Home training can be difficult when you live in an apartment: it’s crucial to make the most of the limited space you have to get a great workout.
The best home gym equipment for an apartment can be hard to figure out.
How much can you get away with? What sort of space limitations do you have? Do you have to worry about damage to your flat – and losing deposit money? How heavy is too heavy, and what sort of limitations are you working with?
These are all significant considerations, and – today – we’re going to work through them to discuss the major points you should look for.
We’re also going to outline some of the best choices for getting a great workout at home and what you should look at for your apartment home gym!
Home Gym in an Apartment Considerations
Training at home is always a matter of working through logistics. When your home is an apartment, there are added difficulties that many homeowners don’t have to deal with. These are going to play a significant role in deciding on home gym equipment.
The obvious limitation is that you probably don’t have 1000s of square feet of floor space lying around to build a gym in. There are space limitations in most apartments that decide what kinds of exercise equipment is viable.
The space required to both use and store equipment will be necessary. For example, a rowing machine might be a cool idea for a home gym until you realize it’s 8 feet long and won’t fit anywhere.
Most of the recommendations we’re discussing today are easy to use with very little space and can be stored in a cupboard or bedroom in most cases.
Some exercise equipment can be loud and difficult to use throughout the day, depending on what kind of neighbors you have. For example, the rowing machine we mentioned above has a big powerful fan and probably hops now and again, which can be a pain for downstairs neighbors.
For many of the items we’re looking at today, the noise is all about how you use it. If you drop your dumbbells, you’re going to cause some serious noise – but if you’re considerate, you should be fine.
The main noise-risks are heavyweights hitting floors and fan-resisted cardio machines – like a rower or assault bike.
Fortunately, once again, we’re covering items that should be fine for use any time of the day without getting angry knocks on your door.
Damage and Risk
If you don’t own the apartment, then you need to be extra conscious of damage, scuffing surfaces, and risk to the property itself.
Even if you do own the place, the last thing you want is to spend money repairing damage to fixtures or surfaces. Some equipment – like a power rack or a barbell – do pose real risks to these surfaces due to the weight, the risk of iron or bumpers on floors, and the risk of collision.
The same is true with dumbbells and kettlebells, which we’re discussing today, but is much reduced. You may want to use these items on a yoga mat or similar flooring to protect your surfaces, and you should be conscious that – just like noise – these risks depend on how you exercise.
Dropping dumbbells, pushing a bench around the floor, and being careless with your exercise kit can carry real risk. Ensure that you’re handling equipment appropriately and testing all equipment that requires fixtures (like suspension trainers or pull-up bars) before using them.
Installation and Construction
The difficulty of building, installing, or constructing equipment is a real consideration. You may or may not be able to drill holes in your walls, doors, whatever.
The requirement for setting up a piece of equipment is a significant factor in what equipment you choose. You could probably install a high-quality pull-up bar in your wall, but that might be a stretch for what your landlord or ownership contract allows, as well as being a challenging and risk-fraught process.
Apartment home gym equipment is best when it requires minimal construction, is easily set up and can be put up and down depending on your needs. The items we recommend most are compact, single-build, and don’t require any power tools, fortunately!
Best Home Gym Equipment for an Apartment
Kettlebells are a classic piece of equipment for strength and conditioning ‘on the go.’
They’re versatile, and you only really need one decent kettlebell to get a workout in – you can combine swings and goblet squats, and you’re halfway there!
Here’s our list of 7 Best Full-Body Kettlebell Exercises You Can Do at Home.
The kettlebell is a great choice for an apartment because they’re small, portable, and you only require enough space to swing them back and forth.
The main limitation for the kettlebell is that you probably don’t need to buy them in pairs, limiting some training options. Most of your pressing and rowing would need to be single-arm, which can be difficult to align with the weight you need for a heavy kettlebell swing or squat.
The Home Gym Boss editorial team like the Rogue Kettlebell range.
Adjustable kettlebells are a great solution to this problem, as they allow you to change the weight of the implement. This can save you a lot of time and effort, as well as the money you might otherwise spend on multiple kettlebells.
Check out our list of the Best Adjustable Kettlebells.
We love the kettlebell for apartment training since it’s simple, easy, and doesn’t take up much space. When you’re not using it, a kettlebell also makes a good doorstop.
Read our guide on How to Choose the Right Kettlebell to make sure you get the best one for your needs.
