Gym Equipment Names – Pictures & Videos of Workout Machines

With so many different gym machines out there, it can get really overwhelming. In this guide, I'll walk you through all the gym equipment and explain to you what muscle does each exercise machine work.

GOING TO THE GYM - You want to know what kind of exercises you can do with each piece of equipment. If the machine is taken and you don't want to wait in line as can happen in rush hour, I'll give you an alternative machine or exercise you can use.

BUILDING YOUR HOME GYM - You want to know what equipment is more essential, versatile, cost effective and what I like to call home gym friendly.

Either way, working out in a commercial gym or wishing to equip your very own home gym, I'll try to make the choices much easier for you.

You can also read below about:
Home Gym Equipment vs. Commercial Grade and explanation about our Versatility and Essential rating

Click on any Equipment below to go directly to it


Home Gym Equipment vs. Commercial Grade


The biggest difference between the equipment you see in a commercial facility and what is typically considered home fitness gear is durability and flexibility.

In a commercial gym, the various machines and weights are built to withstand endless hours of use by many different people. Since most gyms have no lack of space each device will typically serve only one function.

A home gym set-up is very different. Space is limited, so any machines you buy should offer more than one exercise. Usually, only one or two people will be using the equipment a few hours a week, so you won’t need the level of durability found in commercial gym equipment.

Essential and Versatility - Do You Really Need It?


If you train at the commercial gym good for you, you got everything you need and much more (but you still want to make sure you are using the right machine for the right purpose. So it's highly recommended you checkout all the equipment in this article.

If you are trying to build your own home gym you want to make sure you pick the right stuff. In that case, I use a handy grading system to separate must-have from should-have and “do without it” items.

3 IMPORTANT FACTORS TO CONSIDER

For each equipment we give ratings for:

VERSATILITYHow many different exercises can you use it for
From a scale of 1 to 5, a machine graded 5 means you'll have lots of great training options.
The closer the grade to 1 the fewer exercises you can do with the machine, meaning it's more like a dedicated machine for a specific exercise.

ESSENTIAL How vital is the item for a home gym setup.
From a scale of 1 to 5, a machine graded 5 is absolutely essential for your home gym.
Anything graded 1 is basically just nice to have but you'll be fine without it.

PRICE Is it good value for money or not
I will rate a piece of equipment essential to a home gym setup based not only how versatile it is, but also by how much it costs. 

HOW IT LOOKS

This is example for Exercise Resistance Bands (specifically for the Black Mountain Set but others are good too)

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Very cheap

They are extremely versatile (versatility level 5) and are absolutely must have for a home gym (essential level 5), and very cheap (price level of 1) or to put in another way I highly recommend them.

So let's dive in!

Home Gym (all-in-one machines)


Machine Name : Home Gym, All-In-One Gym, Multi-Gyms, Multi Station Machines, Universal Machine

Description

The Home Gym All-In-One machine also called a multi-gym is a multi-station workout machine that combines several exercises into one piece of equipment. It’s especially good for circuit training because you can quickly move from one exercise to another.

The multi-gym has stations for all the major, multi-joint exercises; bench press, lat pull-down, leg press or squat, depending on the design of the multi-gym. An all-in-one home gym machine allows you to effectively train every muscle.

Muscles

You can work all the muscles

Exercises

With some all-in-one machines you can perform dozens of exercises on the same machine.

Alternatives

Free-weights, Barbell and dumbbell versions of the machine exercises, calisthenics, resistance bands.

Avg. Price Range

$700-$2,000 - you can find home gym machines for under $500 or for up to $3,000

Recommended

These are generally expensive and large machines but this one is ideal for home use:
Powertec Fitness Workbench Lever Gym is heavy-duty with a maximum 500lb weight bearing capacity, 300lb capacity cables, and space efficient footprint.

Very versatile equipment
Recommended for home gyms
Above average cost

Notes: The multi-gym is an impressive piece of equipment that can make your home gym a high-tech muscle building space. If you want one purchase that will handle most of your fitness needs, and you have the floor space and money to spare; a multi-gym could be the right choice for you.

Barbells


Machine Name : Barbell

Description

The barbell bar is one of the most basic pieces of equipment for any gym. You can find several different varieties of barbell bar, some pretty unusual looking for specialized training. There isn’t a muscle you can’t train with it.

Muscles

You can work every muscle

Exercises

You can do dozens of different exercises with barbells, whether standing or seated. Especially if you have a bench and a power rack.

Alternatives

Dumbbells, E-Z Bar, Smith Machine

Avg. Price Range: $150-$250

Recommended

The CAP Barbell Olympic Bar is 2-inches wide and has a 1000-pound capacity. This is the beast! 7 feet of solid steel that can carry a half ton of plates. Use it to perform the basic lifts that have packed muscle onto generations of lifters. 

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Budget - low cost

Notes: It's important to differentiate between a Standard Barbell and an Olympic Barbell. I always recommend using the Olympic bar such as the CAP Olympic Barbell. A standard barbell shaft is sometimes thinner and would also accept weights with 1" diameter holes. An Olympic bar is sturdier and thicker which allows for a better grip.

Dumbbells


Machine Name : Dumbbells

Description

One of the most ancient pieces of training equipment, the classic dumbbell is a short bar with fixed amount of iron weights attached to its sides, that's what you will find in all gyms. There are modern adjustable design dumbbells that allow for plates to be exchanged for greater versatility. The humble dumbbell can be used to perform exercises that effectively work every muscle. It is an essential component of any gym.

Muscles

You can work every muscle with dumbbells

Exercises

You can perform dozens of exercises

Alternatives

You would need several different exercise machines as an alternative to dumbbells.

