Health & Fitness | April 1, 2020 2:05 pm

30 Home Fitness Items That Will Make You Miss Your Gym a Little Less

You're saving money on that gym membership. Here's how to spend it.

essential home gym items

Sometimes “home workout” is just another way of saying “I did 20 push-ups in my living room and called it a day.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you’re stuck inside because of a pandemic or just hate shelling out for a gym membership, working out at home can be an excellent way to stay fit—especially if you have the right home gym equipment.

The types of gear you need will vary based on your space, your budget and the kind of workouts you like to do. To compile this guide, we researched top home-gym products across a range of categories to find items for a variety of workout styles. Of course, you don’t need to buy everything on this list to get a good workout; the idea here is to choose what works for you. And no matter how you decide to set up your gym, make sure to check out our Workout From Home Diaries column for all the advice you need on keeping up your gains while homebound.

From simple tools like foam rollers and pull-up bars to more high-tech equipment, here’s your guide to building the ultimate home gym. 

WORKOUT TOOLS

DEGOL Skipping Rope

Haven’t touched a jump rope since second grade? Time to get back into it. This sturdy rope features PVC-coated steel wire and ball bearings in the handles for excellent durability and smooth motion—perfect for some quick and killer cardio.

Valeo Medicine Ball

From slamming it on the ground to blasting your core, there’s so much you can do with a medicine ball. Add one of these sturdy, grippy balls to your home gym to mix up your usual workout.

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

Weighted vests help you crank up the intensity across all kinds of exercises, from pull-ups to running. This Aduro vest comes in several weight increments, and the pared-down design gives you greater mobility compared to other vests on the market.

Perfect Ab Carver Pro

Some ab rollers are just a single wheel with handles, but not the Ab Carver Pro. With built-in resistance and wide, curved wheels that allow you to angle left and right, this tool will give you a core workout like no other. 

Manduka MDK FIT Fitness Mat 8mm

While you can certainly score cheaper yoga mats, this Manduka mat is worth the slightly higher price tag. Its thin, dense foam won’t squish underneath you, the textured surface offers sure grip, and it comes with built-in grommets so you can hang it up to dry.

Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands

A must for any home gym, resistance bands help you up the difficulty of your workouts without having to throw around a bunch of weight (they’re also great for stretching, too). This affordable, highly rated set comes with five bands, each offering different levels of resistance, as well as an e-book guide to a whole library of exercises.

Perfect Multi-Gym Pro Pull-up Bar

Pull-ups are one of the best ways to sculpt your back, shoulders, and arms. This bar comes with several padded areas so you can switch up your grip and target different muscles, and it’s designed to handle up to 300 pounds. When you get bored with pull-ups, you can put it on the floor and use it for dips and incline push-ups, too.

Everlast Elite Free Standing Heavy Bag

Bring the boxing gym home with this freestanding bag from Everlast. It’s adjustable through six different height settings, can be filled with sand or water, and saves you from having to drill into your ceiling to hang a regular bag.

WEIGHTLIFTING

CAP Adjustable Dumbbell Set

These cast-iron adjustable dumbbells might be the same ones hanging out in your parents’ basement, but they’re simple to use, affordable, and they get the job done. They come with four 5-pound plates and four 3-pound plates for a total of up to 40 pounds—enough to keep beginners and even more advanced lifters busy.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells

Looking for more heft and more tech in your dumbbell? Try this set from Bowflex. A simple selector makes it easy to quickly change the weight (ranging from 5 to 52.5 pounds), and the included trays will keep these dumbbells tidy when stored.

RitFit Vinyl Coated Solid Cast Iron Kettlebell

Kettlebells are ideal for low-weight, high-rep exercises that torch fat and build endurance, and they make a nice addition to your gym setup if you already have traditional weights. These come with a vinyl-coating, so they’ll be easier on your skin and your floors than the usual bare metal kind.

AmazonBasics Flat Weight Workout Exercise Bench

Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. This exercise bench from CAP has earned strong reviews for its sturdy construction, and although it’s a no-frills design, it does one thing well: supporting your body while you lift heavy objects. 

