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Best Home Gym Equipment for Under $500

The inspiration for this blog entry comes from my efforts to optimize a small home gym for working out. I will go over some essentials for a home gym and special considerations for arranging a space.

Should I Buy Home Gym Equipment?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week to reduce the risk of heart disease in adults and to improve physical health. To break that down into simpler terms it adds up to 30 minutes a day of exercise for at least 5 days a week. Home gyms are convenient for people who work long hours such as myself to squeeze in those 30 minutes of physical activity before or after work. If you are looking to lose weight consider that research has shown that regular exercise had a better effect at lowering body fat than diet alone (however both are very important in the quest for weight loss).

The first question many people consider is whether a home gym would work for them. Rather than waste money on gym memberships at facilities with hours that limit your ability to access the facilities whenever you need, also you do not have to worry about dress codes in your own home. If you work long or awkward hours then consider investing in yourself with a home gym.

Cost and space limitations are a major source of hesitation for many people who find the idea of a home gym appealing. I can reassure you that it is possible to construct a home gym that minimize the use of space, maximizes the desired fitness results, and stays under $500. You can use the money that you save on trips to the gym and a membership to cover the cost of your equipment.

What Equipment Is Essential for a Home Gym?

If you've decided to dive into setting up a home gym, there are key components for that gyms. If you are trying to lose weight or just stay in shape then you want equipment that boosts your heart rate and strengthens muscles as well. If you are focused on building bulk and muscle strength then you will want to focus on apparatus that are geared towards strength and resistance. For the sake of brevity I am going to focus on items for people generally interested in losing weight and staying in shape as I am not a well versed in the world of bodybuilding (maybe I will be someday in the future).

There are several equipment staples which you can choose to add to your home gym that can enable you to get your heart rate up into a fat burning rate and improve your cardiovascular health.

Basic equipment for a good cardiovascular workout include:

  • Rowers

  • Stationary Bikes/Indoor cycles

  • Elliptical Machine

  • Treadmills

When you are considering which apparatus may work best for you consider space, cost, but also your physical limitations. If you suffer from joint pain then you may want to buy equipment that decreases the amount of stress placed on your joints like bikes, rowers or elliptical machines and avoid equipment like treadmills where your hips and knees take the brunt of the workout. If you have chronic back pain then the motion required for rowing may aggravate your back issues.

Once you have selected a good apparatus for your cardiovascular workout you should make sure to include equipment for strength training and toning.

Basic equipment for a good strength training and toning include:

  • Resistance bands

  • Medicine balls

  • Kettlebells

  • Weights

With the above list in mind I will list a few items under $500 that I think are worth looking into for your personal home gym.

Cardiovascular Workout Equipment under $500

Rowers under $500

I have extensive experience and research into rowing machines. I prefer to keep a rower in my home gym because they provide a total body workout. Unfortunately they can take up a lot of floor space when in use. A helpful consideration is to look for a rower that can be easily disassembled and/or stored when not in use if you are utilizing a small space for your home gym.

Other considerations when purchasing a rower include:

  • Weight Capacity

  • Height limitations (some shorter rowers limit the workout potential for people over 5'10")

  • Resistance (more resistance levels allows you to increase your workout intensity)

For the Tall Cyclist: Lifespan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine

For the Heavier Rower (weight capacity up to 400lbs): TOPIOM Water Rowing Machine

For the Rower on a budget: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rower

For the Rower short on gym space (foldable): Sunny Health & Fitness Dual Function Magnetic Rowing Machine

Stationary Bikes under $500

A exercise bike is a great option if you suffer from joint problems. If you suffer from chronic back pain consider a recumbent bike which offers back support. Exercise bikes also have weight capacities and some allow better seat adjustments for riders of varying heights.

For the Rider Who like to use their personal devices: Cyclace Exercise Stationary Bike

For the Cyclist with Back Pain (bonus weight capacity 400lbs): Vanswe Recumbent Exercise Bike

For the Heavier Cyclist (weight capacity 440lbs): Heka Indoor Exercise Stationary Bike

For the Cyclist Budget and with Limited Space: Lanos Foldable Exercise Bike

Elliptical Machines under $500

For the Heavier user (weight Capacity 350lbs): Hasiman Elliptical Machine

For the user on a budget: Merax Magnetic Elliptical Machine

For the person with limited space: Vitalmeter Foldable Elliptical Crosstrainer

Treadmills Under $500

Finding treadmill options under $500 trickier than other equipment. Many models sacrifice features for affordability, therefore it is important to know which feature is your must have. Lower price point treadmills may not be able to incline which is a features that helps to increase the challenge of your workout. Some models sacrifice speed and the ability to run in order to make the model more compact and easily storable.

For the Heavier user: Ancheer Foldable Running Treadmill

Best Overall Buy under $500: Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Incline Treadmill

For the Treadmill user with limited gym space: CEARTRY Under Desk Treadmill

Strength Training Workout Equipment under $500

Resistance bands

Resistance bands are generally inexpensive (ranging around $10-30) and varying by the weight resistance created when they are stretched. You can click on the images below for more information on each item.


Kettlebells are excellent for exercise such as weighted squats and shoulder strengthening. They vary in weighted and some feature adjustable weight.

Medicine balls

Medicine balls are great for exercises to build core strength like weighted sit-ups. They can also be used for arm toning.

Free Weights & Dumbbell sets

Other Necessities for Your Home Gym

Protective Floor Mats

A good mat is important to protect your flooring from wear and tire while you workout.

Here is a great mat for under a Treadmill, bike, rower, or elliptical machine:

ProSource Fit Treadmill and Exercise Equipment Mat

At 6ft by 7ft it fits under most apparatus and will protect your floors from damage. It is easy to clean as well.

In Closing

The above information should allow you to compose a gym comprised of at least:

  • 1 cardiovascular exercise apparatus

  • 1 or more Strength training options

  • Floor protection

The 3 components will allow you the convenience of a basic home gym. This is by no mean a comprehensive list of all the items available on the market that may be useful in your home gym, but these items represent a good introduction into the foundation for a good home gym.

Safety Reminder

If you have health issues consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new fitness regime. Hopefully these recommendations can help establish your personal fitness zone.


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