If you want to work out at home but don’t have much space for exercise equipment, you’d be pleased to know you have more options than you might think.
We’ve cherry-picked the best compact exercise equipment for apartments and small spaces.
While space-saving home gym equipment has been around for a while, the new workout equipment we see in 2021 are better (and smaller) than before. You’ll be surprised by how many exercises you could do (effectively) with just one piece of equipment.
If you are looking for compact strength training equipment or small cardio equipment, you are in for a treat.
We review some rather ingenious workout equipment with which you could do an intense full-body workout anywhere, whether at home or on the go.
If you are more into cardio, we’ve picked the best compact cardio machines that fit even in the smallest apartments.
- Best Compact Exercise Equipment
- Portable Strength Training Equipment
- All-In-One Home Gym Machines
- Best Compact Cardio Equipment
- Adjustable Weights
- Compact Workout Weight Bench
- Power Tower
- How To Pick The Right Compact Gym Equipment
- Final Words Of Advice
THE BEST COMPACT EXERCISE EQUIPMENT
We’ve packed this guide with tips and useful info so we suggest you spend a few minutes to go through this guide, but if you just want to know our top picks here you go.
AT A GLANCE
PORTABLE STRENGTH TRAINING EQUIPMENT
THE BENEFITS OF PORTABLE TRAINING TOOLS
First, we’re going to talk about the most portable home workout equipment you can buy. You can carry these tools around with you wherever you go and still get a full-body workout.
If you don’t have much space, you’d want to prefer exercise equipment that is compact, yet with which you can work out multiple muscle groups. These portable home gyms fit the bill.
Each one is easy to use right out of the box, with little or no assembly required. Most of them come with instructions or videos on how to use the product to work out every inch of your body.
They are so small and based mostly around resistance bands. They allow you to simulate the motions of the bigger, bulkier cable machines of the gym. Many of these have some kind of small framing device to anchor the bands.
These portable workout machines focus on strength training. They’ll help you to get stronger, build lean muscle, and burn fat, all while taking up the least possible space.
BodyBoss 2.0 Portable Gym
The BodyBoss 2.0 is a set of resistance bands and an ingenious framing device. The frame cleverly solves the stability problems of regular resistance bands using a flat, folding base with retractable anchors.
You hook up the bands to the base and stand on it to anchor the resistance. This lets you focus less on trying to keep the stretchy bands under control and more on maintaining proper form. You can do any exercise that involves lifting upward, including squats, curls, and shoulder presses.
They’ve also included a door anchor so you can pull the bands horizontally for flies or downward for tricep and back exercises. The BodyBoss comes with a padded retractable bar, ankle and wrist straps, and clip-on handles, which feel like lifting dumbbells.
Each band gives you between one and 30 simulated pounds of resistance. You can adjust how difficult the exercise will be by clipping on multiple bands together, which can make the exercise really hard. BodyBoss has training videos showing with more than 300 suggested exercises.
The BodyBoss is so compact, that when you’re not using it, the whole device fits inside the base. The base folds up into a small box with a handle that weighs about 18 pounds.
Gorilla Bow Portable Gym
The Gorilla Bow is another product designed to make working out with resistance bands less of a struggle. In this case, the frame is a bow-shaped handle made from thick aircraft aluminum. It has hooks on either end where you can anchor multiple resistance bands.
The bow only weighs about 6 pounds, but it can stand more than 400 pounds of resistance. It comes with four bands that provide 110 pounds of total resistance. You can work out lightly or add more bands and actually build muscle mass.
When you’re not using it, the bow comes apart into three small pieces that fit easily into a compact travel bag. Each piece is about 21 inches long. Put together, the bow is 56 inches long and one inch thick.
Gorilla Bow has a series of workout videos that can help you learn to use it effectively. To lift upward, for instance, step or sit on the band and raise the bow toward you. This lets you do curls, rows, squats, and presses. You can also do more complex exercises, including standing chest presses, lat pulldowns, and even deadlifts.
Gorilla Bow vs. Regular Resistance Bands
It can be hard to get good floor traction for heavier exercises using regular resistance bands anchored to a doorway.
