I get it; staying fit is not easy. Between job, kids, and social events, you hardly have any time left to take care of yourself.
Going to the gym during peak hours is most frustrating. And if you have managed to get in during a quiet time, you risk running into weird guys.
You could solve all this if you had the equipment to work out at home. With a modern and compact home gym, you can easily train every muscle in your body, burn fat, and lose weight. And you can easily fit it in a small home. But what machine should you choose? There are many options, each with its own specific advantages.
I have been there, and I know how difficult it can be, so I spent 3 weeks researching and testing all the top compact home gym machines. Every option on this list is one that I would personally use. And I have very high standards when it comes to home gym equipment. So, let's dive right in.
List of The 6 Best Compact Home Gyms
Best Overall: Bowflex PR3000
- Material: Heavy-duty steel
- Dimensions: 64 × 41 × 83 inches
- Weight: 166 pounds
- Exercise types: more than 50
- Power rod resistance: as low as five and as high as 210 pounds. Upgradeable to 310 pounds
- Flexibility: Ankle cuffs and multi-use hand grip
- Bench press: Vertical
If you are in a hurry and just want the best compact home gym, I suggest you try the Bowflex PR3000.
You will get a high-quality machine with an innovative pulley system that doesn't require changes between the 50+ different exercises. You can smoothly transition between high and low settings and waste no time during your workout routine.
I found the multi-use handgrips and ankle cuffs to be extremely comfortable during every workout. I also really appreciated the extra board that is included in the package. It lets you adapt the machine for more convenience.
You can easily train your entire body with more than 50 gym-grade exercises. Each has been carefully designed to tone and strengthen every part of the body. If you care about comfort, you will love the upholstered roller cushions for leg extensions and curls.
What I like most about the Bowflex PR3000 is the power rod resistance system. I live in an older apartment with wooden floors and don't want to have a large construction with 250lbs of weight stacks. The Bowflex system uses flexible power rods to create resistance, so it's a lot lighter. I also found the rods to be super easy to adjust to my preferred resistance level.
Don't worry that this is a flimsy machine, though. The heavy-duty steel construction gives you a rock-solid platform for even the most intense workouts. And you can rest assured your home gym will stay that way for many years. Check price here
Best Compact: Total Gym XLS
- Weight: 81.6 pounds
- Dimensions: 19" W × 90" L × 43" H unfolded and 19" W × 51" L × 9" H when folded
- Weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Exercise types: more than 80
- Foldable: Yes
- Workout tools: Nutritional planning guide, exercise wall chart, and a training deck
The Total Gym XLS is the best compact home gym if you need to store your machine between workouts. You can perform over 80 different exercises in the comfort of your home. You can easily fold and store it in small spaces because of the well-designed construction. Despite this, it has a maximum user weight capacity of up to 400 lbs. Now you might not need all of that, but it shows the manufacturer's solid construction and confidence.
I was very impressed with how complete the package is: you really get everything you need to start working out right away.
If you are like me and hate to unpack a new product, only to find you need to buy more things to use it, you will love the full set of accessories that come with it. You get flexible nylon straps, a wing attachment, leg-pull straps, an exercise chart to put on the wall, nutritional guides, and more.
Another part I think you will enjoy is the padded glide board. Your head and neck will be a lot more comfortable, especially during longer exercises like burning fat. Working out is hard enough, no need to add neck cramps.
The pulley and cable system were always a strength of Total Gym and have been upgraded even further. If you have always wanted to do more squats but struggle with the equipment or weights, I think you will love the squat stand option.
And the best part of all this? You can fit all the Total Gym's training options in just 19" by 90" of your home or apartment. If you fold it, it only takes 19" by 51" of your closet. Check the price here.
Best For Horizontal Bench Press and Rowing: Bowflex PR1000
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 144 pounds
- Exercise types: more than 25
- System: Multiple cable pulley positions
- Foldable: Yes
- Bench press: Horizontal
- Power rod resistance: more than 200 pounds
- Upgrade: New built-in media rack
With the PR1000, you get the well-known Bowflex system in a smaller and lighter package than the PR3000 I chose as best overall. But you would be wrong to think that it's just a smaller and more foldable version of the same thing.
