Best Home Gym Systems Reviews 2018 and Comparison Chart
The term “home gym” is quite broad, and many fitness machines can be included in this category. But in general, people refer to cable weight machines, multi-function power cages or other items of fitness equipment as home gym systems. Our “home gyms” category here covers 7 types of fitness machines that can be labeled as home gyms. These are weight stack machines, smith machines, cable crossovers, power racks, power towers, flex-rod home gyms, and bodyweight fitness benches. In other words, most machines in this category offer the possibility to perform multiple exercises, which involve either the user’s body weight, or a system of pulleys, cables, and one or multiple weight stacks.
Evidently, since home gym systems come in various shapes and sizes, there are many aspects to know about them before committing to one. Within this post, we’ll put them all into view, along with a palette of some of the best home gyms that you can find on the market at the moment. In fact, to begin with, here’s a table with 10 of the best home gym machines for 2018, featuring their core specs.
|Weider Ultimate Body Works||L:79"|
|79 lbs||250 lbs||55% user's|
|70+||-||Parts: 90 days
Labor: 90 days
|Valor Fitness BD-7||L:59"|
|135 lbs||500 lbs catchers,|
800 lbs safety bars,
350 lbs pullup bar,
|Frame: 3 years
Cables: 2 years
Pulleys: 1 year
Other parts: 1 year
|262 lbs||300 lbs||Vinyl|
|195 lbs||300 lbs||Flexible|
|Frame: 5 years
Parts: 5 years
|Frame: 10 years
Parts: 1 year
|Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G||L:95"|
|237 lbs||600 lbs||Olympic or|
|Parts: 2 years|
|185 lbs||300 lbs||Flexible|
|Frame: 1 year
Parts: 60 days
|Inspire Fitness FT1||D:47"|
2x 160 lbs
|BodyCraft Xpress Pro||L:83"|
As you can see, the selection of home gyms presented in the table above covers a range of models from the most basic, to some of the most inclusive. You should be able to find one in there that fits your needs and budget. Within the final part of this post though, you’ll find more detailed recommendations by price.
In the next part of this page, we’ll cover the main advantages of home gyms. It is indeed important to know what exactly an item of fitness equipment of this sort has to offer before purchasing one.
Advantages of a Home Gym
First of all, a home gym machine, power tower, power cage or bodyweight cable bench, will help you train various muscle groups. Most of them offer the possibility to perform more than 20-30 exercises for the main muscle groups in the body. Therefore, a home gym system will considerably improve your training possibilities.
The average home cable weight machine offers approx. 200 lbs of weight resistance, except for the multifunction cable benches and power towers which actually use your own weight. This being said, they’re perfect for beginners and intermediate users, and even advanced users can find them useful for at least a few exercises. Differently put, a machine of this sort will help you get in shape, tone muscles, build muscle mass (at least up to a certain extent), and also build strength and muscle stamina. On the other hand, a Smith cage or power rack allows you to use heavy barbells, for squats, presses etc, in order to significantly improve your muscle mass.
Various home gym machines offer the possibility to perform aerobic exercises. For example, machines such as the Bowflex Blaze model feature a mobile bench, which can provide excellent aerobic rowing training, focusing on multiple muscle groups in your body. These exercises can surely replace the running on a treadmill, and also feature a much lower impact on the leg joints. Cable machines in general, allow you to perform all kinds of aerobic exercises, not just seated rows, thus helping you obtain a better muscle definition, or lose weight.
Speaking of weight loss, a home gym machine can definitely help you lose weight. But in case you need to lose a consistent amount of weight, a controlled diet and a regimen of cardio exercises are necessary. Otherwise, results will be minimal.
Using a cable weight machine at home offers a lot of convenience. It gives you the opportunity to train whenever you want, and also undergo 2-3 training sessions per day, without the hassle of driving to the gym. As opposed to training in a gym facility, you don’t have to wait in line to use certain equipment, and on top of that, you can focus much better on your exercises, as the distractions won’t be as many.
Last but not least, a gym membership can be expensive. The average U.S. gym monthly membership cost is $50. That’s $600 per year, a cost that doesn’t include any other gym related expenses. This amount can definitely cover quite an inclusive home gym system, which can serve you well for years.
What to Look for in a Home Gym Machine
Depending on the type of machine, there are several main aspects to consider before actually purchasing one. These are:
Weight resistance system
Most cable machines use a weight stack, cables, and a pulley system to generate resistance, and there are machines which involve mostly the user’s weight. Evidently, a machine with one or multiple weight stacks offers higher versatility when it comes to weight adjustment increments, and with a machine of this sort, you can definitely train various groups of muscles on a superior level.