Dumbbells are a great form of home training equipment. They’re small but effective, and one pair can open up a wide range of exercise options.
A single pair of dumbbells somewhere in the mid-range of what you can lift allows for pressing, rowing, hip hinge exercises (like the Romanian deadlift), and lunges. You can also get some serious mileage out of single-dumbbell exercises like tricep extensions and even chalice curls.
Adjustable dumbbells take this one step further and are some of the best training equipment for an apartment.
They come apart, you can progress weight over time, and they can be used for all kinds of exercise since the weight changes allow you to use the same pair of dumbbells for your deadlifts and curls alike.
If you’re trying to build muscle or strength, these are probably the best all-purpose choice. Dumbbells are also great for conditioning since they’re versatile. You can perform a range of conditioning exercises like renegade rows and dumbbell power snatches.
The only real challenge is that normal pre-set dumbbells don’t allow you to change weight. They stick you with a single weight, and you have to get creative to make it easy or challenging enough for each exercise!
3. Suspension Trainers
Suspension training is a good way to improve the efficiency of your bodyweight training. It’s a way of opening up new exercise options like rowing and increased-range push-ups.
The best way to think of a suspension trainer is like a pair of gymnastic rings that don’t require you to have a strong overhead beam. Suspension trainers can be attached to a range of different home fixtures and offer some of the best bodyweight training options.
They’re also relatively cheap compared to many other options on the market for the same range of exercises.
Our favorite suspension trainer is the TRX All-in-One.
Specifically, a suspension trainer is perfect when paired with a kettlebell, for example, to develop the upper body. It’s a smaller commitment than a pull-up bar for some of the same results and a great combo with the swings and squats of a heavy kettlebell.
Sandbags are a single item that offers great strength and conditioning.
The best things about sandbags are also the worst things: they’re unwieldy, heavy, and require a wide range of muscles to work together. They’re also so simple that you can use them for a wide range of purposes without needing any other equipment.
Classics include the sandbag load (to shoulders), presses and shoulder to overhead, sandbag lunges and squats, sandbag swings (which really feel challenging on the grip). They pair great with stair climbs if you have a steep set nearby!
To get you started, here’s our Ultimate at Home Sandbag Workout.
The simplicity of a sandbag is a great reason to have one in your kit. They’re primarily high-rep, conditioning-type objects. You can get super heavy sandbags into the 100s of lbs. but we recommend the lighter ones for an apartment!
Looking for a sandbag, here are the Best Sandbags for Home Workouts.
5. Pull-up Bar
There are two types of pull-up bars that we are going to discuss.
First, you’ve got the classic apartment pull-up bar that fits into a doorframe using leverage and pressure. It’s a little bit lighter. It doesn’t take up much space but is also notoriously unreliable and can be a real risk if you’re on the heavier side.
On the other hand, you can get freestanding pull-up bars that you can build and takedown easily. Examples like the Pull-Up Mate and others offer a complete training tool but require both more space and money – and potentially the effort of storage and construction.
These are both good options, depending on just how much space you have and what exercises you’re looking for.
Free-standing pull-up bars tend to include other training options like dips and can mount gymnastic rings.
In contrast, smaller doorframe pull-up bars are cheaper and easier to store but don’t have the same stability or versatility.
They’re both good choices – you need to pick the one that suits your situation!
Resistance bands are great for replacing some of the functions of cable machines from the gym. They’re also very small, easy to pack away and offer some unique training options.
Resistance bands use elastic resistance, which, for most of us, is perfect for rehab and postural strength training. They’re great for hitting hard-to-reach muscles in the upper back, for example, with band pull-aparts.
However, you can also use resistance bands for other exercises: seated rows, good mornings, crab walks, and – of course – bicep curls.
The range of exercises you can perform with a band depend on your creativity around the flat and how strong a particular band is. You’re not going to get much from squatting against the light, red band, for example.
A set of resistance bands and tubular bands are both good choices. They can open up some exercise options you’re not going to get anywhere else.
Parallettes are a great piece of equipment if you’re into bodyweight and gymnastic strength training.
These raise your hands off the floor and provide a wider, safer surface for a wide range of exercises. They are great for all variations of push-ups, L-sits, and some advanced gymnastic skill exercises.
Check out our guide to the 9 Best Parallettes Exercises for Building Strength.
The obvious limitation is that parallettes are very specific and require you to invest serious time to get the best return from them. A normal trainee is going to get L-sit and increased range push-up benefits but might not get planches and Maltese push-ups!
