Complete Guide to Buying the Best Fitness Equipment for Your Home Gym
It’s always a positive step forward when you decide it’s time to get your own home gym or expand the current one. The benefits are HUGE: You still train on days when it’s not possible to visit a commercial gym; you don’t skip workout days, and you save money; to name just a few.
But, it can be a challenging journey.
The market is brimming with different kinds of fitness equipment in various sizes, shapes, specs, and price ranges. This makes it a risky and daunting task to select the best home gym equipment.
That’s why we have put together this comprehensive guide.
In this article, we will walk you by hand through every necessary information you need to know when buying equipment and accessories for your home gym. By the end of your reading, you’ll have been sufficiently knowledgeable on the what’s, why’s, and how’s of buying any fitness item, from the equipment as advanced as a treadmill to one as simple as a knee sleeve.
Table of content
We are going to approach this subject matter from two different angles (psychological and concrete) as outlined below:
- Question to ask—a personal evaluation of self to better understand your workout goals, expectations, and readiness.
- Features to look out for—concrete factors directly related to specific gym equipment and potentially affecting your selection.
Let’s get started.
Questions to ask
Before you set out to build your body, you must build your mind first. The following self-examining questions and concerns should be properly addressed before anything else.
- What are your workout goals?
- What level of workout do you plan to do?
- Decide how much weight you’ll need.
- What kind of workouts do you prefer or like to do? Do you want to build any particular body areas?
- Do you have enough space in your house?
- Look at the possible uses for each piece of equipment.
- Who will you be sharing your home workout equipment with?
- Check the limitations of the equipment.
- How often are you going to use this fitness equipment?
- Should you buy used or new?
- What is your budget?
WHAT ARE YOUR WORKOUT GOALS?
Why are you investing in a home gym? Do you want to improve your general health? Are you looking to lose extra pounds? Aiming to strengthen up, build endurance, or just add some cardio? Build muscles or sculpt a body like some figure from Greek mythology? It could even be to fill up days missed out at the commercial gym.
You alone are fully responsible to know what exactly it is you hope to achieve from your home workouts beforehand, so answer these questions to yourself before you buy any new gym equipment. Doing so helps you tailor your purchase to the intended program of use.
Do you want to strengthen your heart, supplement your running/jogging routine, or make up for days when running outdoors isn’t feasible, then your best option would be the treadmill. But, if you want to add cardio and also want to build a perfect butt, then make friends with an elliptical machine.
WHAT LEVEL OF WORKOUT DO YOU PLAN TO DO?
As a gym user, what level or category are you—a newbie, regular Joe, amateur, strongman, powerlifter, bodybuilder, or elite athlete? What level do you aim to attain?
Your level or area of workout should determine your choice of buying home workout equipment.
DECIDE HOW MUCH WEIGHT YOU’LL NEED
The amount of weight you’ll need depends on your strength-training goal, how strong you are, what type of exercise you’ve added to your workout regimen, and your budget.
Are you lifting weights to increase strength and endurance, for power, or for muscle mass? Obviously, you’ll need higher weights if you were a strongman competitor or Olympic athlete, for example than if you were a beginner or regular gym user. One barbell and a few plates combined with a pair of dumbbells and kettlebells are probably what you need for an average home gym.
Don’t make the common mistake of buying what you may not have use for. It’s even better to invest that money in getting totally different gym equipment, to add versatility and fun to your workout routine.
WHAT KIND OF WORKOUTS DO YOU PREFER OR LIKE TO DO? DO YOU WANT TO BUILD ANY PARTICULAR BODY AREAS?
Your workout goals type will fall under any one or combination of the following training categories: strength, endurance, aerobics, balance, flexibility, and coordination. Unless you’re into CrossFit training (and, even so) you’re likely more invested into one or two training categories than the rest. Ultimately, this preference or necessity, as the case may be, will influence your selection of fitness equipment and choice of exercise type.
Are you for strength training? Then, free weight home gym equipment like dumbbells, barbells & weight plates, kettlebells, medicine balls, resistance bands and tubes, sandbags, adjustable bench home gym equipment, and pull-up bar, as well as fixed weight machines like cable machines and home gym stations, are your best bet. Some of the common exercise types in this category are the bench & shoulder presses with your dumbbells or barbells, bicep curls, deadlift, squats, powerlifting, CrossFit, kettlebell variations, sit-ups, and pull-ups, to name a few.
