Make Your Workout Next Level with These Home Gym Essentials

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Investing in a home gym is a great way to take complete control over your exercise regimen. A cardio or strength-training exercise is always one room away--and you can skip out on the mileage and wasted time it takes to drive out to the packed gym. Plus, at home, your workout essentials are always available. Of course, if you're looking to capture the same range and quality you get from your favorite gym, your choice in home gym gear is critical. 

There are a lot of options out there to browse through--from treadmills and rowing machines to weighted vests, free weights, and yoga mats. If you were to write out a pros and cons list to compare a home gym against a membership gym, the fact that the latter already has a lot of the equipment you want is definitely a check in the pros column.

Our ACTIVE Reviews Team tested the best home gym equipment on the market today and narrowed our findings to the top 20 essentials. Taking our usual hands-on approach and using our multi-point rating system--along with input from our expert network--we found everything you need.

Top Home Gym Essentials 

Best Squat Rack - Fringe Sport Garage Series Squat Rack with Pull-up Bar

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Fringe declares this the go-to garage squat rack--and we concur! The Fringe Sport Garage Series Squat Rack with Pull-up Bar is a well-built piece of equipment for its price point (under $300!). It's a great option for anyone looking to do squats, bench press or pull-ups without having to drop the privacy of home they won't find at the local gym.

This rack has a small footprint perfect for tight spaces, weighted pegs to add extra stability to its solid steel frame, a pull-up bar that feels incredibly secure, and heavy-duty commercial J-cups that protect your barbell. While someone lifting 500 pounds or more would need something a bit sturdier, this is the hands-down best at-home squat rack for literally everyone else.

What We Love:

  • Easy assembly! (We put the rack together in just under an hour)
  • A one-year warranty
  • Durable, solid steel and compact frame

BUY: Squat Rack With Pull-up Bar, $290

Best Weight Bench - REP Fitness AB-3100 Adjustable Bench

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The REP Fitness AB-3100 Adjustable weight bench offers six different incline positions on a sturdy 1,000-pound rated frame. Improving upon the latest model's predecessor, REP put rubber feet on all three contact points for increased stability, added an easy-to-adjust ladder and a rubber-coated contact for less noise, and redesigned the rear base for faster and simpler assembly (we assembled ours in under 20 minutes).

All in all, this is one versatile bench that can give you a true 90-degree incline angle, which frankly surprised us to see given the budget-friendly price. We also love to see three different seat positions, giving you countless angles for your workout.

What We Love:

  • Probably the most versatile 17-inch bench we've seen
  • A combination of price, quality and features that's tough to beat
  • Its high-quality steel frame with an eye-catching matte black powder coating

BUY: REP Fitness AB-3100 Adjustable Bench, $249.99

Best Barbell - Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2

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The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2 can support up to 1,000 pounds and comes in either 20 kg or 15 kg variations for classic men's and women's barbell options. Whether you're training for a competition or seeking a high-quality barbell for your home gym, the Sport Wonder Bar V2's 28 mm shaft diameter is great for Olympic movements and is sure to withstand your toughest strength workout.

The bar is made from zinc-plated alloy steel and is available in a bushing (great for seasoned and Olympic barbell users) or a bearing (perfect for everyone else) format. During our review, it was easy to see and feel that the bar's design was a years' long culmination of iterating and refining the previous models.

What We Love:

  • Options in both 20 kg and 15 kg
  • Free shipping and a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects
  • Bushing for price and added longevity

BUY: Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2, $262

Best Weight Plates - Fringe Sport Black Bumper

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Our review process is fairly rigorous, if we say so ourselves, but Fringe really put its Sport Black Bumper Plates to the test. The company boasts on its site that its own team of designers and testers dropped these plates 30,000 times in a controlled environment to test, refine and retest their durability again and again.

And we can certainly vouch that these plates withstood everything we threw at them; by the end of our review, the plates were still in great condition. We attribute this durability to the plates' thick width that dissipates shock and their narrow diameter that offsets impact. Basically, these plates were designed to resist wear and tear, which they do exceptionally well. They're available in sets that total 100 pounds and go all the way to 460 pounds.

