If you’re looking to supercharge your fitness routine in the new year, investing in the best home gym equipment is an excellent place to start.
Not only are home workouts extremely convenient – you can easily slot them in around your hectic schedule, and you don’t have to worry about the dodgy British weather – but they can also save you money in the long run. After all, what’s the point in splashing out on a pricey gym membership you’ll only use from time to time?
Home workouts are also ideal for those who don’t feel comfortable in traditional gym settings and would prefer to exercise from the comfort of their living room, without fear of being judged or harassed.
What equipment should I get for my home gym?
As with anything, knowing where to begin is the hardest part. Should you get an exercise bike or a treadmill? Should you spend big on a top-spec model, or will a budget buy do the job? And what if you’re short on space?
To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a handy guide featuring all our home workout essentials – weights, cardio machines and exercise mats – tried and tested by our experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute. From smart rowing machines to wifi adjustable weights, we’ve included a range of options to suit all needs and budgets, with prices starting as low as £25.
If you’re embarking on a new fitness journey, we’d suggest checking out our GHI Approved roundups of the best fitness trackers, sports bras and massage guns (because it’s important you don’t neglect your recovery). Getting enough protein when you’re exercising is also key – read our review of Davina McCall’s new protein range with foodspring to learn more.
How we test
Our in-house fitness pros at the GHI got to work testing some of the best home gym equipment from leading brands.
When assessing exercise machines – treadmills, cross trainers, exercise bikes and rowing machines – they considered ease of use, design and comfort, including how simple they were to set up and adjust and how stable they felt during use. They also checked if they were able to maintain their performance at different speeds and levels of resistance. Extra points were awarded for clear, easy-to-understand instructions.
For the adjustable weights, they put the dumbbells and kettlebells through a range of high and low-impact workouts, trying out a variety of movements from squats to overhead press. The top performers felt sturdy, were easy to manoeuvre and offered a range of weights that could be loaded quickly.
When it came to testing exercise mats, our experts put them through their paces during yoga, Pilates, HIIT workouts and weights sessions. Only those that are sufficiently grippy, comfortable and portable made the cut.
Best adjustable kettlebells and dumbbells
It’s no secret that strength training has myriad benefits, from increasing muscle mass to improving bone density, so weights are a must for your home gym arsenal. To get the best value for money, we recommend adjustable dumbbells or kettlebells – you get numerous weights in one neat package, you can use them for a range of full-body workouts, and they’ll take up minimal space in the corner of your living room. Win, win.
One of the most popular pieces of home gym equipment, there’s a host of reasons why investing in a running machine is a good idea. Running improves your cardiovascular health, increases your endurance and helps build your overall strength. Today’s clever designs are bursting with mod cons including live classes, automatic incline settings and bright touchscreens to provide fun, engaging sessions that will keep you running, whatever the weather. Many with on-demand platforms also offer a variety of other workouts such as HIIT, yoga and Pilates, too.
Best exercise bikes
Indoor cycling can do wonders for your cardiovascular health and, unlike running, it doesn’t involve impact from contact with the ground, so it’s easier on the joints and carries a lower risk of injury. They’re a particularly good choice for those who experience any ankle, knee or hip pain as they can help strengthen the muscles in the lower body without putting them under too much stress.
Best cross trainers
The cross trainer (also known as an elliptical machine) is one of the most popular pieces of equipment in the gym, and for good reason. It provides a full-body, low-impact workout as you have to move your feet while pushing and pulling the handles, therefore training multiple muscle groups at once. It can also help improve bone density, it’s not too taxing on your joints and there’s less risk of injury. Tick, tick, tick.
Best rowing machines
A rowing machine is a great piece of kit to invest in if you’re looking to work on your cardiovascular fitness and want to get a full-body workout. Unlike other fitness kit, the rower targets a whopping 85% of the muscles in your body, plus it can help improve your posture and tone your lower body in a gentle, low-impact way.
Best yoga and exercise mats
Whether you’re a dedicated yogi or a HIIT workout junkie, a good quality exercise mat can make or break your workout. The best ones mean more comfortable sessions, offering stellar grip to stop you from sliding around and added thickness to protect your joints.
Priyankaa is our senior health and wellness writer, specialising in expert-tested reviews and roundups on the latest health and fitness products. From walking boots to running machines, Priyankaa has written about hundreds of products and is passionate about providing in-depth, unbiased reviews. Plus, as an avid runner and gymgoer, she knows exactly what to look for when finding the right gymwear, fitness tracker or earphones.
Priyankaa has an MA in Magazine Journalism from Cardiff University and over five years’ experience in health and fitness journalism. Priyankaa has written for Stylist’s Strong Women Training Club, where she regularly wrote about diversity in the fitness industry, nutrition tips, training advice and her experience completing various fitness challenges. She has also written for a variety of publications including Business Insider, Glamour, Bustle, Metro, HuffPost UK, gal-dem and more. Outside of work, Priyankaa can usually be found trying out a new gym class, seeking out London’s best eats or watching a Spanish TV show in a bid to keep up her language skills. You can follow Priyankaa on Twitter @_priyankaajoshi and on Instagram @priyankaajoshi
Former Fitness Group Testing Manager
Yanar was our former Fitness Group Testing Manager. She managed health and fitness product testing across all the magazines, overseeing all testing processes and ensuring our lab and panel tests are conducted to the highest standards. Yanar spent 15 years as a health and wellness content editor and writer for national titles such as Runner’s World, Men’s Health and Women’s Health. Yanar is a Level 3 qualified PT, trained yoga teacher and a registered yoga therapist. She has been into fitness and wellness her whole life. After many years running races and marathons, she now trains and competes in CrossFit and Olympic lifting. She passionately advocates strength training for women to build a stronger mind and body for life.
Health and Fitness Tester
Kim Hawley is our health and fitness product tester. Her career in fitness has spanned over 30 years. Prior to joining the Good Housekeeping Institute, she worked as a personal trainer, writer and fitness instructor for some of London’s most prestigious health clubs, including The Harbour Club, David Lloyd and The Chelsea Club. Passionate about women’s health and fitness, especially in pre/post menopause, she is also a Level 4 PT and holds a professional nutritional qualification. Kim is responsible for rigorously testing everything from cross trainers to smart watches.