If you’re working on cardio or prefer aerobic exercises, then, weight loss, healthy heart/lungs, improved blood circulation, and general fitness, maybe some of your higher ranking goals. In that case, you may need aerobic equipment like a treadmill, elliptical trainer, indoor bike, aerobic stepper, ab wheel, resistance ball, and jump rope. As an added bonus, this equipment will also build your endurance, balance, and coordination.
Exercise accessories like yoga gears, extension benches/Roman Chairs, Styrofoam roller, resistance bands, exercise balls, and jump rope will improve your flexibility, balance, and/or coordination.
As for endurance, it is built either directly or in passing with a good combination of any of the above-mentioned exercise equipment and styles.
Your workout interest may also be purely cosmetic, like building a specific body shape or parts. There will likely be different exercise equipment for chest, shoulders, arms, abs, glutes, or legs, for instance. With that said, whatever tool you’re buying for your workout can also be affected by your esthetic body goals.
So, nail down your workout goals, then decide on exercises you want to be able to perform to achieve that goal. This personal evaluation will help you choose the right gym equipment tailored to your needs.
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH SPACE IN YOUR HOUSE?
Gym equipment can appear small in a commercial gym’s big hall, while the same piece of equipment takes up a significant chunk of space in your small homeroom. This means that you have to first map out the space you have and do a basic floor plan for your new, incoming treadmill, home gym, or any big fitness machines, as the case may be before you place an order.
Luckily, these days, many gym equipment pieces are impressively adjustable and can fold up into smaller units, making for convenient, space-saving use or storage in tight corners and other unused spaces around your house.
Make sure you have space.
LOOK AT THE POSSIBLE USES FOR EACH PIECE OF EQUIPMENT
Two gym equipment may serve basically the same purpose while one offers more versatility than the other. A typical example may be dumbbells and kettlebells or dumbbells and barbells. Dumbbells offer more versatile use than both the kettlebell and barbell, in most cases. Don’t neglect this flexible-use consideration, as it can be a good way to save money, space, and other resources.
WHO WILL YOU BE SHARING YOUR HOME WORKOUT EQUIPMENT WITH?
Are you the only person using your home gym or are there other persons (family & friends) who also have access to it? If you have to compete with other individuals for this space, then, it’s worth investing in strong, durable, high-quality gym equipment. Also, you might consider buying a multi-station machine, which allows more than one person to work out at the same time, and possibly with the same unit.
Additionally, your kids might also be trying to become fitness freaks, too, so you should consider setting up separate children-friendly equipment, based on your needs. Luckily, these machines aren’t hard to find in the market these days, so you might want to check out our resource on some of the best home workout equipment for your kids.
CHECK THE LIMITATIONS OF THE EQUIPMENT
It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the versatility of the equipment you want to buy. Within products of the same kind, you’ll find that one product (even products within the same brand) offers extra functionalities, higher flexibility of use, and more convenience than another. Invest the time in your research to save yourself from unreasonable expenses and another headache.
HOW OFTEN ARE YOU GOING TO USE THIS FITNESS EQUIPMENT?
Why do you think the used fitness equipment market is rapidly growing? Because people want to upgrade their equipment?
The reason is typically because people bought fitness equipment they weren’t going to use, anyway. It’s pointless buying a large selection of bars and weights if you’re not a weight lifter, for example.
Gym equipment by themselves will not magically give you that body target you wish for. You have to use the product consistently over time to achieve your workout goals. Only then will you have spent wisely.
So, make sure you use your gym equipment!
SHOULD YOU BUY USED OR NEW?
It’s very usual and quite normal to want to skimp on price with used fitness equipment when you’re low on cash—don’t do this. What many often forget is that you end up spending even more than you would for a new product when the secondhand one becomes faulty or doesn’t perform as promised. These products don’t expectedly come with a sure guarantee on quality, performance, and/or replacement.
You’re better off with new equipment from day one to continue your level of professionalism and dedication to your fitness routine. Spend the time to research fitness products on trustworthy product review websites—ours, for example.
Needless to say, new fitness machines will serve better, last longer, and offer a good warranty.
WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
It’s a smart move to do some money talk before starting a new project. And with people investing increasingly in the fitness equipment market, the industry is gaining more and more returns.
Whatever product you choose, make sure that it balances features, functionality, and cost. The goal should be to buy a machine that meets both your present and future needs.
There’s something for everyone in this market, with products ranging from “high-end” gym equipment to relatively basic and “budget-friendly” options.
Features to look out for
Depending on the gym equipment or accessories, below are a few areas to consider, when you’re on the market to stock up your home gym. These details relate directly to the equipment itself.