On the other hand, machines which involve your own body weight, such as the Weider multi-function benches or power towers, still can offer a wide array of exercises, and great possibilities to tone muscles, lose weight and keep yourself in great shape. But in general, for this type of fitness equipment the weight resistance that can be generated, can’t exceed your own body-weight by a lot. Thus, the results that you can achieve are limited.
When it comes to weight resistance, one aspect that you must always consider is the machine’s weight ratios for its various training stations. And for this matter, you should know that most machines don’t offer a clean 1:1 ratio for any of their stations. Weight ratios can go from 1:2 to 1:5. However, in most cases, if the machine has a leg press attachment, for this the resistance is usually increased, having a 2:1 ratio or even 4:1 weight ratio, as the pulleys involved add resistance.
When it comes to machines that involve weight plates, some of them come with their own stack, but others, such as Smith machines or power racks, do require Olympic or standard weight plates. So, for the machines that are supplied with a weight plate stack, made of rectangular plates, an important aspect to consider is the material the plates are made of. In general, there are two types: cast iron plates, or cement plates covered by a sheet of hard plastic, or vinyl. The latter are commonly referred to as “vinyl plates”. Cast iron plates typically last longer and are more expensive. Cement plates, even though they’re considered less durable, they can still last for many years of use, especially if only 1-2 persons use the machine. A home gym equipped with this type of weight plates is usually more affordable.
Another aspect to have in mind regarding a machine’s weight plate stack is upgradability. The standard weight of 160 lbs or 200 lbs which is supplied with it may not be enough after a while, so it’s best to opt for one that can be upgraded.
Last but not least, if you opt for a Smith machine or a power cage which also includes a barbell, it’s important to know what weight plates it requires. Some are exclusively made for Olympic plates, the ones with 2″ holes and those cannot be used with standard plates, which feature 1″ holes. Also, when it comes to power racks or Smith machines, it’s also important to know their maximum weight load capacity. But as a general idea, most racks or Smith machines can support at least 5-600 lbs, without issues.
Number of workout stations
As a general idea, the more workout stations a machine has, the higher its versatility, or differently put, the higher the number of exercises that can be performed on it. However, a machine with multiple stations will definitely cost more. Now, you may not need all the stations in a machine, as you may already have the means to train certain groups of muscles. Therefore, always make sure that the model you opt for can supply the exact exercises that you need in your training. For example, if you already have a power rack, with a barbell, it’s not the best idea to opt for a multifunction Smith machine, just to use its lat pulldown station.
Other Aspects to Consider
Most items of fitness training that can be labeled as home gyms usually take a lot of space. For example, if you’re going to use an Olympic barbell with your power rack, you will need a space of at least 7’D x 10’W, since the bar itself is 7′ long. Also, when it comes to the machine’s height, keep in mind that not all models will fit in a room with a 7′ ceiling.
Max. user weight
This isn’t usually an issue for items of weight training, such as Smith machines or power racks. But a power tower, for example, may not offer the proper stability if the user is heavier than a certain weight. Also, there are home gym systems that integrate a bench, and the bench itself has a weight capacity rating that you should be informed about before purchasing.
Home gym systems come in a wide variety of models and prices. And for most models, prices can range between $200 and $2,000. But the most expensive may not always provide the best value for the price. Also, you may not need all the workout stations in an expensive machine. That’s why even before looking at the price of a home gym system, it’s best to evaluate if it offers the possibility to perform the exact exercises that you need in your training.
Our Best Recommendations by Price
For the final part of this page, we’re going to put into view some recommendations by price. And when it comes to price, items of fitness equipment that can be considered home gyms can actually be divided into four major categories:
- under $500 – this category typically refers to power towers, basic power racks, and bodyweight cable benches, but there are also several classic weight stack home gyms that fall into this category
- between $500 and $1,000 – fitness machines and equipment with a mid-range amount of features and several workout stations, but which can definitely cover a consistent array of exercises;
- between $1,000 and $2,000 – home gyms, smith cages, of light commercial quality;
- over $2,000 – gym machines with a commercial construction, typically a cast iron weight stack, and a consistent array of workout stations and accessories.
Price: Under $500
Weider offers quite a few models of bodyweight cable benches, fitness machines that actually cover a wide variety of exercises. The Weider Ultimate Body Works model is one of the most affordable models available, currently priced for less than $150. It has a maximum user weight capacity of 250 lbs (113.3 kg) and offers the possibility to perform more than 70 exercises. Although it’s a fairly old fitness machine (it has been around since 2012), it’s still available, and one of the best bodyweight exercisers in 2018.
This fitness bench can supply a maximum resistance of approx. 55% of the user’s weight plus an additional 50 lbs, offered by the set of four bungee cords which can attach to the base of the bench in order to increase resistance… Read Full Review.
