Best Home Gym Exercise Equipment 2016 – 45 Expert Opinions

experts reveal gym equipment

What we did:

A few weeks ago I set out to find out what the best home gym equipment of 2015 is. I contacted over 40 fitness experts and asked them what pieces of equipment they would choose for their home gym if they could only have 3.

There was a huge variation of responses and we learned a ton. We went ahead and compiled the data into an infographic which you can find below.

We seperated the responses into female and male responses, as well as total responses and the cheapest pieces of equipment for those that are trying to save money.​

A few notes: We counted barbells + bumper plates as one piece of equipment. We also combined a few of the responses such as TRX and rings into one number.

Finally, I want to thank all of the contributors for taking time out of their days to respond to our question. Thanks guys!

Some quick stats:

The top choices for men was actually a split choice between the squat/power rack, barbells with bumpers, and an adjustable bench. This seems like an obvious choice as every single power lifting movement can be performed with these pieces of equipment. As seen in this article the power rack is without a doubt the most necessary part of any garage gym.

For women the answer was a little bit different with adjustable dumb bells, kettle bells, and TRX/Gymnastic rings coming in on top. Many people would argue that men and women should have had the same answers but forget to realize that men and women often have different training goals. The results for the women emphasis a more HIIT (High intensity interval training) driven exercise routine.

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Christian Finn


I would go for:

  • a barbell
  • power rack
  • and a set of adjustable dumbbells

Sorry it’s a bit “vanilla” but that is what I’d go for!

Kelly Olexa


My choice would be:

  • TRX
  • Ultimate Sandbag
  • Muscle ropes
  • and the wild card: kettlebells

Joe Pietaro


Here are the three pieces of equipment that I would choose and a brief explanation of why for each.

  • Treadmill: it can be used for cardio, especially the best exercise for burning fat and calories, sprinting.
  • Adjustable Bench
  • Pair of 35-pound dumbbells

With the adjustable bench and moderate weight dumbbells, any and all exercises can be performed for a full body workout.

Dr. Phoenyx Austin


Anyone who says you need an expensive gym membership to get fit clearly hasn’t been introduced to these three amazing pieces of fitness equipment. Ladies and gents, say hello to my little friends:

  • the kettle bell
  • the exercise band
  • and of course, I had to save the best for last – the jump rope!

And why do I love these 3 particular pieces of equipment? Well the reasons are simple and quite significant. For one, the individual the calorie burn for each is insane. Take jumping rope for example, which has been shown to burn over 1,000 calories in just 1 hour. That comes out to roughly 20 calories per minute!

Furthermore, all three pieces of equipment I mentioned provide full body workouts (strength and cardio), are all highly portable, and are just plain fun and easy to use. So if your goal is to build a rockstar home gym, remember these 3 pieces of exercise equipment: kettle bells, exercise bands, and a jump rope.

Bottom line, these pieces of equipment will help maximize calorie burn and will also help you stay consistent with your exercise routine so you get the weight loss, strength training, and fast fat burning results you want.

Phoenyx Austin, M.D. is a fitness specialist, author, and the creator of the Phoenyx jump rope. Find Dr. Phoenyx on her website and YouTube channel where she dishes on all things fitness and awesomely healthy living.

Michael McCoy


My answer is:

  • Barbell
  • Bumper Plates
  • Squat Rack

Vince Del Monte


This is an easy question because I've already built my own home gym and if I were able to only keep three of my pieces of equipment I would go with the following:

  • Watson dumbbell rack: These are thick bar dumbbells with spinning handles and go up from 5lbs to 102.5lbs in 2.5lbs increments.
  • Poliquin Power rack: This is where you can bench, press, pull and deadlift. This comes with bar hooks for accessories like chains to help accommodate the strength curve. The pull up bar also comes with fat grips and this piece is also equipped with land mines to set up rowing movements.
  • NM-250 Dynamic Functional Training System:  This is basically where you can add variable resistance training with your cables and virtually endless amounts of exercises with a variety of grip attachments.

