Best home gym equipment: a more affordable way to work out

Also, you won't have to put up with loud techno music or strangers grunting near you

Best home gym equipment

Home gym equipment is, ironically, getting more popular even as more and more gyms open on the high street. Whether that's because people want to carry on working out when they get home, or they try the gym and decide they just can't stomach the relentless techno music, machines that people blatantly do not clean after use, and intimidating changing rooms. 

However, you don't necessarily want to spend a fortune on home gym equipment such as the Wahoo KICKR suite or Wattbike Atom. And the good news is you don't have to…

How to buy the best home gym equipment

There are some important reasons why, despite their irritations, most of us keep paying our direct debits and going back through the turnstiles of our local health clubs. It's because working out at home means investing thousands in in a fully kitted out home gym, or making do with a very limited selection of kit. 

Doing the same exercises every work out could improve your fitness but it can lead to you getting bored and quitting. 

But there is another way – choosing a variety of cost effective gym equipment so you have everything you need for a fun and varied workout.

Thankfully, app developers and inventors have been hard at work coming up with solutions that promise freedom from the gym walls, combining workouts and entertainment to boot. And best bit of all, they promise more bang for your buck than shelling out for a gym membership you hardly ever use.

But how do you choose what to invest in? We suggest looking out for kit that will keep your attention, as working out at home takes a bit of willpower. It’s also advisable to put together a selection of equipment that gives you a rounded workout, such as a balance between pushing and pulling, upper and lower body, cardio and resistance exercises. 

From the tried and tested to the cutting edge, we’ve rounded up 10 gadgets that could free you from the gym without breaking the bank or taking up vast amounts of space.

The best home gym equipment

Best home gym equipment: TRX Fit Suspension Trainer

1. TRX Fit Suspension Trainer

Professional-level training, Argos-level price

Reasons to buy
+Compact and suitable for newbies +Vast range of exercises for the price +Using bodyweight has additional advantages
Reasons to avoid
-Requires very secure installation

• Buy TRX Fit from Argos for £89

Most pieces of home exercise kit that promise a ‘full body work out’ are worthy of suspicion. There’s a reason why the only place you usually see these machines is on shopping channels and not in decent gyms, let alone professional sports clubs or military training facilities. 

The TRX, however, has become ubiquitous in these kinds of elite institutions, and for good reason. The simple machine, consisting of two handles that can be suspended from a door frame or wall mounting, can be used for a vast range of exercises. The key is that it uses your bodyweight as the load. Squats, lunges, rows and more can all be replicated easily, and using your bodyweight instead of bars and weights has the side effect of requiring more balance, which is likely to make you better at sports out of the home too. 

Best of all, the TRX takes up little space and the price is a bargain for such a versatile bit of kit.

• Best resistance bands

Best home gym equipment: Adidas ADI Speedrope

2. Adidas ADI Speedrope

Cardio equipment does not get more affordable and compact than this

Reasons to buy
+A rope that’s not child’s play+Great for interval training +Dirt cheap
Reasons to avoid
-You have to master the technique first-High ceilings required if using indoors

• Buy for £10 from John Lewis 

Cardio equipment doesn’t come much simpler, yet hardcore, than a skipping rope – the only piece of cardio equipment that's popular with both little girls and enormous boxers. 

If you try to skip without putting in effort you will find skipping is anything but child’s play, but done properly, it’s incredibly effective. This rope from Adidas has the clever feature of an adjustable length so that you can switch between short for fast, intense workouts, and long for a slower burn. A ball bearing ensures speed and efficiency. 

Ideal as part of a high intensity interval workout, a jump rope is a way that you can have a serious cardio workout without leaving the home, (well, maybe venture into your garden if you have lower ceilings) and by spending only £10. You can perfect all sorts of cool tricks with practice, too.

Best home gym equipment: SteelBody by Marcy Power Tower & Bench

3. SteelBody by Marcy Power Tower & Bench

Just like being at the gym

Reasons to buy
+Amazing range of exercises for the price +Professional quality construction
Reasons to avoid
-Takes up lots of room -Only for free weights lovers, clearly

Buy Steelbody Power Tower from Argos for £549.99

The Steelbody Power Tower is essentially a slimmed down version of the standard weight lifting rack you would find in any gym. The bench has a neat folding action, taking you from a bench press position, through incline press to overhead press, to folding completely out of the way to make room for squats in the rack or chin ups from the bar. Add in the removable bars for dips and you have all your need here for the core strength building exercises.

