The GHI put the essentials to the test

This best home gym equipment piece was updated in May to reflect price changes.

If you’re looking to supercharge your fitness routine as we approach the summer months, investing in the best home gym equipment is an excellent place to start.

Not only are home workouts extremely convenient – you can easily slot them in around your hectic schedule, and you don’t have to worry about the dodgy British weather – but they can also save you money in the long run. After all, what’s the point in splashing out on a pricey gym membership you’ll only use from time to time?

Home workouts are also ideal for those who don’t feel comfortable in traditional gym settings and would prefer to exercise from the comfort of their living room, without fear of being judged or harassed.

What equipment should I get for my home gym?

As with anything, knowing where to begin is the hardest part. Should you get an exercise bike or a treadmill? Should you spend big on a top-spec model, or will a budget buy do the job? And what if you’re short on space?

To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a handy guide featuring all our home workout essentials – weights, cardio machines and exercise mats – tried and tested by our experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute. From smart rowing machines to wifi adjustable weights, we’ve included a range of options to suit all needs and budgets, with prices starting as low as £25.

If you’re embarking on a new fitness journey, we’d suggest checking out our GHI Approved roundups of the best fitness trackers, sports bras and massage guns (because it’s important you don’t neglect your recovery). Getting enough protein when you’re exercising is also key – read our review of Davina McCall’s new protein range with foodspring to learn more.

How we test

Our in-house fitness pros at the GHI got to work testing some of the best home gym equipment from leading brands.

When assessing exercise machines – treadmills, cross trainers, exercise bikes and rowing machines – they considered ease of use, design and comfort, including how simple they were to set up and adjust and how stable they felt during use. They also checked if they were able to maintain their performance at different speeds and levels of resistance. Extra points were awarded for clear, easy-to-understand instructions.

For the adjustable weights, they put the dumbbells and kettlebells through a range of high and low-impact workouts, trying out a variety of movements from squats to overhead press. The top performers felt sturdy, were easy to manoeuvre and offered a range of weights that could be loaded quickly.

When it came to testing exercise mats, our experts put them through their paces during yoga, Pilates, HIIT workouts and weights sessions. Only those that are sufficiently grippy, comfortable and portable made the cut.

We’ve also included some of our fitness pros’ personal favourite home gym accessories, which have enhanced their own workout-from-home routines and won’t cost an arm and a leg…These include resistance bands and free weights.

Best adjustable kettlebells and dumbbells

It’s no secret that strength training has myriad benefits, from increasing muscle mass to improving bone density, so weights are a must for your home gym arsenal. To get the best value for money, we recommend adjustable dumbbells or kettlebells – you get numerous weights in one neat package, you can use them for a range of full-body workouts, and they’ll take up minimal space in the corner of your living room. Win, win.

Best adjustable kettlebell and best for space saving

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Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell

Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell

Score: 98/100

This top-quality kettlebell from the experts at Bowflex is ideal if you’re tight on space. The plates are stacked within a plastic shell and the ones that aren’t being used remain in an orderly pile in the dock, not cluttered around your room.

Changing the resistance couldn’t be simpler – just twist the dial, and you can go from 3.5kg to 18kg in a matter of moments – so it’s great for full-body workouts that require different weights. The ergonomic handle felt comfy to grip and it was easy to manoeuvre for all manner of moves, despite its bulky size.

Best adjustable dumbbells

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JAXJOX DumbbellConnect

JAXJOX DumbbellConnect

Now 33% Off

Score: 94/100

Changing the weight of these digital dumbbells is a breeze – you simply pop them in the holding dock select your chosen load via the responsive buttons and you’re ready to go. Each dumbbell’s eight weights (rising from a beginner-friendly 3.6kg to a hefty 22.7kg) proved sufficient for a thorough strength workout and they felt stable and secure, even when at their heaviest.