These three pieces are not cheap but I view this as an investment, not a cost. My home gym has actually saved me money in the long run because of all the time I save and with the time I save, I can be more productive with my business which generates income 🙂

If you want to see how I actually equipped my gym, watch this:

And if you wish to see my entire gym get built, watch this:

Train hard, train smarter, build faster!

Alon Shabo


My top 3 would be...

  • A squat rack (with a built-in pull up bar and barbell)
  • a bench that can be modified to incline/decline/neutral
  • and a good foam roller

That’s all you need to train every fundamental human movement (and every muscle) - push, pull, squat, hinge, and lunge.

Brandon Heavey


If I was going to build a home gym with just 3 pieces of equipment, it would come down to what my goals were and the space I had available. But for most of my clients, I'd suggest:

  • Barbell
  • Adjustable bench
  • Power cage

Weight training is the often overlooked key to getting lean. The barbell provides the load, the bench provides some flexibility in the movements you can perform and the power cage will allow you to execute those movements in a safe manner on your own - and often include things like pull up bars on the power cage.

Jen DeCurtins


My three picks would be...

  • A kettlebell
  • A set of 15-20 lb dumbbells (for girls)
  • A pull up bar

Oliver Bailey


If I was going to build a home gym I would have:

  • A squat rack with an Olympic bar for the big compound exercises
  • Bench press
  • An inclined sit up bench
laura london

Laura London


If I were to build a home gym the three pieces of equipment I would include would be:

  • Set of Dumbbells or (Barbell - T-Gripp Max):  I love working out with dumbbells because the really challenge every muscle in your body. Each side of your body had to work independently of each other and there are hundreds of exercises you can do with dumbbells. Just changing your weights, speed or range of motion with them and you have endless combinations of exercises.
  • The jump rope is my favorite cardio piece of equipment. It is also a full body workout you can advance and learn some really fun tricks. The jump rope is great alternative to cardio machines and you can take it anywhere with you.
  • Kettle Bell - The kettle bell is a great addition to any home gym. It works out every muscle in your body and is a great cardio workout too. Fabulous for building upper and lower body strength. I am talking sexy shoulders for sure and it will rock your abs at the same time.

Damien Mase


My choices are:

  • Cage
  • Barbell & Plates
  • Adjustable bench

Three pieces is tough! Ideally we'd add a 4th piece which would be a set of adjustable dumbbells which would open up a plethora of exercises.

But the three I listed above would cover the big three lifts (squat, bench and deadlift) and you'd be able to do hit every muscle group with other exercises like overhead press, rows, barbell curls, extensions etc.

Daniel Segars


My choice would be:

  • Pair of adjustable dumbbells (for strength training or toning)
  • Jump Rope (for cardio on days you can't get out of the house)
  • Pull Up Bar or PhysioBall (Pull Up Bar if you want to focus more on strength and a PhysioBall if you want to focus more on core and control)

I kind of cheated on the last one but I believe that each person, depending on there goals will have a different top three pieces of equipment that they will need the most.

The three (four) I gave would be the best for some one looking for overall fitness. On the other hand if you are going for the best three on a budget then you don’t really need anything but your own body.

Scott Moses


Assuming you know how to use it:

  • A Wing Chun wooden dummy
  • A medium weight heavy bag
  • and a pair dumb bells that allow you to adjust the weight

Juliet Starrett


My three items would be:

  • Concept 2 rowing machine
  • 50 pound slam ball
  • 53 lb kettlebell

Steve Kamb


  • Shake weight
  • Thigh master
  • Ab coaster

Jonny Watson


Three pieces of equipment would be:

  • Power rack with chin up attachments, adjustable stops and a good adjustable bench
  • Strong power bar (texas, eleiko or rogue)
  • Calibrated plates (eleiko or ivanko)

Jamaine Hudson


I would like to have:

  • An elite FTS power rack w/ kilo plates: I could use the power rack for strength training and powerlifting. I would also be able to use the power rack for many creative movements incorporating the use of resistance bands and chains.
  • A cable crossover w/ lat pull down & seated row attachment: I would use the cable crossover machine to perform many bodybuilding exercises to isolate individual muscle groups.
  • A stair master: The stair master would be used for fasted cardio, warm ups prior to training and post work out cardio routines.