What We Love:

  • Smart design that can REALLY take a beating 
  • Wide range of set options 
  • 100% virgin rubber construction, beveled edge and steel insert

BUY:  Fringe Sport Black Bumper Plates, $256

Best Kettlebells - REP Fitness KG Kettlebells

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We've reviewed REP Fitness KG Kettlebells before, and they never cease to amaze us. These kettlebells are manufactured using gravity die casting, which boils down to meaning they're insanely durable and more precise than sand-casted alternatives. The handle is smooth for swings, and the base is perfectly flat for easy storage.

Each kettlebell has a matte black texture finish that staves off rust and adds a touch of rigidity to it. You can find these in a range of weights, from 9 to 106 pounds. And when we say these kettlebells are solid, we're not just referring to the fact that they're made with single-cast iron. We also mean these kettlebells deliver dependable, top-of-the-line performance for the long haul.

What We Love:

  • Great durability
  • Highly resilient to early rust
  • Weight ranges from 9 to 106 pounds

BUY: REP Fitness KG Kettlebells, STARTING AT $14.99

Best Dumbbells - REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells

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Not every pair of dumbbells are made the same, so if you want the best, go for the REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells. They're knurled for an extra-tight grip, rubber-coated so they won't ding your gym floors on the off-chance they're dropped and durable so they'll last you a while. And because they're hex-shaped, they're good for exercises like dumbbell push-ups or rows.

Whether you're a gym novice or weightlifting veteran, there's a REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbell that works for you, with weights starting at 2.5 pounds and going all the way up to 125 pounds. The rubber is also low odor, so you don't have to air them out before getting to work. 

What We Love:

  • Durable, grippable dumbbells 
  • Rubber won't make your gym smell
  • Comes in varying weights for people of all fitness levels

BUY: REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells, starting at $15.99

Best Rowing Machine - Concept2 Model D Rower

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The Concept2 Model D Rower landed itself on our previous list of best home workout equipment, and it's impressed us enough to make a return appearance here. This is an easy-to-use rower that won't intimidate beginners and casual rowers. However, it still offers the performance, quality and reliability that pros and hardcore enthusiasts need from their indoor training.

Though its price is a bit of a drag for the more budget-conscious home gym shoppers, you won't be disappointed in the full-body, low-impact workout the Concept2 delivers. Its frame is packed with features like a Bluetooth-compatible performance monitor to help you track your progress, along with an integrated device holder so you can watch your favorite show while getting in a great workout. Also, one other feature we love mentioning is its flywheel design; other air-resistance rowers tend to be noisy--but not the Concept2 Model 2. With a built-in flywheel dampener, this is a fairly quiet piece of exercise equipment.

What We Love:

  • Slim, minimalist design
  • Ideal for all ages and abilities
  • Built-in flywheel dampener makes this a surprisingly quiet air-resistance rower

BUY: Concept2 Model D, $1,033

Best Ski Machine - Concept2 SkiErg

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The Concept2 SkiErg ski machine brings the intensity of Nordic skiing to your home gym. It uses the same flywheel resistance and electronic monitoring systems as Concept2's Model D Rower but in a design that delivers the strength and endurance benefits of skiing. Its PM5 performance monitor is sophisticated yet easy to use and navigate. And you can accurately assess your output, monitor progress and compare scores with other skiers.

Short on space? The Concept 2 SkiErg can be mounted to the wall to make it compact or can be kept free standing with a floor stand. The flywheel resistance system also makes it much easier to maintain control of your exertion, and you can always adjust the airflow with the easy-to-operate spiral damper. This allows people of all fitness levels to enjoy the best ski machine for home gyms.

What We Love:

  • Responsive performance puts you in complete control of your workout
  • A highly durable construction that's also easy to maintain and care for
  • Very little assembly required

BUY: Concept2 SkiErg, $1,107

Best Stationary Bike - MYX Fitness The MYX II

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The MYX II from MYX Fitness is more than a bike; it's an entire gym on wheels! Aside from all the features that make the MYX II essential for your home gym (we'll get to those in a second), we should call out up front that its optional subscription delivers a wide range of workouts for both on and off the bike. The membership is $29 a month total for up to five profiles.

