Last updated: February 23, 2021

Here's a confession: sometimes, I don’t feel like going to the gym - at all. 

I never thought I’d say this as a fitness trainer, but it’s true. And I’m sure many of you would echo the same sentiment.

Thankfully, home gyms exist. There are now countless options out there that feature different designs, components, and functionalities.

Finding the best compact home gym can be tough, so our team spent the last few weeks testing some of the most highly-recommended equipment on the market.

We list our top picks below.

Best Compact Home Gyms of 2020

1 - Total Gym XLS (Editor's Choice)

Total Gym XLS

This home gym boasts a slew of features, including a cable and pulley system, a squat stand, flexible nylon strap handles, a padded glide board with head support, a chrome package, a wing attachment, a leg pull accessory, and a Pilates kit.

This all-in-one machine will let you perform over 80 exercises that target all muscle groups for cardio, strength training, and stretching.

It also comes with a wall chart demonstrating 35 exercises, a training deck, and a nutritional program and meal plan created by fitness expert Dan Isaacson.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 90 x 19 x 43 inches
Pros
  • No assembly required
  • Comes with an armful of easy-to-follow instructional videos
  • Folds for easier storage
  • Provides a wide range of exercise options and workout items
Cons
  • Might be too heavy to haul around and difficult to fold/unfold

If you’re looking for a complete gym that offers full-body strength training with all the tools you need, you can never go wrong with the Total Gym XLS.

This compact home gym has a maximum user weight capacity of 400 pounds.

2 - Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym

Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym

The Bowflex PR300 is another versatile equipment that offers over 50 gym-quality strength exercises for a full-body workout.

The machine’s best feature is its Quick Change Power Rod System, which lets you skip cable changes in between sets. This means you can switch between exercises more quickly.

This compact home gym will have your muscles fired up with its Power Rod that provide up to 210 pounds of resistance (upgradable to 310 pounds).

This unit can hold a maximum of 300 pounds.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 63 x 78 x 82 inches
Pros
  • No cable changes needed in between sets
  • Power rods provide constant tension
  • Offers a wide range of exercise options that targets all major muscle groups
Cons
  • Might work better for users looking to strengthen and tone muscles; not for serious bodybuilders

It comes with other useful accessories such as an instructional workout placard, multi-use hand grip/ankle cuffs, and upholstered roller cushions for maximized comfort during leg extensions and curls.

3 - Body by Jake Tower

Body by Jake Tower

With its slim built that can slide onto any home, office or dorm door within seconds, the Body by Jake Tower is a full-body home gym ideal for users with limited space.

This resistance band training equipment is made of a durable steel frame and fitted with multi-tension power cords that provide over 200 pounds of resistance.

It has one pair of hand grips and ankle straps that you can use to fire up your arms, chest, shoulders, back, abs, and legs.

The brand claims this home gym can support a total of 200 exercises.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 22 x 7 x 79 inches
Pros
  • Straightforward set up; no assembly and tools required
  • Solid and sturdy construction
  • Doesn’t take up much space
Cons
  • Pulleys are made of plastic that have the tendency to wear out over time

The package comes with a Starter Guide, a Tower 200 DVD, and a Two-Sided Tower Exercise Chart.

4 - Marcy MWM-988 Home Gym

Marcy MWM-988 Home Gym

Marcy certainly didn’t skimp on safety features and nifty additions with this machine, and that’s what I love best about it.

This compact equipment is made of a heavy-duty 14 gauge steel tube frame and features a 150-pound vinyl-coated weight stack that provides resistance for the whole machine.

Its leg developer is fitted with four comfortable foam rollers that align with the knee joints, so you can do rows and leg extensions with comfort.

It has an adjustable preacher curl pad where you can perform barbell curls and hammer curls without straining your back too much.

The dual-action arms can be used either as press arms or butterfly arms. All it takes is a switch of a lock knob to change it.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 68 x 36 x 79 inches
Pros
  • Compact enough to fit small spaces
  • Easy to assemble
  • Offers a great range of motion
Cons
  • Many customers said the weight stacks came covered with dents

The upper pulley system will let you do a lat pulldown, which is a great way to work towards doing pull-ups.

