Best Home Gym for Beginners – Top Bang For Buck Options For Newbies
Best Free Weight
Marcy Power Cage Gym
Our Top Pick
Body Solid EXM2500s
Total Gym XLS
A while ago I wrote about the best home gym for bodybuilders and I showed you guys what the best home gym set up was that you could get if you were really serious about bodybuilding but wanted to get away from commercial gyms and the hassle they bring to the table.
What I didn’t expect is that a lot of guys that are new to working out are already sick of commercial gyms too! I got a boatload of messages telling me that you’re also done with crappy pop music, annoying patrons and terrible equipment!
So, now I feel obligated to give you guys the best home gyms out there for the guys that are just starting out. AKA The Newbies.
You could just go with the crazy bodybuilding gyms I already listed, but you’d probably end up spending WAAAAY more money than necessary and not even get something that’s suited to your needs. Let’s not waste any more time and get right to it.
Our Top Pick
Body Solid EXM2500s
Best Overall - Editors Choice
- Best Overall Bang For Buck Beginner Option
- Most Popular
- Highest Rated
- Simple & Easy to Use
- Compact - Perfect For Tighter Spaces
- Easy Setup
What Makes an Ideal Beginner Home Gym
if you are wondering what makes an ideal home gym for a beginner, here is what makes a home gym a preferable option for a newbie.
Comes Pre Assembled or Easy to Set Up
Not many people talk about this and it may seem that it’s just out of laziness. But I was a beginner once, and I’ve been burned before. When I saw the whole thing (all-in-one home gym) on the website, it looked great and I couldn’t wait for it to get home.
However, that’s not what I got in the mail. What I got was a huge box, filled with a bunch of parts and a set of instructions so complicated you needed an engineering degree to make heads or tails of them.
Let me tell you, having to spend multiple weekends setting up your home gym doesn’t really do wonders for motivation. By the time you finish you’re scared of using it and have it fall apart or realized you messed up and need to start over.
Lucky for us, times have changed and manufacturers took notice of this issue. Now you can get full-blown home gyms that can be assembled in a jiffy, or even get a team of professionals to assemble it for you!
Cheap, but Not TOO Cheap
Getting a home gym when you’re starting out can be rough. If you’re just getting into the gym you’re probably young, most likely a teenager or college student. As a former broke college student myself, I know all too well how hard it can be to pool enough money to get one.
When money is tight, it can be tempting to get the cheapest home gym you can find, but not all home gyms are made equal. In my experience, spending over 2k as a beginner is insane and you’d be wasting your money.
BUT, that doesn’t mean you can just get whatever cheap gym you find online. If you do, you might save a bit on upfront cost, but you could end up paying way more in repairs or just needing to buy a new one, either because you outgrew the gym, or it broke.
So to sum it up, you need to spend enough to get something with which you can grow and make progress, that isn’t so cheap that it breaks but that also doesn’t bankrupt you.
Quite a tall order right?
Doesn’t Take Up a Whole Lot of Space
Coming off of my last point. If you’re a college student or teen, you probably don’t have a lot of space to spare in your home to put a home gym. So now there’s a new thing to watch out for, the ideal home gym equipment should take up little space, that way it can fit almost anywhere.
Of course, don’t go impulse buying before checking out that the dimensions actually fit in your home. Remember that even if the machine fits, you still need a little more room to move the weights around comfortably.
Known Brand Name
While it may be tempting to purchase some random home gym off of craigslist and call it a day. I STRONGLY advise against this, I’ve done it once before and only bought myself heaps of trouble for a gym that wasn’t even working properly.
If you go with an unknown or a second-hand gym, you don’t know what might break nor when. Imagine your safety pins breaking when you’re racking the heavy weighted bar after a heavy bench press.
Doesn’t sound fun, does it?
The right way to go about buying a home gym is to get it from a known, respected brand. These usually offer great warranties and have your back in case anything happens. Hopefully nothing will, but when you’re slamming heavy weight, a lot can go wrong.
Best Home Gyms for Beginners
Alright, with that out the way we can get right to business.
