With the stresses and strains of modern life, it is important that we look after ourselves. But with modern life being what it is, it can often be hard for us to find time to fit in a workout or to prepare a healthy meal.
It could be that work keeps you at the office all hours so you can't get to the gym, or that you spend all your time stuck in traffic commuting to and from work. Maybe your apartment is too small for bulky, expensive gym equipment or you don't want your kids playing around heavy weights in your home gym.
Whatever the reason, you can stop worrying. There is a lot of inexpensive, effective, compact exercise equipment on the market these days, which allow people of any lifestyle and house size to fit in a much needed workout.
In this post we will introduce some of the best compact exercisers and full body workout machines for a small home , busy office, or anywhere you have time to fit in a quick session. If you don't want to read through the whole thing, you can use the quick navigation box to jump directly to something that peaks your interest.
Compact Exercise Equipment for Small Homes and Apartments
At a Glance - 5 of the Best
Ab wheels are one of the best ab machines for small homes and spaces, and just one of the best in general.
By varying the depth of your roll, you can get a full, progressive core workout whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced fitness enthusiast. As an added bonus you will also get a great arm, shoulder, chest, and glut workout if done right.
They can be tricky to use, so why not check out our comprehensive guide to using an ab wheel correctly by following this link.
Wonder Core Smart
The Wonder Core Smart is a total core, body and cardio system combined into one compact piece of equipment. It uses adjustable resistance to give every part of your body a thorough, progressive workout. Place the Core Smart in different positions and adjust the resistance, and you can do SIX different workouts, PLUS cardio. You can work your abs, core, arms, back, gluts, chest, and shoulders, all in one tiny, foldable, portable exercise machine. It's size, versatility and easy storage make it ideal for fitness buffs with limited space to workout at home.
Doorway Pull up Bars
Doorway pull up bars are a ridiculously versatile piece of exercise equipment and perfect for those with not much space to workout in. No matter how small our living spaces, we all have doorways and most of them are going to waste. Throw up a set of doorway pull up bars and you suddenly have a zero space, low cost multi-gym in your own home. As an added benefit, you can put them way up high and out of the reach of little ones, keeping the floor space uncluttered and safe to run around in.
Go to any gym in the world and you will see the seriously big guys and fit girls crowded around the pull up bars. Why is this? It's because with a secure set of sturdy pull up bars, you can work every major muscle group with nothing more than body weight. Just using the simple pull up as an example, this compound exercise will work your forearms, biceps, triceps and back muscles all at the same time. By hanging from the bar you can also do many different types of ab workout, such as leg raises or hanging crunches.
Resistance bands are a much underused tool in the fight for fitness. Their versatility and relatively low cost when compared to other, bulkier equipment cannot be underestimated. They also take up next to no space, making them perfect for modern apartments.
They can be used in warm ups to gently bring your muscles to readiness for the big workouts, and they are also a great way to add resistance to other exercises. Add some to your ab workout to increase the effectiveness of your sit ups and leg raises, or introduce them to your cardio routine to freshen things up and take it to another level. They also most often come in multi-packs containing various resistance levels, making them a good choice for households with multiple fitness enthusiasts of different fitness levels, or individuals who want to continuously progress their workout.
A good quality set of dumbbells is essential to any home gym. With a simple set of hand weights, you can perform a total body workout. Their versatility will allow you to work every muscle group. You can do bicep curls, tricep skull crushers, dumbbell bench presses for chest, side bends for your abs and obliques, and many more. You can even use them for cardio.
Sadly though, a decent set of dumbbells with enough weight to be effective can take up a lot of space. If you have a small apartment, or don't want lots of weights hanging around for small children to trip over, your best bet is a set of adjustable dumbbells, such as the Bowflex SelectTech. Adjustable dumbbells allow you to remove and add plates to increase or decrease workout, and store in one safe set when not in use.
BodyBoss Home Gym 2.0
The two main benefits of the BodyBoss Home Gym 2.0 are that it is incredibly compact, folding up into a neat carry case that you can carry with you anywhere you go, and its sheer range of exercises. You can perform more than 300 unique exercises with it, by configuring the various bars, straps and resistance bands in different combos. The resistance bands are also fully adjustable to suit people of any height and can provide a wide range of resistances suitable for progressive muscle training.