You can perform over 25 different exercises on the PR1000. You might ask me, why should I get this if I can do over 50 different exercises with the PR3000? And I would answer: because the PR1000 lets you do horizontal Bench Presses and Aerobic Rowing. And you can simply not do these on the PR3000.
If you are into horizontal bench-pressing or like to use this machine for rowing, the PR1000 is the home gym I would recommend. If you don't care about those features, you might still choose the PR1000 because you can fold it and store it in a smaller space.
Once you fold up the bench, most of your workout space will be available for other activities.
You can vary the power rods' resistance in 5lbs increments up to 200lbs and easily expand your training as you get stronger and fitter. And the Bowflex PR1000 comes with a full set of accessories so you can start your workout right away. Check the price here.
Best Value: Weider Ultimate Body Works
- Material: Foam cushion
- Weight capacity: 250 pounds
- Additional resistance: 50 pounds
- Inclination: 8 levels
- Cables: Free motion
- System: High pulley
- Dimensions: 59 × 27.5 × 48 inches
- Design: Telescoping, a rolling seat, and SpaceSaver
If you are looking for a starter home gym that can be easily moved and stored, I recommend trying the Weider Ultimate Body Works. And you don't have to compromise when it comes to comfort because the Weider gives you high-quality foam padding and ergonomic design.
With the unique telescoping design, you can easily adjust it to fit any body length. When you start to get stronger (and you will), you can increase the resistance with four different resistance bands up to 50lbs. With the added intensity from the resistance bands and the 8 levels of incline, you can easily build up your training no matter your current level.
I want you to have a machine that you can use right now to get your desired body, regardless of its budget. That is why I had to list the Weider Ultimate Body Works. Not only is the value exceptional, you still get a complete workout solution that you can use for many years. I also like the high pulley system that makes it super easy to perform lateral pull downs, seated bench presses, and V-crunches.
You can shape and tone your body quickly when you do these exercises a few times per week. And when you have to store or move your Weider Ultimate Body Works, you will love the folding design and rolling wheels. Check price here
Best Classic: Total Gym 1400
- Exercise types: more than 60
- Package: Nutritional guide, a workout DVD, and an exercise chart
- Weight: 75.4 pounds
- Foldable: Yes
- Installation: Pre-assembled
- Weight capacity: 295 pounds
Total Gym brings you another premium compact home gym with 1400. You can achieve any desired level of fitness with just this machine. The design is virtually unchanged from the original Total Gym; the machine started a revolution. You can perform over 60 highly-effective workouts, ranging from stretching, strength training, and cardio. Your muscles will both strengthen and tone when working against the unique resistance.
If you opt to use the included program, you can get a full-body workout in just 20 minutes. And no matter how crazy our day might be, we can usually find 20 minutes for ourselves.
You also get a handy nutritional guide and exercise chart to start your journey to better fitness right, no matter whether you are a complete novice or quite advanced. When you open the package, you will only need to assemble a few pieces before starting your first workout. Check the price here.
Best For Travel And Tiny Spaces: BodyBoss Home Gym 2.0
- Resistant bands: 2 to 4 bands
- Design: Padded and non-slip grip
- Exercise types: more than 300
- Foldable: Yes
- Workout: Upper body and lower body
- Bonus: An optional free start-up workout program from Amazon
Many people ask me; why did you include this on the list? And I say to them; because it's the absolute most compact way to get a gym workout at home. And if you have only a tiny space or want to stay fit while traveling, the BodyBoss 2.0 is simply amazing.
You can use various resistance bands and angles to exercise in more ways than you can imagine. From squats, upright rows, single-leg deadlifts, ab-twists, to tricep extensions and rear delt flies, you really get almost endless possibilities.
You also get a door anchor you can use to increase your options further. Four resistance bands let you simulate up to 30 pounds of weight for each hand.
And, your hands won't be callused because the grips are padded and comfortable and won't slip out of your hands due to sweat.
Your feet won't slip either because the base has a non-slip surface and protective bottom to protect your floor from scratches.
If you are looking for a super small and extremely versatile home gym, look no further. Check price here
Compact Home Gym Buying Guide
Now you might think that you know everything there is to know about home gyms. But allow me to try to surprise you. I mean, if you're going to spend a decent amount of money on a piece of fitness equipment, you might as well take a few minutes to educate yourself.
