Best Compact Home Gym

by | Dec 31, 2020

This pandemic has become an absolute nightmare for frequent gym-goers.  Closures and widespread shortages of home gym equipment have forced those without it to get a little creative or settle for at-home virtual workout sessions.  

Now, with this next wave of Coronavirus, more lockdown restrictions are taking effect.  While surveys show an increasingly favorable attitude towards at-home fitness, some gym-goers don’t have space and ability to use home gym equipment.  And some need or want a little more than their own body weight.

One of the very few benefits gym-goers still have going for them are the many home fitness options.  Technology and clever engineering have brought classes and machines of all sizes that will satisfy most gym-goers.  

So, if you lack the space for a full-size gym set, there are plenty of smaller and equally effective alternatives. 

The equipment that we’ve selected are some of the best compact home gyms available. 

“Compact” may be somewhat of a subjective term but when we define compact, we mean small.  Small enough to store under your bed or in a closet.  Not taking up space in the corner of a room.

This list of best compact home gyms was chosen primarily for their ability to provide the user with a full-body workout in addition to its ability to be stored away from view. 

Full Body Workouts
Compact Design
Low Impact
Affordable
Portable
Full Body Workouts
Compact Design
Low Impact
Affordable
Portable
Full Body Workouts
Compact Design
Low Impact
Affordable
Portable
Full Body Workouts
Compact Design
Low Impact
Affordable
Portable
Full Body Workouts
Compact Design
Low Impact
Affordable
Portable

Total Gym

Description

Who hasn’t heard of Total Gym.  It was popularized by its infomercials and celebrity endorsements from the likes of Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley. 

If you’ve never seen them, here’s one of their infomercials:

Total Gym has a series of equipment ranging from an affordable home gym model to the commercial grade.  Each with its own set of accessories and specifications, they all share the same, simple design that utilizes your body weight.  By situating yourself on the glideboard, you can push or pull yourself with a set of pulleys or attachments.  Elevate the unit to increase the resistance – the higher the setting, the greater the percentage of body weight you are using.   

Sizes and weight capacity differ as well.  The length itself has a difference of over 2 feet between the base and commercial models with a weight capacity difference ranging from 275 lbs. all the way up to 650 lbs.  

There is a significant difference in the price range that starts off around $300 and tapers just over $4000.  The higher the price, the more accessories and benefits that accompany the unit.  

Benefits

Aside from the simple and creative design, Total Gym is very effective with a number of well-known benefits:

  • The cables provide you with a full range of motion which allows for great upper body workouts.
  • It’s low-impact design makes it a fantastic machine for physical therapy.
  • If your focus is on weight loss, this is a perfect tool to help you burn calories.  
  • This machine is extremely durable and will last you for years if not decades.
  • Like all of the new fitness manufacturers, Total Gym has developed their own streaming content that are both free and subscription-based.
  • Total Gym folds up for easy storage.  Perfect for those with limited space.
  • Easy to change the resistance/elevation by raising or lowering the frame on the vertical tower.

Drawbacks

Despite having countless benefits, there are very few drawbacks to the Total Gym:

  • Can’t really justify paying some of the prices for the high end models unless you’re a physical therapy clinic.
  • Some users have complained about the assembly.  It may be a bit complicated for some.  
  • Some have said that some models fit under beds but you need to have a bed with a clearance of at least 9 inches.
  • May not be enough resistance.  Perhaps adding resistance bands would resolve this issue.  

Weider Ultimate Works Body Incline Bench

Description

If you’re familiar with Total Gym, the Weider Ultimate Body Works is an affordable option some people turn to.  

Aside from the price and the aesthetics, there are slight variations from the Total Gym.

Weider’s frame doesn’t fold but rather uses a telescoping design for storage and changing the elevation or the resistance level is done via the support frame.  

Another favorable feature is the added resistance.  50 lbs. of additional resistance is available through bungee cords attached behind the glideboard.  

Benefits

Weider’s Ultimate Body shares a lot of the same benefits as Total Gym with a few differences.

