The Best Compact Home Gym – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

By | July 21, 2019

by Sofia Alves

Whether you’re a full-time couch potato trying to turn things around, or you’re thinking about having your own space for exercising, a compact home gym may be just the thing you’ve been looking for.

No matter your fitness goal, working out at home has a lot of advantages. Think of the membership expenses, distance issues and the very common embarrassment of exercising in public that your gym has brought you. Not to mention the judging stares, the disgusting stranger’s sweat and the accompanying smells.

Now imagine having a full-body workout in the privacy and comfort of your own home, where you can exercise any time you want. It’s possible and definitely worth the investment. Also, it’s much harder making excuses when all you need to do is make a couple of steps to reach it. There are no expenses, no preparation and no pressure.

With that being said, before making the switch there are several things to take into account like the budget limits, available space and a type of workout you’re looking for. Here we offer an ultimate guide to choosing the best compact home gym that will perfectly suit your needs and wishes.

WHAT SHOULD I KNOW BEFORE BUYING A COMPACT HOME GYM?

The type of workout I’m looking for

The first, most important thing to consider is the fitness goal you’re having in mind. Different multi-gym machines and fitness equipment offer different workout options, so make a short list of what you want your gym to provide you with.

If you want to achieve general fitness and a whole-body workout, you should be aiming at machines that offer cardio exercising, weight management, muscle tone and flexibility. There are compact gyms offering an adjustable bench for ab training, sets of dumbbells or a rolling seat for aerobic exercising.

If you are a more of an advanced trainer and looking for serious weight lifting and bodybuilding, your focus feature is resistance. Do you want to do small exercises to gain just a little muscle mass or do you want those veins to pop out? The more resistance, the greater the muscle work. Compact home gyms offer lat pulldowns, presses, stacked weights with pulleys, all with adjustable resistance, great for high-quality muscle-sculpting.

The money I’m willing to spend

Compact home gyms range from under $ 300 (around £240) up to several-thousand-dollar workstations, depending on possibilities and quality they offer. If you are looking for high-end equipment, be prepared to invest at least a couple of thousands in a multi-station machine. However, you can set a neat home gym by spending a few hundred dollars on a compact gym machine and compensating by investing in additional equipment like exercise mats, fitness balls, bands etc.,  all costing less than $ 400.

The needed space

If you’re taking up a project of setting a home gym, think wisely about the space you’re willing to give up for it. You need to know the exact external dimensions of the assembled unit, with all possible attachments, and then add any extension that occurs during exercise.

If a leg extension or chest fly adds to the room required, it needs to be factored in when you’re working out the space you require. Maybe repurposing a whole room, a basement or a garage is the best solution, since then you’ll have your own, separate workout space, which will add to your motivation and exclude all the distractions you may find in already occupied rooms.

Is it safe and easy to install?

Also, very important features to consider are delivery, assembly and safety. Although it offers an array of possibilities, is it user-friendly? Can I set it up myself? Or, do I need somebody to help me?

All compact gyms need some time for reading the manual and setup, but try opting for one-piece multi gyms, with adjustable multi-purpose parts. Compact gyms offer sets of adjustable dumbbells with one set of handles, without having to own a whole stack. There are also benches with different attachments that can add to the versatility of exercises, without bulky and heavy units.

After you’ve created your little workout nook, are you ready to crack on with work? Make sure to be properly informed about the right and safe ways to use your machine. There’s a reason why professional trainers help customers use gym machines. Injuring yourself is the worst way to start your training season.

COMPACT HOME GYM RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE BEST WORKOUT EXPERIENCE

Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym

This Bowlflex’s staple of a home multi gym is praised for its resistance rod technology that replaces the traditional stack of weight plates. Each rod is extremely durable and of different thickness, which mimics different amounts of weight. Since there are no heavyweight plates to deal with, the risk of injury and muscle strain is reduced.

This one-piece compact unit is suitable for light exercising, cardio warm-up or a slow cooldown, since it has a built-in cardio rowing station and a leg extension. With the upper, mid-level and low pulleys, it gives a full-body workout, great for activating any muscle group. It’s fit for complete body toning or focusing on one muscle area. It serves more than 25 different exercises, giving you the opportunity to work on basically every body part.

