It's easy to get a little jealous of all the amazing, high-tech at-home gyms you see on Instagram. But creating your own workout space so you can sweat it out in your living room, basement or spare bedroom doesn't need to break the bank.
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In fact, all you need is a few pieces of home gym equipment to build strength, get your heart pumping and improve your endurance.
And after months of exercise equipment reviews and dozens of interviews with trainers, coaches and athletes, we've got it: the definitive list of the best home workout equipment of 2021.
A trusty mat and water bottle can take your at-home workouts surprisingly far. Whatever else you do (or don't) buy for your home gym, it's worth investing in these staples.
1. Best Exercise Mat: Lululemon Reversible Mat 3mm
An exercise mat is a budget- and space-friendly essential to include in your home gym. You can find a mat at just about any price point in an array of colors, levels of thickness and sizes. They're not only helpful for practicing yoga. They also provide must-have cushion and support for Pilates, body-weight exercises and core workouts that involve lying on the floor.
Lululemon's 3mm mat is one of the best out there, according to Kells McPhillips, a certified yoga instructor. Its easy-to-grip surface prevents slips and provides just enough cushion for comfort without being too bulky.
Buy it: Lululemon.com; Price: $68
2. Best Water Bottle: Sunwill Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
It's important to stay hydrated before, during and after your workouts. And sipping from a reusable water bottle is the easiest and most eco-friendly way to make that happen. Water bottles usually come in plastic, metal and glass, but the best one for you depends on your lifestyle. Plastic is the lightest, but stainless steel ones are insulated to keep your H2O cold.
McPhillips loves the double-wall vacuum insulation on this Sunwill bottle. Bonus: Its design and shape fit nearly all cup holders.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $10.99
If you have the space in your home gym and your budget, consider investing in one of these popular cardio machines. They're ideal for getting more consistent with your cardio routine — especially if weather often gets in the way of your outdoor activities.
1. Best Treadmill: Echelon Stride Auto-Fold Connected Treadmill
A treadmill can help you log miles and burn calories from the comfort of home. The machine you buy depends mostly on the space you have available. Look for a machine with a motor strength of at least 3 miles per hour, which allows you to walk or run with ease, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Echelon is a popular brand with some of the best virtual fitness classes available on the machine's screen, according to New York-based physical therapist Sam Becourtney, DPT, CSCS. This treadmill even folds in half to save space.
Buy it: Echelon.com; Price: $1,338.98
2. Best Elliptical: Precor Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer EFX 885
Ellipticals are a lower-impact cardio machine that's easy on the joints. Look for an elliptical that's size-appropriate for your home and stable under your body weight, says Mathew Forzaglia, CPT, a New York-based certified personal trainer and founder of Forzag Fitness.
Precor's elliptical has five preset levels and 22 different workouts to choose from. It also has two sets of handles (one stationary, one moving) to modify or progress your workout. And as you raise and lower the elliptical's incline, the monitor shows your which muscles are working the hardest.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $3,699
3. Best Indoor Bike: Peloton Bike
Stationary bikes can also get your heart pumping without placing much pressure on your joints, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). And unlike ellipticals, bikes don't usually take up much space, which is a plus when shopping for the best at-home workout equipment.
The Peloton bike is the top bike out there. With thousands of on-demand high-intensity workouts on your machine and 20 live classes daily, you never have to worry about workout boredom. All you need to do is toss on your cycling shoes (Peloton sells their own) and start spinning.
Buy it: Onepeloton.com; Price: $1,495
Pick and choose your favorite weights to build up your strength arsenal. Here's the best home gym equipment for gaining muscle.
1. Best Dumbbells: Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weights
Investing in a few sets of dumbbells for at-home strength training is a good place to start, says Maillard Howell, a certified CrossFit coach and head of fitness at Reebok. Dumbbells are versatile for all types of muscle-building exercises, and they're ideal for all strength levels.
To get the most value for your money, consider a set of adjustable dumbbells. And the best pair out there is this Bowflex set, according to Carolina Araujo, CPT, a California-based personal trainer. These weights are designed to easily transition from light to heavier in one second. And using one adjustable set is far less expensive (and space-sucking) compared with buying multiple differently weighted sets.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $399.99
2. Best Suspension Trainer: TRX HOME2SYSTEM
If you're working out at home, the TRX suspension system is an excellent alternative for more standard training styles, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
The TRX system is made of two bands with handles that attach to a high anchor point (like the ceiling or top of a door). With them, you can use your body weight against gravity to build strength and stability.
TRX bands come in different packages and prices, depending on how many suspension attachments you want. But the HOME2SYSTEM has everything most at-home exercisers need.
Whichever set you buy, your purchase grants you access to the TRX app, which includes a library of instructions and exercises, so you can learn how to install it in your home and use it effectively.
