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These days, we tend to spend more and more time at work pursuing our dreams. When we don’t, we often find entertainment as browsing our smartphones or playing that one cool game on our tablets or do something.
However, when it comes to fitness and workout, it gets harder and harder to find enough time for visiting the gym. Good gyms are not always around your place of residence, and sometimes you have to drive halfway town to get there and back.
Another thing is that many gyms are overcrowded with all sorts of muscle-bound macho men and lean model-like girls. It gets awkward and uncomfortable sometimes for those who just want to have a regular workout to stay fit.
Solution? There’s one – home gyms.
What is a home gym?
A home gym is a wonderful piece of sports equipment that allows you to do basic exercises for all muscle groups using one single machine. Think of it as a gym in miniature. Due to its relatively small size, you can easily setting up a home gym in your room and exercise whenever you like.
Benefits of using a home gym
Each year home gyms are getting more and popular because they are:
- sufficient enough for most sportsmen
Here in this article, we present you the best home gyms industry has to offer for 2017. It will help you choose the right home gym for you and your family.
Best Home Gym – Our Top Picks
Here’s a list of 10 best home gym you have already run into or will do it sooner or later.
|Product name||Target muscle groups||Dimensions||Weight|
|Bowflex Xtreme 2SE Home Gym||All main muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs)||96" L x 78" W x 83" H||157 pounds|
|Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym||All main muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs)||83" L x 51" W x 83" D||210 pounds|
|Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench||Abs, legs, back, arms||90" L x 19" W x 43"H (unfolded)||93.4 pounds|
|Phoenix 99226 Power Pro Olympic Bench||All main muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs)||88" L x 60" W x 83"H (Assembled dimensions)||142 pounds|
|Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym||All main muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs)||84" L x 38" W x 81" H||149 pounds|
|Weider Ultimate Body Works||Arms, shoulders, back, abs, legs||62" L x 8" W x 19" H||79 pounds|
|Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage with Linear Bearings||All main muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs)||95" L x 79" W x 86" H||237 pounds|
|Powerline BSG10X Home Gym||All main muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs)||70" D x 42" W x 80" H||344 pounds|
|Total Gym 1900||Abs, legs, back, arms||92.5" L x 16" W x 43.2" H||75 pounds|
|Bowflex Blaze Home Gym||All main muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs)||59" L x 23" W x 14" H||214 pounds|
Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is a full-body workout machine that is quite compact for such a set of features.
Although the product description says you can perform more than 70 exercises on it, it’s mostly variations of a few basic ones.
What’s really true is that it is indeed full-body with an extra attention given to back muscles.
Instead of free weights, this home gym uses the so-called Power Rod system. For some of us who are used to working out with free weights, the switch to power rods may feel uncomfortable at first since the experience is quite different.
Whether power rods are better than the regular free weights is up to you. However, we personally feel that power rods are inferior – simply because they can lose resistance over time. That is one of the main problems with Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE.
The standard option power rods feature 210 pounds of resistance. However, you can upgrade them up to 410 pounds, if you feel strong enough (has to be ordered separately).
The seat is very ergonomic and feels comfortable in any position.
Another great thing about this home gym is that you can switch from one exercise to another (if you’re doing a superset) without having to change the cable system and rearranging the whole thing. If you like to train hard, this may come in handy.
As for the muscle groups, We would say that Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE can deliver you a strong back and arm workout. Leg workout would have been great too if it wasn’t for the squats – they’re quite pathetic in this home gym. The bench press is satisfactory at best, so are ab crunches.
When buying Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE, keep in mind that it will require some assembling and a lot of patience. It may take up to 4-5 hours to get the whole thing assembled right; however, all the instructions and manuals are quite easy to follow.
The built quality is perfect and they give a 1-year warranty on the frame and a lifetime warranty for the power rods (that does not include the rods losing resistance, only damage).
- offers a full-body workout
- excellent choice of back and arm exercises
- perfect build quality
- quite compact
- Power Rod system may seem uncomfortable to some
- poor choice of chest and abs exercises
Overall, this is a good product that can satisfy most customers’ needs if you’re ready to spring for the price.
Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym follows a more traditional approach to bodybuilding equipment. It features a selectorized 210-pound weight stack with 10-pound plates, which is something most of us are used to in the regular gyms.
This machine allows performing almost a full-body workout, save for the legs. Here we’ve got a separate pec-station, low, high and mid pulleys for back exercises. Those of you, who want to pay an extra attention to the shoulders, would be pleased with the deltoid raise and shoulder press featured in EXM2500S.
Seriously, there isn’t a major flaw with this model except for the leg workout. Featured here are legs curls and extensions, but that’s really it – no leg press. If leg muscles are your main concern, you might want to look for an alternative.
Another thing that may disappoint some of you six-pack lovers is abdominal muscles workout options. Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym can offer you just the ab crunches and oblique bends.
If you’re like us and think that oblique bends are quite useless for building strong abs, there won’t be many other ab workout options for you with this home gym.
One other minor flaw – you can’t do cable crossovers with both arms at the same time, which is not that big of a deal.
The build quality is phenomenal – everything looks rugged and feels sturdy. Moreover, the parts are very smooth in operation. Rollers, cables, padding – they are all durable enough to sustain even the heaviest workout regime.
Overall, this machine leaves a very strong impression of something that’s built for ages. There is no excuse here for Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym to be just a home gym system – it would fit naturally in any high-class gym with zero compromises.
Now for the assembly – as with many home gyms, it’s a pain in the… back;). Be ready to spend at least four hours putting it all together as the manufacturer did not care to provide a detailed instruction to go with such a great workout machine, unfortunately.
- very well-built + excellent durability
- easy and safe to use
- great workout for all upper body muscle groups
- lifetime warranty for everything
- poor leg workout
- difficult to assemble
- takes up quite a lot of space
This is a perfect choice for those who want to have a gym away from the gym. Versatile, durable and sturdy – everything you need for a heavy workout.
At a glance, Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench is a portable home gym with multi-purpose bench. Bearing 400 lb weight capacity, this machine is said to provide for a full body workout, however, in reality, its features are quite limited.
First of all, many exercises require you to use your own body as a counterweight which is not a good thing by all means. Second, the number of choices for back and chest exercises is quite limited if not to say redundant. And finally, legs – don’t expect to become a “Quadzilla” with this home gym. Best it can do is to sustain your current level.
On the bright side, it’s very mobile and easy to use even in small spaces. The construction of Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench suggests no assembly which is great as it’s often a painful process for those of us, who are not good on the technical side.
Another advantage is that this home gym is suitable for almost all levels. We imagine ourself being a beginner – this bench would probably be one of our top choices. Elderly people would also find Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench quite useful as it’s plain simple and safe.
Due to the design, this thing doesn’t have to be mounted. It’s so compact you can even take it to work – if you’re a fitness freak with a pickup truck.
For those of you who like extras and bonuses, the manufacturer will throw in a bunch of free stuff for you. This stuff includes 5 workout DVDs, exercise chart, training deck, and meal planning guide. Not much, but it’s still nice.
Despite all the good things, our main problem with this home gym is that it doesn’t provide a real full body workout. Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench may be OK for beginners who want to develop general body strength and women who just want to sustain their good shape. If you’re serious about bodybuilding, this home gym may not be the right choice.
And of course, the price – for such a basic product, I consider it too high. Add just a couple hundred bucks, and you’re in a totally different department, where high-class multi-purpose home gyms are sold.
As for the build quality, it’s OK – there may be some problems with welding joints, but other than it’s alright. Manufacturer provides a lifetime warranty on the frame and a six-month warranty on parts.
- light and portable
- requires no assembly
- takes up little space
- great for toning
- almost useless for bulking
- quite expensive for such a limited amount of features
Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench maybe not up to the standards of full-body workout. But it’s compact and quite good for beginners and those who want to sustain their shape.
Now that is a monster of a home gym. Despite its relatively small size, Phoenix 99226 Power Pro Olympic Bench allows you to do a full body workout with ease and comfort, unbeatable for such price.
