When it comes building a home gym and we’re looking to add better equipment, prices add up fast making it all the more important for us to plan exactly on the type of equipment we need. The goal of this post is to lay out the best possible options below while keeping our home gym as versatile as possible. Ideally, we should be able to choose from a gym that offers free weights and/or an all in one resistance machine, such as the Marcy Stack Gym.
Your best option depends on:
- Your experience as a lifter.
- The space in your home.
- What exercises suit you best.
- Equipment you’re most comfortable with.
The $700 budget is an excellent starting point for any home gym and brings us to a point where we don’t need to sacrifice quality to get the gym equipment we need. We’re also just starting to enter into the world of Bowflex and other similarly high quality all in one home gym items. We’ve listed three possible options below at this budget; the first two being a free weight gym, with option #3 being an all in one home gym solution.
Each home gym option below really has its pros and cons. Option #1 uses dumbbells as free weights and a quality bench and rower for cardio. While this offers lots of awesome versatility, it does limit us in a way by taking away the traditional bench press using a barbell. Besides that, this home gym will come across as an absolute gem for many of us. The included dumbbells made by Bowflex are one of my absolute favorite gym items on the market and are definitely worth the price tag.
The most notable item in home gym option #2 is the Marcy Gym Bench that allows us to do our bench, squats, bicep curls, you name it. One of its main drawbacks is that in order to complete this gym, we’ll need to invest into an Olympic Weight Set, thus preventing us from being able to buy anything else at this point such as cardio. Otherwise, this is a solid setup.
Last but not least, our Marcy Home Gym has it all. With the exception of cardio, the Marcy Home Gym is a perfect solution for those looking to make the best use of their space at home and includes all the major exercises and workouts we tend to see at our local gym. But this time, we’ll have them right in our own home.
Home Gym Option #1 (Free Weights Gym) – BOWFLEX!
#1. Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells are really the bread and butter of this free weight gym option and is one item I couldn’t resist including. These are by far, the most popular set of dumbbells to ever exist due to the total and complete convenience that they offer. Instead of having to buy a whole rack or set of dumbbells, all we need to do with this highly innovative set is turn the dial to choose our desired weight.
Each dumbbell contains 15 set of weights into one allowing us to quickly switch from one weight to the next. Honestly, I think every gym out there should have these and the fact they can be adjusted up to 52.5 total pounds gives us plenty of weight to work out with. These weights will give us all the versatility, convenience, and space we need for our home gym. (Optional: Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell Stand).
#2. Bowflex SelectTech 5.1 Adjustable Bench
In addition to the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells, we’ll need some kind of bench to along with our sweet pair of dumbbells. Now we have two options. We can either go with the 5.1 adjustable bench or the lesser quality 3.1. I’ve listed the 5.1 simply because there’s better value with these, but either one will suit us just fine.
The only major difference between the two benches is that the Bowflex SelectTech 5.1 offers 6-adjustable positions (decline included), while the SelectTech 3.1 is limited to 4-adjustable positions. The 5.1 version also comes with a 30-year frame warranty whereas the 3.1 comes with 15-years.
So there isn’t a whole lot of difference aside from the fact that the 5.1 will allow us to workout at different angles. One other more notable aspect is that the 5.1 adjustable bench looks a bit more spiffy than the 3.1. Here’s a quick look:
#3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rowing Machine
The Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine is a wonderful piece of machinery and one of our favorite items to have in any home gym. Not only with this allow us to develop both upper and lower body strength, but will work our cardio as well. The benefits to rowing number in many and people tend to really see an improvement in posture, a stronger back, and core, and an overall better shape & physique when consistently doing this for a number of months.
The SF-RW5515 is what we might consider to be a bit above average when it comes to rowing machines. There are certainly worse quality ones out there, and there are better as well. But one quality that really stands out with the SF-RW5515 is general reliability.
All the basics in a rowing machine are here and evident – It’s quiet (unlike most), comfortable, and makes effective use of its magnetic system tension technology, allowing for an awesome rowing experience. In my opinion, this is one of the best basic quality rowers you can get for your money. If you’re interested in a high-quality rower, check out our rowing machine guide!