Avg. Price Range$80-$350

Recommended

The Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbell are plate adjustable dumbbells. You can load up from 8 lbs up to 200 lbs for every phase of your strength development. Comes with secure threaded collars to hold plates securely. This is a good budget option.

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Very cheap

The Starring 65 105lbs dumbbell set made of solid cast-iron and including rest trays to protect floors from damage which is a nice touch, they are also inexpensive.

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Very cheap

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are an innovation on the dumbbell concept. Changing weight is made super easy by a unique dial system. You don't need to spend time loading and unloading plates like you would with conventional dumbbells, that's a huge plus. I strongly recommend the Bowflex, if you have the budget, that's likely the first thing I would buy for a home gym. You can work every much with a set of dumbbells and an adjustable bench.

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Average cost

Notes: Dumbbells are the most productive and versatile piece of equipment you can buy for any gym, they are a must-have.

Kettlebells


Machine Names : Kettlebells

Description

The kettlebell is one of the oldest forms of weight used for strength training. It's a Russian invention from some 300 years ago! It was largely popularized in the U.S. by Pavel Tsatsouline.

It’s a large iron ball with a handle, but in spite of its simplicity, it is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can buy. Training with kettlebells requires learning very specific skills and a lot of practice. An experienced kettlebell lifter can train every muscle, build cardiovascular conditioning and develop incredible agility.

Muscles

Kettle exercises involve almost every muscle of the body mainly due to the ballistic nature of the exercises performed with kettlebells.

Exercises

Cleans, Snatches, Presses, Get-ups, Windmill, Clean and Press, Swings.

Alternatives

Dumbbells, Barbells, all exercise machines

Avg. Price Range :
From $8 up to $170 depending on the weight you choose.


Recommended

Yes4All Solid Cast Iron Kettlebell is is a well-made kettlebell that can take a lot of punishment.

Versatile equipment
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Budget - low cost

CAP Barbell Cast Iron Kettlebell is another rugged, durable kettlebell.

Versatile equipment
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Budget - low cost

The Fitness Solutions Kettlebells are fancy looking.

Versatile equipment
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Budget - low cost

Notes: If you are or a tight budget you can make your own kettlebell very cheap.

E-Z Bar


Machine Name : EZ curl bar

Description

The E-Z bar is a standard barbell bar bent at around shoulder width grip. The E-Z bar is much better for biceps curls than the standard barbell because it puts your wrists in a more natural grip position. I have injured my wrists about two decades ago from doing biceps curls with barbells. Never again. Always E-Z bar for me.

The two most famous exercises you could do with an E-Z Bar are the E-Z biceps curls and the French Presses for working the triceps.

Muscles

Can work most muscles depending on the exercise. Especially arms and back.

Exercises

Biceps Curl, French Press, barbell pull-over

Alternatives

Straight barbell, dumbbells

Avg. Price Range : $20-$45


Recommended

The Champion Barbell E-Z Curl Bar is rock solid, accepts standard plates, and will last a lifetime of muscle building use.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Resistance Bands


Resistance bands are known under many names:
Exercise bands, Rubber bands, Elastic bands and Resistance tubing

Description

Resistance bands are lengths of elastic tubing with a handle on each end and simulate weighted resistance to exercise the muscles. Resistance bands can be used to train all the same muscles as dumbbells and barbells.

Some commercial gym has resistance bands for variety despite having other weights. Due to their versatility, and a wide range of uses no home gym is complete without them.

Muscles

Works every muscle you want.

Exercises

You can perform dozens of exercises to train the whole body.

Alternatives

Dumbbells, Barbells and Machine exercises

Avg. Price Range : $20-$70


Recommended

Black Mountain Products Resistance Band Set comes with Door Anchor, Ankle Strap, Exercise Chart, and Carrying Case. It is a comprehensive kit that includes all accessories you need to get the most out of resistance band training. It's cheap and highly recommends.

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Very cheap

Fitness Master Resistance Band Set also comes with Door Anchor Attachment, Legs Ankle Straps, and Case.

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Very cheap

Notes: Resistance band training provides the ultimate combination of results, portability, and convenience. There isn't any other piece of exercise workout equipment that gives you so much versatility for such a low price.

Recommended read: The Ultimate Guide to Resistance Bands

Bench Press


Machine Names : Barbell Bench Press

Description

This is the number one exercise for chest, and definitely the most famous one. This is the exercise by which many people measure their overall strength. Ever heard someone say: "How much you bench?"

Muscles

Pectorals (chest), Deltoids (shoulders), Triceps

Exercises

Bench Press (Chest), Close Grip Bench Press (Triceps)

Alternatives

Machine Bench Press, Dumbbell Bench Press, Vertical Machine Presses, Smith Machine Presses

Avg. Price Range : $80-$400


Recommended

The classic bench press has a flat fixed angle. Some benches have an adjustable angle, allowing you to do also Incline Bench Presses and Decline Bench Presses. Varying the bench angle allows you to concentrate slightly more on the upper pecs and lower pecs respectively. The former hits more of your upper pecs and the later more of your lower pecs.

Budget options:
Competitor Olympic Bench (with adjustable angle)
CAP Barbell Deluxe Bench (adj. angle includes 100 pounds 1" barbell)

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Very cheap

More Advanced:
Valor Olympic Bench Pro with Spotter (fixed angle but sturdy)

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Average cost

Pec Deck Machine


Machine Names : Pec Deck, Fly Machine

Description

One of the most used machines in any gym, the pec deck machine allows you to isolate your pectoral muscles without having to lug heavy dumbbells into position first. It's a fantastic machine for isolating the pecs, but less for building mass. It's also a favorite of beginners since it's hard to use it the wrong way.