As a bonus, they connect with the user-friendly JaxJox app so you can track your performance in real-time and stay motivated to keep progressing. Just remember to charge them up before training!

Best cast iron adjustable dumbbells

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York Cast Iron Dumbbell Spinlock Set

York Cast Iron Dumbbell Spinlock Set

Score: 92/100

York has been making weights since 1932, so it’s hardly surprising the brand’s dumbbell set performed so well in our tests. It proved extremely versatile and was a joy to use for everything from weighted HIIT workouts to strength-building exercises such as squats and lunges.

We liked that the thorough instructions included detailed descriptions of exercises to try (particularly useful for first-time buyers) and the spinlock collars spin into place without any stiffness. The smooth, premium finish also means they won’t look out of place when lying around your kitchen. The weight range of 1.3kg-10kg is also suited to people who are new to lifting.

Best for beginners

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Yanzhi Kettlebell Adjustable Weights Set

Yanzhi Kettlebell Adjustable Weights Set

Score: 77/100

If you’re new to strength training or want to keep your workouts light, then this mini kettlebell is an excellent (and affordable) starter model. You get four weights ranging from 2.3kg to 5.4kg and you can quickly switch between them thanks to the nifty quick lock-unlock system – push the lock button, slide the plates in and twist them into place to secure.

We found it a cinch to manoeuvre, and the handle was sufficiently grippy, even when our hands were sweaty. It also stows away easily, and it’s compact enough to take to the park for an alfresco session or even on your next staycation. There really are no excuses…

Best treadmills

One of the most popular pieces of home gym equipment, there’s a host of reasons why investing in a running machine is a good idea. Running improves your cardiovascular health, increases your endurance and helps build your overall strength. Today’s clever designs are bursting with mod cons including live classes, automatic incline settings and bright touchscreens to provide fun, engaging sessions that will keep you running, whatever the weather. Many with on-demand platforms also offer a variety of other workouts such as HIIT, yoga and Pilates, too.

Best treadmill and best for an immersive running experience

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ProForm Pro 9000

Score: 94/100

If you’ve got the space and you want a realistic running experience, this sleek machine is tough to top. It has incline settings up to 12% and offers a -3% decline (something few treadmills can match), allowing you to work up a sweat by simulating hilly hiking and running routes.

Our experts were blown away by the engaging trainer-led classes and scenic virtual routines available via the iFIT app. The Pro 9000 will even automatically adjust your speed, incline and decline during pre-set workouts. Clever, huh? If you don’t fancy running, there are plenty of other classes to choose from, including yoga, Pilates and aerobics.

Note, it is a big piece of kit, so we’d recommend it for larger spaces. It earned bonus points for its surprisingly quiet motor and built-in fan, which kept us cool as we picked up the pace.

Best all-rounder

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Domyos T900D Connected Treadmill

Domyos T900D Connected Treadmill

Score: 78/100

Our testing team praised this reliable Decathlon offering, which boasts a high-quality steel frame and cushioned belt to prevent your joints.

Its top speed of 18km/h should be sufficient for most, it has a 10% incline for replicating hilly routes, and there are no fewer than 32 pre-set workouts to suit all experience levels.

The motor is on the quiet side so there’s no need to worry about waking up your neighbours during early morning runs, and it can be folded away when not in use. It lacks a touchscreen but
the backlit console displays all your key stats clearly. There’s a tablet holder and built-in speakers so you can stream your favourite shows during more relaxed sessions. There’s also a fan to keep you cool as and a chest strap to monitor your heart rate accurately.

Best folding treadmill

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JTX Slimline Fold Away Treadmill

JTX Slimline Fold Away Treadmill

Score: 74/100

Another top-notch option if you’re tight on space. The JTX Slimline treadmill is lightweight, compact and can be stored completely flat, with a wheeled base that makes moving it around the house a doddle.

