If you’re serious about hitting the weights then investing in a top quality home gym, the best home gym you can find, makes a lot of sense.
Having your workouts on tap will allow you to be more consistent with your training. It will also allow you to take your workouts into your own hands without having to follow the rules of your local gym.
Getting a quality home gym, though, isn’t easy. And finding the best all in one home gym is even harder. A home gym makes a great partner to a home exercise bike.
There are a lot of cheaply made models out there that no serious trainer should go anywhere near.
In this article we cut through the crap to bring you the 5 best home gyms on the 2021 marketplace.
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Benefits of an all in one home gym
When you invest in your own all in one home gym you provide yourself with the following advantages:
You have your workouts on tap. That means you don’t have to factor in your commute time to the gym and back. You can simply head to your home gym and start pumping any time of day or night.
You will save money in the long term. Your initial investment will soon be balanced out by the money you’ll save on not paying gym fees.
No more waiting for gear. There is nothing more frustrating than having your workout rhythm stalled. Someone else is using the piece of equipment you need. You don’t have that problem with your own home gym. That means that you can maintain your training intensity without interruption!
No ridiculous gym rules - When you own the gym, you make the rules. That means that you can drop the weights whenever you feel like it. You can also grunt, swear and scream at will without some poser complaining to the management! Want to hog the calf raise machine all day? Have at it and do 500 sets!
Customized settings - when you use a piece of equipment at a commercial gym, you have to spend time setting it up for your unique body every time you use it. But when you own the gym, you can set it once and then forget it!
No distractions - You enter a workout space to workout. Not to be forced to watch CNN or listen to crappy music over the speaker system, let alone listen to the try hards alongside you groan on about their love life! When you own the gym you don’t have to put up with any of those distractions. That’s because you are in total charge of the environment. You can, therefore, set up the perfect motivational setting to allow you to get the best out of your body every time you step into your home gym.
Cleanliness - commercial gyms are notoriously unclean spaces. But when you train at home you are able to control just how clean your workout space is. Of course, you also don’t have to worry about pandemic lockdowns!
What To Look For In an All In One Home Gym
When you are shopping for an all-in-one home gym, there are 8 key points to look out for. Let’s drill down on them:
Range of motion - when it comes to getting a good workout, the ability to exercise through a full range of motion is vital. However, many all-in-one home gyms are severely compromised in this regard. You won’t get much out of a lat pulldown station that doesn’t allow you to extend all the way up and down. Or a leg press that only allows you to move a few inches!
Built in poundage - look for a machine that provides you with at least 200 pounds of weight stack poundage. The machine should also allow you to add extra plates to the weight stack. Remember that building muscle is all about progressive resistance, so you don’t want to be limited in your poundage ability.
Stability - check the frame quality of the machine. It should be made from 11-14 grade square steel framing. The exercise motion should be smooth without any jerkiness or other unnatural movement. The last thing you want is for the machine to wobble when you are exerting yourself under a heavy load.
Exercise range - the machine should allow you to get a good workout for the entire body. It should also have stations for chest press, lat pulldown and row, a high and low pulley for bicep, tricep and deltoid work. In addition, a really good home gym will include the ability to work your lower body. It should have a leg extension/curl station and, ideally, a leg press.
Pulley Quality - the performance quality of a home gym largely comes down to its pulley construction. To get the smoothest, most natural pulley motion you need a machine that uses steel rather than plastic pulleys and that uses ball bearings. The cabling itself should be covered in a plastic sleeve to keep them safe and to prevent injury.
Ease of Assembly - the last thing you want when your new home gym arrives is to have to spend days trying to figure out how to put it together. All manufacturers will naturally claim that their home gyms are a piece of cake to put together, so you need to check online reviews to get to the truth. You should be able to put any home gym together with a friend in a couple of hours. Some home gyms, such as the Total Gym XLS actually arrive on your doorstep fully assembled!
Upholstery and padding - the seat and back supports of your home gym should be made of durable upholstery that is sweat and odor resistant. The padding behind the seat should be thick enough to provide you with the support you need. However, it should not be too much that it will detract from your exercise stability.
Warranty - Home gyms can take quite a beating. But they should be designed to handle it. To ensure that it’s not going to become useless after six months, you need to make sure that your purchase is covered by a decent warranty. The parts that fail most frequently are the cables and pulleys so make sure that you get at least a couple of years of coverage on them. Warranty lengths vary markedly with a few manufacturers, such as Bodycraft, even providing you with lifetime coverage.
Different Types Of All in One Gyms
Here is an overview of what you will find on the current market:
Band resistance - resistance bands are the least expensive home gym option. By pairing the bands with an upright object such as a door, you can get a decent simulation of many of the exercises that you do in the gym. However, serious weight trainers will not get the type of intensity needed to make gains with a resistance band set.
Gravity based resistance - the most popular gravity based training home gym is the Total Gym. It uses a slant board that you sit or lie on in combination with cables that allow you to use your bodyweight as the training resistance. The higher you position the slant board the greater the resistance will be.
Free weight based home gyms - these home gyms usually consist of a frame with exercise stations around it. The machine does not come with weights but has a system by which you can add your own free weight plates to it. These are less expensive than plate loaded weight machines but you’ll have to fork out for your own resistance.
Plate loaded home gyms - plate loaded home gyms consist of a number of exercise stations with a plate loaded weight stack. The more expensive machines will provide you with a double weight stack, each controlled by its own cable, that allows you to work your body parts unilaterally.
Power Rods - the power rod system was introduced by Bowflex in the 1990s. Since then they have refined their system, releasing a range of Bowflex home gyms that use power rods in a bow and arrow-like configuration to provide resistance. The latest innovation from Bowflex is called Spiraflex. This technology was designed to allow NASA astronauts a way to work out in a gravity free environment. It uses a system of plates and an elastic strap to create resistance.
We walked through what a home gym is, how to evaluate it, and the pros and cons of each. You can build you dream gym as you see fit, allowing you to customize your setup, adding to some boxing equipment, stretching equipment, spin bike, or whatever else you may already have in hand.
So don't be nervous when it comes time to buy. Take your time, do your research, and find the perfect one for your own gym.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully by now you’ve got a good idea how to evaluate and purchase an all in one home gym.
If you have any questions regarding anything we’ve discussed in this article, or even have any you’d like to suggest, please feel free to get in touch in the comment section below.
Thanks for stopping by.