Stock up your home gym with these must-have pieces.
Creating your own home gym makes it easier to get a workout in during the week and to stay consistent with your fitness goals. You'll also save money because you won't be paying for a gym membership. But with all the different types of home fitness equipment on the market, it can be overwhelming to work out what's worth buying.
A well-rounded exercise regimen should include both strength training and cardio, so the equipment you have at home should help to achieve both. Home exercise equipment doesn't have to take up a ton of space either. We've provided a guide for must-have exercise equipment along with some space-saving options as well.
A yoga mat is a key piece of equipment to have around. You can use it for low-impact floor exercises, such as Pilates and yoga, or for bootcamps and other higher-impact exercises. Shop with high-quality brand Manduka or an inexpensive one such as
Dumbbells, or free weights, are good to have on hand if you want to start strength training or already have a weight training program in place. Dumbbells come in a variety of weights so it's important to have several sets that consist of light, medium and heavy weights. To keep dumbbells stored away neatly, I also recommend getting an A-frame dumbbell rack, which can easily fit most spaces. I like rubber hex style dumbbells, like Rogue or CAP's: The hexagon shape prevents the dumbbell from rolling away, and the rubber coating creates minimal noise if you drop it.
Since strength varies by person, your own strength will determine which free weights you need. Keep in mind the stronger you get, the higher you'll want to progress up in weight. In some cases, an adjustable dumbbell is a better option because it saves space and offers a variety of weights -- usually up to 50 pounds each. A CNET favorite is the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells, but there are plenty to choose from based on your preference.
Resistance bands come in a variety of weights, colors and lengths. They're a good stepping stone towards strength training if you're a beginner because they can help make certain exercises harder. Mini bands are mostly used for exercises that work the glutes, like squats, hip bridges, hip thrusts, hip abductions, clam shells and more. I've also used mini resistance bands to make push ups and core exercises harder. Longer resistance bands can be helpful during squats, deadlifts or assisted pull-ups. They can even mimic cable machine exercises like lat pull-downs, cable rows, tricep extensions or chest presses.
Some tried and true resistance band brands include Rogue, Perform Better or if you're looking to go high tech, the LIT Axis is a set of smart resistance bands you can use at home or while traveling for strength training and Pilates. You can also keep track of your workout and stats via the LIT app. No matter which option you go with, you can get a solid workout with resistance bands.
Suspension trainers are a good way to make bodyweight exercises like squats, split squats or push ups easier or harder depending on your goal. They're usually designed to be anchored behind a door, installed to a ceiling anchor, wrapped around a pull-up bar or even installed outdoors. Suspension trainers resemble some resistance bands because they have handles on the ends, but the difference is they're made up of nylon straps and can be adjusted. They're perfect for full-body workouts and take up minimal room, which makes them ideal for a home gym.
The TRX is my favorite suspension trainer. It's pricey, but it's made to last. There are more affordable options, including the
An adjustable weight bench is helpful when you're doing upper body strength exercises that require your body to be flat or on an incline. There are plenty of benches to choose from that incline, decline and can be stored away when not in use. A favorite of mine is the Flybird workout bench, which has an 800-pound weight capacity, adjusts in eight different positions and can then be folded up and stored off to the side.
Some people may prefer a multifunctional bench like the Yes4All Multifunctional Aerobic Deck, that doubles as a weight bench and an aerobic step, and serves as two pieces of equipment. Ultimately the style you choose will depend on the types of exercises you plan on using it for and the room you have to spare in your home.
Kettlebells are some of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own because you can use them both for strength and conditioning. If you're new to kettlebells, we recommend receiving guidance from a trainer or coach familiar with the tool to teach you the basics. Kettlebells are made up of cast iron and have a handle and round base. They can range anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds and are usually weighed in kilograms. So if you're looking for a kettlebell that's approximately 25 pounds, you'd buy a 12-kilogram bell.
There are plenty of brands that manufacture kettlebells, but you want to make sure you're buying a top quality style so it lasts a long time. Single cast iron with a powder finish, created by well-known manufacturers like Rogue or Kettlebell Kings, is recommended since they're less likely to feel slippery when in use. An eight to 10-kilogram (approximately 17 to 22 pounds) and a 10- to 14-kilogram set of kettlebells (about 22 to 30 pounds) is ideal if you're a beginner who wants both light and heavy weight options.
Jumping rope might sound like child's play, but it's one of the easiest ways to get your heart rate up. Jump ropes are inexpensive and can provide a full body workout in a short period of time. There are different types of jump ropes to choose from: basic, weighted, smart, cordless, beaded and speed. They all serve a different purpose depending on how you plan on using the jump rope. For example if you want to keep track of the number of skips, you're going to benefit from a
Regardless of your jump rope of choice, you will reap health benefits from the activity. Learn more about how to create a jump rope circuit or find the best jump rope with CNET's tips.
Medicine balls are another great tool you can use for both strength and conditioning at home. Usually solid and round, medicine balls are designed with a leather or faux leather exterior. They come in a variety of weights and sizes ranging from 4 to 30 pounds. You can expect to pay more the bigger and heavier the ball is. You've probably seen the smaller ones being used for ab exercises, push-ups and partner exercises, while the larger ones are typically used for wall balls, ball slams, squats and overhead throws.
Many different manufacturers make medicine balls, but it's most important to make sure you choose a ball that's durable and won't get ruined after repeated use. Some trusty brands for larger medicine balls include Rogue, Dynamax and Titan Fitness, while SPRI and CAP are popular for smaller medicine balls.
In an ideal world you would be able to fit different types of cardio equipment in your home, but that's not feasible for everyone. If you have the space for just one large piece of cardio equipment, it's best to choose the one you know you're most apt to use. If you're a runner or enjoy walking you may prefer a treadmill, whereas if you want a steady rate of cardio, you might opt for an elliptical, and if you're looking for quick bursts of cardio, then you may like a rowing machine. An exercise bike is another option, and you can even splurge and buy the latest Peloton.
There are plenty to choose from. But before you buy, set yourself a budget and make sure you know how much space you have available and the features you want your equipment to have. If you need ideas on where to start, check out our top picks on rowing machines, exercise bikes, ellipticals and treadmills.