How to Choose the Right Fitness Equipment for Your Home Gym According to a Celebrity Trainer
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The world of home gym equipment is incredibly diverse, and it can get expensive, fast. But there are a myriad of reasons to build a custom home gym. For starters, when the gym is in your house, it’s harder to find an excuse for not working out. A home gym also allows you to fine-tune the routine that works for you; you can add and upgrade equipment as needed. And crucially, with a home gym, you never have to fight off a horde of gym goers for the last power rack.
Thanks to Johnson Fitness & Wellness, finding the best equipment for your home gym becomes simple. With over 100 retail locations across the US, each with certified fitness consultants ready to help pick out the right pieces for your space before you buy them, the process becomes easy and painless. They also offer financing, delivery, and professional installation services to get you moving right away.
But for those shopping online, it’s not always easy to get started. To help determine the best home gym equipment, whether you’re shopping online or before you head to a Johnson Fitness store, we consulted Gunnar Peterson, a renowned personal trainer whose clients have included the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite a clientele that includes cinematic superheroes and all-star athletes, Peterson is an advocate for the kind of training that the average guy can apply to his life. It’s called functional training. According to Peterson, functional training is a regimen that helps you in your day-to-day activities, whether that’s “taking groceries in, putting something up in the overhead, or lifting your kid in and out of a crib.” Likewise, Peterson argues that when building your home gym, the first step is to take stock of your goals. “What’s your end goal and what’s your starting point? Are you someone who’s trying to gain size? Or someone who’s trying to drop body fat? Or XYZ. You have to know that stuff first.”
How To Choose Home Gym Equipment
Another consideration when building a home gym is how much space you have. Whether you’re looking to convert a spare bedroom or garage into a home gym, or you only have the space between the bed and the front door of your studio apartment, there’s equipment that can help you meet your fitness goals. Peterson’s number one recommendation is adjustable dumbbells because of how versatile they are, and he cited Powerblock as a favorite, due to the many available configurations. Peterson also mentioned investing in a cable or rack system—space and budget permitting.
In terms of cardio, Peterson emphasized finding something that you enjoy. “If you like a treadmill, then I would get a treadmill. If you’re a bike person, then I would get a bike. I wouldn’t force the cardio issue. That’s the first thing people are going to skip anyway, right? So at least give them less of a reason to skip it. You can go as basic as a jump rope.”
How To Build A Routine You Can Stick To
With a home gym, optimizing the space you have is crucial, and Peterson has a few tips in that regard. “Tall against the wall, and I try not to block any light sources.” And while leaving space for movement is essential, “you’d be surprised at how many things can go right next to other things tucked against them, so they’re easy to pull out.” He also cites equipment that can be mounted to the wall as a space-saving option.
In terms of how often to use your home gym, Peterson emphasizes the importance of building a routine that you can stick to, noting that beginners often “try to do too much too soon,” which can be detrimental. “I was always in favor of starting, and still am starting, people who have not exercised or are not currently exercising at 2 times a week. Because it’s more about fitting it into their schedule than getting their body to perform.”
He also suggests thinking beyond the home gym, arguing “One other day of the week do me and do yourself a favor and find an activity. And I don’t care if it’s going for a walk. I don’t care if it’s playing tag with the kids. If it’s playing pickleball. Whatever it is, just do something else active.”
The Best Fitness Equipment for Your Home Gym in 2023
When it comes to adjustable dumbbells, Peterson put it simply “Go with Powerblock.” The shape and design may be unusual, but the versatility is unmatched. Peterson mentioned the 32-pound weights, but a 50-pound version is also available. In the 32-pound set, the weights adjust in 4-pound increments, allowing you to increase from 4 to 32 pounds per hand, using the tool-free selector pin. The powder-coated steel material helps avoid corrosion and enhances durability.
[$339 (was $475); johnsonfitness.com]
Peterson notes that your cardio activity should be something you enjoy doing, and thankfully, running isn’t the only option. NordicTrack’s indoor cycling bike features a large 22-inch touch screen that connects you with iFit’s training library for an immersive, realistic riding experience that includes automatically adjusting the incline and decline. You can also connect the screen to your Bluetooth earbuds for a distraction-free workout. Transport wheels make it easy to roll the bike out of the way when the cardio session is over. You can even create custom maps that sync with Google Street View to ride your favorite routes, regardless of weather.
