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. See our guide.
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 2023 marketplace.
Table of Contents
Our #1 Pick
Why it’s better . . .
Dual seated stations
Top spec cabling
Very solid design
Our HOME GYM OVERVIEW
Benefits of a Home Gym
When you invest in your own 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 because 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! If you want to hog the calf machine all day, have at it!
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 A 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 by way of 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 without being too much that it will detract from your exercise stability.
Warranty - Home gyms can take quite a beating. Bit 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 Home 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.
Top 5 Home Gyms Of 2021 Reviewed
Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym
This Body-Solid Strength Tech home gym shoots to the top of our list thanks to its solid design, huge range of exercises and dual seat stations. In short, this is the beastliest home gym we have come across. It provides you with everything you need to get an intense workout whether you’re a weight training newbie or an experienced iron pumper!
In terms of exercise capacity, there are 20 standard exercises described on the accompanying workout poster. These include a vertical chest press station that can also be used as a horizontal bench press. On the opposite side of the machine is a pec dec fly machine. Both of these stations allow for a full range of motion to fully engage the pectoral muscles.
High and low pulleys allow you to work your upper back, arms and shoulders. While there is a leg developer on the machine that allows you to do leg extensions and curls, there is no leg press or squat station on this machine.
The framing of this home gym is made from 11 gauge square steel. Nylon pulleys and high spec cabling ensures that you get a smooth pulley operation. This is also a comfortable machine to work on thanks to the generous amount of padding in the seat and back rests.
The Body-Solid Strength Tech comes with a 210 pound weight stack. However, because the cables run through a number of pulleys the weight actually feels heavier than 210 pounds of free weight. As a result, the 210 pounds will feel like around 300 pounds of free weight.
Very rugged design
20 standard exercises
Double seated stations
210 lb weight stack
High quality cabling
No leg press or squat station
Hard to assemble
Bowflex Xceed SE2
The Bowflex Xceed is among the most popular of the Bowflex range of home gyms. It makes use of the Power Rod system, by which you get resistance by causing the power rod to flex the same way that a bow does. The resistance increases the more the rod is flexed. What this effectively means is that the resistance increases throughout the rep. At the beginning of the rep it is at about 30 percent, increasing to 100 percent at full extension.
The Power Rods on Xceed SE2 gives you 210 pounds of resistance. You can upgrade these to 310 pounds or 410 pounds. You can do more than 75 exercises on the Exceed, which is quite a lot more than the BodySolid Strength Tech. This machine also provides you with a lat tower so you can do lat pulldowns, triceps pressdowns and other cable exercises.
The Bowflex Xceed SE2 provides you with a very rugged steel frame and a great deal of padding in the seat in the trademark red and black color scheme. The adjustable, quick release seat allows you to customize the machine for ideal body positioning. Unlike most Bowflex gyms, this one comes with a range of pulley setups that allow you to get more out of the Power Rod resistance system.
The Bowflex Xceed comes with a number of accessories including a squat bar, ab training bar and lat pulldown bar.
Power Rod resistance system
210 lbs resistance upgradeable to 310 and 410 lbs
Rugged steel frame
Resistance changes throughout the rep
Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine
The Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine is a free weight based power cage design home gym. It is made from heavy duty steel framing and provides you with a combination of a double high and low pulley system, a Smith machine, power cage and pec dec fly station. You can do more than 100 exercises on this monster of a machine.
The Marcy Smith Cage workout machine is unique in that it allows you to perform a Smith machine and a free weight olympic bar workout. The cabling system is smooth and strong. In fact the cables have a tensile strength of 2,000 pounds. The dual action press arms provide you with an incredibly smooth action that allows for extension and contraction on every rep.
The 7-degree slant design on the frame ensures that you get the very best ergonomic body positioning when you set up for your exercises. The high spec one inch guide rods on the Smith machine station provide smooth and natural range of motion. This machine also comes with a number of built-in safety features, including adjustable bar caches and safety stoppers.
The Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine features top quality upholstery and padding to give you comfortable workout experience. Your purchase of this home gym cones with a number of accessories including a range of handles and ankle straps.
More than 100 exercises
Dual cables stations
Dual action press arms
High spec upholstery and padding
No weight stack
Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench
The Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench is the latest offering from Total Gym, which has been around since the 1980s. Promoted by Chuck Norris, the Total Gym system makes use of an angled slant board that will provide increasing resistance the higher the angle of the board. You can do more than 90 exercises on this home gym system. The addition of the Ab Crunch bench adds an extra 10 exercises to the mix.
A cool and unique feature of the Total Gym XL Plus AbCrunch is its intuitive resistance adjustment settings. With this feature you are able to preset the machine to provide you with a resistance that equates to a designated percentage of your bodyweight. That means that you can precisely customize your resistance levels.
This is a solidly designed machine with a 1.25 x 2 inch steel tubing frame. There are six resistance levels that provide you with a resistance equivalent to between 26 and 54 percent of your bodyweight. The vinyl coated cables on this machine are premium grade, providing you with 1,000 pounds of resistance capacity. The weight capacity of the Total Gym XLS Plus AbCrunch Bench is 400 lbs.
There is no setup required with this home gym so that you can start working out straight out of the box.
Intuitive resistance adjustment settings
Solid steel frame
6 resistance levels
High spec cabling
Max user weight 400 lbs
No assembly required
No provision for extra resistance
Bodycraft Elite Home Gym
The BodyCraft Elite Home Gym is a single seated station plate loaded home gym. It comes with a 200 lb weight stack. However, you can boost this up to 400 pounds when you attach the Double-Up cables on the Press Arm to the Adjustable Cable Arms. This is, in fact, one of the few home gyms out there that provides you with a press arm option.
You can perform more than 50 exercises on the Bodycraft Galena Pro. These include all of the standard home gym exercises such as the bench press, chest fly, leg extension and curl and lat pulldown. However. It also allows for preacher curls and leg presses (with the optional attachment). This machine is made from high spec materials in cuddling heavy duty frame construction materials and high spec cabling.
The corner fitting design of the Bodycraft Elite Home Gym features a corner design which allows you to make the most of your available space. The low pulley station on this home gym also provides you with a foot plate to secure your body when you are doing seated rows.
This is among the more expensive home gyms out there. However, it also provides you with the most impressive warranty that we have come across in a home gym. Your purchase is covered for life, which is about as good as it gets.
- Optional arm press
- 50+ exercises
- Heavy duty framing
- Corner frame design
- Lifetime warranty
The best overall home gym on the current market is the Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym. With this compact, solid and amazingly versatile home gym sitting in your garage, you have everything you need to transform your body, add lean muscle mass and get super strong!
We walked through what a home gym is, how to evaluate it, and the pros and cons of each that we reviewed. 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.
Tips for Stretching Before Workout
When it come’s to stretching, there’s always a risk of taking things too far, too fast. As such, I thought it was a good idea to share some top tips for stretching safely
- Make sure you warm up. Warm muscles massively reduce the risk of sustaining an injury such as a tear or pulled muscle.
- Hold your stretch for the appropriate amount of time. You should be able to feel a stretching sensation, but in no way should that feeling be painful. As such, a good amount of time to hold the stretch is between 10 and 30 seconds.
- Increase in small increments. Increasing flexibility is a marathon, not a sprint. As such, increase the distance of your stretch in very small increments over a prolonged period of time.
- When you come to your next stretch session, don’t start off where you left off. Go back down to something comfortable and work out way up, continuing to increase the stretch distance without feeling pain.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully by now you’ve got a good idea which is the best all in one home gym for 2021.
If you have any questions regarding anything we’ve discussed in this article, or even have any machines you’d like to suggest, please feel free to get in touch in the comment section below.
Thanks for stopping by.