It has a max speed of 16km/ph, with 36 pre-set workouts and the option to create your own personalised routines based on your goals. At under £550, it doesn’t have a touchscreen, but it can be linked to a phone or tablet to stream sessions from your favourite running apps or just catch-up on boxsets as you work up a sweat. It also has a large digital display – showcasing your speed, time, distance and calories burned – to help you keep track of your progress, and it was one of the quietest machines we tested. There aren’t any incline or decline options, so look to one of our other options if you enjoy hill sprints or hiking.

Best exercise bikes

Indoor cycling can do wonders for your cardiovascular health and, unlike running, it doesn’t involve impact from contact with the ground, so it’s easier on the joints and carries a lower risk of injury. They’re a particularly good choice for those who experience any ankle, knee or hip pain as they can help strengthen the muscles in the lower body without putting them under too much stress.

Best premium exercise bike

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Peloton Bike+

Score: 88/100

It may be pricey, but this sleek Peloton offers an extremely smooth ride, with a flywheel that’s almost silent, no matter how hard you pedal. What really sets it apart, however, is the clear, responsive touchscreen and extensive library of live and on-demand workouts available via the Peloton app.

During classes, the peppy instructors will advise you on the best resistance level for your bike, which can be scaled to suit beginners or experienced riders. The Bike+ also has a clever feature that will alter the resistance automatically mid-ride.

Our testers liked the live sessions to keep them motivated, and the option to rotate screen to take part in HIIT, weights or stretching sessions kept things interesting. The 23.8-inch screen is large and may take over your living room, but we think it’s an excellent investment that will be with you for the long run.

Best value for money

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JTX Cyclo Studio

Score: 85/100

This JTX design lacks a HD touchscreen or dedicated app, but it does have a tablet holder so you can connect to popular training apps such as Zwift for a more interactive experience. Or you could just stream Netflix as you peddle away…

The bike proved extremely stable, with no wobbling at higher speeds, and the magnetic resistance was practically silent and simple to adjust during use. We also had no issues adjusting the seat height and handlebars to get in the right position. The bike boasts a simple computer console that clearly displays all your key data, including time, distance, watts, pulse and calories burned. There’s also a dual bottle holder and transport wheels, so you can wheel it around the house or store it away when not in use.

Best for full-body workouts

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JTX Mission Air Bike

Score: 82/100

A cross between a traditional exercise bike and a cross trainer, you have to use your arms and legs to move the flywheel with this air bike – the harder you pedal and move the handles, the more resistance you generate, and the more challenging your workout.

We experienced zero shaking or wobbling, even when going hell for leather, and we appreciated the multi-grip handlebars, which stopped our hands slipping when sweaty. The padded seat was also comfy throughout our sessions.

Unlike most exercise bikes, which need to be set up near a plug socket, this one is self-powered so you can use it anywhere – plus, it won’t use up lots of energy and there won’t be any trailing wires. What’s more, it won’t take up much space in the corner of your kitchen.

Best cross trainers

The cross trainer (also known as an elliptical machine) is one of the most popular pieces of equipment in the gym, and for good reason. It provides a full-body, low-impact workout as you have to move your feet while pushing and pulling the handles, therefore training multiple muscle groups at once. It can also help improve bone density, it’s not too taxing on your joints and there’s less risk of injury. Tick, tick, tick.

Best cross trainer

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Bowflex MAX M9

Score: 96/100

This gym-standard cross trainer has a long list of state-of-the-art features, including a 10” HD screen, 20 resistance levels, versatile handlebars, speakers and even a built-in heart rate monitor.

Our experts rated the plethora of classes on offer via the accompanying JRNY app – from immersive scenic routes to lively studio sessions – which are suitable for all levels from beginner to pro. Design-wise, the handlebars can be positioned in four different ways (not just backwards and forwards), which allows you to work your upper body in a variety of ways and means it’s suitable for all body shapes and sizes.

The large, grippy footplates make for a comfortable exercise position and the water bottle holder is easy to reach mid-workout. If you have the funds, this is the best money can buy.

