Why are all of the "dream" home gyms you see in Instagram reels are in large, 4-car garages, entire basements, or even in dedicated side buildings? Judging by these ridiculous images, you might think that the only way to set up your own home workout area is to put a down payment on the Taj Mahal.

In our experience...this ain't reality.

The vast majority of home gym listers are working with much smaller and more compact spaces for their workouts and for storing their gear. If they can make serious gains with just a few pieces of equipment and in a smaller space...well...what's your excuse?

Today, we're going to look at the "must have" pieces of equipment for small spaces. By the time we're finished, you'll wonder why you didn't set up your own compact home gym a long time ago!

Kettlebells? Dumbbells? What is the Best Compact Exercise Equipment for Home Gyms in Small Spaces?

When considering the best fitness equipment for small spaces, the best option is oftentimes the one hiding in plain sight...

..."no equipment"!

With a little imagination, it isn't difficult to get a full body workout using only your body weight. Busting out a bunch of push-ups, lunges, and air squats can be surprisingly effective and beneficial...just ask anyone in prison! If you add a simple yoga mat to the mix, you can perform a number of core exercises like crunches and can also get some stretching in.

But you want to have a bit more fun with your workouts, don't you? And by fun, we mean "throwing around heavy weights".

If this is the case you're gonna need to get your hands on the right equipment for your preferred workouts. The best equipment for the job will also depend on the amount of space you have available and how this space is arranged; having most of a small apartment to use will provide more opportunity than a home office will.

Thankfully, our top picks will work for almost any type of small space setup. Let's take a look at some of the non-negotiable items you need to have big workouts in small spaces.

Start with a Compact Home Gym Squat Rack or Power Cage

If you're going to be doing any type of strength training in your home gym, a squat rack needs to be the centerpiece of your workout space. Since you can be trusted to never skip leg day, you can also easily upgrade it to a power cage, vastly expanding your ability to work your lower body and upper body.

A power cage allows for both free weight (ex. squats, bench presses) and bodyweight exercises (ex. pull-ups) to be performed in the same session. Good power cages also have plate holders attached to their rear portions, making for easy storage for much of your fitness equipment. We're partial to the power rack F22, which accomplishes all of these things and also offers a number of accessories.

For those who really want to save space, foldable racks like the folding power rack F35 are ideal since they take up very little space when not in use, only slightly protruding from the wall.

small space folding power rack f35

Home Gym Equipment Should Include Dumbbells, a Kettlebell or two, and a Barbell

Contrary to popular belief you probably don't need every dumbbell, kettlebell, or multiple barbells for your home gym. However, it isn't too difficult to include some of these gym essentials in pretty compact areas.

A small dumbbell rack can be included to house up to 1000 pounds worth of dumbbells while a compact barbell holder can accommodate up to 5 barbells.

Regarding dumbbells and kettlebells, "starter sets" are excellent for providing the exact sizes and weights for smaller spaces while being priced cheaper than if each dumbbell or kettlebell were purchased individually.

None of these items take up a ton of space, but together they add a ton of potential versatility to your workout routine.

Major Fitness kettlebells

An Adjustable Weight Bench is a Lifesaver in a Small Space

Any type of adjustable equipment can save you both space and money when outfitting a small home gym space with an adjustable weight bench being the most useful piece. An adjustable bench allows you to work a number of different muscle groups due to the various angles you can be set it at, each making similar movements slightly different.

You think you have a good bench press PR? Great...go out, get an adjustable bench, and then tell me about your incline press PR...

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that if you want to cancel your gym membership, but live in a studio apartment, the process can be daunting. Let's cover a few of the most frequently asked questions about this process to help you on your journey:

What is the better exercise equipment for cardio - an exercise bike or a rowing machine?

If you are dead set on getting a piece of cardio equipment to use for workouts at home, either of these options can be suitable. upright bikes are more of pure cardio machines while fan bikes and rowers are excellent for combined cardiovascular and full-body workouts.

Many rowing machines can be stood up and placed next to a wall, saving a lot of space when they are not in use. If sheer compactness is important to you, a rowing machine might be a better option, although you may even consider obtaining a simple jump rope which has endless cardio benefits.

Are adjustable dumbbells and resistance bands necessary pieces of workout equipment for the best home compact gym setup?

Adjustable dumbbells and resistance bands take up very little space while also providing a lot of variety to your fitness routine. Although neither of the two is a vital piece of fitness equipment, they are solid options for compact home gym settings.

With that being said, neither of these items is necessary, especially if you've already started your home gym dumbbell collection.

How can I perform pull-ups in my home exercise routine?

If you took our advice and purchased a power cage for your home gym, you have a set of handles that can be used to perform a number of different pull-up variations.

If you do not have one of these cages, it isn't difficult to purchase and install a pull-up bar and to either attach to a wall or suspend it from a doorframe near your workout areas.


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