Not to the bike! This is a professional-quality exercise bike found in elite cycling studios around the world. Its 18 mm pedal diameter beats out the industry standard 14.3 mm, and we found its sensor to be very accurate at tracking speed, cadence and distance. The bike has a weight capacity of 350 pounds, and with a Q factor of 165 mm between pedals, knee stress is greatly reduced compared to other bikes. And aside from live instructor-led videos and hours of exercise content on its swiveling touchscreen monitor, you can also track your heart rate and other metrics.

What We Love:

  • Durable and highly versatile
  • Variety of floor workouts, weight training and recovery practices
  • Professional-grade stationary bike 

BUY: The MYX II Stationary Bike, $1,399

Best Treadmill - Horizon Fitness T101

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If you want your home gym to have a quality treadmill that doesn't bust your budget ceiling, the Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill was our runaway winner for most essential home gym treadmill. What we loved was how simple its setup was. Within 30 minutes we were on the treadmill and jogging away.

A lot of treadmills offered at this price can feel a little cheap, with a jumpy belt and a few creaks here and there as you run or even walk. That's not the case with the T101. Its ultra-quiet motor was consistent with zero lags or surges while its 55-inch deck provided a great deal of cushioned support. And if you need a treadmill that's space-saving, you can fold this one up in no time with its one-step hydraulic folding.

What We Love:

  • An easy setup had us up in running in under 30 minutes
  • One-touch keys lets you quickly shift speed and incline
  • The 55-inch deck offered cushioned support you don't always see at this price

BUY: Horizon Fitness T101, $699

Best Home Gym Flooring - Amazon Basics EVA Puzzle Gym Tiles

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The basics can make or break your home gym. Fortunately, the Amazon Basics Interlocking Gym Floor Tiles have one crucial basic element of your home gym covered: your floor. Constructed from a high-density foam, these floor tiles offer up non-skid cushioning. They're also water resistant, easy to clean, cost-effective and noise reducing.

Each tile covers 24 square feet, and they come in packs of six. Pro tip: We found that these tiles might separate or slide depending on the type of workouts you do. You can use carpet tape to keep them in place, both between the tile and a garage floor or over the interlocking pieces. 

What We Love:

  • An interlocking design that makes these tiles easy to assemble
  • Non-skid cushioning 
  • Water resistant, easy to clean and noise reducing

BUY: Amazon Basics EVA Puzzle Gym Tiles, $32.99

Best Yoga Mat - Gaiam Performance Dry-Grip Yoga Mat

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Are you a fan of hot yoga? If you are, you'll want to check out this Gaiam Yoga Mat. It's an extra thick mat with lightweight PVC backing, which means it provides a better grip the hotter you get because it develops a stickiness when wet. Meanwhile, its 5 mm of cushioning provides additional support for your joints. And with its closed cell construction, the mat seals out germs, odor and bacteria.

Perfect for Pilates and floor workouts of every variety, the Gaiam Dry-Grip Yoga Mat wicks away moisture and ensures a solid grip, even as temperatures rise. Oh, and if you're sensitive to latex, no problem! This exercise mat is made with rubber-free materials.

What We Love:

  • Its 5 mm of padding supports your body and protects your joints
  • A grip that holds you in place and won't leave you sliding around
  • Seals out germs, odors and bacteria that otherwise accumulate over time

BUY: Gaiam Yoga Mat, $50.00

Best Resistance Bands - FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands

 

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Resistance bands aren't just for people rehabbing injuries, and the FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands are proof of that. They can teach you proper form, target multiple muscle groups at a time and put less stress on your body compared to machines or free weights. These bands are primarily meant for shoulder, rotator cuff and upper-body exercises but can be used to do any number of resistance exercises you want.