The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym is fairly easy to assemble, not more than 2-3 hours time and it doesn’t take up much space. The instructions are illustrated and clear enough to follow. For a multi-purpose workout station, it’s really affordable and due to the range of high-quality exercises you can perform on it, it’s really family-friendly.

PROS:

  • It folds easily and once folded up the unit is pretty compact
  • Provides a range of different types of exercise
  • Easy to set up
  • Changing resistance and positions is extremely easy
  • Operation of the cable and pulleys is smooth
  • Resistance should be plenty for average people looking for improved fitness

CONS:

  • The resistance rod technology may take some time to get used to
  • Limited warranty for different parts
  • May not be challenging enough for more advanced trainers

All in all, the Bowflex PR1000 caters to a more casual style of workout and may not be ideal for more devoted exercisers. The design of this home fitness equipment allows for numerous workout positions with significant amounts of resistance. It’s ideal for small home spaces due to the folding option and is easy to move around and assemble.

Available from: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Fitness Superstore

Ironmaster Compact Home Gym

This is a 4-piece package that covers all important workout stations. The unit consists of two of Ironmaster’s flagship products – the Quick-Lock Dumbbell Set and the Super Bench – plus the famous Crunch Attachment and Dip Handles. The set comes quite affordable, compared to buying separately all the parts and similar gym units that offer even fewer options.

Ironmaster compact home gym

This space-saving, all-in-one gym, that utilizes all the parts is great for those who like to focus on strength training and building muscle, especially in the chest, arm and back muscle groups.

To build a strong core, you will use the Super Bench combined with a super adjustable Crunch Attachment which will allow you to target your abs from all kind of angles.

The quick-lock dumbbell set is extremely convenient and practical, enabling you to adjust the weight easily just by partially turning the locking screws. This is much faster than spin locks. The set fits into a compact stand that takes up as much space as a night stand and what’s more, there are no plastic or fragile parts so you can drop dumbbells easily without having to worry that something may break.

The bench can be used for decline, incline, upright and flat exercises. The dip handles and crunch attachment make this super gym into a versatile machine, offering a variety of body-forming exercises great for muscle toning.

PROS:

  • Strong 1000 lb (450 kg) capacity in the flat position of the bench
  • A great number of angle settings
  • Excellent stability in all positions
  • Useful and space-efficient attachments, great for home use and saving space
  • The vertical storage unit has been designed with the smallest of home gyms in mind
  • Appealing-looking and practical dumbbell set, easy to use, with additional weight add-ons available that go up to 165lbs
  • Solid, durable quality of construction made to last a lifetime of hard use
  • Discounted package – a more affordable price than if you buy the products individually

CONS:

  • Comes in a lot of packaging and can be time-consuming to set up
  • 600 lb capacity on an incline might be too low for strong/heavy lifters
  • The bench may be too narrow for more advanced lifters
  • More on the high-end side, compared to other dumbbell sets

Overall, the Ironmaster’s 4-piece set is a great choice for those who have limited space options and enjoy a neat-looking compact gym. It’s definitely a bodybuilding set that gives an array of exercising options for chest, arms and back, rather than legs (although, the leg attachment can be bought separately to exercise your legs as well). If bought as a package, it pays off as a multi-functional compact machine.

Available from: Ironmaster UK / Amazon US

York Perform Multi Gym

This massive machine is definitely for the heaviest of workouts, with its impressive weight stack of 100 kg. It also offers a versatile workout, with leg press, chest press, peck deck, arm curl and leg extension options built-in.

What really stands out is the vibrant design that can look amazing in any space and it allows it to stand in the corner of the room which is very practical in comparison to similar-sized gyms.

York Multigym

The York Perform Multi Gym has a separate press and pec arms, which enables you to perform any strength exercise without leaving your seat, as there is no need for any mechanism changes. This makes it convenient for smaller spaces, but still providing a solid, versatile workout.

