Best Strength Training Equipment
Having your own strength training equipment is the most convenient way to get fit.
The benefits are numerous but one of the biggest advantages is having the ability to work out all from the comforts of your own home.
Sure, commercial gyms have their benefits as well but having a home gym may be far more appealing for those seeking convenience, privacy, or time.
Within this section, we’ll provide you with the benefits of ownership along with a list of some of the best strength training equipment for your home.
Benefits of Owning Your Own Strength Training Equipment
The benefits of owning your own equipment are many so we’ve taken the liberty of highlighting a few of them below.
- Hygiene – If you’ve been a member at any gym, then you’ve probably experienced the gleaming pool of sweat left behind by the previous user, or worse, the beautiful aroma of some guy who forgot to use his Speed Stick.
- Intimidation – In some cases, commercial gyms can be a bit intimidating for beginners. Especially, when there are so many different types of equipment and worse, the muscle bound, testosterone filled guys lifting right next to you.
- Costs – The monthly membership dues of commercial gyms can add up. If you were to calculate what you will pay in membership dues over the course of a few years, you will find that you could purchase any piece of home gym equipment.
- Privacy – Let’s face it, we all enjoy a little privacy. Although I enjoy a commercial gym environment, sometimes I just can’t stand listening to the grunts, dropping of weights, and some of the inexperienced trainers trying to teach others how to lift. You also get to take your time. No one waiting for your spot and no waiting for any equipment.
- Convenience – Why drive to the gym when you can walk a few steps into your own home gym? Seriously, does it get any more convenient than that? You won’t have to deal with parking, traffic, weather, or any other reason that prevents you from going to the gym.
- Freedom – Oddly, some gyms prohibit you from performing certain routines. Places like Planet Fitness discourage or even disallow members from grunting, dropping weights, and even prohibits certain routines from being performed. As much as I hate grunters and dumb asses that drop weights all the time, I still feel that prohibiting certain routines restricts certain members from progressing. It’s stupid and any gym that prohibits certain exercises should motivate you to get your own home gym set up.
- Time – Let’s face it, you’re not getting any younger and the older you get the more precious time becomes. Having a home gym eliminates any and all “wasted time” associated with commercial gyms. Whether it’s the time you take getting there, the time spent waiting for some equipment, or the time spent looking for parking, all of those issues are eliminated.
Shopping for a Home Gym for Strength Training
If you have some space available and already know what you want to achieve, then you can start doing some research on the best home gym equipment that is suitable for you.
Shopping for the right piece of equipment isn’t really that difficult nor should it be.
It’s important to know what your fitness goals are so that you don’t outgrow your equipment too soon.
There are plenty of home gym reviews online and with a little research and understanding of what your goals are, you should be able to have a general idea as to what you’re looking for.
All home gym equipment are built for one purpose – to get you in shape.
And strength training equipment are designed primarily for building strength.
Selecting the right one involves some research but it can be a great investment and provide an excellent workout for all fitness levels.
There are plenty of choices to make but when you’re going to spend several hundred to over a thousand dollars on a piece of equipment, you probably want to make sure you’re getting something that you plan on using … and plan on using for a long time.
Power racks and weight machines or multi-gyms are especially a great investment for the users of all levels.
Certain routines that would normally require a spotter can be done by yourself, greatly reducing the risk of injury not to mention any humiliation you would probably face at a commercial gym.
Types of Strength Training Equipment
There are a variety of effective strength training equipment that will benefit you.
From basic dumbbells to weight machines, they all can be very effective.
It really depends on what your goals are that will determine what you’ll need in your home gym.
If you just need to shed a few pounds and want to stay trim, then a couple of dumbbells along with a cardio machine will do nicely but if you’re looking for some muscle development, then you’ll want to step it with power racks or weight machines.
Within this website, you’ll find information on all popular home workout machines and other fitness equipment that are available to you.
Here’s a basic breakdown of some of the best strength training equipment and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Selectorized Weight Machines
Selectorized or what some of us refer to as “cables” are another excellent home gym setup that uses cables or bands with a pulley system.
Instead of conventional plates, rectangular weight plates are used and stacked on top of each other guided by two steel rods and in the case of machines like Bowflex, flexible rods and bands are used for resistance.
Weight adjustment occurs with a simple extraction and insertion of a pin or key.
In many cases, you can change the weights without even getting up from the machine.
Selectorized machines cater to people of all fitness levels.
These machines are designed to allow the user to perform safe and effective movements.
If done correctly, you can achieve the same results as plate loaded machines however, selectorized machines have specific weight limits which some can outgrow.
