The Best Compact Exercise Equipment Reviewed
You want to work out at home, but you just don’t have the space in your small apartment. Don’t worry – we’ve rounded up the very best compact exercise equipment to allow you to work your entire body in even the most challenging of workout spaces. Whether you’re after a great cardio, muscle building or endurance training workout, our reviews below have got you covered, with treadmills, weights, ab machines and even a versatile climber!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 20 hrs of research
Quick adjust buckles
No rub cam buckle
Hand loops double as foot loops
- Ultimate Body Press Bodyweight Trainer
- Maxi Climber Vertical Climber
- PowerBlock Sport 24 Piece Dumbbell Set
- Bodyboss Home Gym 2.0
- Confidence Power Trac Pro Motorized Electric Folding Treadmill
- ProSource Multi-Grip Chin-Up/Pull-Up Bar
- Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro
- Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike
- Weider Ultimate Body Works
- Fit Force Athletics Exercise Equipment Workout Resistance Bands Set
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
In A Hurry? The Winner After 20 Hours of Test Research
1. Ultimate Body Press Bodyweight Trainer
Quick adjust buckles
No rub cam buckle
Hand loops double as foot loops
Door attachment may dent the door jamb
This innovative suspension compact exercise equipment offers you the flexibility and versatility of a full gym, all in a small package that you can set up almost anywhere.Read more
Perks of the Ultimate Body Press compact exercise equipment include patented Lay-Flat handles that won't get turned around, an gorgeous color exercise poster to help you remember all the exercises you can do, and suspension straps that are indexed to make adjustments more efficient. Besides the suspension straps, the compact exercise equipment comes with a carabiner strap that you use to anchor the system. Foot loops share space with the handles.
According to Ultimate Body Press, the Lay-Flat handles will not make contact with the user's body, making for better form and greater results.
The wall poster demonstrates 3 possible workouts and 26 exercises you can do by repositioning the straps and your body, all with one small exercise equipment. Bodyweight training has always been a part of sport and fitness. With the Ultimate Body Press Bodyweight Resistance Trainer, you can kick things up a notch and find new ways to build strength with your own body.
2. Maxi Climber Vertical Climber
Compact upright design
Works total body while protecting joints
Includes a workout timer
Unable to add resistance
There are three models of Maxi Climber’s vertical climber-the XL, the Classic, and the Sport. We decided to review the Classic because it strikes the best balance between not taking up excess space and providing an exciting full body and cardio workout.Read more
The Classic vertical climber offers a workout timer that will tell you when your workout is over, according to how you set the timer. You can do an extended session or a short pre-work session, and the timer will go off when it’s time for your next task of the day. Adjustable height is another intriguing feature, one that will come in handy if the climber is being shared by a whole family. The ergonomic design is meant to accommodate any body shape, and your knees and ankles will thank you for the low impact action of the climber mentioned as one of the best compact exercise equipment.
Finally, the Maxi Climber Vertical Climber folds for easy storage, comes almost fully assembled, and carries a thirty-day satisfaction guarantee. We think the climber will be a welcome addition to your home gym, one you will enjoy using year after year.
3. PowerBlock Sport 24 Piece Dumbbell Set
Square block design
Easy select system
Powerblock has a great reputation
Not expandable-would have to buy a new set for more weight
The Power Block dumbbell system is a space efficient way to give yourself a full range of weights in your apartment or other living space.Read more
It features an innovative design that allows you to dial in and lift off the weight you want from a compact block of plates. The weights adjust from 3 to 24 pounds. The Power Block comes with padded handles for maximum comfort and wrist protection.
The Power Block replaces eight pairs of dumbbells with a total weight of 216 pounds. The square power block design has been shown to be more effective than the traditional round plate shape, allowing for a fuller extension and contraction on many exercises. In fact, Power Block changed the design from earlier dumbbells. The previous models had an open handle with pillars on all edges, which could interfere with wrist and hand movement for users with bigger hands. The latest improvement is a padded, closed handle system which eliminated the wrist restriction problem.
Of course, as is often the case, the compact home exercise equipment comes at a price. You cannot get a lift of more than 24 pounds per hand with the PowerBlock. There is no expansion kit available. 24 pounds will be adequate for beginners and casual lifters, but those of us in need of heavier weight and greater strength may need to purchase one of PowerBlock’s larger sets, the biggest of which goes to 125 pounds. All of their compact exercise equipment, including weight benches, curl bars, and kettle block, is designed with the home gym builder in mind.
