Are you looking for the right home gym equipment for your training in your own four walls? In the following, I want to introduce you to the things that are best suited for setting up your own small fitness room or a training corner. There is something for everyone so that you can find the right things for your needs.
If you want to stow your home gym in a minimalist way in a box in the closet, then you will find the right equipment here. You will also find some inspiration here if you want to convert your own room into a small fitness studio in your house or apartment.
Regardless of whether you build muscle mass or lose weight and define your muscles in your home gym or just want to finally get fitter again, You will find the right tools for this in the following overview.
The most useful tools for your home gym
There are many good arguments for exercising at home. In another article I summarized some good reasons for your own fitness room . It is best to have a look there if you are still unsure.
Once the decision has been made, it is important to find the right home gym equipment. Above all, this must suit you, your goals and your requirements at home. I want to help you with the following overview.
In the following I want to introduce you to the things that, from my point of view, make the most sense in a home gym. Some of these things can even be used on the move and are suitable for training on the go .
I will start with more minimalist tools that allow you to work out effectively at home even with a small budget and little space. Then I’ll work my way up to some bigger and heavier home gym equipment.
1) A training mat as a minimal home gym floor
If we’re being completely honest, you can do a whole lot of effective exercises without any equipment. Even muscle building with your own body weight is possible. If you want to learn the basic exercises in bodyweight training , you only have to look around a little here on the blog. My free training plans are also based on the principle of being able to train anywhere and anytime without any equipment.
However, training is not very comfortable on the hard wood, stone or carpeted floor. So as soon as you want to do any exercises on the floor, you will be happy to have a good exercise mat.
I have two such mats myself. I have a slightly thinner, foldable fitness mat *. This can be stowed away in a suitcase and taken with me on my business trips. I also have a slightly larger and thicker exercise mat * for my training at home.
2) A sling trainer – the smallest fitness studio in the world
Anyone who has known me for a while knows that I am a big fan of so-called sling trainers. I always train with this tool, especially on my business trips. If you know how to train with it, you can use it to perform a variety of very effective exercises.
Such a sling trainer can be used flexibly wherever you need it. Then you can simply put it back in your closet or suitcase. When using it on a door, make sure that you use it against the opening direction of the door, so that the load is distributed to the door frame and not just on the door.
With a sling trainer, all muscles can be effectively trained and the smallest models, such as the sling trainer from Body Wisdom *, do not even need as much space as a small water bottle. That’s why I like to call it the smallest fitness studio in the world:
Such a sling trainer is particularly well suited for functional training and helps you to control your body better. With the right exercise variants and a little practice, however, you can also do an intensive hypertrophy training .
For my big sling trainer test I compared many of these training devices with each other. However, if you don’t have the time or feel like reading the test, I have two short recommendations for you:
My recommendation for getting started and training on the go is the Body Wisdom Slingtrainer *. It is robust, compact and very versatile thanks to its modular structure. Exclusively for my readers and followers there is the sling trainer currently instead of 149 € for 99 €. You only have to use the discount code “fitvolution” when buying enter.
The absolute top model is the aeroSling Elite Plus *. This requires a little more space and is therefore only suitable for travel to a limited extent. However, it is extremely high quality and durable and its pulley makes it even more versatile.
3) The chin-up bar – home gym equipment for your back
Regular and effective back training is extremely valuable for your health and fitness. Many common back problems can be avoided if you strengthen your back muscles correctly and regularly.
In my opinion, the best training for this is the pull-up training . Here you specifically combine different pull-up variants in order to effectively strengthen your back and arm muscles. By the way, this also improves your general posture.
Don’t worry if you can’t do any pull-ups yet. With the right approach, anyone can learn pull-ups . In my article about this, I will give you some tips on how you can master more pull-ups step by step.
In order to be able to do pull-ups at all, however, you need a pull-up bar. In my home gym I have a pull-up bar with different grip options firmly attached to the wall.
Such a pull-up bar for wall mounting * is not the only option. There are also variants that you can hang in the door and then stow back in the closet. I had a Powerbar2 door pull-up bar * for a long time and can only recommend it to anyone who prefers a bar for the door.
4) Resistance bands – for a little more tension in your home gym
Is your bodyweight training too easy or too boring for you? Then resistance bands can be the solution. With the help of such rubber bands you can build up additional resistance. Some muscle groups can also be trained much better and easier with a few resistance bands.
In general, these tapes are incredibly versatile. It was not without reason that I once wrote an article with the title ” Why I never leave the house without my Theraband “.
A good one Resistance band set * is cheaper than a good dumbbell set and it is much easier to take with you when you are out and about. It is significantly lighter and more compact.
Among my home gym equipment, however, I don’t see these bands (only) as cheap and light weight replacements. The resistance behaves completely differently and therefore they are also a great addition to dumbbell training. So they are incredibly well suited for the Warmup and to provide additional impulses.
5) A pair of good dumbbells – flexible training with weights
Dumbbells are arguably the first home gym equipment that most people think of. An (adjustable) weight bench and a couple of (adjustable) dumbbells and the basic home gym is done.
