Thinking of trading in that expensive gym membership for your own Iron Paradise? You only need a few pieces of equipment to get a complete workout at home, says David Otey, CSCS, a personal-training manager at Equinox. Building your own gym can be accessible and affordable for even casual worker-outers.
Editor's Note: Some of our picks our out of stock due to COVID-19 shortages.
Commitment Level: Just keeping off the beer weight
If you’re trying to beat back a beer belly, you can buy everything you need for a full-body workout for less than the cost of a few bottles of Scotch. The bands can be stored in a closet, the pull-up bar won’t take up too much wall space and the kettlebell can sit in a corner — so you won’t look like a try-hard when you have guests over.
Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell
This single kettlebell adjusts from eight to 40 pounds, replacing six weights. Squat with it, press it overhead, row it, swing it, curl it — it’s the most versatile single weight you can buy.
Titan 3 Position Wall-Mounted Pull-Up Bar
Otey recommends a wall-mounted bar for its overall sturdiness versus doorway models that risk damaging your door frame. Also, you can loop bands around it for moves like pull-downs, tricep extensions, and assisted pull-ups, essentially MacGyvering your own cable machine for a fraction of the cost.
Stroop Bands (3-pack)
Bands are essential, Otey says, because they’re cheap, versatile and take up hardly any space. Stroop one-ups the classic rubber resistance band by encasing it in their patented Slastix sleeve, so if the band were to snap, the tube would protect you from an unwanted whipping.
Pro Tip: A wall-mounted pullup bar is bar none, but you need to be absolutely sure you mount it correctly. Use a stud finder to make sure you’re well-anchored, so your home gym project doesn’t turn into a home renovation. Or even consider finding a professional.
Commitment Level: Fully fit without the monthly membership
So you want to be righteously ripped, but it’s not your whole identity. A few upgrades to the basic setup will help you reach that higher level. Dumbbells allow for greater exercise variety, a bench is more comfortable and a hand-crafted kettlebell doubles as a statement piece when you’re done tearing up your workout.
Titan Fitness Chrome Adjustable Dumbbells
Not only do these look sleek and futuristic, but they also adjust up to 100 pounds per hand, which is about as much weight as you’ll ever need unless you’re He-Man or something. Loading the handles is a bit of a pain, but a small price to pay for the ability to stow them away in their case post-workout.
Rep Fitness AB-3100 Adjustable Bench V3
Lying on a weight bench is more comfortable than lying on your floor, and it allows for a better range of motion while bench-pressing or rowing. You can also use it for step-ups, glute bridges, shoulder presses, incline and decline push-ups.
Stroop Bands (5-Pack)
Buy the larger pack of Stroop Bands for even more resistance. If you’re totally jacked, you can use two at a time for a real challenge.
Onnit Chimp Primal Bell
This chip-resistant hunk of calibrated cast iron is carved into the shape of a chimpanzee, so it doubles as an art piece when you’re done working out. And though it’s not as versatile as an adjustable kettlebell, 36-pounds is a sweet spot for the average gym-goer; it’s a challenging enough weight for presses and squats as well as clean and high-volume swings.
Pro Tip: If you've got a door near your workout zone, you can add even more versatility to your workout bands. A door anchor, which slides through the crack where fingers and toes would get pinched, provides an additional attachment point that's not on your body.
Commitment Level: Bringing the whole gym home
If money is no issue and you’re psychotic about fitness, then you’re better off investing in a few lavish — and as a bonus, stylish — tools. If the sticker shock is sending you into a coma, remember: even a single piece of this no-limit setup will make a lovely crown jewel in an otherwise more modest setup.
Rogue Jammer Pull-Up Bar
This sturdier, steel pull-up bar is an upgrade because it’s knurled; all those small grooves etched into the steel makes gripping it easier. (Though, you can get a smooth bar if that’s your thing). And, you can pick from a set of custom bar colors to really make it pop.
While outdoor cardio is, well, free, Peloton’s virtual classes put it a cut above a jog through the park. The Essentials Package, which is Otey says is worth buying, comes with two 5-pound weights, headphones, and cycling shoes. Clip in and let some statuesque trainer get you one bike ride closer to ripped.
Prime Fitness Functional Trainer
This 7-foot, 5-inch cable machine has two arms that pivot in myriad directions making nearly every exercise imaginable possible. You can also equip it with various attachments (available on the website for an additional cost), and the two weight stacks load up to 265 pounds each for serious lifters.
Pro Tip: A Peloton comes with a 32" x 72" mat to protect your floor, so make sure ahead of time you've got room to lay the whole thing down. While you don't have to give the bike a permanent home in your abode, it does weigh over 130 pounds, so moving it is going to add some strength training to your cardio.
A version of this story first published in a print issue of Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today.