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When deciding what is the best home exercise equipment, you will need to consider three things (and I'd recommend doing them in order):
1) Resistance bands
Resistance bands are first on my list because they are so versatile. You can take these with you when you travel and get a full body workout with just bodyweight and a set of resistance bands.
2) Jump rope
You probably didn't expect a jump rope to be on my list. But for very little money, a jump rope is a great piece of equipment to have. You can use the jump rope as a warm up, do some jump rope as a part of a circuit training workout, or even use it for a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session.
Yes, when working out, you're going to have to get on the ground from time to time. Just do it, it is good for your mobility, balance, and core strength.
4) Dumbbell Set
Now is where you'll likely have to start spending some money. New dumbbells usually go for about $1 per pound. Look for used equipment at a store like Play It Again or look on Craigslist or local Facebook buy and sell groups.
A dumbbell set is also going to take up some space. Some folks enjoy the adjustable types that don't take up much space, but I find them clunky and uncomfortable.
5) Foam roller and lacrosse ball
Yes, you should work on mobility as often as you can and having the right tools at home to do that can do wonders.
6) Adjustable bench
When I'm strength training, I find myself on an adjustable bench nearly half the time (okay, maybe more if you count the time I sit down to catch my breath after a set of heavy deadlifts). But this one might fall closer to the line of “good to have” rather than “must have.”
7) Barbell and weights
Okay, now we're starting to get serious about building/maintaining muscle and getting stronger. That's a good thing! A good barbell and weight set will last you a lifetime. You can start with the cheap plastic covered concrete and work your way up. But I really think an investment in a decent Olympic sized set (Olympic relates to the size of the hole in the plates).
8) Power Rack
This will be the biggest purchase I'll recommend. I think power racks are among the best exercise equipment investments you can make. It allows you to push more weight with a safety bar to protect you. If you work out alone, and want to start pushing more weight (bench press, squat, overhead press, etc.), you should strongly consider getting a good power rack (mine even has a pull up bar).
Yes, this is a space hog, but I love it. It also gives me more utility from my exercise bands and TRX straps (later one the list).
9) Adjustable kettlebell
Unlike adjustable dumbbells, I do think adjustable kettlebells are worth it. They make owning a set of kettlebells less expensive and use much less space.
10) TRX Straps
The great thing about these straps is how they can make bodyweight exercises so much better. From beginner to advanced, there is almost an unending variety of exercises you can do. They are a bit pricey, so you may want to shop around for generic versions.
11) A tablet (Kindle Fire or iPad)
What? How can this be on a list of best exercise equipment? I have tablets on the list for a few reasons:
Obviously going out and getting all of these at once can be quite an investment. I recommend easing into it and picking up equipment as you go. Spreading the investment out will also help you make sure you get the most use out of the equipment. There's nothing worse than having bought something only to set it in the corner and never use it.
* Note: Each of the product links on this page is to an affiliate offer. I will get a small commission for each purchase you make. It won't cost you more and I've searched to find the best deal I could find.