1. Body Solid EXM2500S
Best Beginners Home Gym
Body Solid EXM2500S Review
If you read the previous article, you may think the EXM2500S looks a little bare bone compared to the crazy bodybuilding gyms I showcased, and you’re right! That’s part of the charm!
Instead of a huge, hulking, gym that comes with a bunch of stuff you’re not gonna use, you get a lean, mean machine that has everything you need and nothing else! No paying for stuff you don’t need, Body Solid keeps the costs down, but the functionality up.
There are two main stations that make up the EXM2500S, the push/pull station and the “Perfect Pec” station, or pec dec. However, within those, there are plenty of different things to be done.
The Push/Pull Station
This station hides three exercises in one. By switching up a few pins you can alternate between a chest press, bench press, a shoulder press, and the seated row.
Not only that, but thanks to the many handles, you can switch up your grip to target different muscles at different angles.
For example, using the vertical handles on a shoulder press machine will force your elbows in and target your front delts, while a wide grip would hit your side delts a bit more. The same goes for rowing! A wide grip will hit your upper back, while the vertical one will focus more on your lats.
The “Perfect Pec” Station.
In case you don’t know, a pec dec is a machine that closely resembles the motion of a chest fly. It places your arms in such a way that you can’t use your arm and shoulder muscles to bring the arms of the machine together, isolating your chest.
In this case, the arms can be adjusted individually and move independently of each other too. This may seem unnecessary but it may be that one of your pecs is not as flexible as the other one, or that your range of motion is impeded in some way.
That’s not all the perfect pec station offers though, it can also double as a rear delt row machine, just turn around and use the swiveling handles to find a comfortable grip!
Leg Curl & Leg Raise Station
What better way to get thick, tree trunk legs than the leg curl and leg raise. Finishing off your workout with some sets here will give you that sick quad and hamstring definition you see on bodybuilders.
One common worry about leg presses is joint safety, since poorly designed machines can cause shear forces on your knee joint. However, Body Solid's engineers are experts at bio mechanics and I can tell you from experience you knees are as safe as ever.
Lat Pulldown/High Pulley Station
The lat pull down is one of the best exercises to add size to your back, and no home gym is complete without some form of it. In this case, the station not only serves as a lat pulldown machine with great cushioned hold down rollers, but also as a high pulley.
What I love about pulleys is that the possibilities are pretty much endless. You can go for the most common exercises like triceps push downs, or face pulls, but you can also hit pretty much any muscle, even your abs in a cable crunch! (Check my article about cable crunches HERE)
Mid Pulley Station
A great option to switch angles from the high pulley, it allows for exercises like neutral chest flyes or lateral raises, which can’t be done or a high pulley, or even a less challenging version or the ab crunch as well as oblique crunches.
Low Pulley/Seated Row Station
A great way to target your upper back muscles and traps, the seated row will get you that thickness of the upper back you’ve been chasing your whole life.
You can even do it standing if you want to engage your core and back even more, though you probably will have to go lighter.
That’s not all though, like all the other pulleys, this one can also be used for hundreds of exercises. Decline chest flyes, shoulder raises, biceps or triceps, you name it.
Here are just a few of the best features you get with this home gym
You shouldn’t really be concerned about warranty with this one, it's as sturdy as it gets for home gyms. However, it's smart to look for a nice warranty, and thankfully Body Solid has one of the best ones out there.
The EXM2500S is covered by “The Strongest Warranty in the Industry”. For Non Commercial use, you get a lifetime warranty on everything. That means that if after 30 years of use, a pulley breaks, Body Solid will replace it, no questions asked.
However, this only covers original owners, so be sure to never buy second hand.
The EXM2500S is actually the smaller cousin of a home gym I’ve already reviewed. It ditches a few features to make it more affordable, which is just fine for a beginner that is just looking to get started.
210 Pound Weight Stack
Weight is one of the toughest features when deciding for a home gym, and I’ll talk more about it down below. For now, just know that a 210 pound weight stack is plenty for a beginner. You’ll have a lot of room for growth here.
There’s not really a lot to say about this one, the EXM2500S covers an area of only 83in L x 51 in W x 83in H.