The advantage of the Gorilla Bow is that it provides more stability by anchoring directly to your body. If you are using all resistance bands together, you could use a towel wrapped to avoid the bands from touching your body to prevent bruising.
OYO Personal Gym
The OYO is another bow-shaped frame, however, unlike the Gorilla Bow, the Oyo uses a resistance system that uses cables and pulleys. The cables are stainless steel for strength, coated in nylon for safety. The frame is made out of heavy-duty polymer.
Astronauts on the International Space Station have used the OYO for 10 years. It helps them keep fit in zero gravity without having to launch a bunch of heavy dumbbells into space. It weighs only two pounds yet provides up to 25 pounds of resistance.
Unfolded, it’s about 56 inches long. It folds in half to about 28 inches, making it an incredibly compact piece of equipment. It should fit easily in your travel backpack, carry-on, or rocketship.
The OYO is designed for light to moderate exercise only. It doesn’t use resistance bands like the BodyBoss or Gorilla Bow. Instead, resistance is changed via snap-on accessories called SpiraFlex. You can increase or decrease the resistance in increments of five or 10 pounds.
OYO Personal Gym Vs. Regular Resistance Bands
If you’ve never liked the feeling of resistance bands or cables, the OYO’s motion feels more like free weights. Its resistance is the same throughout the entire movement. This means the beginning motion of the exercise feels as hard as the end of the motion. It is very different than resistance bands. With resistance bands or any equipment which uses them, the movement gets progressively harder when the band is stretched.
The bow has a hinge in the middle, which lets you do all kinds of pushing exercises by squeezing the ends together. For pulling exercises, it comes with spherical hand grips on either end that let you pull the cables away from the frame. There is also a set of leg and door anchors included.
OYO workout videos show about 200 different exercises you can do, these include upper body, lower body, and core workouts.
Whatafit Resistance Bands Set
This set of resistance bands by Whatafit is the cheapest, smallest, and lightest workout tool on our list. You won’t find a frame, base or bow included, just the bands, a small workout booklet, and your imagination or YouTube workout videos.
There are five bands, color-coded by the resistance each provides, which ranges from 10 to 50 pounds. Each band is 48 inches long. You can use them alone or combine them for a total of 150 pounds of resistance.
Although there’s no frame, you will find a set of comfortable handles and ankle straps, as well as a door anchor, included in the provided travel bag. These accessories let you simulate any exercise you can do on a regular cable machine. Best of all, the whole thing weighs about two and a half pounds and can basically fit into a sock.
The bands are made out of latex for elasticity and strength. The buckles and handles are made out of steel with plenty of cushioning for your hands.
ALL-IN-ONE HOME GYM MACHINES
THE BENEFIT OF ALL-IN-ONE HOME GYM SYSTEMS
If you have more space and don’t mind setting up in one location, you may want to think about getting an all-in-one home gym system.
These machines work better than the above portable training tools if you want to isolate specific muscle groups. Their multiple pulley systems give you plenty of angles to work with. Their larger size and weight gives them the stability that portable training systems don’t have.
It’s also easier to switch between exercises, once you get the hang of it. Lowering or increasing resistance is much quicker and less complicated in most cases.
You won’t have to constantly be looking for a door or other solid structure to anchor your cables as you do with resistance bands.
The Bowflex PR1000 is based on a set of semi-flexible rods that bend with enough pressure. They’re attached to various creative pulley systems that give you angles to do 25 upper and lower body exercises with perfect form.
The machine comes with an adjustable bench that gives you both inclined and flat positions. The bench can also convert into a gliding seat that lets you do several rowing exercises.
The PR1000 home gym has a floor footprint of 95 by 38 inches, which is basically the size of a single bed. It’s not super small, but not too big either considering the many exercises that you could do with it.
The pulley system in the Bowflex PR1000 can extend up to a height of 86 inches, so make sure your ceiling is high enough. The machine’s total weight is 144 pounds, and it has a maximum user weight of 300 pounds.
The bulk of the PR1000 means that you sacrifice portability for lots of stability. This means it’s much easier to work out to the point of failure. If you want a sturdy all-in-one workout machine for high-intensity strength training, this Bowflex has the equivalent of 210 pounds of resistance.
If you need more resistance, you should check out the Bowflex’s more advanced home gyms, the PR3000 or Blaze.