A good product review will typically feature a “model overview” section that allows you to have a quick read-through and form a general impression of the given product. This section is very important, so don’t neglect it. Scan to get a holistic idea of the product’s model, manufacturers, intended users, application, specs rundown, selling points, rating, and user reception.
The first general intuitive feeling you get from a product’s overview will let you know whether you should even bother to go further with wanting to know more about the item. Time is of the essence, so quickly turn to another product if the overview of the fitness product you want to buy is not particularly enticed you. On the other hand, if you can see through the reviewer’s genuinely positive impression of the product under review, then, it might be worth finding out why by jumping over to the next category.
We’ve previously talked about home gym room and equipment size challenges, but the latter is still worth a separate mention.
If you’re like most homeowners, you likely don’t have a room set out solely for your home gym equipment. For this reason, it’s important to do your proper research on the product’s size information—dimensions when packaged, assembled, or folded.
Can this equipment fit into your room conveniently without vying for space with you and your other properties? Big equipment pieces like a treadmill or multi-station machine need a decent amount of floor space when in use, so make sure to consider this, too.
If you’re tight on space, it may be worth investigating some compact models, or even foldable ones. It’s amazing when you can use, fold up, and store gym equipment out of sight. When possible, it’s always advisable to go for the folding option among two comparable fitness equipment.
WEIGHT INFORMATION—GROSS WEIGHT, NET WEIGHT & WEIGHT CAPACITY
This is the total weight of the purchased fitness item, including the product itself, any packaging, and possibly the vessel transporting the parcel.
Some dealers offer all-expense covered shipping, while others require you to handle the courier charges by yourself. It can be helpful to know the parcel and shipping calculation or policy of the dealer/manufacturer you’re buying from in relation to package weight and delivery.
Information on the gross weight of the incoming package also gives you an idea of what to expect when it arrives, so that you can make adequate preparation for weight handling and equipment installation.
Net weight is the weight of the product and any additional loaded items without the addition of the packaging (weight). Your home gym floor should be able to bear the assembled weight of your workout equipment without issues.
If the equipment is built moveable, then, you might want to check that you’re able to conveniently move the unit to a desired workout or storage space.
Different as they’re built, several models of home gym equipment are made to cater to different user weight limits. Selecting a model that is not ideal for the actual user weight can cause injury to the user or the equipment in a matter of time. It’s advisable to go for models with a higher load limit; yes, it may be more costly, money-wise, but in the long run, it will prove to be a smart investment.
CUSTOMIZABLE ALLOWANCE—SETTINGS & PROGRAMS
The more customizable allowance fitness equipment has, the better. Invest in a model that features a variety of different settings and programs to help keep your workouts interesting.
Depending on the machine, though, it’s a good practice to check for things like adjustable speed options, quick controls, parts adjustments, and other tweakable features. If there are available programs, are there options for both built-in and customizable?
Put into consideration the number of settings and programs featured in the fitness equipment you’re interested in purchasing.
Even though it doesn’t apply to all home fitness equipment owners, it’s important to be able to easily move carry, or move your equipment around your home, especially if you’re limited on space. And if your purchase is a bulky one, it will be smart to measure your home’s entrances and exits, as well as your chosen model before you buy to make sure the product will fit in your home.
There are also times when you may need to take your own gym accessories outdoors, to a commercial gym, or along with you on a vacation. Compact and portable win on those days.
SPACE-SAVING CONVENIENCE & EASY STORAGE
Strong tie-in to the previous category, your choice gym equipment should provide space-saving convenience and allow for easy storage, especially if you’re tight on space or are going to be moving it around.
Though it really depends on the equipment, check to see that things like folding ability, detachable property, and transport wheels, have been featured where possible.
EASE OF USE
Two comparable gym equipment will have different ease-of-use levels. Be sure to choose equipment that doesn’t complicate things unnecessarily, as such machine will add speed, comfort, fun, and ultimately, efficiency to your workout.
Different models and versions of particular gym equipment are designed for different types of users based on factors such as size, weight, age, sex, experience level, and budget. Make sure that you get a model that answers yes to your peculiar needs and situation.
These days, more and more fitness equipment comes with some form of tech support. Digitally connected gym accessories like progress monitors, pulse/heart-rate trackers, Bluetooth devices, and training apps can be found on many equipments such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, and exercise bikes.
These digital support tools can provide useful statistics that make it easier to track and keep records of your workout progress, as well as make it more comprehensive. Many of the more recent or advanced-level treadmills and elliptical machines feature integrated training (and other activities) software that have functions like engaging you on a virtual tour around anywhere in the world from the little screen on your iPad or smartphone. These are effective ways of injecting some engagement and fun into your routine, as well as keeping you motivated.
