The Best Home Gym Equipment: 7+ Essentials

These days I go to the gym two or three times per week but it wasn’t always like that. For years, I never stepped foot in a gym. Shocked? Well, don’t be. The reason I was able to do that is because I had a decent home gym in my not so huge apartment.

Brock Armstrong
8-minute read
Episode #408
home gym essential equipment - yoga mat, foam roller, resistance bands, stability ball

Advanced Home Gym Equipment

If you find yourself getting more and more hardcore and still don’t want to invest in a gym membership (or simply don’t have access to a gym), here are some more expensive, large, and fancy home gym items you can consider.

1. Squat Rack: Also known as a power cage, this is a versatile piece of equipment for weight training that is designed to allow for a free-weight workout using a barbell. And it is not just for squats either - you can use the rack for exercises like deadlifts, overhead presses, chest press, cleans, and a variety of other barbell exercises.

2. Barbell and plates: This can get pricey but I have seen some sets going cheap on the internet from people who had good fitness intentions at one time in the past. Keep in mind that a true Olympic bar is about seven feet wide, so make sure you have room before you make the purchase.

3. Battle Rope: A battle rope is simply a big heavy rope with some handles on either end. You can use it for a variety of upper and lower body exercises such as waves, circles, sidewinders, rainbows, and any other way you can move a heavy rope. There is a great battle rope workout in this article about metabolism-boosting workouts.

4. Power Tower: If you don't have (or want to make) enough room for a full-on power cage, you can get this compact option. You can use it for pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, hanging knee raises and other exercises you do in a dangling position.

5. Heavy Bag: The primary purpose of a heavy punching bag is to develop power in all of your offensive striking techniques. But a heavy bag can be a great alternative to cardio machines for burning fat while also building explosive power and speed.

6. Rowing Machine: With one of these tucked under your bed, you can warm your body up before a workout or you can crank up the resistance and give your back, shoulders, quads and arms a serious workout.

7. Indoor Bike Trainer: Unlike a stationary bike, an indoor bike trainer allows you to take your normal bike and set it up in the house. Not only does this allow you to get some cardio when the weather is bad, but the other advantage is that it gives you the option to hop on the bike for bursts of exercise between your weight training sets - which is an awesome fitness combo.

8. Treadmill, Stationary Bike or Elliptical Machine: These ones almost seem too obvious to mention so I saved them for the end. You can log some miles on these machines even when the weather is keeping you cooped up. Or if you want to maximize your entertainment time, you can plop one of these directly in front of the TV and get your sweat on while you catch up on the latest binge-worthy content.

Home Gym Tips

Now that you have your home gym all decked out, here are some quick and dirty tips to help you make the most of it.

  1. Make sure to keep a paper towel or dishcloth, along with a non-toxic cleaning solution, in close proximity to your fitness equipment so you can give them regular wipe-downs. Sweat is not only sticky but it is surprisingly corrosive. Don’t let it shorten the lifespan of your gear.

  1. Don’t forget to cool-down! Just because you can finish your workout and immediately start cleaning the house or making dinner doesn’t mean you should. Cool-downs are important so don’t skip it just because your own shower is calling you.

  1. Gather ideas from friends, fitness websites, books, and my podcasts, and create a solid list of at least 5 tried and true workouts that you can do with your equipment at home. If you have something all planned out and ready to go, you will be more likely to do it.

  1. Have a stereo, computer, or entertainment system near your home gym. Not only are there some great streaming fitness services these days that you can use to make your routine more fun, but being able to listen to music or a podcast while you work out can make you more likely to come back to this fine establishment.

By making exercise available as often as possible, you can truly stay as fit as possible without having to dedicate time to the gym.

When I am asked for my “secrets to staying fit,” especially for a busy working stiff with plenty of hobbies that don’t involve pumping iron or running on a treadmill, the best secret I have to share is to “hack your environment.” By making exercise and movement as easy and available as often as possible, you can truly stay as fit as possible without having to dedicate time to the gym.

Sure, if you have fitness goals like running a marathon or competing in a Spartan race, you will need more dedicated exercise time, but my philosophy is that a true workout should be the optional “dessert.” The movement that you can sneak in, when you have these essential home gym equipment itmes around the house, is where the true exercise “meals” can be had. 

For more home info, gym tips, and to join the fit conversation, head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy or twitter.com/getfitguy. Also don't forget to subscribe to the Get-Fit Guy podcast on Apple Podcasts, StitcherSpotify, Google Play or via RSS. Image of home gym equipment © Shutterstock.


About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show.