PROS:

  • A good deal, worth the money, compares well to similar compact gyms
  • Solid, high-quality compact gym
  • Versatile in exercising options, great for full body forming
  • Raises to the challenge with more advanced training
  • Easy to assemble
  • Space-saving

CONS:

  • Some reviews have mentioned the inconveniences in assembling the machine
  • Some people advise using vaseline or similar for a smoother lifting

The York Perform Home Multi-Gym is an excellent choice to go for if you’re looking for a great mid-range strength training station. It’s definitely high quality, safe, and innovative piece of equipment for your weight training gym. An all-round, full-body workout in only one compact machine is what you need for pushing yourself to the limits, without compromising safety and quality.

Available from: Fitness Superstore / Amazon UK

York Fitness 401 Compact Home Gym

This classic design has stood the test of time and features a large 54 KG weight stack. Once set up, there are no additional adjustments and changes on the cables to make, offering a practical and powerful workout of up to 24 exercise routines to choose from.

York 401 Compact Home Gym

There are also 8 levels of resistance which can be selected to give a challenging upper and lower body strength workout. The multi-gym features is a lat pull down, vertical press with dual hand position, a pec-dec and a foam padded leg extension.

This compact gym is great for those who want to work on weight loss and staying fit, but also for building muscle if that’s what is targeted at. It has shown to be worth the money spent and provide the customers with high-quality workout sessions.

PROS:

  • Great quality and solid workout for the price
  • Space-saving
  • Straightforward to use
  • Easy to assemble

CONS:

  • Not so versatile compared to other similar products
  • Suitable only for beginner to intermediate trainers
  • Limiting in terms of exercising all muscle groups

All in all, this gym machine is the right option to start equipping your first home gym with. It is a good choice for different sizes and fitness levels, you can work on your form, strength and stamina. This residential multi gym has exactly what you need, without taking up a lot of space, so it makes a great basement unit or can be added to existing home gyms as an economical alternative to a bulkier multi gym unit.

Available from: Fitness Superstore / Amazon UK

Mirafit M1 Multi Gym Lat Pull Down Machine

Although it is essentially a lat pulldown, this multi gym’s design allows users to target multiple muscle groups, allowing you to perform seated rows, arm curls, pushdowns and weighted ab crunches, as well as lat pulldowns.

Whether incorporating it into beginner’s or advanced workout routines, it will rise to the challenge and show you its adaptability and versatility. It can load up to 100 kg discs, so the more ambitious lifters can benefit from this great machine as well.

PROS:

  • Includes useful additional features that other pulley machines usually don’t
  • Very comfortable to use, design made to help users exercise safely and easily
  • Good value, sturdy and versatile
  • Not too big
  • Easy to put together
  • Smooth operation and easy to use

CONS:

  • Doesn’t include built-in weights
  • May not be tall enough for some people (if you are quite tall)
  • Some customers had problems with delivered parts and basic instructions

For the purposes of a home gym, Mirafit M1 Multi Gym Lat Pull Down Machine is reviewed as a multi-purpose, good quality, practical machine that is suitable for those who are looking for improving their general fitness and having a nice medium workout session. It arrives quickly and is relatively easy to assemble – a great choice for medium-intensity trainers.

Available from: Amazon UK / Ebay

Total Gym XLS Functional Training System

The Total Gym XLS Home Gym is an extremely popular full-body workout system that recreates and strengthens the way your body executes daily physical activities and stores those functions in your memory.

This all-in-one home gym and bodyweight training system recreates a gym workout experience with over 80 possible exercises. This machine pumps more than one muscle group at once, providing a full-body, intense training session in a shorter period of time. The design is comfortable, sturdy, and can handle users up to 400 lbs, therefore being a good machine to take up exercising for the first time, whether you’re 8 or 80.