Try to go digital on your next exercise equipment purchase.
VERSATILITY—PROGRAMS & APPLICATIONS
Typically, specific gym equipment can perform more than one function. A multi-gym station, for example, is a multi-functional fitness machine that allows you to do several variations of exercise programs within the same unit. This helps you save money and gym room space, as well as stay more focused and efficient, with reduced frequent movement around the gym room trying to reach items (which can be energy-sapping).
Even simple, single-piece equipment like the dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells serve multiple (in fact, almost countless!) diverse purposes in the gym.
User comfort with any gym equipment will improve safety, confidence, and input. Where appropriate, there should be the right frame construction, ergonomic design, proper parts adjustments, sufficient padding/cushioning, and adequate support.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Always check to see that the model of fitness equipment you want to buy features the right amount of safety and security features. These can be simple things such as sturdy and stable frames, ergonomic construction, sufficient padding & cushioning, or more technical safety support details like safety locks & straps, child lock, speed controls, emergency controls, anti-slip/skid design, and shock-absorbing tech, where applicable.
STABILITY & QUALITY
Different makes and models of home fitness equipment offer varying quality and stability. If it’s possible, give a first-hand test trial on the model(s) you’re considering, to get a general idea of their feel and quality as relates to your needs. You will want to invest in a product that stands up to long and vigorous use—think durable.
Before you commit to buying any gym equipment, it’s important to see how loud it can be. You don’t want noise in certain areas of your home or around the neighborhood, so the amount of noise generated by your equipment should be a key factor to consider. For equipment like the treadmill, you might want to check things like deck soundproof level or noise level from moving belts; for machines like the elliptical trainer and exercise bike, you can check belt or chain noise level and pedaling sound.
To help extend the lifespan of your home gym equipment, choose a model that is easy to manage and maintain. Make sure that the device can easily be cleaned, repair & replacement are easy enough, replaceable parts are readily available, and certain technical issues are DIY-possible.
If you don’t take these into consideration, you may need to get a replacement sooner than you may have planned for.
PACKAGES INCLUDED / EXTRAS
Some gym equipment purchases come with extra accessories to help enhance user convenience and elevate your workout experience. Depending on the product, these could be simple items like digital monitors, separate sound systems, holding pouches, water bottles, spare parts, instruction manuals, and installation tools.
Compare similar products, and look out for such amazing extras.
The fitness equipment market is bursting with products of all price ranges, from low-cost through mid-range to high-end—there’s something for everyone. Check your pocket and make sure to buy what you truly need. And, just so that you know: Cheap doesn’t always mean poor quality. There are many amazing but unknown fitness products on sale which you can get at a budget-friendly cost. Just research!
If you intend to use your home gym equipment regularly and/or intensively, it’s advisable to choose a model that has a decent warranty. With frequent use, fitness equipment may develop issues, and parts may need replacing. A good warranty will typically cover repair and replacement costs within the stipulated warranty period.
Compare warranty offers from different models and brands to see which meets your expectations best. However, you must be careful at this point, because products with the most enticing warranties often aren’t the best themselves, except they’re high-end purchases.
The best reviews of any product come from actual users. Make sure to check the reviews and ratings of real verified users of the gym product you want to buy. There can be mixed reactions, but trust the majority and your guts.
SPECS RUNDOWN & KEY FEATURES
Browse through the product’s specs, making sure that the key features you seek are present.
PROS & CONS
As with all products, even the best gym equipment and accessories will still have their downsides, and that shouldn’t be much of an issue. Even if you’re going for a cheap option, just make sure that the pros far outweigh the demerits, according to your unique situation. It’s a good idea to choose a model that meets at least 70-percent of your needs, with the other 30-percent being only relatively insignificant demerits.
You can also consider if shipping of the merchandise will come at an all-expense paid free delivery or if you will have to pay for it separately. Also, how long until the purchased product gets to you? Does it arrive at your doorstep or do you have to go pick it up yourself?
Some dealers offer efficient and reliable customer support, while others downright suck. Choose whom you want to work with.
Granted—this fitness equipment buying guide may not answer all your questions. However, it should help you get started on the right path towards buying the best home gym accessories on the market.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time buyer or just want to expand on your current exercise paraphernalia. As long as you have your fitness goals and set up expectations properly aligned with a clear knowledge of what to look out for a home gym equipment, then you should be able to avoid common mistakes and make informed decisions.
CONGRATS! You’re now only a step away from a great home gym experience.