Total Gym XLS
The Total Gym XLS is a folding fitness machine that can give you a full-body workout. Unfolded, its floor footprint measures 90 by 19 inches, but it folds up flat to about half that size.
This machine is based on a pulley system that lifts a percentage of your own weight on an inclined sliding track. Increasing the incline increases the weight you lift. There are six different inclines, which lift between six and 54% of your weight.
This is a very low-impact workout machine that is very easy on the joints. The motion through the exercise feels remarkably fluid.
Besides the frame, the Total Gym XLS comes with a squat stand, nylon handles and straps, a leg pull accessory, a wing attachment, and a Pilates kit. These help adjust the angles of resistance to focus on different muscle groups. You can do a total of about 80 exercises, including stretching, strength training, and cardio.
This one is great for heavy users. It weighs only 81 pounds, has a low step-over, and take a maximum user weight of 400 pounds.
BEST COMPACT CARDIO EQUIPMENT
THE BENEFITS OF COMPACT CARDIO EQUIPMENT
Cardio machines are perfect for working out while you work, read, or watch TV. All while improving your cardiovascular health and burning calories.
There are options for people who like running or biking but are stuck indoors. Compact low impact cardio machines can give you a good cardio workout without stressing your joints.
While the best compact cardio equipment still takes up some space, we only included the ones that take minimum footprint. The larger cardio machines we included are foldable, taking very little space when folded.
We’ve included some cardio machines that are so tiny, they can easily slip under a desk or bed without folding. Some of them are even made to go under your desk so you can get your heart rate up during office hours without anybody noticing.
Sunny Folding Treadmill
This Sunny has a very small footprint and is one of the best compact treadmills around. You can keep it folded when not in use and unfold it in seconds when you are up for some home cardio.
It comes with an adjustable drive system that can go from 0.5 up to nine miles per hour. There are three levels of incline, ranging from completely flat to over 35%.
Although this machine is small, it can still take 220 pounds of user weight. Unfolded, it will take up 63 by 27 inches of your floor space, about the size of a small piano. Its actual running surface is 49 inches long and 16 inches wide. If you have wide shoulders, you may need to run with your arms tucked in to avoid banging into the handrails.
The folding mechanism is automatic and smooth. It folds up vertically so you can stash it against a wall or upright in a closet. All folded up, it measures only 36 by 25 inches on the ground and 58 inches tall.
The Sunny Folding Treadmill is excellent for a casual cardio workout, however, if you’re into hardcore running, you should probably buy a bigger treadmill.
Sunny Air Walk Elliptical
The Air Walk SF-E902 is a no-frills foldable elliptical that can get help you stay fit just as good as the big elliptical trainers you find in membership gyms.
It comes with vertical handlebars that move while you walk. This lets you pull mostly with your arms if you want an upper body workout. You can also rest your arms on the frame and use only your legs.
If you have a long stride or love stretching your legs when you work out, this machine has a 30-inch stride length, the longest on our list.
The frame has an adjustable abdominal pad that you can brace against your torso. This lets you work out your core by using your abs to stabilize your movement.
You can fold the Air Walk in half by just removing a pin. Unfolded, you’ll need a floor area of 25 by 19 inches, roughly the same footprint as an office chair. It weighs 37 pounds, so it’s quite easy to carry around. It has a typical maximum user weight of 220 pounds.
The Sunny Air Walk advantage is in its low-impact movement. The motion feels more like skiing than pedaling, so it’s easy on your joints. The step up is only about six inches. If you want to make the exercise harder, we’ve heard of some people attaching resistance bands to the swinging mechanism, which is a nice hack.
Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Strider
The Stamina InMotion E1000 is the smallest, handiest cardio machine on our list. At only about a foot tall, with a floor footprint of 24 by 17 inches, it’s only slightly larger than the size of a basketball.
This tiny machine has a short circular striding motion that’s about the length of your foot. You can pedal forward and backward to hit different leg muscles.
The great thing about the InMotion is that you can tuck it under your desk and keep your heart rate up all day. It won’t wear you out, and there is hardly any impact. If your desk is lower than about 28 inches, you can stretch your legs out while pedaling to avoid banging your knees.