Muscles

Pectorals (Chest)

Exercises

Chest Flyes

Alternatives

Dumbbell flyes

Avg. Price Range : $400-$500


Recommended

The Body-Solid GPM65 Plate Loaded Pec Machine is sturdy and economical. It features dual, variable resistance cams so each arm moves independently, which is preferable to single cam machines.

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Average cost

Notes: Pec deck machines are great, but I only recommend buying one, if you have the space for it and have already purchased other more essential equipment first. A good substitution for this machine is the dumbbell flyes.

Bench Press Machine


Machine Names : Bench Press Machine

Description

Unlike the classic barbell bench press, the bench press machine has two advantages, it has a fixed axis of movement and allows you to train without a spotter.

The fixed axis of movement can also be seen as a disadvantage as less balancing is required and thus it may involve less secondary muscles. The advantage of using this machine is that you can concentrate more on blasting your pecs and less on technique which is great for variation sake.

Muscles

Pectorals (chest), Deltoids (shoulders), Triceps

Exercises

Bench Press with a machine

Alternatives

Smith Machine Bench Presses, Olympic Bench Press, Dumbbell Bench Press, Vertical Machine Presses

Avg. Price Range : $500-$800


Recommended

The Powertec Fitness Workbench Multi Press with Isolateral Arm is a fantastic, safe way to bench alone. The plates are on sturdy movement arms, so there is no dangerous heavy loaded bar across your chest. It’s a durable piece of equipment and a valuable addition to any home gym.

Hardly versatile
You do not really need it
Average cost

Notes: By the way, I lift for over 20 years, did a lot of classic bench presses, yet I still like this Powertech machine a lot. I didn't know this machine, and quite frankly preferred the good ole' barbell bench presses. That is, until one day I came across this machine, and I fell in love with it.

I can really load a lot of plates on it and something about the angle and the mechanics of this particular machine works very well for me and makes my pecs muscles really scream when I do bench presses on it, plus you can do flat bench, inclines and declines on it.

Seated Chest Press


Machine Names : Seated Chest Press, Vertical Chest Press

Description

The vertical chest press is a machine bench press that saves floor space by being set up vertically as opposed to horizontally on a bench. It's a very popular machine that almost every gym has. It frequently comes in an incline version that works more of the upper pecs.

Muscles

Pectorals, Deltoids, Triceps

Exercises

Chest Press (but the home version of this machine can usually do many other exercises)

Alternatives

Lying machine presses, barbell bench presses and dumbbell presses

Avg. Price Range : $1500-$2,000


Recommended

The Body Solid DPLSS Pro Dual vertical Press and Lat Component is a commercial grade well-built machine that comes wth a 200lb weight stack which is decent resistance. A good bonus is the lat pull down option built in; it increases the machine’s versatility wonderfully.

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Expensive

Notes: The vertical chest press machine is a powerful device for upper body strength development. It is a safe and convenient alternative to barbell/dumbbell bench press. The number of alternative exercises makes it a luxury acquisition for a home gym.

You would be better off buying a multi-gym, an all-in-one machine that can do seated chest presses among other exercises. The Powertec Levergym have chest press either seated or lying and many more exerices you can do.

Versatile equipment
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Expensive

The Power Rack


Machine Names : Power Rack, Squat Rack, Power Cage

Description

This is one of the most versatile and important pieces of equipment for developing strength. A power rack will allow to safely train with maximum effort in a range of multi-joint movements.

Muscles

You can work all the muscles!

Exercises

You can do so many exercises with a power rack. Including of course Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Presses, Bench Presses etc..

Alternatives

Smith Machine

Avg. Price Range : $350-$700


Recommended

Budget: Powerline PPR200X Power Rack

Versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Budget - low cost

Medium Level: Valor Fitness BD-7 Power Rack with Lat Pull Attachment

Very versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Average cost

Pro: Body-Solid Pro Power Rack

Versatile equipment
Must have for home gyms
Expensive

Leg Press Machine


Machine Name : Leg Press

Description

The leg press exercise is one the most popular leg execises. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the leg press machine is safety as you can perform the exercise without a need for a spotter.

This machine is a staple among bodybuilders for building leg muscle mass and strength. While it goes without saying that free-standing squats are the best exercise for legs, there's a significant advantage to complement or alternate them with leg presses. The later allows for more concentration on the quadriceps with a lesser chance of doing it wrong and being able to go all-out with less risk of an injury.

Muscles

Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves

Exercises

Leg Presses, Calf Presses

Alternatives

Squats, Lunges

Avg. Price Range$100-$1,200


Recommended

The Body-Solid Leg Press & Hack Squat is a more versatile take on the traditional leg press. It comes with hack-squat attachments that allow for two great leg exercises in one machine which is a huge plus. The Body-Solid is a good and sturdy machine. 

Hardly versatile
You do not really need it
Expensive

The Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press is a lying leg press machine; your back is resting on the floor as you perform the movement. It is one of the classic leg press designs available. The powerline is a budget option, but some people (me included) find lying leg press movement a bit awkward and prefer the 45 degrees angle of the body-solid. 

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Budget - low cost

Hack Squat


Machine Name : Hack Squat Machine

Description

The hack squat machine could have been called the incline squat machine. The machine is designed to isolate the quadriceps muscles by angling your body backward as you perform the squat movement. Besides an intense focus on the quadriceps, the hack squat will also effectively train glutes, hamstring, and to a lesser degree calves. Some hack squat machines can also be adjusted into a leg press machine.