If you’re serious about running, you’re going to want a treadmill that can challenge you. Matrix treadmills, including the T30 model, give you a wide running area with speeds up to 12.5mph, and they provide a challenge to each user thanks to great mechanical components and an awesome connectivity system in the XIR HD touchscreen. Available in 16- and 10-inch display options, the WiFi-connected, Bluetooth-enabled touchscreen system allows you to stream content from Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, and more to get you through long runs. It also allows you to link up with live and archived iFit classes to make sure no two workouts are the same.
[$4,399 (was $5,299); johnsonfitness.com]
If you have the space for it, a cable system, an investment recommended by Peterson, can greatly enhance your workouts. This option from Hoist allows you to get a comprehensive strength workout. There are five pull-up grip options and dip bars that can be rotated out of the way during other workouts. 28 pulley adjustments make it easy to fine-tune the best resistance for you. The system is designed to be streamlined, minimizing the amount of floor space it takes up.
One workout that provides benefits for both cardio and strength training is rowing. Waterrower’s sleek machine features a rotating design and casters, allowing you to prop it up against the wall, as Peterson recommends, saving crucial floor space. The unit is made from durable powder-coated aluminum. It features a simple LCD screen where you can track your performance. Water Rower also makes a wood version that blends in better with home decor if you don’t have a dedicated gym room.
Ellipticals are an underrated piece of equipment for a home gym. Not only do they provide a great source of cardio, but when partnered with a treadmill or a bike, they help to break up the monotony of what can be an unbearably boring type of exercise. The Horizon EX-59 elliptical is small but mighty and does everything needed to get the job done. Integrated Bluetooth speakers allow you to bring any audio on your cardio journey with you and to catch up with shows on your smartphone or tablet thanks to the built-in device holder. In less than 30 minutes out of the box, this steady elliptical can get you going on five different programs and provide feedback like distance, heart rate, calories burned, and more. And, at this price, you can’t do much better.
[$549 (was $999); johnsonfitness.com]
When it comes to working out while traveling, Peterson suggests taking advantage of a gym at your destination, noting that “traveling with this stuff is kind of crazy.” However, one simple tool you should pack, regardless of where you’re going, is a jump rope. This GoFit Pro cable jump rope is made from coated steel for durability. The taped handles make it easy to hold, no matter how sweaty the workout gets. Most conveniently, it’s the right size to pack in a carry-on bag, a backpack, or even a laptop bag.
For a versatile gym system that provides a full-body workout, this option from Inspire Fitness is designed to work arms, legs, and chest. The unit features three pulleys, a leg curl station, fixed press arms, and free movement handles for a dynamic workout. What makes this a complete piece of home gym equipment are the optional add-ons. You can complement the station with add-ons like a leg press, tricep rope, weight stack upgrade, and more.
Folding treadmills are a perfect addition to smaller home gyms, and the Echelon Stride is one of the best. While it has the features you want in a treadmill, like handlebar sensors, a 12-mile speed limit, 12 levels of incline, and a built-in tablet holder, this machine is all about easy storage. Its compact design folds down flat to just 10 inches tall and can slide under a couch or stand up against a wall, but that’s not even the best part. The Echelon Stride uses a patented auto-folding technology to collapse by itself.
Frequently Asked Questions About Home Gym Equipment
What is the most important equipment for a home gym?
According to celebrity personal trainer Gunnar Peterson, the best piece for anybody to start with is a pair of adjustable dumbbells. Powerblock is a great option because each block holds many different weights and they’re easy to adjust.
What is the best way to save space in a home gym?
According to Peterson, “tall against the wall.” This means it’s best to place larger machines along the perimeter of the space or even affixed to the wall. Also, look for equipment that can nest or store neatly under or alongside other pieces.
What is the best way to balance cardio and strength training?
Peterson notes that your mix of cardio and strength training will depend on the goals you’re trying to achieve. “What’s your end goal and what’s your starting point? Those are the two things you have to know.” In terms of order, Peterson likes cardio first, then stretching and strength.