Okay, so this one costs the equivalent of a year’s gym membership (not including barbells or weight plates) and will be a struggle to camouflage in a stylish home, but as it truly replicates the kind of strength training you can do at a commercial gym, the SteelBody could be the last bit of kit you ever need to buy, and you can cancel that membership…

Best home gym equipment: Adidas Gym Balance Ball

4. Adidas Gym Balance Ball

Best affordable fitness equipment for core and balance work

Reasons to buy
+Extremely versatile+Great for balance
Reasons to avoid
-Needs pumping up now and then

Buy Adidas Gym Balance Ball from John Lewis for £25 

Your core muscles are a great place to focus your attention when working out. Not only are they are used in almost all exercises, they also stabilise your posture while you push, pull, run or jump. Neglect them you will limit your performance and potentially face injury. Oh, and they make your tummy look more lean

While the gym ball, balance ball or Swiss ball as it’s sometimes called may not be the most exciting piece of equipment, it is great for core workouts, and exceedingly cheap. This Adidas one features anti-burst rubber and is also suitable for outdoor use. You’ll need to pick the right size and perhaps watch a YouTube tutorial or two about how to use one properly. This 65cm diameter ball is sized for those between 5’7” and 6’1”. As with any ball, it can be a pain to store, unless you deflate it between workouts.

Best home gym equipment: Fitness-Mad Set of 3 Resistance Bands

5. Fitness-Mad Set of 3 Resistance Bands

Another great, cheap resistance-based workout

Reasons to buy
+Can be used for a full body workout +Endless uses in the gym
Reasons to avoid
-Rubber can be uncomfortable

• Buy from John Lewis for £19.99

Found in gyms everywhere, resistance bands provide endless different uses for workouts of all levels. Seasoned weight lifters find them handy for stretching before and after lifting, and for those looking to vary their existing workouts, bands can also be used to modify traditional exercises – adding extra resistance to the top of a bench press, for instance. 

This set of three bands from Fitness-Mad promises a balanced workout on its own. You get three different strengths of band, a pair of clips to adapt the bands to different exercises, and guide to working out with the gear. As a way to start out in resistance training, it doesn’t get much simpler or better value than this. 

Best home gym equipment: FIIT

6. FIIT app and device

Our favourite home fitness app, with handy cardio strap

Reasons to buy
+A fitness app you won’t get bored of +Training plans will definitely improve general fitness +Requires no other equipment
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best if building muscle is your goal

• Shop direct from FIIT

Among the plethora of fitness apps out there, Fiit is different. This video app for your mobile device – you can use a cable to plug in to your TV, which makes it much easier to view – gives access to hundreds of classes from world-class trainers. 

Classes from yoga to body-weight exercises to HIIT are organised into 6-week plans, each with a specific goal. The premium version of the app includes a heart-rate chest strap and is the one to go for – by giving you points for hitting cardio zone targets, it's really motivational. Cost for this is £120 per year or £45 per quarter – great value if you use it regularly, but maybe not one for those with a history of gym-dodging.

• FIIT app and device review

7. Tacx Vortex

Best affordable turbo trainer

Reasons to buy
+Makes use of your existing bike +App keeps interest with different workouts and competition
Reasons to avoid
-There are simpler routes to cardio fitness, clearly

Buy from Wiggle for £199

One way to be cost effective is to make use of what you’ve already got. If your road bike tends to gather dust in the winter, then hooking it up to a turbo trainer will convert it to an indoor exercise bike fit for all seasons. An added advantage to this set up is that you don’t have to adjust to the awkward geometry of a stand-alone exercise bike.

The TacX Vortex pairs via Bluetooth with an app to control the resistance. TacX’s own bundled app has the neat feature of pairing in turn with the Strava app to import your logged GPS data, so you can simulate your own favourite routes that you have followed in real life. Or you can use Zwift, of course. With a maximum resistance of 950 Watts, this will give anyone short of a pro cyclist a very good workout… and removing your bike's wheels and bolting the frame to this smart trainer is a pretty damn good one, too.

• More of the best turbo trainers

Best home gym equipment: RDX Punch Bag set

8. RDX Punch Bag set

Get fighting fit

Reasons to buy
+Great value set +An entertaining but punishing workout
Reasons to avoid
-Installation is tricky

• Buy RDX Punch Bag set from Argos for £70 

Boxing is a sport that requires fitness and resilience like no other, so anything you can borrow from the boxer’s training regime is usually a worthwhile addition to your workout. The heavy punch bag is the piece of equipment that most people think of when it comes to training for the ring, and for good reason. This set from RDX includes everything you need to get started: the heavy duty 4ft bag, a ceiling bracket and gloves. 

This classic item offers a great range of workouts. Simply hitting it as hard as you can will develop power, but punching quickly in intense bursts or punching lightly over a longer session will both present different but equally demanding cardio workouts. One big advantage of having this kit in your house is that you can easily let off steam after a frustrating day at work without having to haul yourself to the gym. However, make sure you install it properly, using suitable fixings into a ceiling made of suitably strong material. Otherwise your ceiling may fall down and you will have to take time out from punching, to kick yourself.