This machine has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.

5 - Total Gym APEX G1

Total Gym APEX G1

Whether you’re looking to burn calories, improve flexibility, or build muscle, the Total Gym APEX G1 can help you achieve all that and more.

This versatile compact home gym is designed to accommodate over 60 different workouts, be it cardio, stretching, or strength training.

It has a padded and ergonomic glide board that moves, which means you get to engage your core as you steady yourself while working out other muscle groups.

It has six levels of resistance, and the manufacturer claims it’s suitable for individuals of all ages and fitness levels.

It’s constructed with a quality steel frame that can hold a maximum of 300 pounds.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 93 x 15.5 x 43.25 inches
Pros
  • Folds for easier storage
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Provides many workout options and ample resistance
Cons
  • Ideal for beginners only; advanced users will find the resistance a bit too light

The package comes with accessories such as a wing attachment, a leg pull accessory, an exercise wall chart, a Total Gym TV access, exercise & nutrition guides, an owner’s manual, and a DVD.

6 - BodyBoss Portable Home Gym

BodyBoss Portable Home Gym

If you’re not a fan of heavy weights, the BodyBoss Portable Home Gym is the ideal workout equipment for you.

It works as simple as it looks. Just clip on the cloth-covered resistance bands to the VectorFit Platform to replicate the functions of the equipment and machines you’d find at a regular gym.

You can use the collapsible workout bar to mimic lifting weights at the gym.

The handles will imitate any exercise you’d perform with dumbbells, while the limb straps are provided for cardio workouts.

You can also attach the door anchor to any door frame to simulate lat pulldowns, chest flies, and tricep extensions.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.1 x 15.9 x 2.8 inches
Pros
  • Compact, lightweight, and portable
  • Provides a truly complete workout that targets all muscle groups
  • Bands offer great resistance
Cons
  • The collapsible workout bar is made of weak material

Each resistance band simulates between 0-30 pounds.

True to its word, this exercise tool by BodyBoss will bring the gym to you.

7 - GR8FLEX Military Gym

GR8FLEX Military Gym

GR8FLEX certainly didn’t hold back on accessories when they created this Military Gym, and it’s probably my favorite thing about it.

This equipment comes with a wing bar, dip bars, a leg harness/pulley system, a cell phone holder/stand, an EZ Curl Bar, a crunch ab accessory, soft-grip handles, and 50 pounds of resistance bands.

With all these attachments, you can do over 140 different exercises with this machine.

The brand also provided an extra-large squat stand for additional support and safety.

The package also comes with high-quality protector mats, so you won’t have to worry about damaging your floors.

All these accessories come with the unit, which means you get to save on cash.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 52 x 20 x 10 inches
Pros
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty on the entire machine and accessories (must register through the website within 10 days to activate)
  • Great value for money
  • Comes with plenty of attachments
Cons
  • Heavy and might be too large for most apartments

With 15 levels of resistance, the GR8FLEX ranks as the compact home gym with the highest resistance tower among the home gyms in this guide.

Able to handle up to 450 pounds, this beast also has the best weight capacity among the compact home gym machines on this list.

8 - Fusion Motion Portable Gym

Fusion Motion Portable Gym

This all-in-one home gym folds up and weighs just 17.3 pounds, which means it’s something you can practically carry around with you and use anywhere.

The Fusion Motion Portable Home Gym is equipped with eight distinct attachments designed to help you tone and shape different muscle groups in your upper and lower body.

It comes with the main base to accommodate the attachments, two ergonomic handlebars for push-ups, an ab roller wheel to stimulate your core, and a bar to work out your triceps.