Allan Donnelly


I would choose:

  • Olympic Bar & Weight Set
  • Power Rack
  • Adjustable Bench

Dawn Fletcher


The three pieces that I would choose because I live in San Diego would be:

  • Rings
  • Barbell & bumper plates
  • Lacrosse ball

Michelle Reynolds

trailsandtribulations.co.uk - Diary of a Pole Addict

Three things for a home gym from Diary of a Pole Addict are as follows (assuming we're allowed basic furniture....!):

  • Pull up bar. Versatile for shoulder work, back work , core work - pull ups, inverts, aerial planks....amazing!
  • Resistance bands. Progressive overload of muscle using body weight & resistance is key for good results!
  • A set of dumbbells. 20-25kg set with changeable weights. Perfect for spot work, raised body work & calisthenics using the plates!

Bonnie Weeks


Making our home gym is one of the favorite things about our house! We kicked the cars out of the garage and it was one of the best decisions. We love that the kids use the space just as much as us! Here's three of my favorite pieces of equipment:

  • Gymnastics Rings - These rings are so versatile for every body part! We use them for abs, arms, legs, and core. I'm continually impressed with the things I can do with them. We hang them from a large pipe we installed in our garage and they can slide around where we need them.
  • Plyo Box - I love this! We use it like a bench, for box jumps, step ups, incline push ups, and lots of stretching. It makes you work hard and feel a good burn. I definitely think it's worth the investment.
  • Heavy Dumb Bells - These are the type of dumb bells that are a challenge and yet you can keep your form while completing reps. 15 lbs are my choice for this right now. Having a good weight works well for weighted lunges, steps ups, a plethora of arm lifting, squats, plank pulls, etc, etc.

Kevin Koskella


Here's our suggestion:

  • A pair of rings- Great for dips, pull-ups and body-weight rows.
  • An exercise (bouncy or stability) ball for pec flies, push-ups, and abs
  • A set of adjustable weight dumbbells for everything else

Bonus: A copy of "Healthy Mind, Fit Body: How The Mind-Body Connection Can Help You Achieve Your Perfect Weight".

Marie Sanchez


Our response is:

  • Exercise mat - It is a must to provide proper support to the knees (for
    exercise moves that require our knees to come into contact with the
    ground), as well as to our back (for exercise moves that require us to lie
    on the floor face up). The exercise mat serves as a protection from one
    suffering any unnecessary injuries.
  • Dumbbells - Because they are cheap, and doesn't require a lot of space
    to store. Hence, they are ideal for people who have limited space at home,
    yet want to perform a full body workout at home.
  • Resistance Bands - In our opinion, this is one of the best equipment
    that allows one to perform a full body workout to lose fat as well as tone
    and sculpt the entire body. What we like most about this exercise equipment
    is that, because they are lightweight, they can easily be packed into the
    luggage; allowing one to be able to perform full body workouts even while
    on the move (in the comfort of their hotel room).



My pick would be:

  • Barbell - just with that can deadlift and press, already makes difference
  • Squat Rack - adds ability to do Squats and Pullups, Squat key for results
  • Plates - more weight is more strength is more muscle, need those. If you include plates with bar, then bench to do bench press 🙂

Check my guide to get started, or get an iPhone or Android app to get your workout going.

Maddy Priestley


If I could have only three....

  • Treadmill
  • Yoga Mat
  • Resistance bands

These are all I need for the areas I am focusing on at the moment.

