.
The weights use a protective stack shielding for safety, and that also means the machine is a little quieter in use. You get up to 150lbs of weight with the Marcy home gym, which can be used with the high pulley, low pulley, curl pad, pec fly, chest press and leg attachment. All in all, this is excellent for a full body weights workout.
The Marcy MWM-988 Multifunction Home Gym also has a separate dual function arm press, so you can perform vertical butterfly and chest presses. In the case of the vertical butterfly, each arm swings separately to provide more balance based work to make sure you avoid pesky muscular imbalances. This is ideal if one side is stronger than the other, as you can set about evening them up.
4. Total Gym XLS: Best compact home gym
The Total Gym XLS is arguably the best home gym for anyone who wants a static multi-gym but is short on space at home. Why? Because it can be quickly folded away when not in use. It's also suitable for heavier users, as it can support a maximum user weight of up to 400lbs.
Despite the compact size, the Total Gym XLS multi-gym supports over 80 exercises and comes with a Total Gym TC Basic account for viewing guided workouts online. So you can train along with a variety of body strength, weights and other workouts.
The squat stand works well, with lots of grip for a more stable connection, and the pulley system is smooth for even resistance when using bodyweight. Not great when it comes to building home exercise equipment? Us neither, which is why we love how the Total Gym XLS comes fully assembled, making it one of the top home gyms for exercising right out of the box. Just position it, unfold and go.
Ok so you'll need to learn a few moves first, and decided which ones to include in your full body workout or individual workouts dedicated to upper and lower body. But once that is done, the XLS is one of the easiest home gyms to use.
- Read our Total Gym XLS review
5. TRX GO: Best home gym for small spaces
The TRX Go Suspension Training System is very different to any other machine featured in our guide to the best home gyms. Once glance at the system will tell you that, as it has no solid structure like the other home multi-gyms and instead uses straps with grips for hands and feet to create bodyweight resistance.
Not only does this make it the best home gym for portable use, it's also the top choice for those of you who prefer to weight train using your own body weight and no 'artificial' resistance.
While the TRX Go may look basic, it's actually the most versatile home gym in this entire round-up. That's mainly because it can be used to carry out a mammoth amount of exercise variations - over 1,000, actually.
It can be fastened to a huge variety of objects too, from door frames and garage doors to tree branches and park benches. That means you can get your body strength training sessions indoors or in a green space, depending on your mood. The included anchoring options give you a great variety of options to choose from, so you can pitch up pretty much anywhere and train.
When we used the TRX Go Suspension Training System, we discovered seven basic moves that, when strung together in sequence, provide an effective full body workout. These moves are push, pull, plank, rotate, hinge, lunge and squat. Those are brilliant for enhancing general flexibility and mobility, not to mention toning. However, if you are dealing with an injury you must get sign-off from your doctor before starting this or any type of fitness training.
Best of all, the TRX Go comes with a free six-month membership to the TRX app (iOS, Android), so you can follow along with custom body strength and HIIT workouts on your smartphone.
6. Bowflex PR3000: Best home gym for cardio
The Bowflex PR3000 home gym is a multifunction system that uses Power Rods to create resistance. You get 210lbs as standard, but this can be scaled up to 310lbs once you start to progress in your weight training.
The home gym is good for over 50 exercises and uses a no-change pulley system. This makes it easy to transition between sets, and is therefore also ideal for HIIT or cardio based workouts. The addition of a row station makes this an even more inviting option for cardio fans.
The seat is adjustable, unlike some others in our best home gyms guide, and is good for up to 300lbs of user weight. The Bowflex PR3000 is a great option if you live with others who also want to use the machine and will therefore need to change the settings easily to suit them.
While the Bowflex PR3000 home gym isn't the cheapest multi-gym, it's very well made and designed to last many a year. Speaking of years, Bowflex offers a seven-year power road warranty and one-year frame warranty on the PR3000.
- Read our Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym review
The cheapest prices on the best home gyms
Home gym equipment FAQ
How we chose the best home gyms
We've been reviewing the best home gyms for several years, so we know what to look for when seeking out the top multi-gyms for home use. Buying a home gym is a significant investment, especially if you're considering one of the pro-level multi-stations designed for multiple people to use at once. It’s therefore important to keep in mind that home gyms provide value both in terms of money and time.
If you invest in a quality home gym, you could save money in the long-term as you won't have to spend money year after year on an expensive gym membership. That, and you won't have to deal with lengthy queues at your local fitness centre either.
To help you pick from among the best home gyms, we also interviewed industry experts such as Tom Holland, a nationally-recognized exercise physiologist, Nautilus, Inc. fitness advisor and author of Beat the Gym. Holland helped us understand why strength training is so important, and why purchasing a home gym can be advantageous...
“Strength training is truly the fountain of youth, not only adding years to your life but also adding life to your years,” Holland said. “If you have a home, then you have a home gym. Everyone needs to exercise and you can now do so in the privacy of your own home. In the amount of time it takes you to travel to the gym, you can be finished with your workout.”
The best home gyms vs commercial gyms
Unsure whether to invest in one of the best home gyms or to stump up for another annual gym membership? It all depends on how often you hit the gym and whether you can get more out of paying for a monthly subscription than you could with owning your own multi-gym.
Here we look at the pros and cons of each, so you can determine what works for your budget and lifestyle.