Muscles

Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteus

Exercises

Hack squat and leg press

Alternatives

Barbell hack squat, barbell squat.

Avg. Price Range : $1,300


Recommended

The Body-Solid Leg Press & Hack Squat is a commercial grade hack squat machine that doubles as a well-designed leg press machine. In either configuration, the maximum capacity is 1000 lbs. It’s a tank.

Hardly versatile
You do not really need it
Expensive

Notes: It’s a great piece of equipment but there are other exercises that are equally effective for building legs such as squats and deadlifts.

Smith Machine


Machine Name : Smith Machine, Weight Cage

Description

The smith machine is a barbell fixed on steel rails with a stabilizing base. The only movement is up or down the rails.

The major advantage of the smith machine is that you can perform many exercises without a spotter.

It's a very versatile piece of equipment that is found in almost every gym. It's used mainly as a substitute for barbell squats, barbell shoulder presses, etc... The fixed movement allows you to concentrate more on the target muscle and less on balance.

Muscles

Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Pectorals, Deltoids, Triceps, Lats

Exercises

It’s used for many movements that can be performed in a vertical range such as squats, bench press variations, shoulder press, bent-over row, deadlift variations, high pulls, lying triceps extensions, and squat variations.

You can even perform leg presses with the Smith Machine by lying on the floor and pushing the bar up with your legs.

Alternatives

Barbell exercises such as; bench press, bent over row, deadlift, lying triceps extension, squats, shoulder press and high pulls.

Avg. Price Range : $900-$1000


Recommended

The Valor Athletics Smith Machine is a sturdy, well-constructed machine that has a 1000lb weight capacity.

Versatile equipment
You do not really need it
Above average cost

Notes: The Smith Machine is a great piece of equipment for working out by yourself because you can get away without having a spotter to help out. That said,  good smooth-moving Smith Machines aren't cheap.

It's not like a Smith Machine is a super essential piece of equipment, it's not. But I really like these machines because they hit the muscle in a slightly different way and allows you to concentrate more on the muscle and less on balancing your body.

It's not a machine you should work on exclusively, because you definitely to perform compount exercises such as barbell squats, deadlifts and dumbbell exercises in order to build overall strength, have good balance and develop good core strength. It is only after you covered these that you can alternate work with a smith machine.

So bottom line I highly recommend the Smith Machine only if:
A) You already have more basic must-have equipment like free weights and a bench.
B) You have mastered compound exercises with free weights such as dumbbell/barbell bench press, squats, deadlifts.
C) You have you budget problem and have plenty of space available.

Leg Extension Machine


Machine Name : Leg Extension

Description

The leg extension is one of the oldest and best ways to isolate the quadriceps muscles.

The machine consists of a padded lever attached by a hinge to a seat or bench and loaded with weight directly or by cable to a weight stack.

Muscles

Quadriceps

Exercises

Leg Extensions
(Most machines are dual Extensions and Curls in one so you can also do Leg Curls)

Alternatives

Squats, Lunges, Stair Climbing

Avg. Price Range$100-$400


Recommended

The Marcy Utility Bench is a great many-in-one machine. It isn't the classic Leg Extension machine you would find at the gym. It is actually an adjustable bench that can quickly be configured to be used also for leg extensions and leg curls. When flat, the bench is ideal for many other exercises, so you get much more than just a leg extension machine. It's what makes the Marcy Utility Bench highly recommended for home gym setups when you want to make smart use of your limited space. Plus the Marcy is very affordable.
(versatility:5, essential:5, cost:2)

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Very cheap

The Body-Solid GCEC340 is a great leg extension machine that doubles as a leg curl machine. It's only for leg training, so it's not as versatile as the March Utility Bench, and it's also more expensive.

The upside is that the body-solid is a sturdy piece of equipment and because its design is optimized for leg exercises, the motion may feel a bit more comfortable than a do-it-all machine. This machine recommended, only if you don't have plenty of free space in your home gym.
(versatility:2, essential:2, cost:3)

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Very cheap

Leg Curl Machine


Machine Names : Leg Curl Machine

Description

This has been the go to machine for isolating the hamstrings. This machine comes in two versions, lying and seated leg curls.

Muscles

Hamstrings

Exercises

Leg Curls

Alternatives

Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, Squats

Avg. Price Range : $350-$700


Recommended

Body-Solid GCEC340 Cam Series Machine has fully padded and has one of the smallest footprints you can find in leg training equipment. It's two machines in one, you can do leg curls for your hamstrings and leg extensions for your quadriceps.
(versatility:2, essential:2, cost:3)

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Very cheap

Leg Adduction / Abduction Machine


Machine Name :  Adduction / Abduction Machine

Description

The leg adduction and abduction machine is a seated exercise machine that provides resistance when opening (abduction) and closing (adduction) the legs. It’s effective for isolating the gluteus muscles (opening the legs) and the tensor fasciae latae (inner thigh muscles) when closing the legs.

This machine is one of the most controversial machines. It's great in isolating the muscles, but there is hardly ever any needs to isolate these muscles, as you can work them as part of compound exercises like squats, lunges and, deadlifts.

Muscles

Hip adductors and abductors (including gluteus medius and gluteus minimus)

Exercises

Leg abduction and adduction

Alternatives

Squats, resistance band abduction/adduction, lunges, step-ups, one-legged deadlift, side leg raises, scissors leg raises.

Avg. Price Range : $2,000-$3,500
(dedicated machines are extremely expensive)


Recommended

This machine has no place in a home gym, it takes a great deal of space and is very expensive. The muscles it works can easily be trained with a variety of other exercises using more portable equipment such as; barbells, dumbbells and resistance bands.