Quite small if you ask me, making it a perfect home gym for an apartment or somebody who is limited on workout space.
2. BowFlex Blaze
Most Popular Beginner Home Gym
BowFlex Blaze Review
If you’ve never heard about Bowflex before, they are unique in the fitness industry thanks to their brand new take on how to apply resistance. Instead of going the traditional way, using heavy metal plates and a pulley system, they created their own, lightweight system.
Instead of heavy weight stacks, they designed and created flexible bars that provide different levels of tension and can be combined to make you do some serious work!
- The sliding seat can be used for aerobic rowing or for leg presses.
- Angled lat bar for lat pull downs
- Included Squat bar.
- Multiple Low and high pulleys allow for endless variation.
- Folding Bench allows for easy storage.
- Manual for over 65 different exercises included.
- Assembled Dimensions: 90 x 38 x 83 inches
- Up to 210 pounds of resistance, upgradable to 310 or 410.
- 5 year warranty.
3. Marcy 9010G Smith Machine/Cage System
Best Home Gym for Beginning Bodybuilders
Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine Review
If you’ve been working out for a while and want to get into bodybuilding, you’re gonna need a bit more firepower than your average joe, so I went ahead and found a gym that is great for beginners but has a little extra for those looking to compete.
That’s where the 9010G comes in, a compact yet VERY complete home gym. Let’s see what it's all about:
- Smith machine allows you to do presses and squats safely without a spotter.
- If you don’t want to use the smith machine, there are movable safety catches to place the bar and do compounds.
- Pulley System allows for arm presses, cable crossovers, rows and more.
- Calisthenics or body weight training can be performed thanks to the multi grip pull up bar and dip bar with adjustable handles.
- The included bench can be moved around and its angle can be adjusted from -27º to 76º so that you can hit different muscles
- Includes a detachable preacher curl pad, triceps rope, short bar, two cable handles, etc.
- Uses regular plates and free weights instead of a weight stack, allows for more progression.
Looks pretty damn good doesn't it?
Doesn't matter how you wanna train, this piece of equipment can do it all, so let's move on to the technical side of things and see if you can actually fit this puppy in your home.
- Dimensions when the cage is assembled: 70” L x 83” W x 86” H
- Dimensions when the bench is assembled: 75” L x 28.5” W x 47” H
4. Marcy Pro MKM-81010
Most Affordable Option
Marcy Pro MKM-81010 Review
I know money can be tight sometimes, but I think fitness is for everyone. No matter what your economic situation is, you should be able to work out. That’s why I always like to include a penny-pinching option for those of us looking to save as much as possible.
The MKM-81010 uses pulleys and amazing ingenuity to fit a lot in a small and inexpensive machine, so you will be able to do lat pulldowns, seated rows and other exercises with ease.
The main feature of the machine is the chest press, that can also be made vertical to work your shoulders, used backwards to perform rows or even transformed into a pec dec.
As you can probably see, it comes with a variety of grips to change up how you hold on depending on the exercise.
Front Pulley + Lat Pulldown
The gym comes with a lat pull down bar included, so you can hit your lats to your heart's content. But since its a front pulley, there’s a lot more you can do! Triceps push downs, ab crunches and more!
Your Standard leg curl and leg extension machines to hit your quads and hamstrings; It comes with high-quality foam rollers.
Low Pulley + Preacher Bench
The pulley system that works with the leg developer can be detached and used as an independent pulley system, which can be used for multiple exercises including seated rows and bicep curls, thanks to the detachable preacher bench.
- Made with 14 gauge steel
- 200 pound weight stack
- Assembled dimensions: 73"L x 39"W x 85.5"H
5. Total Gym XLS
Best Space Saving Option
Total Gym XLS Review
Maybe money isn’t the problem, but space is. If you live in a small house or apartment, most home gyms will be too big! Even if you can fit them inside your home, you won’t be comfortable enough to work out properly.
The Total Gym XLS is unique due to its size and maneuverability. It doesn’t have to be permanently assembled like most home gyms. Once you’re done with it you can fold it up and store it in your closet!
You might be suspicious of a home gym that can fit in your closet, but let me show you just how much you can do with it and I think you might change your mind.