The following features are, what I believe, key in choosing the best come back home gym for you.
Our first feature is resistance. The resistance is what you are going to be pulling or pushing against. They are different types of resistance, each with unique benefits and drawbacks. And they can also feel different.
When it comes to home gyms, you can generally find three different types of resistance:
Weight stacks are what do you generally find in commercial gyms. The plates are usually made of iron and slide over vertical rods. You can easily adjust the weight by moving a pin between different holes. The weights are lifted by a system of pulleys that allow you to make different types of movement.
A weight stack is simple, easy to operate, and generally reliable. That is why you see these on so many different home gyms, from huge machines in commercial gyms to the cheapest options for the home market.
With a weight stack, it's easy to change the weight between sets. This can be important for people who want to do pyramid sets or other advanced work out with teens that often require changing the weight.
There are also some drawbacks to using weight stacks as the resistance for your compact home gym. For one, they take up a lot of space and make the machine bigger.
They are also heavy. If you want to move your home gym round, you will find that a weight stack model takes a lot of effort, equipment, or people.
The other problem with weight tax is that you are pretty much stuck with the weights you get. Except for some of the most expensive home gyms, the weight stack is usually not extendable. And that is something to consider before buying. Your new home gym might be sufficient for a while, but after a few years, you can run out of ways to progress.
Olympic plates are not used that often in home gyms. Depending on your situation, they could be a great option, though. Let's start with the benefits of using weight plates.
Weight plates are pretty much universal and can be used for many different types of workout equipment. Once you have a good set of Olympic or standard plates, the possibilities are endless. You can use them on your bench press, with a simple bar, or hang them on your squat machine.
And other benefits of using Olympic plates is that they are easy to extend. If you grow out of your set, it's easy to add a few extra plates.
We see so few machines using weight plates because they also have some very significant drawbacks. Changing the resistance quickly between sets almost always requires an extra person. Also, the machines tend to be as large or larger than machines using weight stacks.
Another drawback is that the plates are usually not included in the price of the machine. So if you don't have a plate set already, you will need to spend a considerable amount on top of the purchase of your compact home gym.
Bowflex rods have become a very attractive alternative to the traditional weight stacks. When you pull on the bar or handles, a set of pulleys activates carbon fiber rods. So you are essentially bending the rod and creating resistance that way.
Bowflex rods have some unique advantages over weight stacks. To start, they are very light. Since they create resistance by bending, they don't need to be heavy. That makes the Bowflex home gyms light and easy to move around.
If you live in a small apartment building or an old house with wooden floors, the bow flex rods could be the only way to get really heavy resistance.
Another benefit of using power rods for resistance is that they don't have inertia. Let me explain. When you move a weight or weight plate, the first part of the movement, it's a lot harder, and the last part is a lot easier. You need to accelerate the full weight at the beginning of the movement. I'm at the end of the movement; the weight's speed actually helps you get further.
We've all been taught not to bounce the weight because it doesn't lead to solid strength gains. We want to build muscle and strength throughout the range of motion of a particular muscle. If you use the inertia of the weight stack, you hardly use a large part of your muscle's range of motion. And that means you won't be getting strong in that range of motion. That can lead to all kinds of problems, from injuries to plateaus and lack of motivation.
A home gym that uses the Bowflex power rod system makes it much easier to train your muscles over their full range of motion.
There are also some drawbacks to power rods. For one, Bowflex home gyms are not cheap. You can easily end up spending twice as much as for a comparable traditional home gym. Now we believe, but the benefits are easily worth it, but it depends on your financials if you can make that decision.
The rods also lose some of their elasticity. They sort of become tired and produce a lower resistance. PowerFlex offers a rejuvenation program once your rods start to where you can send them in, and they will be rejuvenated back to their old strength.
2. Design and construction
If you've taken a look at our choices for the best compact home gym, you probably noticed the machines' different layouts and designs. Each of those represents a unique philosophy to try and fit the most exercises in the smallest footprint.
Traditional compact home gyms using a pulley system are often extended with benches to create extra work out options and require minimal space when not in use.