If you absolutely insist and definitely don't have a money problem, you can't get a better adduction/abduction machine than the Nautilus Abduction-Adduction machine
(versatility:1, essential:1, cost:5)

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Very cheap

Seated Calf Machine


Machine Name : Calf Machine, Seated Calf Raise

Description

The seated calf machine isolates the soleus muscles of the calves from a seated position using a weight loaded lever moved by raising your toes and pushing the attached knee pads.

This is somewhat of a controversial machine. The soleus is positioned underneath the Gastrocnemius muscle and some experts believe it's a waste of time to isolate it, at least for size that is.

The notion is that by doing straight leg barbell/dumbbell calf raises or calf presses (on a leg press machine) you can work both the Gastrocnemius and Soleus that's underneath it.

Others believe the Soleus can 'push' the Gastrocnemius muscle, making for an overall more muscular appearance to the calves.

Muscles

Soleus

Exercises

Seated Calf Raises

Alternatives

Donkey calf raises with a partner, Standing barbell calf raise, Smith machine calf raises

Avg. Price Range : $140-$300


Recommended

The Powerline PSC43X Seated Calf Machine is a reliable and budget calf machine.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Budget - low cost

If you need something more adjustable try the XMark Seated Calf Raise Machine XM-7613, a commercial gym seated calf trainer.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Average cost

Note: That's a machine that's a nice to have. I don't see a special reason to buy it for a home gym unless you are into special heavy calf isolation. If you do get it, I think the budget Powerline will do just fine.

Standing Calf Machine


Machine Name : Standing Calf Machine

Description

The standing calf raises machine uses to heavily cushioned pads attached to a weight stack loaded lever to provide resistance to toe raises performed off a narrow step.

Muscles

Entire calf area (Gastrocnemius and Soleus)

Exercises

Standing Calf Raise

Alternatives

Smith Machine Calf Raise, Calf presses on a Leg Press machine, Donkey calf raises, Barbell calf raises and one-legged calf raise

Avg. Price Range : $300-$600


Recommended

The Standing Calf Unit by TDS is a practical choice because it takes little floor space and decently does the job.

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Budget - low cost

A more versatile model is the Body-Solid GSCL360 Leverage Squat Calf Machine, the addition of a machine squat option makes this earn its place in any home gym.

Hardly versatile
You do not really need it
Average cost

Notes:  While standing calf raises are a good way to stimulate calf development, a dedicated machine just for doing calf raises is absolutely not an essential item for a home gym.

You can just use plastic or a wood platform and do barbell or one-legged calf raises while holding a dumbbell in one hand, alternating between legs.

Lat Pulldown Machine


Machine Names : Lat Pull Down, Pulldown Machine

Description

The lat pulldown is a multi-joint movement that mainly trains the back, shoulders and biceps muscles by simulating a pull/chin-up using a bar connected to a weight-stack by cable and pulleys.

The most versatile designs include an option for seated rows. Using different hand grips, you can isolate certain pulling muscles more than others. The lat pulldown can also be used from various positions to train triceps and abs.

Muscles

Latissimus dorsi (Lats), Trapezius (Traps), Biceps, Delts (undergrip works more biceps)

Exercises

Lat pulldown movement, cable ab crunches, triceps press and biceps curl

Alternatives

Pullups and Chin ups (with chinning Bar), Dumbbells, Barbells 

Avg. Price Range$170-$700


Recommended

Powerline PLM180X Lat Machine is a great choice that includes a built in seated row pulley that allows for biceps curls as well as back training. It's very affordable, the downside is that in order to work biceps you have to rerun the cable to the low pulley.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Budget - low cost

XMark Lat Pulldown and Low Row Cable Machine XM-7618 is more heavy duty and a sturdier commercial quality, it's a better option if you have the budget.

Versatile equipment
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Average cost

Pull Up Bar


Machine Name : Pull Up Bar. Chin Up Bar

Description

The chin up bar is a centuries old, classic piece of equipment. Originally it was any reasonably straight branch, stick or piece of rock you could hang from. It has evolved into the brilliantly designed aluminum and steel doorway pull up bars that have built powerful arms and backs for millions of people today.

Muscles

Lats, Biceps

Exercises

All variations of pull ups and chin ups

Alternatives

Lat pull down machine, Dumbbell and barbell bent over rows, 

Avg. Price Range : $20-$35


Recommended

The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar is a portable powerhouse that will let you train your back (lats), biceps, and forearms wherever you have access to a doorway. Though there aren't many exercises you can do with a pull up bar, it's so cheap that there's no reason not to get it.
(versatility:2, essential:5, cost:1)

T-Bar Row


Machine Name : T-Bar Row

Description

The T-bar row is a bent over row performed using the far end of a barbell. Jam one end of the barbell in a corner and load the other end with weight, now grab the heavy end and pull; that’s a T-bar row.

The t-bar row has evolved somewhat since its beginnings. Now there is a cross bar acting as a handle, and the unloaded end of the barbell is anchored and hinged. But it’s still the same highly effective mass builder.

There are very few exercises that are as effective for adding strength and mass to the back and arms while developing a powerful grip. For lats, biceps and forearms, the T-bar row is one of the best exercises.

Muscles

Back muscles, Lats, Traps, Biceps

Exercises

T-bar row

Alternatives

Barbell bent over row, one arm dumbbell row, close-grip chin-ups.