4. Bodyboss Home Gym 2.0
360-degree rotational bar
Fold up platform
Takes some getting used to if used to free weights
The BodyBoss Home Gym 2.0 is a revolutionary piece of home training equipment that allows you to simulate all of the big gym lifts in a small corner of your home.Read more
It features a non-slip grip base with retractable anchors, a bar with 360-degree rotation for a smooth natural motion, custom length 30-inch bands, straps, handles, and a door anchor. Each band simulates between 0 and 30 pounds and attaches to the anchors on the floor base. This allows you to do a range of different exercises and hit several muscle groups in one workout with changing position.
The set comes with two to four bands depending on the package. The straps are padded for comfort and sweat resistance and they fit all sizes and wrists.
With the BodyBoss Home Gym 2.0, you can simulate any exercise that you would do in the gym. The fold up platform allows you to increase or decrease the exercise difficulty by either shortening or lengthening the bands. This is a great compact home gym alternative that we think you will enjoy. The whole system is lightweight, so you can easily take the bands and anchor base and stow them away under your bed or in a closet until you decide to use them again.
5. Confidence Power Trac Pro Motorized Electric Folding Treadmill
Folds for compact storage
12 built-in fitness programs
4 pre-set speeds
14 x 22 inch running bed
Max speed too low for advanced runners
Have you ever wished you could fold up your favorite treadmill and just take it with you when you drive somewhere? If you have, we found a dream product for you.Read more
The foldable Confidence Power Trac is an electronic treadmill that, as indicated, can be folded for storage or transport. This is a simple way to replicate the gym treadmill experience, while also preventing your gym or living area from becoming too cluttered. Like a gym treadmill, the Power Trac comes with preset speeds and built-in programs--4 and 12, respectively. You can walk at 0.6 miles per hour to warm up, and then top out at 6.2 miles per hour. While the 6.2 is lower than most gym treadmills can go, it should still be enough for the average cardio or interval runner. The angle of the running bed is also adjustable if you’d like to simulate a hill climbing run.
For extra features, the Confidence Power Trac has an easy to read LCD display which provides you with a continuous readout of your calories, distance, time and speed, included in one of the best small exercise equipment for apartment. It provides a generous runway size of 14 inches by 22 inches. When folded the arm length is 22 inches with a total thickness of just 10 inches. This makes it ideal to store under a bed or in a cupboard.
6. ProSource Multi-Grip Chin-Up/Pull-Up Bar
12 gripping options
Easy slip in set up design
J Frames for extra support
300-pound max user weight
Assembly instructions confusing
ProSource is being modest in calling their product a chin up and pull up bar; it can do so much more, without any difficult adjustments.Read more
The ProSource Multi-Grip Bar is the ideal doorway pull up solution, offering 12 different gripping options, including neutral and hammer grips. This allows you to work the back and biceps from every conceivable angle. The easy slip-in design will fit almost any doorway and sets up in seconds. The fit is extremely secure and will not damage your doorframe, making it one of the best exercise equipment.
The ProSource Bar is constructed of high-grade steel. It is designed to take a lot of punishment, easily able to handle up to 300 pounds of user weight. It comes with J frames to allow for an even more rigid door attachment. The Pro Source bar will fit any doorway between 24 and 36 inches in width.
The ProSource Bar’s uses don’t end with pull-ups, though. You can keep it on the doorframe, sliding it closer to the floor, for modified crunches and situps. Put the bar and frame all the way on the floor, and you can prop yourself up for pushups and dips. As an optional measure, you can use the supplied brackets to screw the bar and frame into a wall. This means less versatility and no easy way to move the bar, but that may be worth it if you want the rock-solid stability offered by wall mounting.
7. Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro
Extra resistance on the rollout
Extra assistance on the rollback
Wider than normal tread
Digital workout support
Lockout mechanism may prevent tall people from getting a full extension
This ab roller carries several one of a kind features that make it ideal for providing versatile workout options in a small, easy to handle package.Read more
The Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro compact exercise equipment makes use of a unique form of kinetic resistance which involves a patented carbon spring. This provides a greater level of resistance when you roll out on the roller, as well as giving you more stability when you roll it back in. You also get a wider rolling track on this unit than what the competition has to offer. This takes a lot of the strain away from your lower back. The angled design of the track also allows for greater involvement of the obliques, by enabling side to side movement in addition to taking you back and forth.