The primary benefit of a home gym is that you get to choose what equipment and accessories are there, and you can set them up exactly how you want. You’ll never have wait for other people to get off the equipment you need to use either, or have to clean up someone else’s sweat.
A home gym is also open whenever you want it to be, and it doesn’t require a commute. You also don’t have to deal with sudden changes in hours of operation or busy peak periods where the gym is crowded.
Plus, working out on your own has advantages: no random distractions, and no worrying about others waiting to use the machine you're on. It's just you and your workout. You can also listen to or watch whatever you want, wear whatever you want, and puff and grunt all you want if your workout is intense.
Although buying one of the best home gyms requires an upfront cost, it could be more cost-efficient over time. After only a few years, the cost of those annual gym memberships will outstrip the cost of the home gym.
Commercial gyms Undoubtedly, the best part of having a commercial gym membership is that you have access to all kinds of equipment, accessories, amenities and exercise classes beyond the weight training room. For a monthly fee you can get in a variety of different workouts to hone your body and achieve your specific health and fitness goals, and all without having to maintain the equipment yourself.
At a gym, you may even have access to a personal trainer, should you need a few private sessions (many of these charge extra on top of your membership fee). You may be able to find people to spot you when lifting heavier weights, and you'll become part of a larger fitness community. The energetic environment, bustle and motivation from fellow gym-goers is also a bonus for some people.
Commercial gyms are also climate controlled, so you'll feel more comfortable working out in a gym than you would at home if you don't have a central air conditioner.
What to look for in the best home gyms
Buying a home gym is a weighty decision, but we’re here to make it easier.
“It used to be that you had two main options when buying a home gym,” says fitness trainer and home gym expert Tom Holland. “Order it from a late-night TV infomercial or go to multiple stores in person. Now you can watch videos, read reviews and truly do your homework before you purchase.”
On that note, here are the four main things experts recommend you consider in order to choose the best home gym for you...
Home gyms are big, heavy machines. Because space is such an important consideration, we outlined the dimensions and weights of each model. Along with accounting for your machine’s footprint, keep in mind that you’ll need additional space for range of movement as you extend your arms and legs during your exercise routine.
If you choose a multi-station home gym system, you’ll also need room to get around the machine as you move from one station to another. You’ll also want to allow enough space away from walls and doors to make your workout as comfortable and convenient as possible, and to ensure you can get in and out of the room.
Free weights (think dumbbells and barbells) are used for independent weight lifting that doesn’t require a machine. By contrast, most home gyms use either weight stacks or weight plates to create strength-building resistance. Some, like the TRX GO, uses your own body weight to create resistance.
Weight stack machines let you choose your resistance level by adjusting a weight stack built into your equipment’s frame. A cable and pulley system provides the mechanism for you to lift and release the weight. Weight plates are weights you manually fasten to your home gym’s workout components and exchange for heavier weights as you build strength.
We also reviewed home gyms that use power rods to create resistance. Power rods, like those found on Bowflex home gyms, provide resistance much like the resistance on a bow. The resistance increases as the tension becomes tauter and eases as the rods straighten.
The best home gyms for beginners
Holland says that weight training newcomers often choose home gyms with weight stacks. These are also called sectorized or selectorized machines because they enable you to build strength more safely than when using free weights. Also, they offer convenience.
Plate-loaded pieces are good for someone who already has a set of weights to use on them, but they are a hassle to change when compared to a selectorized machine.
It’s important to determine which style of resistance you would prefer. Also, consider buying a home gym that lets you add more weight or upgrade its resistance as you get stronger and your goals become more ambitious.
As you consider your budget, you’ll also want to think about your current fitness level and long-term fitness goals. It might be worth it, in the long run, to spend a little more money upfront rather than needing to invest in new equipment as you get stronger.
How much do the best home gyms cost?
We found a wide range in the pricing of home multi-gyms. Systems on the low end start from under $150, while the most expensive can reach up to $10,000 when you factor in all the accessories.
Based on our research, it’s best to budget an average of $1,300 for on of the best home gyms, as then you can hit that sweet spot between price and a great range of features, plus durability and ease of use.
Keep in mind that the price of a home gym depends on the machine's size and capability, what it's made of, and the technology it uses. Luckily, there are plenty of home exercise equipment sales throughout the year, so you may pick up a bargain.
Setting up a home gym
Where to set up your home gym
Once you know what equipment you want for your home workout space, the next step is to figure out where to put it. Ideally you’ll want to set up your home gym somewhere with a concrete floor. Why? Because all-in-one home gyms and free weights can be heavy, even though we have tried to stay away from the heaviest machines in our best home gyms round-up.
You’ll also want flooring that can support your equipment and also withstand drops. We also recommend a space with good airflow, so you don’t overheat while working out. This will also keep your home gym from smelling.
Typically, most people use part or all of a garage or unfinished basement, as these offer the most room and better temperature control. You can also opt to set up your home gym in a spare bedroom, office or back porch. Just ensure that your setup plan allows enough room for a good workflow, and that the machine isn't too heavy for your upstairs room.
Consider using closets, shelving and containers to store weight accessories like dumbbells, resistance bands, jump ropes and other kit. This will keep your home gym looking neat when not in use. We also recommend leaving an open, uncluttered area within your home gym so you can have room to stretch out before and after your workout.