Buy it: TRXTraining.com; Price: $199.95
3. Best Kettlebell: Yes4All Vinyl-Coated Kettlebell
Trainers can't praise kettlebell exercises enough. Essentially a cannonball with a handle, kettlebells can build strength and muscle, as well as aerobic capacity.
As with dumbbells, start out with a lighter kettlebell. "Do not ego-buy," Howell says. In other words, don't let your ego drive you toward the heavier weight if you're not as familiar with kettlebell movements.
If you're new to kettlebells, he recommends starting with a 25-pound weight, like this Yes4All bell. More experienced lifters can probably go for a 35-pound weight, he says.
Whereas most kettlebells are totally iron (not friendly for hardwood floors), these are coated in vinyl to protect surfaces in your home.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $28.99
4. Best Sliders: Synergee Core Sliders
Sliders or gliders are exactly what they sound like: Usually circular, oval or hexagonal, these discs allow you to slide your hands or feet along a surface to challenge your stability.
While sliders may not look like anything special, they provide a super-challenging workout, especially for your abs and legs, says Meg Takacs, an RRCA-certified running coach and creator of the #RunWithMeg app.
Sliders are a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment and you can store them just about anywhere. For such small tools, they offer a lot of versatility, she says.
Experiment with slider-enhanced mountain climbers by placing the discs under your feet as you drive your knees toward your chest. Other challenging slider exercises are reverse lunges, split squats and push-ups, in which you bring one arm out in front of you at the bottom of the move, she says.
These sliders are budget-friendly and the foam glides smoothly across hard surfaces — that's why we named these the top pair in our review of the best sliders on the market. And if you only have carpet in your home, just flip them over and use the plastic side.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $9.95
5. Best Resistance Bands: RitFit Pull-Up Assist Bands
If you want to make basic body-weight exercises more challenging, resistance bands are an easy and space-efficient way to add load.
Your best option is this combo pack of five bands form RitFit. Each has a different level of resistance, so you can increase the load as you get stronger. And unlike most long-loop bands, RitFits come in packs of five.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $20.69 for 5
6. Best Pull-Up Bar: Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Door-Mounted Pull-Up Bar
A doorway pull-up bar is easy to install and great for increasing your back and shoulder strength, Howell says.
Chin-ups and pull-ups require a good amount of strength and mobility. If you don't have these exercises down yet, you can use resistance bands (like the long-loop band above) to do band-assisted chin-ups and pull-ups from the bar.
But your exercises aren't limited to pull-ups and chin-ups, either. Howell recommends hanging from the bar and firing up your core with some hanging knee raises or tuck holds.
This specific bar can support up to 300 pounds and fits snug in your doorway without needing to actually connect it to the wall. Unlike single-bar doorway pull-up bars, this one has several grips, including wide grip pads and neutral grip handles.
Another bonus: you can flip this pull-up bar and place it on the ground for push-ups.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $56.49
Mobility and Stability Tools
Most exercisers could probably stand to work on mobility, flexibility and stability. In addition to stretching and getting plenty of rest between tough workouts, you might benefit from this recovery-focused equipment.
1. Best Stability Ball: Live Infinitely Exercise Ball
The stability ball was originally used by physical therapists to improve core strength, posture and flexibility, according to the ACE. Over time, it's become widely used to do a variety of strength training exercises, including hamstring curls, sit-ups and push-ups, too. (It also makes for an ab-challenging desk chair.)
Find a stability ball that's the right size for your body: Exercise balls are usually measured in centimeters, with each size corresponding with a specific height. You may need to opt for a larger or smaller ball if you fall near the bottom or top size limit.
This exercise ball is available in a variety of sizes from 55 to 95 centimeters. You even get a year-long warranty with your purchase and access to Live Infinitely's digital exercise guides that show you how to use the ball properly.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $20.90
2. Best Foam Roller: TriggerPoint GRID
Foam rolling is a must if you want to keep your muscles strong, healthy and injury-free. Even just rolling a specific area for a few minutes can help reduce soreness and increase your flexibility, according to the ACE.
Foam rollers are available in an array of sizes, shapes and levels of firmness. As a general rule, softer or medium-firm foam rollers will probably give you the best results, according to the NASM. But the best foam roller is the kind you'll use. So, if you like a firmer feel, go for a denser roller.
New York-based personal trainer Noam Tamir, CSCS, loves the TriggerPoint roller for its high density and groves, allowing you to work deep into sore muscles. It even comes with instructional videos when you purchase to help you roll the right way.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $34.99
- Harvard Health Publishing: "What to Look for in a Home Treadmill"
- NASM: "The Ride of Your Lives: How to Help Your Clients Enjoy Cycling"
- ACE: "Investigating the Acute and Chronic Health Benefits of TRX® Suspension Training"
- ACE: "Foam Rolling 101"
- NASM: "How to Use a Foam Roller"
- ACE: "Strengthen Your Abdominals With Stability Balls"