This home gym is extremely versatile, almost to the point of a Lego toy where you can combine different parts to your best liking. It comes with leg lift, lat tower, and preacher curl attachments, which, combined with the Olympic-size bench and squat rack, allow you to do all exercises imaginable.
One thing you will definitely want to buy together with Phoenix 99226 Power Pro Olympic Bench is a weight bar (not included in the original shipment) and barbells. When you get this full set, you will be the king of home gyms.
Chest press under different degrees? No problem. Full-size squats? Right here. Shoulder press? Yes, certainly. This machine has it all.
But if it’s so great, why isn’t it dominating the market? There’s got to be some downside to all these great features. Unfortunately, there is. It’s the quality and general sturdiness.
Don’t expect it to be made of titanium. Poor welding and flaking paint are just as features of Phoenix 99226 Power Pro Olympic Bench as versatility and affordability.
Our other disappointment with this product was that it can only tolerate up to 100 pounds of weight on lat pull despite the fact that it is supposed to allow up to 150 lbs. Anything more than 100 lbs may potentially lead to welding giving way.
To wrap it up, tall people would probably find themselves uncomfortable using this bench. If you are over 6’1”, exercising in Phoenix 99226 Power Pro Olympic Bench can turn into a nightmare, so beware.
Despite all the issues, I consider this home gym a real bang for the buck and if your goal is to train your body hard (save for the back), it’s a great solution.
- extremely versatile
- allows for an extensive full-body workout, legs included
- three times cheaper than the nearest competitor
- poor build quality
- unsuitable for tall people
- lat pull down is insufficient for most sportsmen
Despite satisfactory build quality and lack of normal weights on lat pulley, Phoenix 99226 Power Pro Olympic Bench is a perfect solution for those who are limited on budget and want a full body workout machine.
PR1000 Home Gym is Bowflex’s entry-level model (not counting Body Tower, because it suggests using body weight). It features a horizontal bench press, triple-function hand grips for crossovers, lat pull downs, and various presses.
Another feature is the rowing machine rail which allows you to do cardiovascular warm-ups and cool-downs. I wish more home gyms had this because cardio is just as important part of the training process as any other exercises.
As with other Bowflex products, PR1000 uses the patented Power Rod system instead of free weights, which provide a maximum of 210 lbs of resistance. The downside here is that you cannot upgrade it to 310 lbs as in their other models.
I personally don’t have anything wrong with that yet it still feels somewhat unusual, weird. Even though you eventually get used to that, your mind keeps noticing the difference. Not a flaw by itself, but still it feels different.
Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym does the job nicely for all muscle groups as advertised except maybe legs. If you want huge quads, consider other models. Otherwise, it’s fine.
The resistance limit of 210 lbs may not be enough for some of us gym rats. I saw some people on the Internet doing custom upgrades so that PR1000 could bear up 310 lbs or even 410 lbs. But you have to realize that such an upgrade will absolutely void the warranty. If you’re that strong, consider switching to the regular gym.
The build quality is flawless, just like you would expect from Bowflex – they know their stuff well. The size this device takes up is somewhat reasonable for such amount of features. Of course, it’s not your average everyday bench, but it should be OK for most basements.
I would like to point out the bench once again as it’s perfectly built, very ergonomic, complete with two upholstered roller cushions for leg curls and extensions. A rowing machine will definitely come in handy for warm-ups and cool-downs.
The manufacturer gives 1-year warranty for the frame and 5-year warranty for the rods although that does not cover the rods losing their resistance, so keep that in mind.
- great build quality
- has rowing machine for cardio exercises
- lack of good leg exercises
- power rods provide a maximum of 210 lbs of resistance – non-upgradable
Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym falls in that difficult “middle-price, middle set of features” category. It’s too expensive for those who want to save and not sufficient enough for those who want the real full body workout. Yet, it’s a great product by Bowflex and deserves not to be overlooked.
This home gym is one of the cheapest out and there’s a reason that – it uses your own body weight for resistance. That’s right, no power rods, no weight stacks. Typically, home gyms which utilize body weight resistance principle are the cheapest, entry-level models of a given manufacturer model range.