It may take some time to find the balance and get used to the small stride. Once you get the hang of the motion, you can even use it while standing up for a bit of variety.
The Stamina InMotion weighs only 24 pounds, making it very easy to move around. It can take a maximum user weight of 250 lbs.
You can use the dial on the front to adjust the tension and find your sweet spot. This machine activates your lower body only. Besides cardio, it’s also great for toning your glutes, thighs, and hips.
If you need to keep distractions to a minimum, the InMotion is remarkably quiet, making it also great for using while watching TV.
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike
This upright exercise bike from Exerpeutic is basically a cross between an upright and a recumbent bike.
It has an impressive weight capacity of 300 lb. That’s 80 pounds more than the other compact cardio machines on our list. It’s definitely one of the best compact cardio machines for heavy users.
The seat cushion is about 15 inches wide, which is larger than most exercise bike seats. The bike, although small, is quite stable and easy to mount and dismount.
The pedals are out in front of the seat, and the motion pushes them away from your body, this helps ease knee pressure. It comes with a high torque cranking system to ensure the pedaling is as consistent and smooth as possible.
Unfolded, the bike measures 31 by 19 inches on the floor, and it folds up in half vertically. It weighs 39 pounds, but it comes with transportation wheels. You can roll it away and store it without too much effort.
Its posture and low impact motion make it perfect for people with neck or lower back pain.
Sunny Mini Exercise Bike
There is no question that exercise bikes are great low-impact cardio machines, but they also take up a lot of space. If you want the benefits of an exercise bike but without the bulk, the Sunny Mini Exercise Bike is what you’re looking for.
This tiny pedaling machine by Sunny works with both your feet and hands. You can adjust the pedals and straps to fit either your toes or fingers.
On the floor, it measures 22 by 18 inches, and it’s a little over a foot tall. At 21 pounds, it’s just heavy enough to keep from sliding around while you pedal. It comes with a convenient handle on top that makes it easy to move around.
The Sunny SF-B0418 is designed to be used sitting down. Standing is not recommended. If you want to pedal underneath your desk while you work, make sure your desk is at least 24 inches tall. You can also just place it on the floor in front of your sofa and exercise while watching TV.
The stride on this mini-bike is about twice the length of the Stamina InMotion. There are eight different levels of tension. If you like the idea of working out under your desk but want to put more energy into it, this machine will make you sweat more than the Stamina InMotion.
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is a tiny rowing machine that feels very much like being out on the water. If you’re a rowing fan, you’ll love the smooth rowing stroke provided by its articulated arms and hydraulic cylinder resistance.
We were surprisingly impressed with the mechanics of Stamina Body Trac Glider. The arms have more freedom of movement than most other rowing machines of this size. This means you can change up the depth of your stroke instead of just going back and forth. You can start with an easy single stroke glide and end up with a wide circular swing like you’re fighting river rapids.
We think rowing machines should get more attention as an excellent option for doing home cardio.
If you want to get your whole body involved, rowing not only gets your heart pumping, it also hits every major muscle group. You can focus on your arms by cranking up the tension and keeping your torso still. Or you can push mostly with your torso to get a good back and ab workout. Widening your stroke will hit your chest and shoulders.
To get your legs in on the action, you can keep the tension low on the arm handles and do all the pushing with your legs. If you want to make the leg part of the motion harder, a simple hack you can do is add a resistance band to the leg section to get more leg resistance.
When you’re done exercising, the arms fold in and the machine folds up vertically. This gets the area down to about the size of a guitar standing on its end.
Relife Vertical Climber
Vertical climbers are the hidden gems of cardio machines. They are not getting as much attention as treadmills or exercise bikes do, yet, they are extremely effective for cardio and even as a whole body workout.
The Relife vertical climber is one of the smallest vertical climbers available. It takes 28 by 38 inches of floor space when in use, and it folds in half horizontally to be thin enough to fit behind a door.
The resistance is your own bodyweight working against gravity. You have the freedom to make the climbing motion longer or shorter. Make short motions and it feels like you are climbing stairs. Make long motions and it feels like climbing the face of a cliff. You can adjust the height of the climber so it would be between 69 to 85 inches tall.
