Whether we’re looking to build a home gym with free weights or need an all in one solution like the Bowflex PR1000, the $500 budget gives us plenty of options to work with. There is a never-ending variety to how we can create our own home gym under $500 and I’ve done my best to give us an idea of some of the best options out there.
The trick here is to mix and match the proper equipment and machines in our budget that will allow us to work out nearly every muscle, while also incorporating some form of cardio. There are a few different options we can work with depending on our needs and space within our home. The first option is a free weight gym option, whereas the other two offer an all in one home gym solution.
If you have a large basement you can use and prefer having a free weight gym, definitely go with option #1. If you’re looking for something small, versatile, and being able to offer a near full-body workout than you can consider one of the resistance machines offered by Bowflex or Golds Gym.
Regardless of how we look at it, the $500 budget truly allows us to go above and beyond with our available options and what we end up choosing should be best matched to our strength training goals, experience, and available space.
Safety Disclaimer: Please always consult with a physician or doctor before starting any new fitness or weight lifting regimen. Never try and lift more weight than you can handle and always ensure that your safety comes first and foremost above everything else. If you have minimal experience weight lifting, refrain from buying any fitness equipment, until consulting with a professional. All information listed on this page is for general information purposes only.
Gym Option #1 (Free Weights Gym)
#1. Body Champ Olympic Weight Bench
The Olympic Weight Bench by Body Champ is a very useful and versatile bench. If we’re going to go with a weight bench, we might as well go with one offering a Preacher Curl Pad and Leg Developer. This allows us to get so many awesome workouts with just one piece of equipment. Exercises that can be done on this bench include:
- Bench Press
- Incline Bench Press
- Seated Cable Rows
- Hamstring Curls
- Leg Extensions
- Incline Situps
There are two drawbacks when it comes to the Body Champ Olympic Bench. First note that it is a fairly big and somewhat heavy duty item, despite only being a “bench.” Here are the products exact dimensions: 78.5 pounds and measures in at 76 x 56 x 55 inches. So it’s important we make sure we have enough room before deciding on any kind of purchase.
Second off, we can’t do squats with it. If we want a machine that will allow us to perform squats, bench presses, and lat pull downs, then you’ll probably want to check out a power rack. Otherwise, this bench is an excellent deal and value for the money being spent and will undoubtedly become a strong foundation of our first $500 home gym.
#2A. CAP Barbell Regular 110-Pound Weight Set
To complete our Body Champ Olympic Weight Bench, we’ll need some plates to go with it. I personally like the set made by CAP Barbell, which also offers two additional standard dumbbell handles, which is perfect for us. Just so you know the CAP Barbell is our standard 5′ bar and includes the following plates:
- 6 x 2.5 pounds
- 6 x 5 pounds
- 4 x 10 pounds
This measures up to a total of 110-pounds. Chances are a number of you will find these weight settings to be too low. In that case, you may want to look into a more professional Olympic weight set, which will definitely put us over our budget. In that case, we can simply substitute our plates for either one of the following pieces of equipment below.
If the weights aren’t an issue this CAP Barbell will be perfect. It comes with an Olympic bar, plenty of small to medium weights to work with, as well as two dumbbell handles we can use for a whole host of other exercises 🙂
OPTION 2B. CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set: I would have really loved to add a 300-pound Olympic set to go with our Olympic bench, but those will run us at least $250. If you prefer going with that over the additional items listed below, the cheapest one you can get is also by CAP Barbell, which includes all the weights and a 7-foot bar for pretty cheap.
Only problem with this set is it doesn’t include any spacing between the weights for easier handling and it doesn’t include any rubber coating like other more premium Olympic weight sets. If you prefer having a simple weight bench with dumbbells feel free to check out our best gyms under $400.
#3. Weider Power Tower
For item 3, my intention was on adding some kind of adjustable dumbbells, but since we no longer need that, here is a very popular body tower that will allow us to work out our major compound and core exercises, using only our body weight. Exercises with the Weider PowerTower include:
- Tricep/Chest Dips
- And more..