Avg. Price Range : $25-$45


Recommended

The Yes4All T-Bar Row Platform swivels 360 degrees and can accommodate Olympic or standard width bars. This isn't normally something that you must use at all. But it's so cheap, that it's good to have for variety in a home gym setup.

Hardly versatile
Recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Seated Row Machine


Machine Name : Seated Row Machine, Chest Pull

Description

The seated row machine is a weighted rowing movement done from a fixed seat position. Weights are typically loaded onto bars attached by a lever to handles, a padded cushion supports the chest during the movement.

Muscles

Back, Lats, Middle Back. Forearms, Biceps, medial/rear Deltoids, Traps

Exercises

Seated rows using different hand positions.

Alternatives

Barbell bent-over row, dumbbell bent-over row, seated cable rows and pull/chin-ups.

Avg. Price Range : $250-$450


Recommended

The Body-Solid GSRM40 Seated Row Machine is a recommended machine for back training.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Average cost

For more flexible gripping options check out the Valor Fitness Exercise Equipment Seated Row.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Average cost

Back Extension (Hyperextension) Machine


Machine Name : Hyperextension machine, Roman Chair, Roman Bench, Hyper Bench

Description

The back extension machine is a specially designed bench that uses padded shelves and ankle supports to allow lower back training by waist bending. Many designs allow for incline sit-ups/crunches as well.

Muscles

Lower Back and Abdominals

Exercises

erector spinae, Hyper-extension, incline sit up

Alternatives

Barbell/dumbbell stiff-legged deadlift and the Good Morning exercise.

Avg. Price Range : $55-$80


Recommended

For a home gym, the Marcy Roman Chair is great for lower back and abdominal training.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Very cheap

For a sturdy machine with a weight adding option look at the Valor Fitness DE-5 Plate Loaded Ab / Back Machine.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Average cost

Note: The lower back machine/hyperextension is an efficient way to train lower back, and abs, if it’s designed with that option. If you are short of space, or money there are other, equally effective options.

Preacher Curl Bench


Machine Names : Preacher Curl, Preacher Bench

Description

Popularized by Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia, the preacher curl bench is a padded podium where you can balance the elbows during curls to focus extra stimulation to the biceps. The preacher bench is pure biceps isolation work. It's not considered a mass building exercise. Compound exercises like dumbbell curls or E-Z biceps curls are more effective for building mass.

Muscles

Biceps, Brachialis and Forearm Muscles

Exercises

Preacher Curls, Spider Curls

Alternatives

Dumbbell curls, Barbell curls, Concentration curls

Avg. Price Range$150-$200


Recommended

Valor Fitness CB-6 Adjustable Arm Curl Bench is a sturdy version of the classic preacher bench.

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Budget - low cost

Pure Fitness Preacher Curl is a good option as it's very compact and has a very small footprint.

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Very cheap

Notes: I don't recommend the preacher bench for home gyms for beginners. If you are a more advanced bodybuilder and have enough space at your home or garage gym, then sure buy a preacher bench. But beginners would spend their money better on other more versatile equipment first.

Arm Curl Machine


Machine Name : Arm curl machine, Preacher curl machine, Biceps Machine

Description

The arm curl machine is superficially similar to the preacher bench. The difference is that the arm curl machine has a built-in bar attached by cable or lever to weights.

The main advantage of the machine is the constant resistance on the biceps throughout the whole range of motion. When using dumbbells, due to the law of gravity, the resistance lessens as you go past the vertical plane.

Some arm curl machines can be used for triceps extensions, increasing the machine’s versatility.

Muscles

Biceps, Brachialis, Forearms, Brachioradialis

Exercises

Machine Biceps Curls

Alternatives

Preacher bench curls, dumbbell curls, barbell curls, close grip chin ups

Avg. Price Range : $350-$400


Recommended

Use the Body-Solid GCBT380 Cam Series Biceps / Triceps Machine for both biceps curls and triceps extensions.

Hardly versatile
Not essential for home gyms at all
Average cost

Notes: The arm curl machine increases the safety of the biceps curl movement while effectively isolating the biceps for increased stimulation. The built in triceps extension option creates a powerful muscle building combination in one machine. Even so, there are so many exercises you can do for biceps with dumbbells that this machine is only worth it if you have space and need the variety.

Arm Extension Machine


Machine Name : Arm Extension Machine, Triceps Extension

Description

This machine allows you to work isolate the triceps muscle and work it through a constant resistance through the whole range of motion. For increased versatility, some machines allow for biceps use as well.

Muscles

Triceps

Exercises

Triceps Extensions

Alternatives

Behind neck triceps extensions, French press

Avg. Price Range : $250


Recommended

The Valor Fitness CB-31 Arm and Triceps Machine is a great option since it's an arm extension machine (Triceps) that doubles as an arm curl machine (for Biceps).

Hardly versatile
Not essential for home gyms at all
Average cost

Notes: An arm machine is fine for an occasional use at the gym. But as a home equipment, most people will prefer to stick to free weights or buy a multipurpose home gym (multi-gym) machines, these machines can be used to work many muscles in the same machine.

Overhead Presses


Machine Name : Overhead Presses, Shoulder Press Machine

Description

The overhead press machine is the most common shoulder machine. A straight bar or separate handles are connected to plates/weight stack either by lever or cable so you can lift weight overhead without the dangers of barbell or dumbbell shoulder presses. The machine also takes away the need for maintain balance as required with free weights.

Muscles

Deltoids, Triceps

Exercises

Shoulder/Military Presses

Alternatives

Barbell shoulder presses, dumbbell shoulder presses, hand stand push ups.

Avg. Price Range : $750 - $800


Recommended

The Body-Solid LVSP Leverage Shoulder Press Bench has a range of grip options that will vary the stress on your deltoids for greater stimulation.