- Multi functional Pulley system for squats, flys, presses and more.
- Six levels of resistance available.
- Sliding seat allows you to use your own body weight as resistance
- Seat elevation can be adjusted to increase difficulty.
- Comes assembled, no set up required.
- Up to 400 pounds weight capacity
- Dimensions Unfolded: 19″ W x 90″ L x 43″ H
- Dimensions Folded: 19″ W x 51″ L x 9″ H (As big as an ironing board!)
6. GALENA PRO Strength Training System
GALENA PRO Strength Training System Review
The GALENA PRO is Body Craft's longest selling home gym, refined over the years to trim all the fat and leave you with a premium experience at an affordable price.
The GALENA PRO might look small, but there’s a lot of clever engineering going on to pack a lot of exercise options into a small footprint. Lets see what you get:
- Dual function pec dec for chest and rear delt development.
- Press/Pull Station, allows for chest & shoulder press or rowing
- Low Pulley with foot rest for rowing, curls, leg kicks, etc.
- High Pulley for lat pull downs, triceps push downs and more.
- Leg Extension/Curl Roller that also serves to hold you down for lat pull-down.
- Upgradable 150 pound weight stack
- Designed for placement in corners to save space
- Lifetime Warranty for residential use
- Leg press Upgrade available.
Body Solid BSG10X Review
Up next, we have the BSG10X, one of Body Solid's most bare bones and hence, affordable, machines out there. Thanks to the use of pulleys and creative exercise selection, there’s a lot you can do with this machine.
To make sure that you do, BodySolid includes an extremely well designed owners manual. In it you’ll find not just how to set up the machine or how to use it, but workout plans and even guides on how to design one for yourself that adjusts to your personal goals.
What You Get
- Multi-angled chest press for regular and incline pressing, can also be used for rowing.
- High Pulley with Lat Pull-down attachment
- Mid pulley
- Low Pulley
- Several Pulley attachments Curl Bar, Handles, etc.)
- Leg Curl/Leg Extension Machine
- Comes 90% assembled (Only 9 bolts need to be set up)
- 11 gauge construction frame.
- Easy to use “no cable change” design
- 160 pound weight stack.
- Covered by a 10 year warranty.
Weider Ultimate Body Works Home Gym Review
Last but not least we have the Weider Ultimate Body Works home gym, it works on a similar principle as the Total Gym I included above, but there are a couple of differences.
First, it's a lot cheaper, as in, the cheapest entry you’ll see today. Second, it lacks the multiple height adjustments that the Total Body has, but includes some other features. Let's break it down.
- Omnidirectional pulleys for many different exercises.
- Use your own body weight as resistance with the sliding bench
- Included resistance bands can add up to 50 pounds of resistance
- Up to 250 pounds capacity
- Handles can be used to do abs exercises.
- Very affordable.
- Requires Minimal Assembly
- Can be folded for storage
- 59 L x 27.5 W x 48 L inches.
- Adjustable incline.
All in all, I think this is as entry level as you can go. If you’ve never worked out in your life, this is a great starting point, but keep in mind you’ll probably have to upgrade eventually.
What If I Want an All in One Home Gym Set Up with Free Weights?
You might have noticed that none of the gyms I listed above, except the Marcy 9010G, can be used with free weights. This is by design, as free weights are a lot more dangerous than machines, are more suited for advanced level weight lifters and thus, not recommended for beginners.
However, if you’re a bit more experienced or simply want to learn how to perform the “Big Three”; The squat, dead lift, and bench press, then you’re gonna need a few more things. Listed down below is the more “bare-bones” setup for free weights you can find.
Essential Free Weights Setup
The power rack is one of the most important part of any free weights set up, you’ll use it for almost every exercise and without it you won't have much exercise selection or be able to perform even the basic compound lifts.
At its most basic, a power rack consists of two, four or even six pillars that can hold up a barbell at different heights. The more pillars, especially when connected, will make the rack more stable and thus, safer.
However, most racks do a lot more, usually they have safety pins to prevent the weights from crushing you, as well as pull up bars and some power racks even have a lat pulldowns.