We like that the FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands are high quality and affordable, which is sometimes a hard combo to find in resistance bands. Top-tier ones are sometimes too expensive for the average homeowners, and more affordable ones can have a tendency to snap due to low quality construction. These, however, have been tested to last for more than 150,000 reps and are protected with a soft fabric sleeve.

What We Love:

  • Versatile with countless targeted exercises
  • High-quality and durable rubber construction
  • Great for people of all ages and skill levels 

BUY: FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands, starting at $32.00

Best Bodyweight Training System - TRX All-in-One Suspension Trainer

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Suspension training is a great way to use your own body weight to work your muscles and get your heart rate going--and we found that the TRX All-in-One Suspension Trainers can make you sweat, help you sculpt and build your strength like no other suspension trainer out there. You would think that most suspension trainers are the same, but TRX has invested time and energy into understanding the science behind suspension training.

As a result, the company created an entire line of suspension trainers designed to deliver specific results. These can work for just about anyone, from someone looking to gain strength to someone looking for a rugged suspension design that needs to withstand professional use. And TRX didn't just stop at designing a great suspension trainer; it offers live daily classes, on-demand workout videos (more than 200 of them) and even virtual personal training sessions.

What We Love:

  • Wide variety of suspension trainers that offer something for everyone
  • Live classes, on-demand videos and virtual training
  • Handles that provide comfort and durability

BUY: TRX All-in-One Suspension Trainer, starting at $169.95

Best Pull-up Bar - Rogue Jammer Pull-Up Bar

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A space-saver that packs a big workout, the Rogue Jammer Pull-Up Bar mounts above a doorway frame and is a no-brainer for any home gym, large or small. Its 43-inch-long bar makes it ideal for wide-, neutral- or closed-grip pull-ups, as well as chin-ups and kipping pull-ups. Meanwhile, its 0.375-inch-thick laser-cut steel brackets and custom-finished 1.125-inch diameter put it on the same quality level as the pull-up bars you'll find at the gym.

The installation of the Jammer Bar is also straightforward, and you can rest easy knowing it's secured and not going anywhere. At 33 pounds, it's a bit heavy, so you may need someone to help with installation. The price is also a little high compared to other options, but opting for quality with a pull-up bar is a sound decision.

What We Love:

  • Easy installation
  • Plenty of color options to choose from
  • Its 43-inch bar makes all kinds of pull-up exercises possible

BUY: Rogue Jammer Pull-Up Bar, $115

Best Jump Rope - Crossrope Get Lean

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The Get Lean by Crossrope is a weighted rope system that delivers a more intense cardio workout than traditional jump roping. The Get Lean system features a patented clip design that lets you swap out weighted ropes in a flash, so you can go light to heavy and back again for an effective full-body workout. We were impressed with just how much of an intense workout this system can deliver, and the lightweight handles gave us a comfortable grip.

Each Get Lean set comes with access to the free Crossrope app, which includes basic workouts, a monthly fitness challenge, beginner tutorials and activity tracking. But for those who want to up their jump rope game, they can upgrade to the premium version of the app and gain access to a full library of 500-plus workouts, challenges and even more tracking features.

What We Love:

  • It's easy to swap out weight ropes
  • Short, lightweight handles are comfortable and easy to grip
  • Free app loaded with basic works

BUY: Crossrope Get Lean, $99

Best Plyo Boxes - REP Fitness 3-in-1 Soft Plyo Boxes

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The REP Fitness 3-in-1 Soft Plyo Boxes are stable, come fully assembled and are ready to use the second they hit your door. The unique inner wood core design of these boxes make them incredibly sturdy, which minimizes the risk of injury.

You can use the REP Fitness 3-in-1 Soft Plyo Boxes for CrossFit, HIIT workouts, step-ups, squat jumps and just about anything else that works the lower body. Since each box comes with three different height options, workout enthusiasts tall and small will be able to find one that works for them.

What We Love:

  • No assembly required
  • Very sturdy
  • Three different height options for each box.