It’s the classic setup and there are good reasons for it. With this you can basically train your whole body quite effectively. Basically, training with dumbbells also has many advantages.
First of all, all of this can be implemented with little space and can be stowed in a corner to save space after training. Due to the one-armed load, you can also specifically train against imbalances and ensure that your body is equally strong. Due to the high muscle fiber activation, the dumbbell is also the best tool if you want big biceps. And these are just some of the benefits of exercising with dumbbells.
With a couple of good adjustable dumbbells * you can also change the weights extremely quickly and efficiently. In the case of cheaper variants with classic cast iron discs, like this model *, the repositioning takes a little longer. However, both implementations ensure that you can easily incorporate step-by-step increases into your training. This is particularly essential for muscle building .
In short: dumbbells are the most effective training tool when your goal is to look good naked. At least that’s what my blogger colleague Mark Maslow says in his book Looking Good Naked *, in which he also gives numerous tips on training with it.
6) Kettlebells – more than just an alternative to the dumbbell
Kettlebells are very suitable as home gym equipment, without question. These kettlebells used to be very popular, especially in the former Soviet Union. They enable some special types of exercise with which the body can be trained very differently than with dumbbells. The kettlebell has a lot to offer, especially for training the core muscles and shoulders.
Personally, I’m not a huge kettlebell believer. However, my good friend and fitness YouTuber Johannes Kwella has specialized in this type of training and thus brought me to it. If you are interested in training with kettlebells, I can recommend his book The Power of Kettlebells * warmly. In it you will find out everything you need to know about training with the kettlebell.
There are different types of kettlebells. Personally, I like the competition kettlebells the most because they are always the same size. For many exercises, I just think that’s better than the different sizes of the cast iron variants. A good option at a fair price are, for example, the Competition Kettlebells from Bad Company *. Johannes also recommends this as an inexpensive option in his book.
A big disadvantage with kettlebells, however, is that you need some of them if you want to train effectively and make progress over the long term. Kettlebells have fixed weights and such kettlebells that have variable weights are not usable for a sensible training. You can start with two or three kettlebells for now. However, as you progress, you will need more to improve.
7) A weight bench – bench press and more
The weight bench just mentioned is simply part of dumbbell and dumbbell training. Many of the most popular exercises, such as the bench press , can only be done if you have a weight bench.
You will need a weight bench for most chest dumbbell exercises. This allows you more stability and a greater range of motion than if you were to do it from the floor. A good (adjustable) weight bench also opens up a number of possibilities for your back, shoulder and arm exercises.
A good weight bench has to be one thing above all else and that is stable. In any case, make sure that the resilience of your bench can easily withstand your weight plus that of the weights you want to train with. Next, I recommend looking for a bench with a multi-adjustable backrest. This allows you a great variety of exercises.
A bench that can do both and can also be folded up to save space is the Fitness Reality 1000 Super Max weight bench *, which also convinced me with a very good price-performance ratio.
8) A barbell with weights – for the basic exercises
For me, my home gym was only really complete when I finally had my own Olympic barbell with some weights. As a great friend of the classic basic exercises , I used to go to the gym regularly. Since then I only train at home and sometimes on the go.
If you want to work on your deadlift in your home gym, you will inevitably need your own barbell.
This should be a good Olympic barbell like this *. It is important that it is a rod with official dimensions and a high load capacity and that the ball bearings run well. After all, you want to be able to train with the bar for a long time. If you take good care of such a bar, you will be able to train well and safely with it for several years.
Of course you need a couple of weight plates for training. After all, you don’t want to do all the exercises with 20 kilos forever. So buy enough 50mm weight plates right away so that you can do all the exercises and improve a little. Cast iron discs like these * are absolutely sufficient for normal fitness training. With a bit of luck you will also find a few cheap used ones.
9) A half rack or a full rack
For training with your barbell, you also need at least a pair of simple but stable, adjustable barbell stands * to safely store your barbell. Personally, however, I’m not a huge fan of freestanding dumbbell racks. I’ve seen too many of them fall over and the safety arms are always way too small. So if you have the space, I would recommend getting a proper rack.
Such a squat rack with reasonable safety racks is also not that much more expensive and only takes up a little more space. However, the fixed connection of the shelves gives the whole thing significantly more stability. Here you can see my squat rack as it is in my fitness corner at home. The model is no longer available; I would buy this squat rack * anyway if I had the choice again.
Or you can get yourself a full rack like this power cage * (optional in a set with the weight bench recommended above). Here you have a little more stability and security as well as a few additional training options. If I move again at some point, I’ll definitely put something like this in my gym. When you have such a power cage in your home gym, everyone knows immediately that you are really serious!
If all of this takes up too much space, there are also special half-racks that can be mounted on the wall and folded up. As a result, they hardly take up any space when you are not actually using them for training. But it is best to get advice from a specialist retailer and install it by a professional.
10) A cable pull system
With many devices that you can find in a gym, it makes little sense to get them for your gym at home as well. At least I think that’s pretty exaggerated. With the tools mentioned above, you are extremely well equipped for your home gym.
