As runners, we love being out on the road or trail, our feet pounding on the ground almost hypnotically. Most of us aren’t exactly gym rats!
But adding some resistance training to your schedule could be the perfect way to improve your running performance. The more muscle you have, the faster you metabolize energy and can use it when running. Your stamina will get a boost, too!
Investing in a great compact home gym for your space and situation can make a huge difference in your fitness. We’ve chosen the Bowflex PR1000 as our number one, for its nice price, silent operation, and versatility in the range of exercises you can do with it.
Here’s our top nine.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym
Marcy MWM-990 150 lb Stack Home Gym
Best Compact Design
Best Compact Design
Gold’s Gym XRS 50
1. Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym
This silent ninja of a home gym isn’t just affordable. It offers you the chance to do more than 25 exercises at a decent resistance in the comfort of your own space.
With 210lb of resistance, the PR1000 should be suitable for beginners and advanced gym-goers alike. It features a versatile bench that can be used flat or inclined, can be removed completely to allow space for standing movements, and can even be turned into a sliding seat for rowing.
This feature is great as it adds an extra cardio element, which many home gyms don’t. Beyond that useful function, it has an adjustable media rack that fits all phones and tablets so you can have your training motivation right in front of you.
Unlike many others, it uses resistance rods instead of weights, and you can easily add more or remove a rod for less resistance. The only downside is that once you’ve hit 210lb of resistance, there’s no way to add more.
If you don’t enjoy going to the gym but don’t have a spotter at home, this gym would be a great investment. You’ll get a superb full-body workout and stay safe at the same time.
- 210lb resistance
- Has a handy media rack
- Doubles as a rowing machine
- 7 free workouts
- Can’t add more resistance if 210lb is too little
2. Marcy MWM-990 150 lb Stack Home Gym
The Marcy MWM-990 offers almost a full gym workout in a hardy package that will last you decades if you take care of it.
Crafted from steel, this is a heavy-duty gym that offers some great weight behind it. The weight stack is only 150lb, though, which may be too light for some. It does feature a special weight stack safety lock, so nobody can change up your weights while you’re not watching.
Your upper and lower body will get a decent workout on this gym. Try some lat pul-ldowns, chest press or chest flys, preacher curls on the removable arm pad, leg extensions, or hamstring curls with the adjustable leg developer.
Considering the sturdy construction and the fact that you can do a comprehensive full-body workout with this machine, it wins our top value spot.
- Constructed from steel
- Weight stack safety lock
- Removable preacher curl pad
- Upper and lower body exercises
- 150lb may not be enough for some
Best Compact Design
3. Gold’s Gym XRS 50
Sometimes you just don’t have a whole room to dedicate to a home gym. If you need something compact but still effective, consider the Gold’s Gym XRS 50 one.
It offers as comprehensive a range of exercises as others, but in a more compact design. It’s sleek and small, not bulky like some.
The machine can hold users up to 300lb in weight, and has a weight stack of 112lb, which includes up to 280lbs of resistance.
You’ll get an exercise chart when you buy, so you’ll never be lost for what to do next.
- 300lb user weight capacity
- 112lb weight stack, plus 280lb resistance
- Comes with an exercise chart
- Comprehensive exercise variety
- No preacher curl attachment
Top Resistance Band Machine
4. Teeter FitForm Total Body Strength Trainer
If you aren’t sold on the idea of weights and weight stacks, this resistance band trainer could be the right thing for you.
It packs up to 65lbs of resistance and can be adjusted in 1-pound intervals to find exactly the right workout for you.
You can perform over 100 exercises on this compact machine! As if that isn’t enough, you’ll also have access to their free personal training app where you can partake in trainer-led sequences or customize your workout as you like it.
It comes with soft handles and an ankle strap so you can be as versatile as you want.
- Up to 65lbs resistance
- Easy-to-adjust resistance dial
- Soft-grip ankle wraps and handles
- Over 100 exercises
- Not for heavy weight training
Most Exercise Options
5. Body by Jake Tower 200
This useful little contraption can be used anywhere – at home, at the office, on vacation, or wherever else you might find yourself, as long as there’s a door nearby.
200 is the number of the day, as this setup allows for more than 200 exercises at a resistance of more than 200lbs.
It’s super easy to assemble and start exercising right away. You can select a variety of different resistance levels to challenge you at whatever fitness level you’re at.
It comes with handles and ankle straps, so you can get a decent workout from top to toe. Just be sure to only use it in the manner in which it was intended – to be placed within a door frame.
Using it against a wall could cause it to break or increase the potential for injury, as well as voiding the warranty if something goes wrong.
- More than 200 exercises
- Can be used in almost any doorway
- 200lb resistance
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Seems to be not as durable as others
Best Pilates Machine
6. Weider Ultimate Body Works
Those of you who enjoy pilates, here’s a machine for you. The Weider Ultimate Body Works allows for a wide range of exercises and stretches, with the ability to add more resistance if needed.
The bench is slidable, which means you can do some great squats and pull-ups using the resistance on this machine.
If you need more space for your feet when you aren’t squatting, the footrest is removable. You can also adjust the incline until it’s comfortable for you.