There are thousands of types of barbells and if you dig around, you’ll find endless pages of discussion about which one is best, that’s for experienced lifters however. For our purposes though, there is none better than the standard olympic bar.
A standard barbell weighs 44 pounds (20kg) and is 7.2 feet long. It may feel a bit unwieldy at first, since its a bit wider than most gym bars, but that will pass as you develop grip strength and your hands in turn, get bigger. I always go for olympic bars because they are a lot more flexible.
Even though it may not feel like it, a good bar will bend slightly while you lift. This helps absorb the kinetic force created from the movement. If the bar is stiffer, this force is transferred to your body, and can cause pain and soreness.
Some people opt out of getting a curl bar and choose to curl with the olympic bar, however, as a beginner you’ll have a harder time if you decide to go this way. Since you’re not very strong when you start out, an olympic bar will be too heavy to load up with plates.
As you try to progress you’ll realize you’re gonna need a bunch of very small plates to be able to make progress. Instead of wasting your money on a bunch of small plates, you can spend it on a curl bar and be more comfortable.
A curl bar is a bar that kinda looks like a W, aka an EZ Bar, this allows you to place your wrists in a more natural position, which is healthier and will allow you to curl more weight. You can also reverse the grip and grab it overhand to hit your forearms more.
Pretty obvious right? You won’t be making a lot of progress if you don’t have any weights. What you might not know is that weights come in many shapes and forms.
The most common are bumper plates, metal plates and olympic weights. Bumpers are very large and made of soft materials, which is cool since they don’t damage floors but makes them a lot more expensive.
Metal plates are the traditional stuff you find in gyms, they are by far the cheapest and the ones I suggest you get.
Olympic plates are those used in competition, they are very thin and very expensive, since they are extremely precise, while standard plates have a small margin of error.
When you are working with a free weight home gym set up you are most certainly going to want a pair of dumbbells. And not just one pair, you will want 3-5+ different weights of dumbbells.
Get some that will allow you to do a multitude of exercises. Get a light weight set for shoulders, bi's and tri's. Then a heavier set for lunges, dumbbell presses, and rows. If you are lady you can opt for lighter weight dumbbells, as they will also be cheaper. You can check our best rated womens dumbbells here.
The best place to buy dumbbells is going to be either on amazon or you can also get them used. These are okay to buy used as they can't really break now can they?
A weight bench is just that, a bench for you to lift weights. They are padded with soft materials so that your back doesn’t hurt and have adjustable angles so that you can do a variety of different lifts in different positions.
It is essential that you get one, since the most basic of exercises, the bench press, requires one, as well as incline presses, seated shoulder presses and more.
Most people don’t realize just how noisy gyms are. Most of the time there’s loud music playing, people taking and you’re probably wearing earbuds. That means you don’t listen to weights slamming into the ground all the time.
However, what some people overlook when setting up their own home gym is that gym floors are not your regular ceramic or hardwood. They are covered in thick rubber mats to absorb the force of the weights.
If you don’t buy mats for a free weight gym, you’ll end up with a dented or broken floor, a hell of a lot of noise, damaged plates and even worse, pissed of neighbors and/or landlords. No gains are worth your security deposit!
Best All in 1 Free Weight Home Gym Set Up for Beginners
Equipment for setting up a Free Weight Home gym is no different from all in one home gyms, there are thousands of options and plenty of people trying to take your money for a low quality product, so here I compiled the best beginner set ups I could find.
1. Fitness Reality 810XLT Power Rack
Quality Affordable Beginner Power Rack
Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage Review
I wish I had known about the super max power cage when I bought my Power Rack cause honestly I spent way more and got an inferior product.
The Fitness Reality 810XLT is absurdly stable, thanks to the two stabilizers in the back, and the safety bars can each hold up to 800 pounds! No matter what you throw at them, they are gonna keep you safe.
That’s not all though, it also includes safety pins so that you can work inside or outside the rack, depending on what’s more comfortable. I’d advise doing exercises like bench or seated presses inside, since the bars can stop the weights from falling on you, and squats outside of it.
Finally, it comes with a pull up attachment and can be upgraded to have a lat pull-down inside of it! What more could you ask!?
