Our home gym reviews article will help you to find your way through the many home gym options so you can make the best choice for your home workout – whether weight loss or muscle gain is your goal.
Choosing a treadmill or elliptical trainer is fairly straightforward – they’re all pretty similar in design, so your choice is really limited to the price, power, size, features and frills.
With home gyms, though there’s a lot more to deciding on which is the right system for you.
Firstly, it’s about deciding on your goals – weight loss, toning, serious muscle building…?
Secondly, it’s about the type of home gym that will help you to achieve these goals – fixed stack, plate loaded, free weights…?
Thirdly, it’s about how much space you have at home – do you need to store it between workouts, keep it set up in a corner of a living room or bedroom, do you have a dedicated workout room…?
Finally, it’s about your budget – how much do you have to invest in your home gym…?
Answering each of these questions is a good place to start – so what do you need to know to make the right choice?
Home Gym Reviews – What are the Resistance Options…?
Take a look at any home exercise equipment website or store catalogue and you’ll probably be totally confused by the choice – it’s bewildering.
Unless you’re a fitness professional or serious trainer already, the first thing you’ll probably home in on is the price – big mistake!
Sure, everyone has a budget but being clear about what the machine can do for you is more important to start with.
The type of resistance that the home gym uses will determine its design, format and usability.
Broadly speaking, these are the main categories that you’ll generally come across in your search:
Resistance Bands – These home gyms are at the cheaper end of the market and basically use elastic bands to provide resistance. They’re compact and you can pack the bands away for easy storage. If toning as part of a weight loss or general fitness program is your goal then these may be a good fit, but they’re not an option for serious muscle building.
Power Rods – Basically, a system of pulleys bend specially calibrated rods that provide the resistance. This is technology developed by Bowflex that has proved very popular with home gym buyers and provides a great whole body workout with literally hundreds of exercise options. Machines are compact though not cheap, but if you’re after a versatile workout as part of a general fitness and conditioning program, then this is a good choice. Avoid cheap imitations, though and be prepared to pay the premium for a decent machine.
Weight stacks – These have been around for years and are a popular method of resistance in home gyms sold by companies like Universal and Body Solid. You’ll find them in many commercial gyms too, as this is a well proven system. Pulleys lift a selectorised stack of weight plates that provides the resistance. Prices vary, largely dependant on the weight of the stack and the quality of the machine built around the stack. A good choice for a fitness or more serious body building workout.
Leverage systems – Newer to the market and developed by companies like Powertec. These are plate loaded and have no pulleys or cables to maintain. They offer similar resistance to free weights and a well built machine can offer hundreds of lbs of resistance. Leverage system home gyms are a good choice for serious body builders and are competitively priced. You’ll need space for multi station machines but you won’t need a spotter.
Plate Loaded – These home gyms range from a simple bench with a bar to power racks and smith machines. Free weights allow for variable resistance and are the foundation of a solid body building program. Benches and bars can be cost effective options and by including some dumbells offer infinite variety – but you’ll need a spotter. Power racks and smith machine based multi gyms allow you to handle heavy weights and have safety features built in so you can work out alone. Hoist and Body Solid offer some excellent machines, but they can be pricey.
Home Gym Reviews – What are the Format Options…?
Basically, you have a choice of:
Our home gym reviews recommendation would be to go for the latter two options – most homes won’t have the room for lots of separate machines like your local gym will.
The number of exercises a home gym can provide will vary greatly and you should try to ensure the machine you go for provides a wide variety.
Nothing comes close to free weights for maximum variety, but many multi station/multi-exercise home gyms will provide 20, 30 or in some cases a virtually unlimited range of exercise options.
Whichever you go for, ensure that your home gym offers the core compound lifts – squat/leg press, chest bench press, shoulder press, lat pulldown/row, tricep press and bicep curl.
Cheaper machines won’t – so be clear that you may end up compromising workout effectiveness and results by choosing a home gym on budget alone.
Home Gym Reviews – The Bottom Line…
We’ll be reviewing some of the home gym options available on the market and recommending the ones that we think offer the best workouts and best value for money.
Having tried pretty much every home gym and resistance/format option at some point over the last 20 years or so we’ve a pretty clear idea as to what you should spend your hard earned cash on…and what you shouldn’t.