Power racks are the core of weightlifting equipment, as they allow you to safely execute exercises involving heavy barbells. They’re much less restrictive than Smith machines, and they’re typically less expensive. The basic power rack consists of a steel frame, a set of stopper bars, a set of safety bars and several supports for the weight plates.
The Valor Fitness BD-7 is a power rack with an exceptional price/quality ratio. It actually offers a bit more than just the squat cage as it also integrates a lat pulldown station. Due to this fact, its versatility is considerably increased. It’s a sturdy power cage, with a weight capacity of 500 lbs (226.7 kg) for the catch bars and up to 800 lbs (362.8 kg) for the safety bars… Read Full Review.
If you’re looking for an affordable weight stack machine, Marcy is definitely one of the brand names to put on your list. There are actually two Marcy home gyms of this type under the price mark of $500, the MWM-990 and the MWM-6150. They’re both great machines and so far they’ve gathered an impressive amount of positive reviews, but we’ve chosen the Marcy MWM-6150 as our main recommendation, as it has a clean 5-star review rating on most websites.
Needless to say, since it costs less than $400, this Marcy home gym features a vinyl/cement weight stack which is considered less durable than a classic cast iron stack. However, considering that this is a home gym and won’t be used by too many people, with proper care the stack can last a lifetime. Other than that, the MWM-6150 is a pretty solid home gym. Its stack weighs 150 lbs, but can deliver a weight resistance up to 186 lbs… Read Full Review.
Price: $500 – $1,000
Bowflex offers several fitness machines with a specific weight resistance systems. Although they have a similar construction to the weight stack machines, their resistance is generated by a set of flexible rods. We’ve chosen the Bowflex Blaze as our main recommendation for this price category simply because it has an almost clean 5-star rating on most retailer and fitness websites. However, the Bowflex PR1000 and Bowflex PR3000 are also excellent fitness machines.
The Bowflex Blaze comes with a set of rods which provide up to 210 lbs (95 kg) of weight resistance, but you can add extra rods up to 410 lbs of weight resistance. As opposed to the other models, this one has an extendable bench which allows horizontal presses. It also has a leg developer which offers the possibility to perform classic leg curls. The machine covers more than 60 exercises… Read Full Review.
The PowerLine BSG10X is a classic weight stack machine, featuring a weight stack resistance system. Also, an excellent alternative to this home gym is the Body-Solid G1S.
The weight stack includes 16 steel alloy weight plates, 10 lbs each, with a total weight of 160 lbs, this being one of the main reasons the unit costs more than $800. The stacks is not upgradable unless you improvise. The pulleys and cables can withstand much more weight than 160 lbs.
The PowerLine BSG10X includes five workout stations. These are the press station, the lat pulldown station, the leg developer, the mid pulley station, and the low pulley station. It comes with several accessories, and there’s also a leg press station attachment available for it (not included). The machine offers the possibility to execute more than 40 exercises… Read Full Review.
Smith machines generally offer higher versatility than standard weight stack machines, as most of them work with Olympic and/or Standard weight plates, always leaving open the possibility to upgrade the weight capacity. They also allow you to stabilize your weight and execute heavier lifts more safely. However, they do restrict movement, thus most would rather use a power rack over a Smith.
The Marcy Diamond is a multifunction Smith machine, offering quite several workout stations along with the Smith cage. It also integrates a cable crossover, and a bench with a curl pad, offering the possibility to execute more than 100 exercises. The leg developer also allows you to perform standard leg curls. The weight plates are not included with it and it requires Olympic type plates… Read Full Review.
Price: $1,000 – $2,000
The Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S is a mid-range home gym featuring a solid frame made of 2″ x 4″, 12-ga steel tubing. It’s extremely durable and coated with corrosion resistant paint, white being the only color available at the moment. It’s equipped with 22 fiberglass reinforced pulleys, and steel cables rated for 2,000 lbs tensile strength.
The machine features a classic cast iron weight stack with a total weight of 210 lbs. It includes 21 weight plates, 10 lbs each. The stack is not upgradable, but since the cables and pulleys are highly durable, you can always improvise.
The EXM2500S includes 6 workout stations. These are press station, lat pulldown station, leg attachment, fly station, low pulley station, mid pulley station. This being said, the home gym allows the execution of more than 40 exercises. There are also several accessories included… Read Full Review.
The Inspire Fitness BL1 home gym offers the range of exercises of most weight stack machines. However, when it comes to weight resistance, it has a totally different system. It’s a leverage machine and uses your body weight as the main element of the weight resistance. The “BL” in its name actually stands for “Body Lift”. And when it comes to weight resistance, it offers a range between 10% and 150% of your total body weight.