Total gym style systems use a different design to achieve a complete workout and train a wide variety of muscle groups. If this is the best design for you depends on your preference. I would highly recommend trying it because it's not for everyone. If it is for you, you will find it a great workout at an absolute minimum footprint.
When it comes to construction, the manufacturers use heavy-duty steel to design most of these items, which provides you with sturdy equipment that can withstand your workout's rigorous moves. Additionally, some of the components, such as the bench, handles, and bands, feature padded material that cushions your grip. Be sure to get an item with such durable and anti-slip construction to provide you with long-lasting comfort and stability.
These items incorporate adjustability in their design, where you can easily convert the levels of inclination according to your preference. Some models include a telescoping design that helps you to extend or collapse the height. You want to obtain equipment that you can easily adjust to match your workout requirements and help add dimension to your exercises.
All the best compact home gyms come with an adjustable pulley system to accommodate different body sizes and fitness levels. Just make sure that you choose a model with enough adjustability so you can start at your current fitness level and have room to grow. That way, you will have a lasting contribution to your home gym setup.
How to Choose the Best Compact Home Gym For You?
Are you feeling overwhelmed or confused about the different options and how to choose the best one? You are not alone. I've helped many people to buy their first or second, or even third compact home gym. And I always ask them the following three questions.
If you ask yourself these questions, you will no doubt discover the perfect set up for you.
- How Much Space do You have for Your Compact Home Gym? - Most compact home gyms take up very little space and are easy to integrate into almost any home setup. Still, you want to take a look at how much space is available. Do you need to store your home gym between every workout? Or do you just need a setup with a small floor footprint to fit your small home or living room?
- What Fitness Goals are You Aiming to Accomplish with Your Compact Home Gym? - Are you trying to lose weight, or are you preparing for a specific competition? Or maybe you want to do a general workout and prevent injuries? Understanding your fitness goals will help you understand which muscle groups you want to train. It will then be easy to choose the best compact home gym, whether you are a beginner or an athlete.
- What is Your Budget? - Ah, budget! Why don't we just have unlimited funds available to us? I agree; life would be better if it would all be filthy rich. But until then, we have to take the budget into account. So be realistic and decide how much you can, and want, to spend on your health and fitness. All the machines we chose provide incredible value for money. And each of them is a solid investment in your well-being. When you are considering the budget, also look at any accessories that might need to be bought. You might need to buy extra weight, or you might have to account for an extra set of handles.
If you take a look at each of the questions above, I'm sure you'll be able to find a great gym setup.
Don't worry if you cannot accommodate or afford the top of the line home gym right now. Equipment is only part of the success of your workout. The rest depends on how to use it. Many people have achieved incredible results with straightforward equipment. Many other people have also achieved little to no results with some of the most advanced equipment.
In the end, you need solid and reliable fitness equipment so you can train and become your strongest self. Rarely is the workout equipment, the limiting factor in someone's fitness success.
Frequently Asked Questions About Compact Home Gyms
What is The Best Machine for a Full-body Workout at Home?
Various brands provide several types of equipment for quality exercising at home. Nonetheless, Total Gym, Weider, and Bowflex offer some of the best machines that you could purchase for your workouts. In particular, products from Total Gym incorporate handy accessories, upgraded pulley systems, workout tools, and sturdy construction that can support over 60 exercises.
Which Exercise Machines Burn the Most Belly Fat?
Workouts that can burn the most belly fat include cardiovascular exercises, stretching, v-crunch, lateral pull-down, single-leg deadlift, and ab twist. Some types of equipment that enable this include ab machines and cardio machines like step mill, indoor cycle, treadmill, rowing machine, and an elliptical trainer.
How Effective is Training at Home?
You need to be consistent and highly committed to ensuring adequate training for your desired fitness, especially at home, where you can quickly become complacent. Further, you can follow the exercise charts and nutritional guides that come with some products to help you establish a routine that is easy to follow. A home gym can also be a very cost-effective option if you consider the price of a premium gym membership.
Which is Better, Free Weights or Machines?
Even though free weights help you work more muscles in a shorter time, machines are better because they provide a safer option that allows stable training of tired muscles. You also can target weaker muscles and train them to become as strong as your dominant ones when using a machine.