The Perfect Fitness Ab Carver is constructed from an extremely durable plastic molding. The slight downward angle of the handles allows for more involvement of the triceps throughout the movement. The package even comes with a pair of knee pads. Handles on either side of the carver can be removed to make for easier travel, too.
This is a very unique, highly functional unit that is light years ahead of most of the ab rollers on the market today. With its reasonable price and outstanding durability, we think the Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro will quickly become one of your best friends in your fitness routine.
8. Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike
8 levels of magnetic resistance
Smooth riding experience
3 piece high torque cranking system
300-pound max user weight
Extended leg stabilizers
Pedals are a little too far forward for ideal ergonomics while riding
The Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright bike replicates a natural riding experience, with smooth pedaling and an effective leg and cardio workout.Read more
The bike features a magnetic tension system that provides 8 levels of resistance. Sensors in the easy grip handlebars will keep track of your pulse for cardio training purposes. An LCD screen displays your vital info, while the magnetic resistance gives you a choice of light intensity levels.
Perhaps the biggest draw of the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic bike is its portability. You can fold it up to about half of its normal size and place it in your home’s storage area, or take it with you if you go on a trip and still want to maintain your fitness program. The bike weighs 39 pounds, so it is not the easiest item to carry but is still lighter and more compact than most other home gym stationary bikes. The bike is quiet, too, so you will not interfere with anyone else’s activities and can enjoy your own music while you exercise. A weight rating of 300 pounds makes the bike accessible for many different body shapes.
9. Weider Ultimate Body Works
More than 50 exercises
Extra 50 pound resistance
Space saving design
Natural cable resistance
A little wobbly on the top incline level
This adjustable bench lets you use your body weight as the resistance, adjusting it up or down by raising and lowering the bench.Read more
The cable and pulley system lets you achieve a natural feeling as if you were doing pushups or crunches instead of using a bench. Cables and bands mean you can use different configurations to perform more than 50 full body exercises.
Weider put a lot of effort into making the Ultimate Body Works a durable unit. If properly cared for, it can reward you with years of productive use. And since the resistance is adjustable, this will be a useful product for beginners and seasoned fitness buffs alike. The compact exercise equipment comes with a 90-day warranty for parts and labor.
Rounding out the useful features the Ultimate Body Works offers, the bench is impressively compact for a piece of kinetic compact exercise equipment. The superspace saver design means that the entire unit takes up just 62”x19”x8” of space in your home.
10. Fit Force Athletics Exercise Equipment Workout Resistance Bands Set
5 bands ranging from 7 to 32 pounds
Premium latex rubber construction
Can mix and match bands and straps
The door stopper that comes with the set could be stronger
The Fit Force Athletics resistance band set is surprisingly versatile, and the kit comes with unexpected extras, too.Read more
With the Fit Force Athletics Bands, you get a complete set of resistance bands to suit every level of fitness. 5 bands are included, ranging in resistance from 7 pounds to 32 pounds. The bands are completely adjustable, featuring a unique mix and match design that allows you to pair them with different handle and ankle strap combinations. The bands are made from premium latex rubber, making them among the strongest on the market.
The handles that come with your Fit Force Athletics Bands are padded for your comfort and ergonomically designed for best performance. The heavy duty clips that attach the handles to the bands have been thoroughly tested for strength and durability. Bands are guaranteed not to rip and come with a 100% replacement warranty.
The best thing about the Fit Force resistance bands may be the added bonus items you get when you order. These include a gift box along with two gifts--a set of wrist bands, and a large poster displaying all the exercises you can do with your new resistance bands. For someone using resistance bands as a workout for the first time, directions like this are a must to keep the workout from getting stale.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Get as much use as you can out of each tool.
When talking about compact exercise equipment, versatility is key because it is better to have a single piece of equipment that can give you several workouts. If your compact exercise equipment is so simple and streamlined that it can only help you with one exercise, you end up with several pieces of small equipment and less space than what you planned for.
