You know that scene in the beginning of RoboCop, where the main dude’s torso alone is so ripped that he can power through the impending drama of becoming (spoiler) RoboCop? Yeah. That’s what we want out of our home gym.
Now, I say “home gym,” and you might say Yes, here it is. One cinder block and a lead-filled boot, both of which I lift after pounding down some protein powder sauerkraut. Everyone’s needs are different, whether they’re looking to strengthen their legs, thighs, and all the other best cuts of the human chicken. The uniting factor is that many of us city slickers still aren’t going back to the germ-covered gym (the soup for fall: Delta variant), and don’t think we really have the room (or budget) for an at-home gym setup that surpasses our current Target kettlebell and brittle, hand-me-down resistance band combo.
Thankfully, that’s just not true, Brad. You can build out your at-home gym equipment situation with all the structure, personalization, and detail of a celebrity birthday cake. And just as that cake will have dozens of fondant Pixar characters, so will your setup be an artfully assembled blend of free weights, machines, and resistance training gear.
This is by no means an exhaustive list for what you and your pecs need. Only you (and maybe your trainer/therapist/inner Shrek) can know that. But they will make it possible for you to bounce a Krugerrand off dat ass. Here’s the best affordable home gym equipment for turning a corner of your living room into an iron-pumping palace.
A pair of running shoes
Running, we’re very unhappy to report, is quite good for you. Plus, the only equipment you need is a sturdy pair of shoes and some comfortable, non-restrictive clothes you don’t mind getting covered in sweat. The Cloudstratus by On Running is one of our personal favorites, and features maximum cushioning for road runs of any distance. Plus, they look cool enough to wear out on the town.
A stationary bike
As the sleep paralysis monkey once said, “Wherever you go… there you are.” And while we can’t out-run ourselves, we can pedal-to-the-metal in the comfort of our own living rooms, bedrooms, and whatever crevice you can fit this versatile, foldable workout bike in. After a few sessions on this bad boy, you’ll be watching 90s Tour de France montages.
While your mom probably had a few of these in the basement in the late 80s, resistance bands are excellent equipment for small spaces, and you can pretty much do any exercise you can think of with them. (YouTube is full of tutorial videos, so peruse at your leisure.) This set from Amazon has more than 97,000 reviews with a 4.5-star average. Need we elaborate?
Contrary to popular belief, kettlebells aren’t just for
assholes the good, friendly people who take them to the park and work out shirtless in the early hours of weekend mornings as you pass them on your way home from a night of binge drinking and drug abuse. They’re actually some of the most versatile, space-saving workout equipment out there, and are a great alternative to dumbbells if you’re still building up your hand and wrist strength. This set from Modell’s is a great place to start, with four kettlebells ranging from five to 20 pounds.
Jump, jump, jump around
You’ll be in your very own House of Pain, thanks to this simple but mighty workout tool. What was once the highlight of our sandbox days is now the storage-saving champ in our at-home gym set-up. Slide the couch. Go to the roof. Skip on the sidewalk. The possibilities are endless with this little dude, which is not only a great workout but a means to (hopefully) improving our coordination. It really is the simplest of inventions that rock.
The classic pull-up bar, revisited
Who needs mistletoe? There’ll be something far buffer hanging in the doorway once Ho (Ho Ho) Season is nigh. There’s a 90% chance you live in a place with a doorway, and even if you don’t, this pull-up bar can also be used in various different ways on the ground for a workout with push-ups, dips, and other ab exercises. It also has over 12,000 reviews on Amazon, and a 4.4 star rating to show for it. “The product itself is darned good,” writes one bro, “and holds me at 250+ pounds, even if atm I can’t do a full pull-up.”
A double roller carved by Michaelangelo himself
This. This looks good enough to eat. But we can’t (or shouldn’t) do that, so we’ll be rolling around this marbled roller like a swoll baby seal. The dense foam is soft but durable, and can easily get tucked under your bed after a workout.
This rowing machine could’ve been designed by Eames
OK, so it’s less “affordable,” more luxe and dreamy. But my god, someone finally gave the people what they want with this rowing machine, which looks like the hot sibling of the legendary designer Ray Eames’ mid-century leg splint (a definite white whale of MCM and Japandi collectors). It gives your body an all-over workout, gives you the charming illusion of rowing downstream on a crisp fall day, or whatever, and swings right back onto the wall in one swift movement. It’s an investment piece, for sure, but Honestly, I haven’t felt this emotionally invested in a piece of wood since the tree from Pocahontas. Stunning.
You are Donatella
… So you probably already own these baroque boxing gloves. If you don’t, well, you’re welcome. And if your budget is more in the undo-a-hundo range, these Society Nine mitts are *chef’s kiss* perfect.
A simple slab of beef
Just like you! While you probably won’t be able to order anything big enough online to recreate that scene from Rocky, you can always punch a chuck roast (or any large hunk of meat) a few times before cooking it up and getting in your daily protein allotment. ADRIAN!
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.