- Cage dimensions – 50.5” L x 46.5” W x 83.5” H
- Weight capacity – 800 lbs.
2. Body Solid Olympic Bar
Highest Rated Barbell
Body Solid - OB86B Olympic Bar Review
Body Solid makes incredible home gym equipment, is it any surprise that they are also kings of the barbell game? It's a standard olympic barbell, but since it's made by Body Solid, you know its quality stuff.
- 44 pounds, 7 feet long
- 600 pound capacity
- 11. 25-inches of sleeve length (for loading weights)
- 30mm diameter.
If prefer to get a cheaper one, you can also check out the CAP barbell on amazon by clicking here
3. Champion Barbell E-Z Curl Bar
Cheapest Quality Curl Bar
Champion Barbell E-Z Curl Bar Review
The curl bar I’ve owned for years now, still as solid as ever. It’s 47 inches long and 1 inch thick, so it won't work with olympic plates. Weighing in at 10 pounds you could say its a weight in its own right for beginners!
It comes with screw on safety clips, some people don’t like these cause it takes a little bit longer to change plates, but I chose them back in the day because they are a lot safer than regular clips.To this day, I still use this bar for curls, skull crushers and forearm
4. CAP Plates
Barbell Weight Plates
CAP Barbell Weight Plates Review
A great set of beginner plates. You get a total of 65 pounds, split up into four 10 pound plates, four 5 pound plates and 2 2.5 pound plates. With a pretty even split you can make small progression with the 2.5 pound plates, the move up to 5 and finally add another 10 one.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably need to get more plates as you get stronger! If you’re really confident, you could get two of these sets at once.
What Makes Them Great
- Comfortable, ergonomic handles makes it easy to move them around.
- Rubber coating will protect your floors, equipment and fingers!
- One Year Warranty
5. CAP Cast Iron Dumbbells
CAP Cast Iron Dumbbells Review
Dumbbells are not a necessity for home gyms, but they are a very welcomed addition. While most things a dumbbell can do a barbell can do too, sometimes you don’t feel like changing a bunch of plates. When that happens, dumbbells are a game changer.
For this one you can pick and choose which weights you get, I’d suggest skipping the 5 and 8 pound ones and going for anywhere in the 10 to 40 pound range. Maybe 2 of each so that you can progress comfortably.
- Hexagonal Shape prevents rolling.
- Solid Steel construction, extremely durable.
- Very Versatile.
6. Bowflex Weight Bench
Quality Adjustable Bench
Bowflex Adjustable Weight Bench Review
When it comes to getting a bench for your home gym, the more you can adjust it the better. Everyone’s anatomy is different, so different angles might feel more comfortable than others. That’s why I selected a bench with 6 different levels of adjustment.
From a 17 degree decline for decline bench and ab work, all the way to 90 degrees incline for back supported shoulder presses or whatever else you can think of. Plus, this one has the benefit of leg support for decline work, which is not common and comes in handy.
- 30 year warranty on frame
- Includes Leg Support for decline work
- 6 levels of adjustment.
7. Protective Gym Mats
Horse Stall Mats Review
Yes, you read that right. No, I haven’t gone insane. Over the years I’ve been helping people set up their own gym space, I’ve come to notice that some things that used to be dirt cheap are now expensive as hell. That’s why I started looking around for alternatives.
One of those are gym mats. It used to be that gym mats were merely an afterthought when setting up a home gym, so cheap that it wouldn’t really put a dent in your budget. Now, look them up, you’ll be paying hundreds to protect just a fraction of your flooring.
It doesn’t make sense! Gym mats are just rubber! Why should it be so pricey!? Well because they are in high demand. That’s why I went ahead and found another rubber flooring that isn’t in high demand and that’s how I found Horse Stall Mats.
They’re just regular rubber mats, thick enough to protect floors from a horse, so most certainly thick enough to protect your floors from a power rack and weight slamming.
Top Home Gym Brands
Body Solid founded in 1989 with the mission of selling value priced, high quality fitness equipment, and they have come a long way.
Their name is synonymous with their quality home gym machines, and it shows. They were the first fitness brand to introduce lifetime warranty in 1996 and still offer it today.