  • The cables provide the user with a full range of motion.
  • Low-impact making it a great tool for physical therapy.
  • Great for weight loss and burning calories.
  • Telescoping design makes it perfect to save space.
  • The additional 50 lbs. bungee cord resistance makes it great for those focused on strength training. 

Drawbacks

  • Has a max weight capacity of 250 lbs.  Plenty for the average person but a higher weight capacity is preferred.
  • Doesn’t feel as durable as Total Gym. 

Adjustable Dumbbells

Description

If you don’t have the luxury of having space for barbells but need or prefer free weights, adjustable dumbbells are the perfect solution.  They provide all of the benefits of regular dumbbells without the need for multiple sets which makes it very cost effective.

Adjustable dumbbells are portable…at least within the house.  It’s not one of those pieces of equipment that you would stick in your bag and take with you on a trip, unfortunately.  But being able to exercise anywhere around the house with weights is a huge plus.  

There are several variations of adjustable dumbbells.  Some are the simple ones, where you unscrew the collar and add on more weight while others are a bit more complex in their design.

It’s all a matter of preference and price.  Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits

Aside from requiring minimal space, there are a number of big reasons to buy adjustable dumbbells.

  • The number one reason is adjustability/convenience.  Lower or raise the weights based on your needs.
  • They take up very little space.  A single dumbbell can give you a weight range of a small set of dumbbells.
  • One of the most important advantages of any dumbbells over barbells is the ability to overcome strength imbalances.  

Drawbacks

  • Expensive.  Reliable adjustable dumbbells aren’t cheap.  The cast iron dumbbells with the spinlocks are the exception although they don’t rate quite as high as the more modern dumbbells.
  • Can’t be dropped.  Regular dumbbells can withstand repeated drops but adjustable dumbbells have mechanical components that can break.  Ironmaster seems to be the exception.  

Resistance Bands

Description

Resistance bands aren’t just for rehabilitative exercises anymore. 

More and more people are incorporating them into their fitness regimens and adding them to their home gym.

There are different types of bands for you to choose from.  Loop bands, therapy bands, figure eights, and tubes or cords with variations in between.  Each band has its own use and purpose but all share the same color code that reflects their resistance level. 

Here’s a few reasons why you may want to use resistance bands. 

Benefits

  • They’re lightweight and portable.  You can LITERALLY take them anywhere and everywhere to perform various strength training exercises.
  • You can target all major muscle groups.  Resistance bands target muscles in ways weights can’t.
  • You can do all of the exercises of (selectorized) machines and free weights, however, unlike weights, resistance bands don’t rely on gravity which translates into more exercises. 
  • Very affordable.  Unlike free weights or machines, resistance bands are a fraction of the cost.

Drawbacks

  • Bands tend to age which results in cracks and loss of elasticity which may result in snapping.
  • Resistance increases towards the end of a movement. This can be seen as a benefit or a downfall depending on the user. 
  • Unable to measure progress.  You can monitor your gains with weights but it’s very difficult to accurately monitor resistance levels with bands.

Resistance Bands Workout Systems

Description

Resistance bands have always been a popular fitness tool.  And it seems more and more people are discovering creative tools to use with them.  

Pilates enthusiasts were one of the first to have used resistance bands with bars and other tools successfully.  

Since then, countless manufacturers like X3 and BodyBoss have developed their own “home gym systems”, allowing users to perform various exercises that would otherwise be difficult with bands alone.  

Each of these accessories have their own benefits.

Benefits 

  • Most accessories are portable and can be taken virtually anywhere.
  • These tools provide more exercise options.
  • Resistance home gym systems are perfect for users of any age and users of any fitness level.  

Downfalls

  • Shop carefully.  Some of the bars have been known to break which can result in serious injury.  
  • Some of the popular manufacturers are a bit pricey.  
  • Avoid bars that separate at three points.  It just provides more potential breaking points.
  • Not all of the home gym systems are portable.