Speaking of Weider Ultimate Body Works, it does the job for the money asked. Of course, the advertising and product descriptions will try to assure you that this is a marvel of the modern sports industry and a multi-functional piece of sports equipment. Well, it’s not.
Whenever choosing a home gym, you have to realize what your purposes are. This exact product is an entry-level model designed mostly for shaping and general body exercises. And it’s good at it. However, if your goals are beyond that, this might not be what you’re looking for.
Weider Ultimate Body Works is essentially a moving bench with a pulley system. It allows performing a good variety of back and arm exercises using your own body weight. To increase the weight resistance, you should adjust the bench to a steeper incline – it’s as easy as that.
Surprisingly enough, it’s suitable for tall people, it will still be quite comfortable for you to exercise in this home gym.
Another great thing is that it’s light, portable and takes up very little space. If you live in an apartment, Weider Ultimate Body Works might be a good solution. Due to its construction, this home gym bench requires minimum assembly – 30 minutes and it’s done.
Now for the downside. This machine is not as sturdy as it should’ve been – some of us who get excited pumping weights might find this confusing. Quite soon after the purchase, you may notice that it doesn’t glide as smooth as it used to – so much for the quality of materials used.
The manufacturer provides 90 days of parts and labor warranty.
- requires little space
- minimum assembly needed
- cheap cost
- offers limited amount of exercises
- mediocre build quality
Overall, Weider Ultimate Body Works is a bargain for those who want a cheap exercise bench in their apartment, but it won’t go beyond that.
Moving on to the heavy stuff department. Jokes aside, this is a professional piece of sports equipment which might as well belong to a regular gym.
Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is a smith style machine with enormous workout possibilities and excellent performance. Due to its size, this cage may not be suitable for most apartments, but it’s the case when size truly matters.
We can’t think of any better professional or semi-professional home gym system other than this. Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage has everything a bodybuilder would wish and even more. Proper leg, chest, and back workout. Your bicep and triceps muscles will beg for more after each round of exercises. Hey, it even has a pectoral fly station!
Smith system suggests that there are safety stoppers and adjustable bar catches – extremely useful for heavier weights when there is not spotter around to help you.
Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage has a maximum of 600-lb weight capacity which should be more than enough for most of us sportsmen.
The weights, however, are not included and you will have to purchase them yourself.
There isn’t really anything wrong with this machine other than the fact that it costs like 10 Weider benches, it’s heavy, and it requires a hefty amount of space in all three dimensions.
The build quality is excellent – everything is sturdy and solid. The foot plate features a non-slip surface which is a nice touch and provides an overall “strong” feel to the already powerful cage.
The manufacturer provides a 2-year warranty on limited parts. Please note that if order this home gym, the delivery people might not be able to carry it to your door as it weighs over 300 pounds.
All in all, it’s hard to imagine a beginner buying Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage. However, for those of you who have bodybuilding experience and want a gym away from the gym, this cage is a perfect solution.
If you have one at your place, you basically have no reason to visit the gym whatsoever. OK, maybe for the swimming pool or treadmill. But if your goal is bodybuilding only, look no further than this monster home gym.
- has ALL possible types of exercises
- provides up to 600 lbs of weight
- excellent build quality
- way too expensive for most
- heavy and takes up a lot of space
Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is like a minigun in the world of guns – it dominates due to its size, capacity, and reliability. And just like the minigun, it’s unaffordable for most of us.
“Ergonomic” is the first word that comes to mind when you see Body-Solid Powerline Home Gym. This machine somehow manages to have all the necessary elements of a home gym while taking up little space.
Unlike many other home gyms, it has a traditional press bar which we find absolutely reasonable as it allows maximum concentration on your pecs.
Lat pulldown station is also great providing all possible kinds of movements.
When it comes to the assembly, Body-Solid Powerline Home Gym is also different from other home gyms – in a good way. It ship almost assembled, all you have to do is fasten 9 bolts – no complicated diagrams to follow, no technical mind required. Easy does it, doesn’t it?