The Relife vertical climber feels quite stable despite its small size, that’s because its pedals are inclined forward. The incline presses your body weight close to the frame, making it harder to fall.
The Relife climber works both your upper body and lower body, focusing mainly on your legs and torso muscles. Your arms, chest, and shoulders are also involved, but they bear less of your body weight. This vertical climber is also great if you want to improve your coordination and balance.
The machine uses a roller system which makes the motion feel smooth. It can hold anyone weighing up to 260 pounds.
THE BENEFITS OF VERTICAL CLIMBERS OVER OTHER CARDIO EQUIPMENT
Vertical climbers can give you some of the best aerobic workouts possible at home. If you want to push your heart rate almost to the limit, this will be the most efficient home gym equipment for you.
Climbers are known for burning more calories minute for minute than any other workout machine. This is because they hit more muscle groups, and with much more intensity than any other cardio machine. The vast amount of muscle acreage that becomes oxygen-starved on a climber will also keep your body burning fat long after you finish exercising.
This machine is also great for promoting bone strength. The vertical orientation puts more weight on your bones, which inspires them to grow stronger. The machine’s mechanics give you plenty of shock absorption so you won’t aggravate your joint or back pain.
There isn’t any other machine that combines a cardio and a strength training workout in one machine as the vertical climber does.
THE BENEFITS OF ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLS
If you need complete freedom of movement in your workout, you should invest in a set of adjustable dumbbells. You’ll be able to focus and isolate the muscles you want to work on. You can also do compound movements that use several muscle groups, which are best for building muscle mass.
The significant advantage of free weights is that you are not being limited to the pre-planned motions of a workout machine.
Dumbbells are more durable than most machines because there are almost no moving parts that can wear down.
If you love regular dumbbells but don’t like all the messy separate pieces, an adjustable dumbbell set can cut the clutter down to just two pieces. They also save a lot of space than having to have a set of weights for each weight as in commercial gyms.
Adjustable dumbbells also make it quick and easy to change weight, which is great if you like doing drop sets. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll only take you a couple of seconds.
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adustable Dumbbells
The SelectTech 552 dumbbell set by Bowflex combines about 30 different weights into only two pieces. Talk about saving space! You can lift anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds.
The weights are adjustable in increments of 2.5 lbs, small increases in weights are perfect for getting stronger and adding muscle mass.
The adjustable metal weight lock system is quick and intuitive. There is a dial at each end of each weight with clearly marked numbers. You just turn the dial to the amount of weight you want to lift and pick up the dumbbells. The desired weight will stay on the dumbbells, and the rest will remain in the carrying case, neat.
You shouldn’t throw these dumbbells around as the patented quick weight changing mechanism might get damaged. That said, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 are outstanding adjustable dumbbells and very sturdy.
COMPACT WORKOUT WEIGHT BENCH
THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A WORKOUT BENCH
If you prefer free weights over machines for your home gym, a workout bench is the best purchase you can make.
The workout bench will help you keep proper form and good posture. Poor posture is one of the main ways people injure themselves when working out at home.
If you think you can get away by using a regular chair or a counch for doing exercise, you very well might, however, don’t underestimate the advantages of using a good workout bench.
Using a workout bench will help you keep your focus on the exercise rather than trying to keep your balance on a chair or couch.
If you lift heavy weights, you won’t have to worry about your makeshift workout surface collapsing underneath you.
A good workout bench will give you the support you need to be able to target muscle groups in specific ways. Finding the right inclines and declines to hit your shoulders or pecs from multiple angles can be almost impossible without a workout bench.
If you plan to do exercises that require you to lie down and extend your arms below your body, these are hard to perform correctly without a workout bench.
Benches also come in handy for exercises where you need to put one knee or foot higher than the other.
Flybird Adjustable Bench
The Flybird adjustable bench is made out of heavy-duty steel pipe. Although it’s relatively small, it has 500 pounds of weight capacity. If your focus is on building mass, this bench can take a pounding.
It comes with six different incline options, from completely flat to about 89 degrees vertical. There is also one decline option so you can hit your lower chest. You can adjust the angle of the bench very fast, not losing time between exercises.