Other accessories include a Fusion bag, four resistance bands with varying tensions, a detailed guide showing 200 different exercise options, a heavy-duty door anchor, and two dynamic pulse attachments for hardcore resistance training sessions.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 34 x 20 x 2 inches
Pros
  • Comes with many high-quality accessories
  • A portable home gym that doesn’t take up much space
  • Comes with a beginner-friendly training guide
Cons
  • The platform is too light and kept coming up during workouts

This compact home gym is reinforced with steel and built to handle even the most intense workouts.

It has a maximum weight capacity of 290 pounds.

9 - Icon Fitness Gold's Gym XRS 50

Icon Fitness Gold's Gym XRS 50

This home gym has a built-in 112-pound vinyl weight stack that offers 280 pounds of resistance.

It’s equipped with various functions, such as a chest press/fly station, a four-roll leg developer, a high pulley for sculpting your lats and back muscles, and a low pulley for toning your glutes and leg muscles.

This home workout equipment also comes with an exercise chart developed by a certified personal trainer.

The brand fitted this home gym with sewn vinyl seats made with durable and comfortable material to ensure maximum support during workouts.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH):47.5 x 21.75 x 12.25 inches
Pros
  • Good for beginners
  • Offers a wide range of exercises
  • Great value for money
Cons
  • Taller people might find this a bit awkward to use

This home exercise machine can hold up to 300 pounds

10 - Weider Ultimate Body Works

Weider Ultimate Body Works

This home gym has an inclined platform with wheels and comes with four resistance bands that can provide an additional 50 pounds of resistance beyond your own body weight.

You can perform chest presses, crunches, squats, lateral pull-downs, rows, planks, squats, calf raises, lunges, and even Pilates using this machine.

This home gym has a rolling bench with seven incline levels that can help enhance your flexibility and mobility.

This simple yet versatile gym can support over 70 different exercises.

As great as it is, the Weider Ultimate Body Works falls short when it comes to weight capacity. It can handle only a maximum of 250 pounds.

  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 59 x 27.5 x 48 inches
Pros
  • Folds up easily and doesn’t take up much space
  • Offers a wide range of workout options, including Pilates
  • Great piece of exercise gear at an affordable price
Cons
  • Can only hold up to 250 pounds

This simple yet versatile gym can support over 70 different exercises.

As great as it is, the Weider Ultimate Body Works falls short when it comes to weight capacity. It can handle only a maximum of 250 pounds.

How To Choose The Best Compact Home Gym

Space and Size

home gym

While these home gyms are labeled “compact,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will fit into any space.

Before shopping for a home gym in-store and online, make sure you do your homework by first measuring your available floor space.

That means taking the length and width of your intended workout area at home. If you have low ceilings, it would be best to account for the height as well.

List down these measurements and keep them in mind when you shop.

The next step is to check the exact assembled dimensions of the home gym you’re planning to get. Also, examine any attachments or extensions that come with it.

It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.”

- Stephanie Chappa, Fitness Competitor

Another thing to consider is the space it will occupy when in use. For example, doing leg extensions and chest flys would definitely extend the space requirement, so be sure to factor that in as well.

Add a few feet of wiggle room on each side of the home gym, so you have enough space to achieve a full range of motion.

If you prefer a gym with a weight stack system, ensure that your area can handle the heavy weights. If you live in an apartment complex, determine the maximum weight allowed on your floor.

Most local building codes are based on the International Residential Code, which states that non-sleeping rooms must support a minimum live load of 40 pounds per square foot [1].

If you’re in a living situation where you need to put your home gym away after every sweat session, foldable and portable gyms like the Weider Ultimate Body Works would be the most suitable piece of equipment for you.

Resistance

resistance workout equipments

The most common resistance types you’ll find on compact home gyms are weight stacks, resistance bands, and body weight.

The resistance system you should choose will largely depend on your fitness goals, so you should first determine what they are before shopping for one.

Here are the pros and cons of each system.

Weight Stacks

weight stacks plates

Compact home gyms using weight stacks offer several advantages.

Since this system utilizes weighted plates, the resistance will remain the same throughout the arc of your movements.

It will almost feel like you’re lifting dumbbells or barbells, allowing you to enjoy a more traditional gym feel.