However, when shipped, this item is over 300 pounds so it might not be carried up to your front door, which is something to consider.
Body-Solid Powerline Home Gym features a 160-lb weight stack which should be more than enough for most amateurs. Cables are able to withstand 2,200-pound tension and are said to be “military-grade,” but we all know that these words are just fancy marketing babble.
What’s really true is that the whole thing indeed feels solid and well-built with zero compromises to the quality.
One thing that we find adorable about this product is the price. For the features and quality that you get, it’s almost unbeatable – not to mention that this guy is real space-saver. It may even fit in some apartments.
As for the flaws, there aren’t many with Body-Solid Powerline. It might not always feel stable and even may wobble when the gym is put on a sports mat. The numbering system on the weight plates feels confusing as it doesn’t follow a traditional 10, 20, 30… pattern. It sucks when you want to know exactly how much you lift.
The manufacturer provides a limited 10-year warranty on the frame and 1-year warranty on other parts.
- very ergonomic and space saving
- covers most muscle groups (except legs)
- solid and well-built
- requires little assembly
- may shake and wobble on an uneven surface
- weird weight-stack numbering pattern
Body-Solid Powerline Home Gym has an excellent quality ratio. It takes up little space and does a great job providing a basic set of exercises. An ideal choice for a mid-range home gym.
Total Gym 1900 falls into the same category as Weider Ultimate Body Works (product-wise, but not price-wise) almost to the point where you can call them clones.
This bench is compact, versatile, and portable – just like you would expect it to be. Exercise choice is limited mostly to back, abs, arms and leg exercises.
Similar to Weider Ultimate Body Works, Total Gym 1900 relies on body weight resistance instead of weight stacks. You can adjust the resistance by choosing among 12 levels – from 3% to 45% body resistance.
Maximum allowed user weight is 350 lbs.
Total Gym 1900 delivers great cardio workout and stretch. It’s basically useless for serious bodybuilders but may prove helpful for those who are looking for basic strength-building exercises.
It’s quite versatile as well – elderly people can use it. It’s equally comfortable for short and tall people. Another great thing is that it arrives almost assembled so that means less hassle for you.
Our main concern with this product is its price. For those of you don’t care about the brand and just want to get your money’s worth, there is no reason why you should choose this product over similar Weider bench.
There may be some differences here and there but overall these two products are virtually the same and you’re looking for a compact home gym without additional expenses, consider Weider Ultimate Body Works first.
Needless to say, that if you’re a professional bodybuilder (or on your way to becoming one), this may not be the product you’re looking for since it provides only general exercises.
- it’s compact, taking up a reasonable amount of space
- requires no assembly
- great for cardio and stretching
- high cost
- useless for bulking
Total Gym 1900 is virtually the same product as Weider Ultimate Body Works, just costs higher. Otherwise, it’s a great home gym bench, compact and versatile.
Bowflex Blaze Home Gym is a mid-range product by Bowflex. It stands between the entry-level PR1000 and sophisticated Xtreme 2SE in their lineup.
Compared to PR1000, this home gym gives more attention to leg muscles. The lower pulley/squat station offers a great variety of leg exercises to work on your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
The standard Power Rod system provides up to 210 pounds of resistance, however, it can be upgraded to 310 lbs. or even 410 lbs.
Overall, this machine has a nice balance of features and build quality on one side and the price on the other side, for a Bowflex product that is.
If power rods are not an issue for you, Bowflex Blaze Home Gym could be your primary choice for a mid-range home gym. Keep in mind that the pounds jotted down on the power rods may not correspond directly to what you’re used to lifting in the regular gym. Just something for you to be aware of.
Other issues include the complicated assembly process and the loss of tension in the rods over time (which is not covered by the manufacturer warranty, by the way). However, these issues are quite universal for all Bowflex products and you might as well just live with them as long as you’re overall satisfied with your home gym.
The price is also somewhat higher than that of many competitor products.
- provides a complete body workout, with extra attention to legs
- well-built and sturdy
- easy and safe to use
- power rods
- a little bit overpriced
Bowflex Blaze Home Gym is a good, but not a fine product. If you’re budget-limited, look for cheaper alternatives as there are many.