The company stands by their “built for life” motto and are even ranked as an A+ by the better business bureau.
A subsidiary of the IMPEX brand, Marcy is one of the most well known brands in the home gym space. As part of a very select group of brands, they take on fitness in a different way to reach everyone no matter what.
As you’ve seen from the products we’ve showcased they cater to everyone, from beginners to experts, so that all of us can say goodbye to long commutes and gym payments once and for all.
Most well known for their innovative way of creating resistance without weight stacks by using the tensile strength of their trademark bows. Bowflex brings over 30 years of experience in the home gym space to help you reach your fitness goals as easily as possible.
They pride themselves on their diverse crew, not just bodybuilders and personal trainers, newbies, pros, athletes, everyone gets a say in their design and it shows in how their products appeal to pros and beginners alike.
After its creation in 1974, Total Gym quickly became one of the world leaders in incline training. Thanks to their ingenious design, which allows people to train for muscle growth, weight loss and even rehabilitation, they were front and center in the 80s “Fitness Revolution”
What really set them apart at that time, and still does today, is most of their products don’t need heaps of space or even weights to be useful. Now you can keep an entire gym under your bed! The one I picked today is as big as an ironing board and a lot more fun than one!
According to their last estimates, over 5 million people have improved their lives with the purchase of one of their products! As they claim “Feel the difference with total gym!”
A relatively new brand that has been making waves in the fitness industry lately. I always keep an ear out for new players coming into the scene so that I can find the best bargains for you guys and let me tell you; XMARK has surprised even me.
They came out of nowhere with premium quality products, using, thick, high quality steem and dense foams in their padding to ensure the safety of their customers above all else. Their products are a bargain as is, but if money is tight they even offer a refurbished program.
Beginner Looking to Buy a Home Gym?
Here's What to Look for
After the last article, I had a bunch of people tell me they still couldn’t decide which of the options was the best one for them. I get it, honestly. All of these options are great for a beginner, so I understand it can be tough to make a choice.
That’s why I decided to put together a little buying guide for those of you still struggling to decide. It also applies to the stubborn folk among us that want to go off on their own and pick something that isn’t on the list. I STRONGLY advise against it though.
I have done hours or research and to the best of my knowledge these are the best bang for your buck beginner home gyms. Unless you are wanting the best home gyms, something like a Tytax gym, then I recommend sticking to this list.
Seems pretty obvious I know, but you’d be surprised how many of my clients complain that they aren’t making gains anymore and the culprit is a lack of heavier weights.
Especially as a beginner, you’ll experience what is known as “newbie gains” and your strength will skyrocket pretty quickly. This is all to say that you should buy enough to have some leeway and be able to progress smoothly.
While a gym with a smaller weight stack can make it easier on your wallet, always keep in mind you might have to upgrade it later and that there are few things less motivating than knowing you can't grow because your weights are in the mail.
Usually, here I would tell you that if there’s a certain exercise you enjoy, to be sure to purchase a machine that has that option built in. However, I realize that most of the folk reading this article DON’T KNOW what they enjoy cause they haven’t trained before!
So what I’ll do instead is tell you that this is the time to go big or go home. Of course you should always be centered around the main muscle groups, but I took care of that for you, cause I already selected gyms that do that. So that you have options.
You need options because there are thousands of different ways to train and some will be more enjoyable and even more effective than others, so you owe it to yourself to try as much as you can to figure out what it is you like the most.
You do not need to buy a big expensive multi-station home gym that has every exercise known to man, but I do recommend either sticking to the top options in my list here or to be sure that the one you do decide to get does have the exercises that you will be wanting for your workouts.
Closely related to my last point, this is a must for any home workout equipment. Isolation exercises are great, but real growth comes from compounds. You’ll notice all my choices have them, because without them you’ll get nowhere.
This is especially important for the upper body, you can get by without a leg press, but your chest and shoulders won’t grow without pressing. So be sure to have them.
How much space does it take up?
Not a lot to explain here. If the gym is too big for your home, you’re not gonna be able to set it up, so you won’t be working out. Please, please , PLEASE, check the dimensions beforehand. I don’t wanna get any angry emails about buying stuff that’s too big!