One thing I can understand, however, that you want to have it in your home gym, is a cable puller. Personally, I don’t (yet) have a cable pull in my home gym. However, some muscles can be trained completely differently with a good cable pull than “just” with dumbbells and resistance bands.
You don’t necessarily have to be a grown-up right awayAdd the Cable-Cross train tower *. Although I’m not saying that I would not like to have such a part … Actually, I would actually really like to have such a device, but I don’t know where I should put it now.
However, there are also ways to attach a more compact cable pull to your rack or pull-up bar. The existing weight of the dumbbells can then be used as the weight. I’ve seen this several times on American Instagram and YouTube channels and will probably soon try to tinker something like this myself with a couple of carabiners, a steel cable and a heavy-duty pulley.
11) A cardio machine for some indoor endurance training
You probably noticed that so far I have only presented home gym equipment for your strength training. However, you may also want to do some cardio exercise at home. We’ll dedicate ourselves to that now.
Apart from the fact that you can of course train your endurance with any strength training device, you can also do a cardio program with your own body weight on your exercise mat without any aids. However, not everyone is always in the mood for a HIIT workout on the mat.
Which cardio machine (or machines) you want to buy for your home gym ultimately depends primarily on what type of endurance sport you would like to do indoors and how often you want to train with it. However, I will only give you recommendations on cardio equipment that I have experience with myself and that are suitable for me and my home gym.
11a) A treadmill for intervals and bad weather
Personally, my favorite cardio workout is running. If it’s really cold in winter, I find it a little difficult. Fortunately, the last winters have always been mild. Before Corona, I always liked to do my interval runs on a treadmill as a cardio unit after strength training . There I can precisely set my speeds, which I want to run and monitor my progress.
Treadmill training in the gym is currently not that best idea. But which belt is a good alternative for your home gym?
Even if it is probably not used that often, a treadmill in home gym should also be of the highest quality in my opinion. If only because I don’t want to injure myself while running, it must above all be robust. It should also run reliably and smoothly and have a wide band. So that faster intervals can be completed, it should also be designed for at least 20km / h maximum running speed in my opinion; better a little more.
From my point of view, you have two options:
The latter is a slightly more expensive proposition. On the other hand, it is real gym quality. These treadmills are found in many gyms and crossfit boxes and last forever. Many professionals in various sports train with such bands.
The cool thing about these belts is that they are always as fast as you want to run. This is because you always run a little uphill and drive the treadmill yourself without a motor. However, it does take some practice to maintain a speed. As soon as you get the hang of it, however, this is an excellent training device that always adapts to your current performance and reacts quickly to your impulses without you having to press any buttons.
11b) A rowing machine – cardio for the upper body
Good or bad weather, a cardio machine that I’ve been seriously thinking about for a while is a rowing ergometer. In contrast to running, I can’t just do it with rowing. Real rowing on the water is just too laborious for me.
Rowing, however, is a great cardio workout that also challenges the upper body. With low-intensity training, you can also watch a movie or series pretty well while doing it.
If I could wish for something, it would be a wooden water rowing machine * like my little brother has had for some time. This can also be put away upright to save space. In addition, it looks really good in any room and can therefore also stand well in the living room.
11c) An AirBike – For total cardio destruction
To be honest – I find cross trainers kind of silly. I would never put such a thing in my home gym. If you enjoy doing cardio on something like that, that’s perfectly fine. However, I cannot recommend an exercise bike in this area.
What follows a similar principle, however, is the so-called AirBike. I also like to call it the cross trainer on steroids and I have a kind of love-hate relationship with it that I rarely experience. However, I know that there is hardly an indoor cardio workout with which you can stimulate and challenge your whole body more intensively. There are other manufacturers too, but I recommend getting the Original Assault Air Bike *. This is also available in numerous fitness studios and crossfit boxes. Cheaper alternatives that I was able to test have always disappointed me in terms of quality.
In addition to the sprint, training with the air bike is the only training I know of where cardio training can be done intensely enough to be a real Tabata training in the spirit of the inventor complete.
12) Other useful home gym equipment
With that we have ticked off the most important things from my point of view. However, there are a few other useful tools for your training that can be very good additions. Since I want to keep the whole thing somewhat compact here, I will only list a few examples that I have in my home gym myself. These things include:
I could go on with this list for a while, but that should be enough for inspiration. Once you have set up your home gym, you will notice if something is still missing.
These smaller things can also be very good fitness gifts for sporty friends.
Conclusion – Have fun putting it together
That’s it, my recommendations for your home gym equipment. I hope there was one or the other thing you would like to have in your own little fitness studio at home.
Of course, you don’t have to get all of these for your home training. What you should ultimately get depends entirely on you and your goals. Everyone has their own goals and therefore needs different things.
If your inner weaker self, despite good equipment, still throws a spanner in the works, I recommend you to take a look at my book, The Bastard Killer . This is a “step by step” guide that will help you achieve your goals.