Best cross trainer with incline options

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JTX Tri-Fit Incline Cross Trainer

JTX Tri-Fit Incline Cross Trainer

Score: 95/100

This JTX design provides an impressive 16 levels of resistance, 18 workout programmes and an adjustable incline, making it a sound choice for all experience levels.

The robust design went down a treat with our experts, who said it was extremely stable at all resistance levels and speeds. They also praised its adjustable features (handle height, stride length and footplate position), which mean the whole family can make us of the machine.

The simple computer is a doddle to use and clearly displays all the data you need to keep track of your progress. The machine is surprisingly quiet, and you can store it away post-workout thanks to the handy transport wheels. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity and a tablet holder, so you can connect to your favourite apps or just binge telly as you exercise.

Best space-saving design

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NordicTrack S700

NordicTrack S700

Now 54% Off

Score: 76/100

This is so much more than just an elliptical machine — it’s also a mini home gym and your own personal trainer. It includes access to an impressive library of trainer-led workouts courtesy of the iFIT app, along with 31 pre-set sessions on the cross trainer itself.

It boasts no fewer than 22 levels of resistance to suit all abilities (level 22 is seriously intense!) with an 8kg flywheel that’s weighty enough to provide an ultra-smooth, quiet ride. Other touches that earned our experts’ seal of approval include an adjustable device holder (handy for family use), a built-in fan to keep you cool during sweat-soaked sessions, adjustable incline settings and wide footplates to cater to those with larger feet.

Unlike many cross trainers, which can only be folded partially, this folds completely flat so you can store it away when not in use. It is on the heavy side, though, so moving it around is a two-person job.

Best rowing machines

A rowing machine is a great piece of kit to invest in if you’re looking to work on your cardiovascular fitness and want to get a full-body workout. Unlike other fitness kit, the rower targets a whopping 85% of the muscles in your body, plus it can help improve your posture and tone your lower body in a gentle, low-impact way.

Best premium rowing machine

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Hydrow Wave Rower

Score: 93/100

If you’re on the market for a premium rower but you don’t have tonnes of room, look no further. The Hydrow Wave can be propped up vertically to save space and it’s easy to move around the house.

It provides access to daily live workouts and countless on-demand sessions via the responsive 16-inch HD touchscreen. Our experts said they were incredibly engaging and realistic, and those with a competitive edge appreciated the live leaderboard to keep them motivated. The resistance was extra smooth, the Velcro straps helped keep their feet in place nicely and the cushioned seat prevented sore bottoms during longer sessions. If you’ve got more space and want a rotating screen for on-the-mat workouts, look to its older sibling, the Hydrow Rower.

Best water rower

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WaterRower Performance Ergometer

WaterRower Performance Ergometer

Score: 90/100

Not only does this water rowing machine look extremely smart, it’s made from high-quality Appalachian oak and it’s ultra compact and can be stored upright to save precious space. Our expert said the sleek wooden finish looked so good, they’d happily show it off.

It doesn’t have a built-in screen, but there’s a phone holder to store your phone and there’s an accompanying app for a variety of workouts, and the option to take part in real-time races against other users.

The water-based resistance makes for a smooth rowing experience and it proved nice and quiet, so you won’t irritate your family or neighbours with your early morning exercise.

Best budget buy

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Decathlon Rowing Machine Essential 120

Decathlon Rowing Machine Essential 120

Score: 79/100

The Essential 120 outdid its modest price tag, putting in a solid all-round performance that impressed our testers. It has 15 resistance settings and a bright, easy-to-read screen with nine built-in workouts. You can also connect to the accompanying Domyos app for more interactive, coached sessions.

The belt didn’t move as smoothly as on our premium rowing machines, and the seat became a tad uncomfortable during longer sessions. But we found it did everything we needed for a thorough workout, and the small, foldable frame was great for fitting in smaller spaces. For under £250, it really is excellent value for money.