The makers claim that it can replicate the workouts of many of the more common machines you'll find in the gym, but in a tiny fraction of the space. You can perform squats, deadlifts, ab twists, upright rows, triceps extensions and many more, increasing the resistance as you become stronger and fitter. If you don't have space at home for a squat rack, or a complete set of bulky dumbbells, this compact, portable piece of exercise equipment may be worth considering.
Stealth Core Trainer
Planks are boring and they’re not that efficient either once you hit a particular conditioning level. To make things challenging and efficient, STEALTH offers one of the most intriguing compact exercise machines on the market. The interactive fitness board combines gaming with abdominal and upper body exercises. It’s just what the younger generation needs to stay motivated while training. The plank is comfortable and supports users up to 250 pounds. It also allows a dynamic 360-degree range of motion which is important for training all the abdominal muscles. The app is free so you won’t have to pay extra for games and workout routines. This does help offset the cost of the interactive fitness board. See how it compares to other ab machines.
Hyperwear are a relatively new company who offer a range of weighted vests and dynamic exercise equipment, including their patented softbells and steelbells. The weighted vests are made of a breathable, sweat wicking material and move with you as you workout for comfort. You can add weight as you get fitter to increase the effectiveness. This allows you to add intensity to any body weight exercise, without the need to store bulky equipment.
The soft and steel bells can be dropped, lifted, thrown, and slammed without fear of damaging your floors or your body. For people living in small apartments they can replace large, clunky traditional dumbbells and kettlebells and make less sound when dropped too, something your neighbors below will appreciate.
Bosu Balance Trainer
A BOSU (short for “both sides up”) balance trainer looks like a yoga ball and stealth core trainer got together and decided to have kids. They resemble a yoga ball cut in half with a board glued across the top, and offer a versatile range of exercises for your abs, core, stability and balance. They have benefits over the more commonly seen yoga balls as they take up less space and can be used for more varied exercises, though they do tend to cost a little more.
The name comes from how you use them, as you can use them either ball or board side up for a huge range of balancing and supported core and ab exercises. They can be a difficult piece of exercise equipment to master, but there are also a lot of very simple, effective core and ab exercises that beginners can do on a BOSU ball, which makes them a great pick for your small home gym. If you don't want to spend the extra, a simple yoga ball would be a great substitute.
Exercise sliders are small, round, non-slip pads that you can use on your hand and feet that basically turn any type of floor into a dynamic workout surface. The makers say that because your hands and feet never leave the floor, exercise sliders allow you to do a large range of core exercises, such as lunges, planks and bridges in a more smooth, core effective way. They are also small, compact, and portable, so may be well suited for fitness fanatics who like to travel or want to fit in a workout at the office. They are also pretty cheap, which makes them not much of a gamble if you want to try them out.
Exercise sliders are our long shot on this list. They are a pretty new piece of portable, compact gym equipment, and the jury is still out on them. This list wouldn't be comprehensive if we didn't at least introduce them to help you make your mind up.
Ab Stimulator Belts
Ab stimulator belts use EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) to force your muscles to contract and workout as effectively as pumping iron. EMS technology has been around for decades in the physiotherapy world, and has started leaking into the fitness and conditioning world only fairly recently.
Some people distrust ab belts, and EMS in general, because they didn't lose any belly fat when using one, and so they must be a scam. Well, that's a problem of expectations. EMS machines won't help you spot lose fat, nothing can do that but diet, but they will work and firm up the underlying muscles very effectively. Their small size makes them perfect ab machine for people with not much space at home, and they can be worn while doing other chores around the house, or even out on the town, to fit in a quick workout when you are short on time. An ab stimulator belt won't replace your traditional ab machines and tools, but it will make a great addition to the set.
The humble jump rope is probably one of the best small exercises tools ever invented. It is used by professional athletes the world over for quick, intense cardio work and to bring their conditioning up to match or fight readiness. Jump ropes provide effective cardio work and calorie sapping exercises, and will help to boost your endurance and staying power. They don't need much space to be used in, and can be carried in your pocket when you go for a run to be whipped out at any point you want for an extra flurry of intense, effective exercise. Be a little careful if you are going to use one indoors though, as any low hanging lights or pets under feet may be in for a bad time if they get inside your skipping arc.
A lack of space can seem to be a huge barrier to having an effective, complete home gym. However, with a bit of imagination and a few of the compact exercise equipment on this list, cancelling that gym subscription and having your own home gym is well within anyone's means.