If you know you’re looking for gymnastic strength training, parallettes are a perfect choice, however. Get a good pair of wooden or metal parallettes, and they’ll probably last you a lifetime, too!
Or for the DIY’ers, make your own parallettes.
8. Foldable Weight Bench
A folding weight bench really opens up your training options if you’ve already got a form of weight at home – or if you’re looking at buying one.
A folding weight bench and dumbbells, for example, offer a wide array of exercises like bench and seated presses, pullovers, and flyes. These exercises require an elevated position to increase your range of motion and thus results.
A good folding weight bench needs to be small enough to fit in your apartment and can be quite cumbersome. Many of them also need to be handled carefully to avoid scuffing floors, for example, where wheels and sharp metal tubing can damage surfaces.
Be careful when buying, and make sure you have the space for storage. If you do, this could be a great purchase and one that makes home training feel more like the full gym experience!
Got your bench sorted? Then read our guide to How to Bench-press your Body Weight.
9. Ab Roller
We love the ab roller. It’s a piece of equipment you can use in any home – apartment or mansion – and it fits in a gym bag.
It’s a great piece of core training equipment that you can scale between kneeling and standing versions, and it trains the anti-extension that so many people need. Ab wheels are also cheap and easily available.
If you want a great home workout, it’s an easy choice and one you should seriously consider. It’s a hard learning curve, but it lets you build a bulletproof core with one piece of equipment and any free space.
Watch it for scuffing floors, however – maybe use a yoga mat or find a soft-edged wheel.
10. Gym Mat
This is a simple one, and it’s essential to getting the best experience.
You don’t want to slip and fall, you don’t want your sweat all over the place, and you do want to set out a designated space for exercise. A simple gym mat or yoga mat is going to add a significant edge to your home workouts.
It’s also going to protect your floors from damage. It is easy to transport and pack away and offers dual benefits for mobility and full workouts. It’s also usually one of the cheapest things you could purchase, but it offers some of the best value for your money!
11. Portable Home Gym
There is a wide range of portable home gym options out there.
They all offer something slightly different, but the idea is that they’re going to offer a “complete” workout at home.
There’s always some compromise, but they offer a viable option if you’re looking for a very general workout. Their simplicity and resistance limit products like Bodyboss (read our review here) – they’re designed for fitness. If that’s your goal, they can be useful.
They offer at-home fitness and conditioning in a single package.
The limitation is, of course, that the actual loading is quite light, and you can do many of the same things with a pair of dumbbells, kettlebell, or regular resistance bands.
The versatility is useful. If you’re looking for a one-stop piece of kit, they can definitely be useful. Check out our guide to the Best Compact Home Gym to find the right one for you.
12. Air Bike
In the past couple of years, air bikes have become one of the most popular cardio machines on the market.
They don’t take up too much space, and they’re a great addition to any home gym. They’re also perfect for HIIT workouts, such as CrossFit, where being able to quickly switch between intensities matters.
One of the most frequently asked questions that people have about air bikes is — how useful are they when it comes to weight loss? This is nothing weird, seeing as most people who get into cycling of any sort do it to lose weight.
If that’s the case with you, then you can rest easy. Or rather, keep working out because air bikes are one of the best kinds of cardio you can do without leaving your apartment.
And while combining cardio with the right strength training also matters, you want to have as much cardio as possible to lose weight at the end of the day. There’s no better way to burn away all of that nasty fat!
Just make sure you lay a mat or some protective flooring underneath the air bike so you don’t scratch the floor.
Apartment Home Gym FAQ
Can You Install a Power Rack in an Apartment?
This is a controversial question – because sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t.
The main concerns around using a power rack in an apartment are the strength of floors and what happens if you miss a lift.
For example, missing a squat in an apartment could cause serious damage to the fixtures of the house or the floor itself. Bench press, for example, might not be as much of a problem, but it’s always running a severe risk.
It comes down to the individual apartment – if you’re on the ground floor and you have space, you might be able to get away with it.
However, it’s probably not the best idea, and your landlord is almost certainly not going to be happy with it if they’re the kind to come around regularly.
Home training can be difficult when you live in an apartment: it’s crucial to make the most of the limited space you have to get a great workout.
Space, damage, cost, training limitations, are all significant considerations, so make sure you follow our guide to the best home gym equipment for your apartment.