You'll surely appreciate this quality, especially if you used to have a gym membership.

This resistance type will fit those looking to build and train muscles.

While they’re pretty straightforward in terms of operation, the downside to home gyms using weight plates is you can’t upgrade them.

Some units are upgradable; however, they’re usually seen only in top-of-the-line models.

These machines also tend to take up a lot more space compared to other kinds.

Lastly, if you’re looking to strengthen your legs, your workout options will typically be limited only to leg curls and leg extensions with this type.

Resistance Bands

resistance bands for thighs

Unlike weight stacks, this type offers variable resistance, which means it changes throughout the arc of your movement.

The resistance you feel increases as you stretch the band further.

You also have the liberty to move the band however you like, giving you more control over your movements.

Another benefit of bands is that they don’t rely on gravity for resistance, which means you can perform a wider range of exercises with them.

That can’t be said about free weights, which only provide resistance in a vertical plane.

When you’re working out with resistance bands, your muscles are subject to constant tension throughout your entire movement.

That means there will be more muscle breakdown involved. With proper recovery, these muscles can grow back stronger [2].

So if one of your top fitness goals includes toning muscles and you value versatility, I would recommend that you go for a resistance-based compact home gym.

Resistance-based compact home gyms are also a great option if you’re someone who is always on the go.

Most of them are space-saving and portable, which means you can easily fold them up along with their attachment, fit them in a bag (a freebie that usually comes with the unit), and carry it with you when you travel.

No matter how convenient they are, resistance-based home gyms won’t work for everyone, particularly serious bodybuilders.

Since they don’t provide as much resistance as free weights, this might not be the best choice if you’re looking to pack on muscle.

Some resistance bands also tend to break with use, which means there is a potential for injury.

They can also wear out over time, making your workouts less effective as time goes by.

Bodyweight

pull ups

Compact home gyms that utilize body weight are usually space-saving, making them the best choice for users with small spaces.

To change the resistance, you simply have to adjust the gliding board’s angle. The steeper the incline, the tougher it is to perform movements.

Some of these machines also allow for the addition of more resistance with the use of bands.

Since this type of home gym relies mainly on body weight, it’s harder to achieve more intense workouts with it.

You can’t also mimic a “lifting” movement with this, which is sometimes essential to achieving an intense, full-body workout.

Exercise Options

weight lifting

Some people are content with sticking to tried and tested methods of building muscle and burning fat, while others prefer exploring different types of exercises.

If you classify as the former, a compact home gym setup with basic functions such as lat pulldowns, chest press, bicep curls, leg curls, triceps pushdowns, and so on should be the best option for you.

“You have to think it before you can do it. The mind is what makes it all possible.” – Kai Greene, Pro Bodybuilder

But if you like to switch up your training routine—a recommended practice that can prevent plateauing and muscle imbalances—then you should go for compact home gyms that you can use to perform varied workouts [3].

The best compact home gyms are equipped with cable, pulley, and resistance band systems that allow for a ton of exercise options.

Typically, these types of home gym equipment offers over 60 different exercise choices, which is more than enough to keep your workouts fun and exciting.

What Is The Best Compact Home Gym of 2020?

Out of all the products reviewed, the Total Gym XLS was the definite standout.

This equipment is endorsed by famous martial artist Chuck Norris, which already says a lot about its quality and trustworthiness.

It requires no assembly, folds for easier storage, offers a wide variety of exercise options—including Pilates—and comes with plenty of instructional videos that make it the perfect exercise tool for advanced users and beginners.

Add to that its considerable weight capacity of 400 pounds, and the deal is already sealed.

This machine ticks all the boxes when it comes to convenience, functionality, and portability, and I believe that’s what makes the Total Gym XLS the best compact home gym.

Total Gym XLS

Total Gym XLS

Our #1 Recommendation

  • No assembly required
  • Comes with an armful of easy-to-follow instructional videos
  • Folds for easier storage
  • Provides a wide range of exercise options and workout items
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of April
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