The Inspire Fitness BL1 is equipped with an adjustable seat and backrest. The seat adjusts vertically, while the backrest adjusts horizontally. Both offer several adjustment positions, in order to accommodate users of all sizes, and facilitate various exercises. There are five workout stations available, including chest fly, chest press, low pulley, high pulley, and leg developer… Read Full Review.
Although the Bowflex Xtreme 2SE costs quite a bit more than the Blaze models, it does not offer the extendable backrest for horizontal exercises. However, this particular fitness machine does have something extra. It has a mid-pulley workout station; the mid pulleys can be attached in two ways, in order to make available different exercises. There’s a small bar attached to the frame right above the backrest of the machine, and by attaching the mid pulleys to it, you can perform ab crunches. There are however, two other middle bars situated lower than the ab crunch bar, which are also longer, with 4 positions each for the pulleys. These bars make available various press exercises.
Needless to say, the Bowflex Xtreme 2SE features the same flexible rod resistance system. It includes rods which can generate 210 lbs of weight resistance (105 lbs for each arm), but the rod base can be expanded up to a total weight resistance of 410 lbs… Read Full Review.
Price: Over $2,000
The Inspire Fitness FT1 is a functional cross-trainer similar to the Body-Solid GDCC210. We’ve selected this model over the less expensive Body-Solid one, simply because it benefits from a better user feedback so far. Also, as opposed to other functional trainers, the FT1 integrates a revolving rack at the back, to which you can attach multiple accessories. It’s quite a cool and useful feature to have, as the accessories needed for each type of exercise will always be within close reach.
The Inspire FT1 features two metallic alloy weight stacks, 160 lbs each. Each weight stack integrates 15 plates, 10 lbs each, while the top, stopper plate also weighs 10 lbs. The machine offers a weight ratio of 2:1 for each stack. This means the maximum weight resistance generated for each stack is 80 lbs. However, the weight stacks can be upgraded… Read Full Review.
Although the BodyCraft Xpress Pro has been on the market since 2013, it still is one of the best gym machines available in 2018. Not only that it has an extremely durable frame, and comes with metallic alloy weight stack, is also has an adjustable arm station. This is a feature that many other home gym systems at this price and spec range do not have. The lateral arms have 10 adjustment positions, similar to the arms of the Bowflex Revolution model. They’re equipped with standard grips and their pulleys have the ability to rotate 180°. They offer the possibility to perform a wide array of arms and chest exercises.
The Xpress Pro home gym comes with a 200 lbs weight stack, including 20 highly durable plates, at 10 lbs each. The weight plates are made of steel, this being one of the reasons this BodyCraft cable machine is a bit more expensive than other similar models… Read Full Review.
The Body Solid EXM3000LPS is a double stack gym system, with actually allows up to 3 users to workout simultaneously on various workout stations. It’s actually a light commercial grade gym machine, offering 2x 210 lbs (2x 95 kg) of standard resistance, a ratio which is doubled for the leg press station.
The EXM3000LPS fitness machine integrates seven workout stations, incl ing: pec station, lat pulldown / high pulley station, leg press/calf press station, leg attachment for extensions and curls, ab crunch mid pulley station, seated row and low pulley station, multi-press station. It offers the possibility to perform more than 40 exercises… Read Full Review.
Our Final Pick: The Best Home Gym for 2018
Although it’s not a conventional weight stack home gym, our final selection for this fitness machine category for 2018 is the Bowflex Blaze. This particular home gym offers an exceptional price/value/quality ratio. Not only that, even though it has been on the market for several years now, it continues to benefit from 5-star reviews from users.
The Bowflex Blaze home gym features a sturdy steel frame able to withstand users up to 300 lbs. One of the best aspects with regards to its design is that it offers two positions for the backrest, 45°, and respectively 180°, offering the possibility to perform exercises while in a horizontal position. The backrest can also be completely removed, while the seat is equipped with a set of rollers and offers the possibility to perform rowing exercises in a similar way to a rowing machine.
All the pulleys on this fitness machine are made of heavy-duty urethane material and can rotate 360°. They integrate industrial quality ball bearings. The cables are stainless steel wire ropes, coated with a plastic sheet, rated for a tensile strength of 2,000 lbs.
Just as most of the other Bowflex home gyms, the Blaze model comes with a rod-based resistance system. The maximum standard weight resistance of the machine is 210 lbs (105 lbs on each side). However, the weight resistance capacity of the machine is upgradable. You can add rods up to a total of 410 lbs of weight resistance… Read Full Review.
Home gym systems come in various shapes and sizes, but most of them offer the chance to exercise the same groups of muscles. Prices also differ from one model to another, however not just every running machine offers a great price/quality ratio. This page aims to help you make the right choice, regarding your home gym. All models presented here come for an excellent price/quality ratio, and cover quite an extensive range of prices, so that you should be able to find one that fits your needs and budget perfectly.