BUY: REP 3-in-1 Soft Plyo Boxes, starting at $109.99

Best Stability Ball - Theraband Stability Ball

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The Theraband Stability Ball can help you push and expand your physical fitness limitations. It incorporates stability exercises into any workout or rehab routine and helps you develop your core muscles. Add it to your home gym to strengthen muscles, improve posture and balance and help prevent back and spine pain.

Constructed from rubber material and available in different color options and dimensions, we found the Theraband Stability Ball to be a solid piece of equipment that is low on thrills but high on benefit. It also comes with an exercise poster with 24 exercises to make sure you get the most out of your purchase.

What We Love:

  • A no-fuss product that's short on gimmicks but offers a wide range of exercises
  • Very easy to keep clean and store
  • Great for improving physical strength, flexibility and recovery

BUY: Theraband Stability Ball, starting at $21.56

Best Workout Sandbags - Rogue Fitness Original Sandbag

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Durable and long-lasting, the Rogue Fitness Original Sandbag sets the bar on the kind of strength and stability training a sandbag should provide. We can say without question that these are the sturdiest sandbags we've ever seen. Reinforced with double stitching, equipped with seven handles and made with a Cordura brand nylon construction, these are pure quality--which you do pay for at a starting price of $80.

Still, they're worth the investment if you're serious about making your home gym a substitute to a visit to the gym. The Rogue Fitness Original Sandbag is available in four sizes: 20 inches long with a max weight of 40 pounds, 24 inches long with a max weight of 80 pounds, 35 inches long with a max weight of 160 pounds and 42 inches long with a max weight of 220 pounds.

What We Love:

  • Reinforced, double-stitched seams that make these sandbags super durable
  • Option for a funnel filler bag that some might prefer when adding sand
  • Three-year warranty

BUY: Rogue Fitness Original Sandbag, starting at $80.00

Best Weighted Vest - GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier 2.0

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The GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier 2.0 offers up the most streamlined and efficient way yet to add weight to your workouts. For its latest plate carrier model, GORUCK added more padding to the shoulder straps, built in additional ergonomic lumbar support and used a new fabric on the back panel and underside that's less abrasive than the previous material.

The company claims that its construction leads to "no friction burn." While we didn't experience friction, we can't say that no one will. However, we do think this vest is incredibly comfortable. The plate carrier also features a wider and tougher sternum strap that disperses the weight of heavy loads more evenly. The GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier 2.0 can hold a Rucker/RPC 20-pound or 30-pound Ruck Plate.

What We Love:

  • New fabric really is far less abrasive than previous models
  • Training sternum strap does a great job of dispersing weight
  • Backpack never once felt too restrictive during testing

BUY: GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier 2.0, $95.00

What to Look for in Home Gym Essentials

There are plenty of things to consider when designing your home gym, whether it's in your garage or your living room. In fact, before you even start buying equipment, take time to think about what kind of home gym will best suit your wellness needs. Some home gyms are built around muscle building and strength training. Others are designed to deliver intense cardio and endurance workouts. Once you figure out what benefits you want out of your home gym, there are several other factors that will ultimately impact the quality of your at-home workouts.

Match Your Fitness Goals

Your fitness goals are the top priority when assessing what equipment to get. Write down your fitness goals. If you want a stronger deadlift, you'll need weightlifting equipment. If you want to lose weight, you may opt for a blend of cardio and strength training tools. 

Budget

How much money you're able to invest plays a huge role. Fortunately, even if your budget is on the low end, you can still curate a solid assortment of equipment that will help you reach your fitness goals. There are ellipticals, power racks and other equipment available that won't break your bank--you just have to find them.

Space

The space you have to work with is as critical as your budget. If you have a smaller area, you may need to look for equipment that won't take up a large footprint. Some items, like a full set of dumbbells, can be consolidated if you purchase adjustable dumbbells. You can also find items that are easy to store, like a foam roller. Lastly, even large equipment, like treadmills, come in space-saving designs.

Warranty

If you find a piece of home workout equipment at a great price that's too good to be true, check the warranty. In fact, always look at the warranty. A company that stands behind its product with a generous warranty is likely one you can trust. As with any purchase, do your research. And even if there is a great warranty, take the time to read customer service reviews.

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