Taylor Ryan


I would go for:

  • Jump Rope
  • 16kg Kettlbell
  • Pull-up Bar

Gigi Parker


If I had to pick three pieces of equipment for my home gym, I'd look for things that won't take up very much room, aren't super complicated, and won't break the bank. Then I'd want to make sure my cardio, strength, and balance were covered.

Having said that, I'd pick:

  • A nice treadmill, so I could get a run or walk in, even if the weather won't let me outside!
  • I'd pick a set of adjustable dumbbells also (although I do like the kettleball, which can build strength and endurance while working the core)
  • and probably a stability ball - which also helps work the core, can be incorporated into exercises using those dumbbells, and it gets lots of muscles working together.

At the end of the day, I don't think you have to spend a big chunk of money to get in shape. I believe the only piece of equipment we truly need.....is your own body....and the commitment to move it every day!

Kelly Fuston


Here's my selection:

  • Step-mill - This machine is so good for cardio! You can keep that heart rate up high while getting a killer leg and booty workout in. Skip steps or kick back for a more advanced workout or even step up on your toes! There are a million ways to utilize this one piece of equipment to lose fat and get that leaner look!
  • Dumbbells - From deadlifts and squats to shoulder presses and rows, dumbbells are a fabulous way to increase intensity in any workout. They are the quintessential piece of equipment when wanting to build muscle.
  • TRX - Body weight can be the BEST way to workout. Using the TRX to utilize different angles can help increase intensity in various exercises without needing a ton of equipment. If you were to purchase any cost effective device, I would purchase this one!



My three picks would be:

  • TRX
  • Resistance bands
  • Weightlifting gloves

Kelly Avalos


Here's my selection:

  • Rower (full body + cardio workout!)
  • Squat Rack (perfect for all kinds of exercises including squats, pull-ups, etc.)
  • Barbell + rubber plates (that counts as one right?)

Sonia! The Healthy Foodie


Only three? Oh my! That’s hard! I’d have to say:

  • A barbell / bumper plates (that only counts as one, right?)
  • A rack
  • A rower

I’d definitely add a bench to that list, though…

Monica Nelson


My top 3 picks would be:

  • Sliders
  • Dumbbells
  • Bosu

Jayden Butalid


To answer the question I personally believe the top three things you would need at a home gym would be:

  • a barbell with plates
  • squat rack
  • an adjustable bench

Jennipher Walters


I'd include:

  • TRX
  • Dumbbells
  • A box for box jumps and step-ups

B.U.F.F. Dudes


  • Power rack
  • Barbell
  • Bench

Gunnar Peterson


  • Cable station with pull-up attachment
  • and cardio piece of choice (mine would be a spinning bike)

Bart Yasso


  • Threadmill
  • Elliptical
  • 20 pound dumbbells

Christopher Brisley


My choice is:

  • TRX
  • Kettlebells

Tara Stiles


  • The floor
  • My body
  • Maybe a yoga mat or rug

Jeff Halevy 


  • Rack
  • Bar
  • Plates

Simple Science Fitness


  • Squat rack with a built-in pull-up bar
  • Olympic barbell with weights
  • Gymnastic rings

The WODcast Podcast


  • Smoothie Bar
  • Mirror
  • Soul Cycle Bike

Ayoub BEN


My choice is:

  • Spin Bike for cardio
  • Chest-Supported Row for upper body parts workout
  • Leg Press for lower body parts workout

Huy Pham


My suggestion would be:

  • Functional Trainer: Great all-in-one machine for strength building
  • Squat Rack: For your heavy weight lifting needs
  • 0-90 Adjustable Bench: Useful for basically everything

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  • Jim
  • April 13, 2015

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1 Comment on "Best Home Gym Exercise Equipment 2016 – 45 Expert Opinions"

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Peter Keller
1 year 6 months ago

1. 53# kettlebell
2. Pullup bar
3. Sandbag