- Uses a weight selector pin to change/select weights with ease.
- Also found in many commercial gyms.
- Safer than free weights.
- Easy to use. Perfect for beginners.
- Changeable grips/handles.
- Requires more maintenance.
- Limited to weight provided in the weight stacks.
We love plate-loaded machines.
They give us the feel of free weights and allow us to max out without the need for a spotter.
Safety is no longer a concern with these home gyms and you’ll be able to complete each routine through controlled, isolated movements.
Round conventional weights or “plates” are used, unlike the selectorized machines that usually use rectangular plates.
Each plate has to be loaded and unloaded manually but despite the minor inconvenience, you’ll get a workout like no other.
Plate-loaded machines generally cost about the same and in some cases may be a little less than selectorized machines and due to the lack of pulleys and minimal cables, require less maintenance.
They are also incredibly durable and can handle more weight which is why you’ll see many heavy lifters using plate-loaded machines.
In most cases, that average person won’t outgrow the weight capacity.
- Costs less than other home gyms because weights are generally shared between each machine.
- Heavier weights can be purchased and used.
- Very durable and trusted. Commonly found in most commercial gyms.
- No spotter needed. Safer than free weights.
- When the user has to change the weights, s/he must physically remove or add the weights.
- Movements are restricted.
Pneumatic Fitness Machines
Invented by the Keiser brothers in 1978, pneumatic or compressed air fitness machines have made a huge impact in the fitness community.
Like the other home gyms, pneumatic machines have carved their way into the gyms of professional sports teams, commercial fitness centers, and other training facilities.
These machines are air-powered, using a pneumatic cylinder for resistance through air pressure.
They literally eliminate all weights while providing constant resistance.
Every type of pneumatic machine will provide the same level of resistance throughout the routine.
You can adjust the air pressure to a manageable level and feel its effectiveness.
Although we don’t use it as much since our gym doesn’t carry them, we like the pneumatic machines.
It takes some getting used to as it’s definitely a different form of resistance but you get the same level of intensity as the other machines.
- Safer than free weights
- Consistent and controlled resistance throughout a repetition.
- Muscles stay engaged throughout a whole repetition.
- Change resistance by a simple push of a button.
- High maintenance.
- Useless if the air supply shuts down.
Power Racks and Squat Racks
Power racks (also known as power cage) are a great alternative to machine equipment. They have a simple design but multiple uses and provide all of the safety features you need with free weights.
They have been especially popularized by Olympic style lifting and Crossfit. The sudden shift from increasing your bench to wanting bigger legs have pushed people’s focus towards buying power racks and/or squat racks instead of benches.
Squat racks are also just as effective without the additional footprint. They are essentially part or half of a power rack with most of the benefits and uses of a full size power rack.
Like the other three mentioned, one of the many benefits of cages or racks are that they provide the user the ability to perform a variety of exercises without the need for a spotter with a major advantage: compound exercises.
- Free weights without restricting movement.
- No spotter required when using heavy weights.
- One of the most effective ways to increase strength.
- Free range of motion.
- Changing weight takes time.
Factors to Consider
Decisions, decisions. So, which one do you choose?
While there’s no such thing as the “perfect” machine, you can decide on picking the best home gym by asking yourself a few questions:
“Do I want strength training?”
“Do I want muscles?” or
“Do I want cardio?”
Our research consists of some of the more popular and reputable machines but before you go through the arduous task of picking the best exercise equipment to use at home, here are some key factors to consider beforehand.
What exactly are your fitness goals?
Answering this may help you determine which type of home gym to buy.
If you’re intending on just keeping trim, then stick with stacked weights (cables) but if you’re looking for big muscle growth, then go with plate loaded machines.
Exercises You’re Going to Perform
Each station on each machine targets different muscle groups.
For example, if you prefer leg extensions over squats, then choose those home gyms that have that option or if you have the budget, choose the ones that provide both.
You probably don’t need to be reminded of this but consider the amount of space the unit will occupy.
These machines vary in size and the larger models can take up a lot of space.
Don’t forget to factor in movement around the unit.
Some of these home gyms are expensive – there’s no getting around that.
But the amount of money and time you’ll save from gym memberships, not to mention the frustration of waiting for occupied equipment makes the investment well worth it.
Number of People Using the Equipment
Some of these home gyms allow 2 to 3 people to work out simultaneously.
If you’re working out with someone else, they won’t have to wait.
Again, size and space may become a factor with these types of home gym equipment as they are typically larger than the regular home gym sets.
We know that buying home gym equipment can be a major investment so we created this buyer’s guide to help you choose the best home gym that suits your specific fitness goals along with your budget.