Home Gym Option #2 (Free Weight Gym)
1. Marcy Diamond Olympic Weight Bench
The Marcy Diamond Bench really comes to the rescue here with the amount of versatility and quality this weight bench has to offer. Unlike the majority of weight benches, the Marcy Diamond Bench gives us so much to work out with.
It’s a two-piece set, which not only allows us to do our incline, decline, and flat bench press but, even squat and lunge exercises as well. It also comes with a leg developer and preacher curl, which is a perfect addition for some extra lower body workouts.
The Marcy brand is huge in the world of weight-lifting and I’ve definitely found the Marcy MD-879 to easily be one of the best bench presses out there. The simple fact it includes everything that any other ordinary weight bench would offer, while allowing us to perform squats at this price point, possibly makes it the best value for our money.
2. Olympic Weight Bench Set
Ideally, we’d want to have an Olympic Weight Set to perfectly match our bench. If you don’t need much weight, check out some of the 110-pound sets offered on Amazon for a nice bargain, such as the CAP Barbell Set. Keep in mind, however, these shouldn’t be considered as top quality Olympic Sets.
When looking to buy an Olympic Weight Set I always recommend quality first. The last thing we want is a rusty or cracking plate or bending barbell. This is only going to worsen our experience when lifting at home. It would be worth forking out an extra $100 or $200 for a better quality set, then settling on something you might not like.
What to consider when buying an Olympic Set:
- Rubber coating – The rubber coating doesn’t only make your Olympic Set safer for you, and your home, but will also keep your weights in better shape (e.g. no rusting/cracking).
- Spacing Between Plates – Having some kind of spacing between your plates will allow you to handle your weights much more efficiently and will make it so much easier to carry around and load on and off your barbell.
Those are the two main qualities to look out for when considering a new Olympic Weight Set. Always read comments by other users so you can better measure the quality of those sets and always look at the overall design & construction. Fortunately, our budget gives us all the room we need to find a quality Olympic Weight Set.
My two recommendations for an Olympic Weight Set include:
- VTX 300-pound Olympic Weight Set – High quality with rubber coating.
- Troy USA Sports Olympic Weight Set – Excellent quality but no rubber coating.
For a full list of the best quality Olympic Sets, check out this post.
Home Gym Option #3 (All In One)
#1. Marcy Stack Gym (MKM-81010)
The Marcy Stack Gym is one awesome, sturdy, and bada** piece of machinery. Excuse my language, but if I was to buy any kind of resistance machinery for my home, it would probably be one made by Marcy. One of the greatest advantages of this particular Marcy Stack Gym (MKM-81010) is how it easy it is to move from one exercise to the next. We don’t need to waste any of our valuable time reconfiguring the machine to move to the next workout, as you usually tend to with the Bowflex. The Marcy MKM-81010 is capable of giving us a full-body workout and then some.
Exercise stations include a high pulley, leg extension or leg curl, pectoral fly station, row, and arm curl. I would say that the biggest drawback to the Marcy Stack Gym is the fact the number of exercises are limited to 15. So in a way the Bowflex does seem to offer somewhat more versatility with its equipment.
The Bowflex PR 1000 for example, which costs considerably less offers nearly 30 strength training exercises. The major difference between Marcy and the Bowflex, is the fact that the Bowflex PR 1000 uses a cable pulley system for all its workouts, which may not be to your liking. Overall, with 200-pounds of resistance and nearly a full-body workout, the Marcy Stack Gym comes highly recommended.
So.. have you decided on what the best type of gym is for you? Take your time when considering your home gym. Don’t rush into any decisions until you absolutely know what you want. Consider the amount of spacing in your home and the type of equipment you see yourself working out with the most.
The idea of this post is to layout the different ideas for you so you can get a better feeling for what your ideal home gym might look like. There is no one size fits all kind of deal when it comes to these things. As always, if you need help, or have any questions concerning any kind or type of weight lifting equipment, leave a comment below or feel free to use the contact form above. Thanks!