Best yoga and exercise mats

Whether you’re a dedicated yogi or a HIIT workout junkie, a good quality exercise mat can make or break your workout. The best ones mean more comfortable sessions, offering stellar grip to stop you from sliding around and added thickness to protect your joints.

Best for yoga

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Les Mills Yoga Mat

Score: 91/100

Designed specifically for yoga, this top-quality offering from Les Mills will see you through high-energy Vinyasa flows and restorative yin sessions in comfort.

The top layer, which is made from vegan leather, is supremely grippy and does a great job of absorbing moisture. During lying down poses, the thick rubber base stopped our spine and joints from getting sore. It lay completely flat on all surfaces, with no furled-up edges, and it’s also easy to roll up and stow away post-yoga.

It earned praise for its generous dimensions, too – it’s slightly wider than other mats, giving you plenty of space to stretch out comfortably. Keep in mind that it’s on the delicate side, so make sure to remove your shoes or any jewellery, which may snag the fabric, before your session.

Best for strength training

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Lululemon The Workout Mat

Lululemon The Workout Mat

Score: 85/100

This sturdy mat is your perfect match for high-intensity exercise and weight training. It can withstand dropped dumbbells and trainers – there wasn’t a speck of damage after we put it through some extremely vigorous workouts. As you’d expect with Lululemon, it feels extremely luxe, thanks to the plush, cushioned base. It has a unique design to keep moisture out and the textured surface will allow you to transition from burpees to squat jumps without losing traction.

It’s not designed for yoga, but it’s a total delight for weight circuits, ab routines and stretching. Best of all, it’s easy to clean and doesn’t have an unpleasant rubbery smell like many mats.

Best budget buy

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Boots Primal Strength Premium Yoga Mat

Boots Primal Strength Premium Yoga Mat

For under £25, this simple Boots design hits the nail on the head. The foamy material is thick and supportive, so it’s a worthy choice if you’re exercising on hard surfaces and need extra cushioning for your spine, joints or limbs.

The underside was grippy enough on all the floors we tried, but we did find the top layer a little slippy, so it’s not one for your sweatiest sessions. Cleaning the mat was a painless experience – just wipe it down with a damp cloth and leave it to dry flat.

Sure, it doesn’t have fancy features like alignment markers, and it does need flattening out from time to time, but when you consider the price, it’s hard to complain.

Best resistance bands

If you’re short on space and you don’t want to spend over the odds on exercise equipment, the humble resistance band has the power to take your workouts from average to excellent. From helping you improve muscle strength to enhancing mobility, it’s an extremely versatile piece of kit. Here are our editors’ top picks.

Best loop resistance band

Resistance Band Set

If you’re browsing the Lululemon site for some new yoga leggings or a sports bra, pop this premium resistance band set in your basket while you’re at it.

It includes three loop bands of light, medium and heavy resistance, making it suitable for all workouts. As you’d expect with Lulu, the quality of the fabric is second-to-none, with thick, durable fabric that wont rip mid-squat.

Best tube resistance band

Les Mills Smartband (Low to Moderate)
Les Mills Smartband (Low to Moderate)

If you’ve ever tried a Les Mills Core class at your local gym, you’ll know just how effective this tube resistance band is. It’s designed to be used during the brand’s on-demand workouts, but you can use it for your own sessions.

It boasts grippy handles, which won’t slip when your hands are sweaty, plus it has a flat design so it’s stable underfoot, too. Made from TPE, it’s latex-free and suitable for those with allergies. It’s a to choice for upper body, lower body and core workouts.

Best premium buy

GYMPROLUXE Band and Bar Set 2.0
GYMPROLUXE Band and Bar Set 2.0

Now 44% Off

Granted, it’s on the pricey side, but if you’re serious about your home workouts, this GYMPROLXUE set is your ideal companion.

