My top recommendations for fitness equipment in 2021
Investing in a home gym instead of an expensive gym membership not only saves you money in the long run, it also increases your odds of achieving your fitness goals. After all, it's much easier to exercise consistently when you don't have to make a special trip to the gym.
I've tested a lot of equipment over the last several years and I keep this list up to date with the best options I've found for home use with ideas for every budget and level of fitness
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These bands are a 12" version of their larger cousins, and they're great for mobility and strength training work. They come in pairs, so I keep one set at work and one at home. I always travel with a couple of these bands as well, since they're easy to pack and extremely versatile.
Onnit is probably best known for supplements, but they do have a line of unconventional fitness gear as well. I have several of their steel maces that I use frequently for warming up and general shoulder health.
The Physio Ball from Christian’s Fitness Factory provides lots of therapeutic benefit in a small package. It looks a bit like a medieval torture device, but don’t let the look fool you – it actually feels really good for use on stubborn tissue. Read my full review here.
A sandbag trainer is a great functional fitness tool. I've got one and although I haven't reviewed it yet, I use it regularly because it's an efficient and cost-effective addition to my home fitness arsenal. You can see a couple of pictures of mine here.
A good set of resistance bands offers endless ways to beef up your training regimen. Many companies sell resistance bands, but not all of them are high quality. I have this set from Kettlebell Kings and they've stood up to every abuse I've put them through.
$50 - $150
Vulcan Strength makes an excellent all-steel alternative to cast-iron kettlebells that is reasonably priced for the level of quality you get. I like these kettlebells so much that I chose them to outfit my office kettlebell club. Read my full review here.
I've written a number of articles on Foundation Training in the past, with a focus on how much it helped me work through a painful back injury. I own this DVD set and the level of instruction and production quality is top notch.
The Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat kettlebell is a high quality kettlebell that provides an excellent balance between durability and usability. At the time of this writeup, Kettlebell Kings is the only company offering the option to build your own set, with an increased discount applied for every kettlebell added.. Read my full review here.
The T-Grip Shorty Bar is a really good multi-use bar for metabolic conditioning (metcons), circuit training, and accessory work. It also makes a great travel tool for workouts on the go. I keep finding new uses for it and it's become one of my favorite pieces of equipment. Read my full review here.
$150 - $300
Kettlebell Kings makes some of the best kettlebells available, with free shipping offered on everything. They've recently introduced an option to add a cerakote coating to any kettlebell, including custom design options. No one else is making cerakote-coated kettlebells yet, so a cerakote kettlebell would make a very unique and long lasting gift. Read my full review here.
American Barbell makes some of the highest quality barbells on the market, and this bar is no exception. I reviewed the Cerakote Training Bar earlier this year and it is one of the best all around bars I've tested so far. Read my full review here.
The Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite is the most versatile weight vest option I could find. The Hyper Vest Elite is durable, allows a high degree of mobility, and the weight can be adjusted exactly how you like. Read my full review here.
The Fringe Sport Shorty Bar is one of the few rackable 6ft barbells with a full 52" shaft width, which means it can be used for Olympic lifts in addition to regular powerlifting. I own one and I find myself using it more often than my full size bars because it's the perfect size for my small home gym. Plus, it's extremely strong, rated for over 400lbs of weight if you use iron plates! Read my full review here.
The American Barbell 10KG Performance Training Bar proves that great things can come in small packages. The 10kg weight makes it an excellent choice for anyone new to weightlifting and the compact size is perfect for working out in tight spaces. Read my full review here.
$300 - $500
Vulcan Strength Training Systems makes excellent equipment at a reasonable price point, and personally I don't think they get the attention they deserve. If your focus is strictly powerlifting, the Absolute Powerlifting bar is a fantastic choice. With a tensile strength of 221k PSI, this is one of the strongest powerlifting bars available. Read my full review here.
The Yoak is very well made and versatile stability training tool. If you’ve never done any kind of instability training, consider that life is inherently unstable. Whether it’s lifting children, moving furniture, or doing yard work, we rarely find ourselves in situations that require a perfectly balanced application of strength. Read my full review of the Yoak here.
The Hybrid Bar from Fringe Sport is an interesting beast, blurring the lines between a powerlifting bar, a WOD bar, and an Olympic bar. Usually these kind of attempts to create One Bar To Rule Them All involve big compromises, but Fringe Sport has somehow managed to construct a bar that can be all things to most people. Read my full review here.
The Vulcan Strength Alpha bumper plates are unique in the market by being the only virgin rubber plates that can be dropped on concrete or other rough surfaces without risk of damage to the plates. Other bumpers made for outdoor use are usually made from recycled rubber, so the Alphas are a higher quality product and less expensive. I have a set of these that I've not yet reviewed but I highly recommend them.
A good squat rack is one of the best pieces of equipment to have in your home gym. I recently upgraded from a pair of squat stands to a Garage Series Squat Rack and spotter arms from Fringe Sport and I couldn't be happier. Read my full review here.
$500 - $1000
American Barbell's Stainless Bearing Bar incorporates a host of proprietary features unlike any other on the market. Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty, this is a great bar for any home lifter serious about Olympic lifts. I own the bushing version of this bar (same bar but with bushings instead of bearings) and it's a fantastic bar.
These are the bumper plates that get used and abused in the CrossFit Games, so they can definitely stand punishment. Are they overkill for a typical home gym? Most definitely. Would they make a great addition to a home gym anyway? Absolutely! Read my full review here.
Vulcan Strength makes excellent equipment, on par or better than many of the leading brands in the market. This set includes all the basic equipment needed to outfit a home gym for CrossFit-style workouts.
The Titan Fitness Urethane Bumper Plates are a great alternative to rubber bumper plates, especially if you are sensitive to strong odors. They look good, they work great, and unlike rubber plates they have no odor whatsoever. Urethane bumper plates are also more durable than rubber, so this single investment should last you for as long as you’re willing to lift them. Read my full review.
The Airdyne Pro is the latest in a long legacy of air resistance bikes made by Schwinn. I have one in the Lab I'm currently testing and I like it a lot. It's a great low impact way to burn a lot of calories in a relatively short amount of time.
The Air Runner is a treadmill for people who hate treadmills. I use mine often and I've seen a marked improvement in my overall fitness from using it. Yes, it's expensive, but it's built like a tank and is likely the last treadmill you'll ever buy. Read my full review here.
The VersaClimber is an awesome climbing machine that targets all the major muscle groups. It's a great low impact exercise that anyone can do. Read my full review here.