It’s a great workout for both upper and lower body, and easy on the joints too!
- Adjustable incline
- Removable footrest
- Upper and lower body workouts
- 250lb user weight limit
- Not foldable
Best Home Gym Cable Tower
7. Bowflex Blaze Home Gym
The goal of a home gym is to get a simple yet effective comprehensive workout. You should be able to easily achieve that with the Blaze. You can do 60 or more exercises using this resistance machine, and if you aren’t sure what all of those are, it comes with a handy placard filled with exercise instructions.
Adjust the pulleys and cables to suit your workout. Whether it’s chest day, abs day, or the dreaded leg day (what?! You’re a runner! Embrace the pain!), you’ll be able to get a burn from this gym.
One of the things we like most about it is that while it comes with 210lbs of resistance, you can upgrade to 410lbs if you need more. That gets a thumbs-up for being suitable for everyone!
- 210lbs resistance, upgradable to 410lb
- Full-body workout, 60+ exercises
- Adjustable pulley and cable positions
- Foldable for easy storage
- Range of motion is limited
- Placard may be redundant for some
Best Home Gym Under $1500
8. Body-Solid G1S Gym
The G1S Gym looks like something you’d see in the actual gym. It’s a solid piece of equipment, and if you use it right, you’ll become body-solid too!
We like that your purchase includes a lat bar, ankle strap, straight bar, a tricep rope, a water bottle holder, and an instructional DVD.
You can work out every muscle group with just a bit of adjustment on the machine. The 160lb weight stack unfortunately can’t be upgraded, but should be adequate for most people.
For such a comprehensive tool, it’s quite compact and easy to fit into just about any room. As an added bonus, it has a lifetime warranty on every piece of it!
- Comes with a variety of accessories
- Fairly compact in size
- 160lb weight stack
- Lifetime warranty
- Some may not be willing to spend this much
Best Home Gym Under $2000
9. Bodycraft Galena Pro Strength System
Weightlifting is old school. You find something heavy, you pick it up, you put it down. Ok, that’s for sure an oversimplification. Still, a bit of sleek tech-forward design certainly makes the picking up and putting down both more enjoyable and more effective. If home gyms can be state-of-the-art, the Galena Pro fits the bill. Featuring two seating stations, you’d be hard-pressed to find an exercise you can’t do on this piece of equipment. You can even purchase a leg press to add to it!
With up to 300lb of resistance, it should be sufficient for most users and provide a good muscle-pumping workout.
Everything is adjustable, so you can get it exactly right for you, your height, and your preferences. This makes everything as comfortable as possible.
Do lat pulldowns, various chest presses, leg extensions and curls, and rows, to mention just a few.
If you and your SO are looking for a home gym that you can use as a couple, the dual-seat nature of this one makes it a great choice!
If it’s just you, it’s still worth the buy for the extra resistance, adjustability, and ability to add extras to it.
It’s not the most compact, though (which is understandable). If you’re short on space, you may struggle to fit this somewhere comfortably.
- Up to 300lbs resistance
- Can be adjusted for range of motion
- Pec deck and low pulley station
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Some may struggle to find space for it
Not sure where to start when shopping for your own home gym? Here are some questions you may be asking.
What Are Home Gym Essentials And What Is Important?
If you’re trying to find the best compact home gym for you, you may be wondering what features are important and what makes one home gym better than another. Here are some things you should be considering when choosing one:
Obviously, what you choose has to appeal to you in a design sense! If you end up buying a hulking thing that you don’t like the look of, it’s really not going to motivate you to use it. It’s a small factor, but you need something that you feel has an attractive design.
You won’t get a great workout if your machine only allows you to do 3 exercises on it. Choose something that has a good many exercise options, and includes upper and lower body.
The home gym you choose should have the ability to increase or decrease the resistance. You may start off at a lower resistance (weight) but find after a few weeks that it’s no longer challenging for you. You’d need to up the resistance in order to make your workout more effective.
You’re going to be buying a serious piece of equipment, and you want to know that you’ll be covered in case something goes wrong with the machine. A good warranty also implies that the manufacturer is confident in their own product!
What Are The Benefits Of A Home Gym?
A home gym has a multitude of benefits over going out to the gym. Some of the advantages include:
- Can workout in any weather
- No time is off-limits (insomniacs rejoice!)
- It saves gym fees in the long run
- Comfortable and familiar environment
- You can choose your own music!
- Try new things comfortably
- Get your partner or family involved
- Gym wearing whatever you want
Can A Home Workout Be As Effective As The Gym?
Although home gyms can be slightly less comprehensive than a full gym, you can do just as effective a workout as long as you’re prepared to put in the time and effort.
Home gyms often have a range of exercises that can be done on them, but some common movements may be left out due to their design. If you enjoy working out, you may want to round out your home gym with some free weights so you can really get into it.
For some, going to the gym is daunting and automatically affects how good a workout you have. Working out at home can be much more appealing to those who aren’t sociable or are perhaps more introverted.
In these cases, working out from the comfort of your own home, with your own music, as loud as you want, and nobody sneaking a peek at you is guaranteed to give you a more effective workout than slinking around the gym wishing you were somewhere else!