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Expensive

Notes: For use at a commercial gym setup, a shoulder press machine is a good variety to dumbbells or barbell military presses. But for a home gym, due to the many shoulder training alternatives available this machine just isn't mandatory. Besides free weights, many all-in-one home gym machines will let you work shoulders.

Lateral Raises Machine


Machine Name : Lateral Raise Machine, Giant Shoulder Machine

Description

The lateral raise machine uses handles and pads on a rotating cam to develop shoulder strength by transferring weighted resistance through a cable or lever to the shoulders as they move upward and outward in a lateral motion. This is a machine for isolating the delts, in particular, the side deltoids, also called the middle or medial deltoids.

It's not considered a machine for building mass and isn't as popular as the shoulder presses machine or free weights.

Muscles

Middle Deltoids, Front Deltoids (Deltoid anterior)

Exercises

Lateral Raises

Alternatives

Dumbbell lateral raises (seated or standing)

Avg. Price Range : $400-$500


Recommended

The Giant Shoulder Machine by Yukon is the most popular lateral raises machine for home use.

Not versatile at all
Not essential for home gyms at all
Average cost

It's not a popular machine. Neither for commercial gyms nor home gyms. The lateral raise can safely and effectively be performed using free weights, cable pulley or resistance bands. You can give it a pass.

Ab Crunch Machine


Machine Name : Ab Machine

Description

The ab machine differs from regular crunches in that it allows you add substantial weight and resistance. You can even exhaust your abdominal muscles with low-mid repetition range.

Muscles

Abdominal Muscles (Rectus Abdominis)

Exercises

Machine Crunches

Alternatives

Floor crunches, sit-ups and leg raises.

Avg. Price Range : $100-$900
Commercial grade machines are extremely expensive


Recommended

A good budget option that is not exactly a traditional ab crunch machine but more of an ab bench is the PowerLine PAB21X Ab Bench, It’s a simple equipment that gets the job done.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Budget - low cost

For a lying ab crunch machine option, the Inspire Fitness Ab Bench,  is a reliably built machine for weighted ab crunches.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Expensive

Notes: Most people don't need to bother with buying an ab crunch machine. There are too many ab training options to worry about acquiring one of these for your home gym.

It's still an effective way to isolate the abs and one of the few options you have if you want to work for low-mid range reps. I personally like these machines because sometimes I like to work out the abs with just 10-15 reps, but for most folks, that's probably not needed.

Ab Roller


Machine Name : Ab Roller

Description

Deceptively simple in design this is one of the most effective ab/upper body training devices on the market, especially for its small size and cheap price. It is a handle with a rotating wheel in the middle. Just grasp each end of the handle while kneeling and roll out until your chest is parallel to the floor- then come back up.

Muscles

Abdominals, erectors spinae, deltoids, triceps, serratus, lats, hamstrings

Exercises

Ab wheel roll-outs

Alternatives

Straight arm cable pull downs, barbell or dumbbell bench pull-over.

Avg. Price Range : $15 - $40


Recommended

There are many quality ab wheels available at low prices from many companies but the Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro is highly recommended. It's a high-tech version of this classic piece of equipment.

Hardly versatile
Recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

For a more traditional version of this incredibly useful training device look at the AB WHEEL by Valeo.

Hardly versatile
Recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Notes: An ab roller is one of the most useful training tools for core strength. It is true that an ab roller won't allow you to perform 30 exercises, but for core strength that's pretty much all you may need. Considering that an ab roller is dirt cheap to buy, it's definitely recommended for people who train at home.

Medicine Ball


Machine Name : Medicine Ball, Med Ball. Slam Ball

Description

The medicine ball is an ancient piece of fitness kit that was used as far back as ancient Greece. It is a weighted ball that can be tossed, caught, slammed and carried. The medicine ball is used for both strength and endurance training. It is both versatile and fun.

Muscles

The medicine ball can be used to train any muscle but is most commonly used to perform multi-joint and whole body exercises rather than specific ones.

Exercises

Wall slams, high throws, floor slams, tossing/catching, add weight to abdominal, leg or lower back exercises.

Alternatives

Sand bags, DIY balls

Avg. Price Range : $8 - $140
price depends on ball size and weight


Recommended

The Cap Barbell Medicine Ball is a good choice for a basic and tough medicine ball.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

For a twist on the basic design try the SPRI Dual Grip Xerball medicine ball with built-in handles for easier handling during non-throwing exercises. This item also comes with a handy exercise chart.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Budget - low cost

A traditionalist will enjoy the Champion Sports Leather Medicine Ball, it’s just like the old, leather covered high school gym medicine balls of the 50’s.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Notes: A medicine ball is an inexpensive equipment that you can take advantage of in a home gym / garage gym setup. It takes little space and adds good variation to using traditional weights. In a home gym setup you always want to have the most options at your disposal for the least amount of space and money, that's why items such as the medicine ball or the ab roller (also mentioned above) are great options for guys & gals working out at home.

Exercise Stability Ball


Alternative Names : Exercise ball, Swiss ball, Body ball, Balance ball, Ftness ball, Gym ball, Physioball, Pilates ball

Description

Stability balls are giant inflatable rubber balls and are used for balance training exercises, as a platform for abdominal and plank exercises and as a back friendly seating option. The balance ball is excellent for isolating the core and practicing bench based exercise with balance training.