There may be no piece of compact exercise equipment that demonstrated this better than the aerobic step. This is a simple molded plastic rectangle with a raised surface, and some blocks you can use to get the step higher off the ground. But you can do so much with it. Step aerobics (hence the name), yes, but you can also do incline pushups or planks, box jumps, HIIT training, and other movements. You can even attach resistance bands to some steps.
When purchasing compact exercise equipment to stock your gym, be sure to think creatively and ask a lot of questions.
Always think about personal safety.
The best pieces of exercise equipment are designed with safety in mind as well as performance.
Stability may not seem like an obvious part of safety, and may not even seem to apply to certain equipment. But you have to have confidence that your resistance bands will not snap as you use them, and that a dip bar will not wobble when you are resting your body weight on it. This is why we take a look at stability when we do our reviews.
Weight ratings are also a big part of stability. A treadmill, wall mounted bar, exercise bike, and weight bench will all have a weight rating. Going above the rating compromises stability and sets you up for injury or equipment damage. No matter how good the craftsmanship, a piece of compact exercise equipment will become unsafe once past its rated limits.
Bigger is not always better.
Size is a vital consideration in any discussion of compact equipment, of course. We would not be doing our job if we reviewed, in this particular article, an enormous squat rack that would take up an entire corner of the compact exercise equipment. Not that there's anything wrong with squat racks. They're just not the focus of this review. So we made size a priority and, in this instance, placed value on smaller sized equipment that would have a smaller footprint.
We want to make sure you will be happy with the amount of room you have in your home gym, and your ability to walk around it or load weight on compact exercise equipment as needed. In addition, you can always measure the spot where you want to put a new purchase, and then find the specs for the actual equipment online. If you are not going to have room for something, or if you will need to shift heavy equipment around, it is good to know that before you pay for the new addition.
Let's see what you're made of.
Material is important because we know, from research and experience, that some materials are suited to certain conditions better than others. If you need a tarp to cover your bicycle, velvet is not a good choice. On the flipside, you wouldn't want bedsheets made out of polyvinyl sheeting that crinkles when you move.
It is the same with exercise equipment. As a rule of thumb, cheaper or low-end equipment will be made of substandard materials. You pay more for more rigorous manufacturing standards, but the cost is well worth it when you consider having to replace an inferior product after a shockingly short amount of time. This doesn't just cost you money; it is a big inconvenience that takes you away from whatever important things you planned on doing while you repair or replace.
Fitness is not one size fits all.
Adjustability means how easy or difficult it is to rearrange something for the current user to have the best possible experience.
Treadmills often have different angles, in addition to the speed controls. This is an example of good adjustability. Some exercises will need a steady walk on a flat surface, while someone who regularly runs outdoors may need an incline to partially simulate running up and down hills. Each user gets to have their own needs met and work towards their own goals if the treadmill manufacturer took individual differences into account.
With resistance bands, the different thicknesses are the adjustable features. The compact exercise equipment provides more or less resistance according to the user's training experience.
A resistance band is usually just a long piece of rubber tubing. There aren't any moving parts, no knobs to turn, no LCD screens to read. And yet they are extremely versatile, useful for all different fitness levels and an almost endless variety of exercises. In shopping for gym equipment, no matter what equipment that is, you can ask yourself if the piece seems adjustable and, if not, whether you can make it adjustable or whether you should just look elsewhere.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
It's pretty easy to see how dropping a dumbbell could cause injury, especially if anyone's feet are in the way. But did you know there are safety hazards associated even with something as simple as resistance bands? It's true. And it also means there are safety rules for these bands.
Don't let go of a band when it is under tension. Doing so will cause it to snap and make contact with any person or object in its path. This is also why we do not loop resistance bands over our feet. It may seem like a time saver, but the band is likely to slip off and again fly through the air without warning.
It is also important to inspect your sets of resistance bands to see if they are showing signs of wear. These could be splits, cracks, or even discolorations on the bands. If you notice any of these, you should replace the bands. If they are dirty or greasy, follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning them. Grease or foreign matter can cause you to lose your grip during use.
Kettlebells, or round-shaped iron bells with handles on top, have become very popular in recent years and are even replacing dumbbells for some fitness buffs.