If you’re working with limited space, the Flybird adjustable bench measures 47 by 16 inches on the ground when open. You can also fold it up to lose almost 70% of its size. It comes with a nylon strap between the two cushions to make it easy to carry away and store between workouts.
Even though the Flybird is a compact workout bench, you should have no problem working out on it even if you are up to six feet tall. You can still use it if you are slightly taller, but if you are like 6’3″ you might want to look for a bigger bench.
If you’re worried about marking up your floor, each of its legs come with a plastic cover to keep it from damaging your house. It also comes with a removable leg holder that you can use for sit-ups.
THE BENEFITS OF THE POWER TOWER
If you like working out with heavy weights or bars, but you’re stuck at home, the Power Tower is built for athletes and people who want to build mass. It’s strong, stable, and durable.
These machines generally have a floor footprint big enough for safety without taking up a ton of space.
Since all exercises on the power tower are done on the front of the machine, you can keep it out of the way against a wall.
Power Towers come with lots of variety. They have pull up bars with multiple angles, a barbell rack for presses and squats, and a cushioned dip station that you can also use for leg raises. The pull-up bars have plenty of side space so you can keep your elbows comfortably wide, unlike using a doorway pull up bar. You can even use them to do hanging ab work like windshield wipers.
HI-MAT Adjustable Power Tower
If you want to pack on some muscle mass at home, the most important thing for you will be the strength and stability of your weight rack. The HI-MAT Power Tower has a U-style base with four suction cups underneath to make sure that it stays in place without wobbling.
If you’re working with limited space, the HI-MAT power tower only takes up about a 40 by 40-inch area on your floor. It’s stable enough by itself that you won’t have to nail it down. It is stable enough that you can even swing a bit on the pull-up bars, just don’t invite Tarzan over.
This power tower has two sets of contoured pull-up bars with all the grip angles you can imagine. It has a combination squat rack and chest press station with 11 height levels. It also has a removable dip stand with elbow cushions and an adjustable backrest.
The steel frame can take up to 1100 pounds of weight, which is way more than any other home workout machine on our list. It’s 82 inches tall, so measure your ceiling height before adding it to your cart.
HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT COMPACT GYM EQUIPMENT
The first thing you need to think about before investing in your home gym is your personal exercise goal. Assuming you’re not Jeff Bezos, you probably have enough space and money to start with one piece of equipment. Make sure it’s right for what you want.
If you have limited space and one focused goal, you can buy a small, specialized machine. If you have multiple goals, you can get a multiple-use machine, but these usually take up more floor space.
If you’re really strapped for cash but don’t want to waste away on your couch, we recommend starting with just a simple set of resistance bands.
For a bit more money, you can buy the BodyBoss 2.0 or Gorilla Bow, which use resistance bands but also offer framing that improves on stability and form.
These compact and portable tools can give you the cheapest full-body workout possible.
If you have a bit more to invest, Relife’s vertical climber or Stamina’s Body Trac Glider are great options that will work out your whole body without bankrupting you.
When buying equipment without seeing or measuring it for yourself, we recommend measuring the space you have available and comparing it to the exact dimensions of the fully-assembled unit. Keep in mind any attachments the machine has, and don’t forget about the height.
If space is your most important consideration, we’ve tried to talk about the dimensions of this equipment in terms of common household items. It might be hard to think about inches, but anyone can picture a single bed or an upright guitar.
Remember to include the full length of any exercises you may do that extend past the frame of the machine. If you want to do flies or leg extensions, for instance, make sure your arms and legs won’t bang into the walls.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE
If investing in a home gym is enough to motivate you to exercise, we congratulate you, but please use it!
Don’t let your new equipment turn into an expensive clothes hanger. If you need motivation, you can try multitasking, working out while you do something you love. A good reward system might be to limit yourself to watching TV, or listening to a podcast or your latest favorite novel but only while using your new home gym.
With a bit of self-motivation, practically anything you can do at the gym you can now do at home.
We’ve compiled a list of the most innovative, highest quality home gym equipment available. Whether you want to build strength, tone your muscles, put on muscle mass, burn fat or just get your heart rate up, there’s something on this list that’s perfect for you.
Most of these machines come with detailed instructions or online workout videos, so you won’t even have to be your own trainer. The only thing you need is to get started.