Muscles

Core, Abs, Back

Exercises

Plank and core exercises on an unstable platform; abdominal crunch, hyperextensions, planks, push-ups, wall-squats

Alternatives

Half ball like Bosu Balance Trainer

Avg. Price Range : $8 - $15


Recommended

It’s important to find a durable one that is not easily punctured, burst or deflated; here’s one of the toughest:

The 2000lbs Static Strength Exercise Stability Ball with Pump is a hardcore swiss ball that can last years without leaking or bursting.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Note: The stability ball is portable, extremely versatile and very inexpensive. The number of exercises that you can improvise with it makes it a fantastic addition to your home gym.

Foam Roller


Machine Names : Foam Roller

Description

The foam roller is a cylinder of mildly yielding material between 12 and 36 inches long. It’s used by athletes and physical therapists to relax overactive muscles and promote recovery. A foam roller is a way to enjoy the benefits of massage without needing a masseuse. Foam Rollers are also great for the back.

Muscles

Any muscle you want to massage

Exercises

Self-myofascial release by rolling over almost any muscle group.

Alternatives

Firm ball, stick

Avg. Price Range : $8 - $60
depending on size


Recommended

The LuxFit Premium High-Density Foam Roller is extra firm to provide a deep massage.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller is another durable roller.

Somewhat versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Rowing Machine


Machine Name : Rowing Machine, Indoor Rower

Description

The rowing machine is designed to simulate rowing a boat using oars. The rower has a short handle and rope/cable connected to a flywheel assembly to create resistance while a sliding seat allows the use of the legs. The indoor rowing machine is a whole body cardiovascular conditioning machine that torches body fat.

Muscles

Lats, Biceps, Forearms, Deltoids, Traps, Quads, Calves, Gluts. It's also a great machine for training the cardiovascular system.

Exercises

Indoor rowing

Avg. Price Range: Budget machines begins at under $100. More advanced designs can cost around $1,000 or slightly more.


Recommended

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is the crème de la crème, the perfect rowing machine around. Conecept2 the maker of it is an extremely popular brand with the CrossFit crowd. The machine is more expensive than others but serious users will appreciate its rigidness and great design.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Expensive

The Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine is a very low-cost budget rowing machine, yet reliable. It has a very basic minimalistic design and is one of the most recommended budget rowing options around.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Very cheap

The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is another great cheap machine that has a bit more authentic design.

Not versatile at all
You do not really need it
Very cheap

Treadmill


Machine Name : Treadmill

Description

Treadmills come in many designs, but all consist of a platform with a rolling sheet of rubber on a platform. Use a treadmill for stationary running or walking. A treadmill allows you to run or walk in the safety of your own home, away from the weather.

Muscles

It exercises your legs and cardiovascular system in the same way as outdoor running.

Exercises

Running and walking, for time or distance

Alternatives

Other cardiovascular exercises like running or walking outdoors, exercise bikes and elliptical trainers

Avg. Price Range : $250-$1,500
Good treadmills can cost under $1,000. Commercial Gym treadmills can reach thousands.


Recommended

A reliable treadmill is the Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill it is space efficient, well-made, yet very low cost option.

Hardly versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

For more options check out the best treadmills for under $500 or check heavy duty treadmills 

Notes: A treadmill is great when you want to run without worrying about the weather, cars or the neighbor’s dog. While not a necessity for a home gym; it is a great piece of equipment to have for convenient cardio training. Ellipticals and exercise bikes are good alternatives.

Elliptical Trainer


Machine Names : Elliptical, Cross Trainer

Description

The elliptical machine is a treadmill-like stationary equipment that simulates the motion of stair climbing, walking and running without high impact stress on the knees and hips, while exercising the upper body with moving handles. Elliptical machines are excellent for cardiovascular training that works both upper and lower body muscles

Muscles

Cardiovascular, Legs, Upper Body

Exercises

Low impact all-body cardiovascular conditioning.

Alternatives

Treadmills, Stationary Bikes, Running, Stair Climbing

Avg. Price Range : $70 - $800


Recommended

The Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine has two LCD screens that allow you to monitor 13 different display feedbacks and its built like a tank. This elliptical is great but only if you got the space for it as it does consume quite a bit of space.

Not versatile at all
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Average cost

The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is a great alternative to a full sized elliptical trainer. Even though there are no handles or fancy displays, it can develop great conditioning while using very little floor space. Equipping a complete home gym with limited space involves trade-offs, but a good elliptical trainer like the Stamina In-Motion is more than worth it for portable cardio training.

Not versatile at all
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Recumbent Exercise Bike


Machine Name : Recumbent exercise bike, recumbent stationary bike.

Description

Unlike a regular exercise bike, the recumbent bike allows a rider to sit back and pedal with his legs in front of him. Recumbent cycling is easier on the lower back and trains the legs from a different angle. Recumbent bikes are just as effective as standard bikes for cardio and leg training.

Muscles

Cardiovascular, Calves, Quadriceps, Glutes and Hamstrings

Exercises

Indoor recumbent biking and intervals

Alternatives

Standard or recumbent wheeled bike or other cardio equipment

Avg. Price Range : $160 - $200


Recommended

The Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike with Pulse is a quality choice that's extremely popular for home use.

Hardly versatile
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

If space is an issue the Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike has a small footprint. (versatility:1,essential:3,cost:1)

Not versatile at all
Somewhat recommended for home gyms
Very cheap

Notes: Recumbent exercise bike is one of the cheapest cardio options for home.
If indoor cardiovascular conditioning is important to your fitness regime, than you would want of the three most popular home cardio options: exercise bike, treadmill or an elliptical. Some people prefer recumbent stationary bikes over other cardio equipment because you can easily read a book or your favorite magazine while burning calories at the same time.

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