It includes a detachable bar, a belt and six resistance bands with handles, allowing you to perform all manner of moves. If you need some inspiration, your purchase comes with lifetime access to an accompanying app, which is jam-packed with tips and tricks. It also comes with a carry case if you fancy an al fresco workout in the park.

Best dumbbells

Don’t fancy investing in a hefty pair of adjustable dumbbells? Here are our pros’ favourite pairs of free weights, which will do the job nicely for Pilates workouts, mobility sessions and HIIT workouts.

Best budget buy

Amazon Basics Neoprene Dumbbell Set
Amazon Basics Neoprene Dumbbell Set

Coming in at under £15, this fuss-free 1.5kg dumbbell set is excellent value for money.

The weights have an easy-grip neoprene coating, so you needn’t worry about dropping them with clammy hands, while the hexagonal shape means they won’t roll away from you mid-workout.

When’ve built some strength and you’re ready to progress, there are options up to 5kg.

Best for Pilates

Bala Bars Hand Weights

We know, it’s not about aesthetics, but this pair of pastel pink weights had our editors’ in raptures. Weighing just over 1.3kg, they’re ideal for adding some resistance to your Pilates workouts or high-intensity interval sessions.

They’re made from soft silicone, making them extremely comfy to hold and they’re small enough to slip into your gym bag or suitcase for exercising on the go.

Best premium buy

Technogym Chrome Dumbbell
Technogym Chrome Dumbbell

As well as running machines and exercise bikes, Technogym has its own dumbbell range, and it’s extremely snazzy.

Featuring a durable chrome plating, the dumbbells are cool to grip and easy to keep in tip-top condition. They also look significantly nicer than a lot of models on the market – we’d happily store them in the corner of our living rooms.

Note, they don’t come as a pair, you’ll need to purchase two separate weights.

Headshot of Priyankaa Joshi

Priyankaa is our senior health and wellness writer, specialising in expert-tested reviews and roundups on the latest health and fitness products. From walking boots to running machines, Priyankaa has written about hundreds of products and is passionate about providing in-depth, unbiased reviews. Plus, as an avid runner and gymgoer, she knows exactly what to look for when finding the right gymwear, fitness tracker or earphones.
Priyankaa has an MA in Magazine Journalism from Cardiff University and over five years’ experience in health and fitness journalism. Priyankaa has written for Stylist’s Strong Women Training Club, where she regularly wrote about diversity in the fitness industry, nutrition tips, training advice and her experience completing various fitness challenges.

She has also written for a variety of publications including Business Insider, Glamour, Bustle, Metro, HuffPost UK, gal-dem and more.  

Outside of work, Priyankaa can usually be found trying out a new gym class, seeking out London’s best eats or watching a Spanish TV show in a bid to keep up her language skills. 

Headshot of Yanar Alkayat

Yanar was our former Fitness Group Testing Manager. She managed health and fitness product testing across all the magazines, overseeing all testing processes and ensuring our lab and panel tests are conducted to the highest standards. Yanar spent 15 years as a health and wellness content editor and writer for national titles such as Runner’s World, Men’s Health and Women’s Health. Yanar is a Level 3 qualified PT, trained yoga teacher and a registered yoga therapist. She has been into fitness and wellness her whole life. After many years running races and marathons, she now trains and competes in CrossFit and Olympic lifting. She passionately advocates strength training for women to build a stronger mind and body for life. 

Headshot of Kim Hawley

Kim Hawley is our health and fitness product tester. Her career in fitness has spanned over 30 years. Prior to joining the Good Housekeeping Institute, she worked as a personal trainer, writer and fitness instructor for some of London’s most prestigious health clubs, including The Harbour Club, David Lloyd and The Chelsea Club. Passionate about women’s health and fitness, especially in pre/post menopause, she is also a Level 4 PT and holds a professional nutritional qualification. Kim is responsible for rigorously testing everything from cross trainers to smart watches.


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