One of the most important features to look for in any piece of home gym equipment is a nice warranty. When you train with heavy weight, when you train hard, things may break. No matter how sturdy your gym may be, so look for a manufacturer that will have your back.
The way I see it is that one of these machines will be a long term commitment, if not a lifetime one. Why shouldn’t it be a lifetime commitment for the manufacturer as well? Lucky for us, plenty of them think the same way and offer extended warranties.
Read Customer Reviews
Over the years I’ve become pretty good at telling which equipment is good and which is a scam, but unfortunately I don’t have the time nor the money to try every piece I feature on my lists.
That doesn’t mean I don’t do my research and consult owners, but if you don’t wanna take my word for it then it can't hurt to read some customer reviews and see what their experience was like.
FAQ Most Beginners Have When Shopping for a Home Gym
Here are the most commonly asked questions that I get from beginners looking to buy their first home gym
How Much Weight Will I Need?
This can go in one of two ways, depending on if you’ve ever lifted weights before or not. If you have, the answer is a bit more complicated, if you haven’t then it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
If you haven’t lifted, ever. Then your choice is pretty straightforward, any weight is gonna feel challenging, but you should take your circumstances into account. What I mean is that if you’re a 20 year old, you’re likely to progress a lot more and much faster than a senior.
With that said, I think anyone will have a great starting point if they go for something in the 150 to 200 pound range.
If you’ve lifted before, this is what I want you to do. Think about how much weight they would like to lift in a year or two. Not how much you lift, but how much you would like to.
Be realistic, if you’re chest pressing 200 pounds, you won’t be hitting 405 just like that, but maybe 305 is a decent goal. Now, using that weight as a starting point, look for a gym that can meet that.
However, if you’re using free weights, then you have another headache coming. You need to think about plate distribution as well.
You don't want to use all your plates when you max out, it would be a pain, so maybe get up to that number in big 45 lb and 35lb plates and then get a whole set of smaller (25 lb., 10 lb., 5 lb., 2.5 lb) ones to be able to progress and load up other stuff as well.
What Exercises Will I Need from a Home Gym?
It’s tough to give this question a “one size fits all” kind of answer. Everyone is different and have different goals. For example, a marathon runner will not have the same fitness goals as a boxer, a bodybuilder or your average Joe that just wants to look a bit better.
With that said, there are a few ways in which you can’t go wrong. Especially when you’re a beginner without clear goals. You should look for something that can hit all major muscle groups in some form.
For those of you who don’t know, the major muscle groups are your back, legs, arms, chest and shoulders. In most cases, a home gym with a multi press system and a few pulleys will do the job, though depending on what you’re training for you should switch it up.
Do I Need Free Weights with My Home Gym?
I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but unfortunately I still have to say this. It depends on your fitness goals! If you’re thinking about bodybuilding or powerlifting, then yes! If you just want to look good on the beach, not necessarily.
With that said, free weights training is always beneficial and a hell of a lot of fun, so there’s no harm in including it in your home gym. Instead of choosing between machines and free weights, why not both!?
You don’t even have to spend a lot more to get them, check out the ones I listed on amazon for some affordable, quality stuff.
How Can I Keep Free Weights from Destroying My Floors?
There’s two ways you can go about saving your floors, floor mats and bumper plates. Depending on your situation, I might suggest both.
Floor mats are a given, not only they’ll protect your floors, but also your plates if you’re using metal ones. A pro tip is to look for horse stable mats instead of gym mats, they are exactly the same but much more reasonably priced.
Bumper plates are a bit controversial. if you’re in an apartment complex you might want to go for these since they are less noisy, the trade-off is that they’re more expensive and you can fit fewer in the bar.
Where Should I Buy My Gym From?
As always, I can’t help but recommend Amazon here, especially if you’re going outside of our list (Even though you really shouldn’t). There are a lot of crooked folk on the internet, so anything other than straight from the vendor implies risk of not getting what you paid for.
Amazon is a huge company that always has the buyers back, so in case of any troubles, having them at your side is always a plus.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page