PROS:

  • Compact, foldable and movable
  • Takes up very little space
  • Versatile
  • Great for beginners
  • Safe and easy to use for all ages

CONS:

  • Some customers complained about the length being too much for shorter users
  • Although foldable, it gets bulky and hard to store (better leaving it assembled)
  • A bit pricy compared to similar products

The Total Gym XLS Home Gym is best of its kind available on the market concerning quality, but maybe more on the high-end price range. Similar pilates benches with additional features may be more affordable for the same training level provided by this compact gym. Nevertheless, it’s a must-have item for a home gym for those who can afford it, since it can be upgraded with additional parts and adapted for a variety of exercises.

Available from: Amazon USAmazon UKEbay US

Tunturi Pure Compact Smith Machine Weight Bench with Folding Design

This nifty weight bench is ideal for home spaces thanks to its quick-release fold-up mechanism that turns it into a movable, flat construction you can put basically anywhere. Being a weight bench, it’s best recommended for weightlifters wanting to work on their muscle strength and shape, but the adjustable bench and the leg extension turn it into a multi-functional machine, with additional possibilities for working on your entire body.

PROS:

  • Foldable and easily movable
  • Comes with useful features
  • Well equipped and worth the price
  • Great mechanism with linear bearings

CONS:

  • Although foldable, larger than expected and very tall
  • Reported to make distracting noise when used
  • Narrow and for some body types uncomfortable bench

This compact gym machine is an option worthy of consideration for those who are looking for adding on muscles and body forming, therefore is mostly men’s choice. It’s very practical and convenient for home use and good for incorporating it into other gym equipment and machines. It also very affordable and gives exactly what is expected of it.

Available from: Amazon UK / Ebay UK

Not ready for gym machines? Consider more affordable home gym equipment

If buying a one-piece gym machine still sounds too intimidating and expensive, there are other options to consider that can be as effective as a compact gym, but easier on the wallet.

Starting out with a simple bar and plates, an exercising mat and bands can be just enough to gain some confidence and get used to the idea of home exercising. There’s a myriad of options with gym equipment, but these are some must-have pieces to include into your home gym.

BARBELL AND PLATE SET

Instead of buying a weight bench, getting your set of hand weights, a bar and plates can do the job. It’s great for working on your muscle and core strength and bodybuilding.  This is the most important piece of equipment you’ll need for your home gym and will be the foundation of pretty much all of your workouts.

You will be able to find all sorts of sets and plates for sale on the internet – including second-hand bargains. Opt for bars that offer sturdiness and those you won’t outgrow quickly. They can be about 7ft wide, so make sure to have a room big enough to accommodate one.

STRENGTH EQUIPMENT

Strength equipment comes in a lot of forms and pieces and the good thing is you can create your own combo of great portable home pieces for a reasonable price.

For the side leg rise and hip extension, ankle weights are a great option – they are small, cheap and effective.

An exercise mat is very versatile and essential for any kind of fitness goals, really. Furthermore, it can be a nifty replacement for flooring at your home gym.

Resistance bands or tubing can be used for a full-body strength workout. Attractive features include low cost, lightweight, portability, and ease of storage. As with weights, you can measure how challenging the resistance is by how many repetitions of an exercise you can do.

PUNCHBAG

A good quality punch bag can be a substitute for a high-intensity cardio workout. Be sure to put the bag up with enough room in every direction so that you can really work it. It’s an affordable, space-saving option for training the entire body and break a sweat, but also a perfect stress-busting, motivating workout.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON FINDING THE BEST COMPACT HOME GYM

In the end, it all depends on your personal preferences, needs and abilities. When assembling a home gym, consider all of the above-mentioned factors in order to come up with a perfect solution just right for you and your family.

For beginner gym enthusiasts, opting for something like The Total Gym XLS Home Gym is most worth the money invested and applicable for different fitness levels and age. On the other hand, York Perform Multi Gym and similar machines provide larger versatility and space for growing and making fast progress.  In term of practicality and space-saving, packages like Ironmaster Compact Home Gym are perfect for storing and comfortable moving.

Finally, the more you grow as a trainer and advance in your exercising, the more changes and additional equipment you’ll need to make and purchase. Therefore, consider the future you and stay informed about the best new products and equipment on the market. There’s always room for progress, but not always for bulky and heavy machines. Be smart in your choosing process and make the best use of your home space with these wise tips and options.

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