One reason for the rise of kettlebells is that they lend themselves more easily to functional fitness. You can do curls, presses, squats, and a few other moves with dumbbells. But you can squat and row with a kettlebell, and it feels more like a natural movement. You can also swing a kettlebell around--in a safe environment, with people and glass statues out of range--and work out different muscle groups. It's harder to do that with a dumbbell.
So are kettlebells better than dumbbells? It's really an unanswerable question. If you want functional fitness with a cardio component, try kettlebells. If you want something that fits more easily in your hand, and can build strength, try dumbbells. There is really no reason to choose one over the other, and it's hard to imagine the dumbbell will just go extinct any time soon as it's still trusted by so many serious weightlifters.
Other Factors to Consider
Capacity refers to either weight capacity, the maximum weight for users, or to force capacity, meaning how hard you can pull or push the equipment without it breaking.
Weight capacity will vary from product to product. The manufacturer always provides this information. Most of the compact exercise equipment we reviewed will be between 250 and 300 pounds. Dumbbells and resistance bands do not have a weight capacity or limit, as you do not rest your body weight on them during use.
Some manufacturers will provide force capacity; others will not. We are careful only to review products that will stand up under tough workouts. This is based on research and manufacturer specifications.
As always, use your equipment safely. A resistance band can snap unexpectedly if pulled beyond its breaking point. You can drop a dumbbell, perhaps on your foot, if you lift it too quickly or without good form.
Many of the devices we have reviewed come with either onboard apps or the ability to connect with a mobile app. These apps are useful for tracking your progress or, with virtual apps, finding ways to challenge yourself. In either case, we made sure the apps connected with our review devices will be reliable and will sync up correctly with the compact exercise equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How closely can I replicate the gym experience at my home?
Pretty closely, and your imagination is kind of the only barrier. Gyms are usually set up according to a pattern. Many times it is free weights, squat racks (if there are any), machines by muscle group, and cardio, with each type of cardio machine in a row with others like it. You don't have to have more than one cardio compact exercise equipment to replicate that. An advantage of setting up your home gym is that it will make circuit training easier if everything is in a pattern that flows. And if you want to have a leg day, shoulder day, a day or whatever, all those machines will be in one area. A faster workout means a more efficient workout and better overall results.
q: Can I save money by buying used?
Yes. Buying used is always an option, and with all the different online marketplaces, it is easier than ever to find a specific product. However, it is important to know which compact exercise equipment you are getting. There are many stores that buy unwanted or damaged compact exercise equipment, and then restore it and offer it for sale. These shops are your best bet for things like treadmills, climbers, ellipticals and stationary bikes. Like an appliance in your home, these machines have complex systems and components inside. Some of these components can be damaged in ways that only an expert would even know to look for. So before you bring home that slightly used garage sale treadmill, consider paying at least a bit more money for something you know has had a once over from an expert.
Of course, some items, like resistance bands, should always be purchased new. The price difference is well worth not taking the risk that the band will have wear and tear that isn't immediately noticeable. If the band breaks, you could be injured and you will definitely end up spending more money than you saved when you go to replace it.
q: Will I get the same results from a manual treadmill that I would from a motorized one?
No, not exactly. The manual treadmills are compact and less expensive, and they also make less noise. This makes them suited to home gyms, where you have limited space.
There is a trade-off, though. Without a motor, you usually cannot go fast enough on a manual treadmill to actually run.
This makes the manual treadmill compact exercise equipment suited to those of us who want to take a brisk walk, perhaps as a warmup for lifting or bodyweight exercises. It can also be good for serious runners who can't go outside due to weather or injury. The treadmill could even help a runner with injury recovery.
q: Are under desk elliptical machines really effective?
This is an understandable question. There isn't much to most under desk models, and it may not feel like you are doing much if you are sitting down. But when it comes to heart health, every step counts. You probably won't train for a marathon with compact exercise equipment, but you can definitely improve your overall cardiovascular fitness.
q: How can exercise bands be effective? They're just pieces of rubber.
It's true, there is something almost regal about the look of free weights that you do not get with a resistance band. But aesthetics aside, bands are great because they increase the resistance in bodyweight exercises. Think of doing a squat with bands in each hand, without particular compact exercise equipment.
- 5 Benefits of Dumbbell Training, Fitness Certification Group Website ,
- Seven Tips For Building Your Own Home Gym, Consumer website ,
- The Pros and Cons of Using Resistance Bands for Working Out, Health Website ,