This is one of my favorite body towers on the market because of its simple freestanding design, affordability, and overall effectiveness when it comes to doing our bodyweight exercises. For many of us, this will be a great addition because of our ability to also add in some lat exercises as well as other major core exercises.
#4. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
What’s a gym without cardio? The Stamina Body Trac Glider is a perfect addition to the previously mentioned equipment for a few reasons. Not only does it allow us to get our cardio in, but this rower will help strengthen our entire body especially our legs, arms, backs, and shoulders.
Home Gym Option #1 Summary
- Body Champ Olympic Weight Bench
- CAP Barbell Regular 110-Pound Weight Set
- Optional: CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set
- Weider Body Tower
- Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Approximate Final Price = $510.42
Gym Option #2 (Resistance)
#1. Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym
The Bowflex PR1000 is very well-suited to our budget because of its amazing versatility and utility as an all in one home gym incorporating 30+ strength training exercises.
If you love your resistance machines or need something to fit in a much smaller space, you’re going to love the Bowflex PR1000. In addition to the many strength training exercises that can be done, it also includes a rowing machine rail, which is perfect for our cardio needs.
It also includes a horizontal bench press and lat pull-down and 210 total pounds of resistance, which can all be done with its simple to use cable pulleys. Bench presses can also be done on a flat, incline, or decline basis. As you can tell with the following exercises, there is no almost no limit as to what can be done with this amazing piece of machinery.
- Shoulder Presses
- Shoulder Raises
- Decline, Incline, & Seated Bench Press
- Crossover Seated Rear Delt Rows
- Scapular Retraction
- Pulldowns (Narrow, Stiff-Arm, & Reverse Grip)
- Stiff-Arm Pulldowns
- Lat Rows (Seated)
- Low Back Extension (Seated)
- Tricep Pushdowns & Extensions
- Bicep Curls
- Wrist Curl
- Ab Crunches
- Trunk Rotations
- Calf Raises
- Leg Extensions
- Seated Hip Adduction & Abduction
- Leg Kickbacks
- Leg Presses
#2. TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller
With just a few bucks left to spare, I highly recommend investing into a foam roller, which will be great to help relax those muscles and improve your recovery. Think of our foam roller as a deep tissue massage helping to deliver new blood flow and nutrient to those hard-worked muscles. After all, you earned it! 😉
I recommend the one made by TriggerPoint due to its long-lasting durability, hollow inner core, and strategic lining of the grid, which makes it feel as though you’re being massaged by the hands and fingers of an actual masseuse.
Home Gym Option #2 Summary:
Final Approximate Price = $485
Gym Option #3 (Resistance)
#1. Marcy MWM-988 150 lb. Stack Gym
The Marcy MWM-988 IS a solid piece of machinery. The only real issue I came across with the Marcy MWM-988 is its somewhat limited 150-pound weight stack. But if that’s not an issue for you, this could be worth a second look. Marcy has been in the fitness game for decades now and they almost always deliver top-notch quality products.
However, I would also like to add that the number of exercises and variety of exercises that can be done with the Marcy MWM-988 is much more limited than the Bowflex PR1000. For example, the Bowflex PR1000 offers 30+ exercises, whereas Marcy’s MWM 988 only offers 15. That’s quite a difference.
Notable features of the MWM-988 are its preacher curl, leg developer, high & low pulley stations, and dual function press arm for chest presses and pec flies. Other than that, I would say the MWM-988 is fairly limited in terms of what can be performed, but a good option nonetheless.
#2. Stamina 1690 PowerTower
As we all know, I love my body towers and the Stamina 1690 is one that shouldn’t be overlooked by any means. This durable and highly effective body tower allows us to perform a ton of awesome body weight exercises with one simple piece of equipment. From pull-ups to push-ups and sit-ups, having a body tower is a really great idea for our home gym!
Home Gym Option #3 Summary:
Approximate Final Price = $508
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