Bowflex SelectTech 5.1s Bench

This Bowflex bench is a nice upgrade from the typical slabs you’ll find online. It’s adjustable through six different angles (including a decline) for a wide range of exercises, and it also folds up for storage—a big plus in a home gym.

American Barbell Cerakote Training Bar

No home gym is complete without a quality barbell, and this one offers a lot of value for the money: It’s made from high tensile strength steel and comes with a protective ceramic coating for excellent corrosion resistance.

Rogue 6-Shooter Urethane Olympic Grip Plates

These quality plates from Rogue feature circular cutouts, so they’re easy to move around, and the urethane coating prevents them from scratching other surfaces.

Lock-Jaw OLY 2 Olympic Barbell Collar

Ditch the finicky spring-loaded barbell collars and go with something more secure, like these Lock-Jaw collars. They’re highly rated, easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about them slipping under a heavy load.

Rogue Echo Squat Stand 2.0

You can certainly go nuts building a massive squat rack, but this durable powder-coated stand is a good place to start. It has a small footprint—ideal for home gyms—and includes J-cups to hold your bar, so you can start lifting as soon as you set it up.

RECOVERY TOOLS

Gaiam Halfmoon Natural Cork Massage Roller

Foam rollers are a great way to soothe tired muscles, and this roller from Gaiam makes a nice pick to start with. It’s made from natural cork, which is good for the planet and also looks a lot nicer than the usual hunk of foam. 

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

To really go to work on your muscles, grab this roller: The textured surface gives a massage-like feel that will power through knots and improve blood flow.

Theragun G3 Premium

Serious workouts demand serious recovery, and that’s when you reach for the Theragun. Go for the G3 model, which features two speeds and a range of attachments to zero in on fatigued muscles.

ACCESSORIES

SINLAND Microfiber Gym Towels

Quick PSA: Don’t use your kitchen dish towel to wipe off sweat. That’s gross. Grab this set of microfiber gym towels instead—they won’t leave behind any lint, they absorb moisture well, and they dry quickly.

Takeya Originals Vacuum-Insulated Stainless-Steel Water Bottle

Skip the chemical-laden plastic jug and opt for this tough, insulated stainless-steel bottle. It comes with a spout mouth for easy sipping, and it’ll keep your beverage of choice ice-cold for 24 hours (hopefully long after your workout has ended).

Gorilla Mat Premium Large Exercise Mat

Lifting big metal weights on your nice wood floor isn’t the best idea. Instead, throw down this Gorilla Mat, which comes in multiple sizes and rolls up for storage, to keep that parquet scuff-free.

HOME WORKOUT SYSTEMS

TRX Home2 System

This deceptively simple suspension trainer can be used in a doorway in your home (or outside) and harnesses gravity for resistance. Pull up the accompanying app (a one-year membership is included) for guidance on a whole range of muscle-building workouts.

Tonal

If you’re looking for a high-tech, all-in-one home gym setup (and you have some cash to burn), try Tonal. This sleek hub mounts on your wall and uses two pulleys, sophisticated AI coaching, and a deep library of fitness programs to deliver total body workouts without a room full of equipment.

CYCLING

NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle

When it comes to home stationary bikes, the conversation almost always starts with Peloton—but there are lots of other rigs out there. For similar features at a lower price, the S22i makes a great pick.

Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2

If you have a bike in your garage, grab this Kinetic trainer to bring your rides indoors. It offers a simple setup using fluid resistance to mimic the road, and it has ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, and Bluetooth compatibility baked in, so you can shoot data to apps like Zwift.

TREADMILLS

Nautilus T618

A solid buy for the money, the T618 offers a deep feature set, including activity tracking, Bluetooth connectivity, and running in real-world locations via an accompanying app. That sure beats slogging through miles while watching cable news at the gym.

Technogym Skillrun TX500

A five-figure price tag for a treadmill? It’s shocking, but the Skillrun isn’t your average mill. Besides guided workouts and activity tracking, it offers an unparalleled range of workout modes—including sled and parachute resistance exercises—designed to help you reach peak performance.

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