Home Gym Buyer’s Guide
The fact that you’re considering a home gym means you’re not fully satisfied with the idea of going to a regular gym. Whether it’s time, money or simple convenience considerations, you have to clearly realize what they are.
Obviously, not all home gyms are the same and you have to spend some time searching for the one that fits you best. To find out which one that is, you need to formulate the criteria.
Here are the questions that will help you do that
- What are my goals in this?
- Losing weight
- Bulking up
- Building up general muscle strength
- Getting more separation and muscle detail
Different home gyms serve different purposes. For examples, if your goal is toning, there’s no need spend more money on a full body workout machine, that uses weight stack, power rods or even weight bar with free weights.
In this case, you might as well succeed with a simple bench that uses just the body weight as resistance. Such benches cost significantly less. They also allow great cardio opportunities.
If your goal is bulking, you’ll probably have to spring for something more serious – a home gym that uses weight plates or power rods. They are usually more expensive, but at the same time more effective.
- What’s my experience?
- Beginner (less than a few months)
- Intermediate (6 months to 1-2 years)
- Experienced (more than 2 years)
Beginners mostly need general body-strengthening exercises which even cheaper home gyms can offer while intermediate sportsmen usually go beyond that and require some specification. If you are a beginner and don’t really know much about home gyms, watch video below – it will get you started the right way.
Another thing to consider is maximum weight capability – if you’re an experienced bodybuilder, you want to make sure your home gym has enough weights for you to lift. Some home gyms can be upgraded by purchasing additional weights/rods.
Top-of-range models can even have weight bars with barbells – it’s as close to the real gym as you can get.
- What are my personal parameters (height, weight, age)?
This is a very important thing. Bodybuilding is not only about gaining muscles and losing fat. It’s also about safety and risk-free training.
Some home gyms may not be equally suitable for tall and short people. If you’re not able to try out the home gym you’re considering, do spend some time on the Internet studying reviews and reading guides. It will prevent you from an unnecessary and potentially risky purchase.
Same goes with the weight – most manufacturers state the maximum allowed user so keep an eye on this information.
Age is also important as not all exercises/gyms/systems are suitable for elderly people. Of course, it all depends on your current health condition. Please, do consult with your physician before doing any new exercise.
- How much space do you have available?
That’s right – space. Not everyone lives in a big house – sometimes we have to work out a solution for a small apartment. Whenever choosing a home gym, always look out for dimensions – and not only in standing position but also in fully extended position as some home gyms are real transformers.
The information about product size and dimensions is usually available straight from the product description page on the manufacturer’s website or e-shop.
If you invest enough time and effort, you will most definitely find an acceptable home gym solution for your place.
If you’re not sure how to set up your home gym properly, this article may prove very helpful.
- How much money can you afford to spend?
Last, but not least – this question is heavily tied with the quality and features. Usually, a higher price means better quality and more features, however, it’s not always like that.
Some products are more “branded” than the others. Therefore they can cost more for the same amount of pleasure as compared to some lesser known brands.
Try to look beyond the advertising and all these fancy words – of course, the manufacturers would love to sell you their product using all the marketing power they can get. But you know your criteria – just search for the best match and ignore all the rest.
These are the main questions you want to ask yourself when considering a home gym. By answering these questions, you can pretty much narrow your choice down to a few options, and compare them during a “fair fight.”
Home gyms are not new to the market – they’ve been around for years. However, they are getting more and more popular recently, because they are:
- sufficient enough for most bodybuilders and sportsmen
- save time and money spent on regular gyms
There are many models to choose from – be sure to consult with our Home Gym Buyer’s Guide before you settle on a certain item.
Home gyms are no longer a fad or gimmick as some of us may have considered them in the past. They are sophisticated pieces of sports equipment, which are ready to use without any special knowledge or experience.
Many home gyms come with video instructions, workout suggestions, and even diet plans – what more would you wish?
Good luck buying your first (or new) best home gym – I hope it will serve you well and help you shape the body of your dream!